One of the primary focus points for Forward Sheridan is to work with established and emerging small businesses to either broaden their market or increase their capacity.
Is this the right focus?
Recently, Anne Alexander, Ph.D from UW, provided some great baseline statistics about Wyoming related to these types of businesses.
Wyoming has approximately 18,950 businesses. Of this total 1 percent consist of less than 24 employees and even more surprising is 81 percent are 50 employees or less.
These metrics are complemented by the fact that Wyoming is the 4th highest state in new business formation. These statistics are validated within Sheridan in our technology and light manufacturing sector — both for newly formed and size.
Small business expansion and new business formation go hand in hand.
Newly formed businesses can take advantage of the many support programs enabled by the Wyoming Business Council such as workforce training.
Support programs can offer advisory services that might be out of reach of many early stage companies. These programs can provide technical resources such as patent, copyright options, market definition, and transportation options.
As an example two firms operating at the FS tech incubator are in the patent process. Strategic partners, at the UW, did some preliminary scoring to offer an assessment of “patentability.”
This understanding of innovation is critical and saves both time and money firms would need to make this determination. The event of patent submittal and support is covered by the company but they are better prepared and react much faster.
Forward Sheridan is undertaking a “focus” process related to identifying companies working in niche manufacturing via a geographic and SIC code search.
These can be primary employers or OEM support. The idea is to conduct a database survey of complementary businesses — for an example — Vacutech LLC provides vacuum and air displacement equipment – are there sister companies that would benefit by being near Sheridan?
Emit Technologies and Oasis build equipment that function in the gas industry as compliance tools. Sheridan has two companies that contract in the aerospace sector.
Interestingly our neighbor Colorado is the nation’s second largest consortium of aerospace companies just next door. Looking at the types of companies, using SIC codes we can aggregate a pool of companies in Colorado, Utah, and Montana to pursue.
The end benefit is to build a critical mass of small focused manufacturing businesses that are clean, sustainable, and that can leverage off the machining /welding strengths at Sheridan College.
Jay Stender is the executive director of Forward Sheridan.