Last year, Sheridan played host to the Wyoming County Commissioners Association and droves of people visited our community.
Last weekend, the Snickers Cup soccer tournament brought thousands of visitors to Sheridan. Restaurants were full, hotels were booked and downtown Sheridan was hopping.
This weekend, the Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show returns to Sheridan and will bring crafters from around the globe.
All of these events are a boost to our local economy and Sheridan needs to work on hosting more like them.
Whether it be the state soccer tournament or a professional conference, large events can not only put some dollars in our local business owners’ pockets, it also gives the world a glimpse into life here.
This glimpse could lead to new business ventures, more jobs and more home sales here in Sheridan.
So how do we encourage organizations to think of Sheridan first when considering a destination for an event?
Brag. Talk about the perks of our community, the lifestyle and recreation assets. Push people to give our town a try. Tell them the beauty of the Bighorns alone will boost their attendance numbers.
Build relationships. Know an organization that holds an annual conference or expo? Build relationships with those people so they trust you when you tell them how great Sheridan is for their event.
Fight. Don’t just mention Sheridan as an option for events, push to host an event here. Be persistent.
Build. Yes, Sheridan has a few space options for conferences and trade shows. But, the options are limited and indoor space for large events is difficult to come by. Sheridan needs a venue that sings. That meets the needs of events large and small and that will lure groups from across the region to our town.
There is some research that shows conference centers, or civic centers, are a thing of the past. Like many other industries, the Internet has had an impact on large gatherings as well. Why gather together in the same physical location when we can all just gather via Skype or another video conferencing service.
But in a community like Sheridan, a modest-sized conference center could help bring together Western communities separated by wide open spaces. We’re used to being separated and utilizing technology to connect with each other. Conferences are our way of reconnecting face-to-face.
There is no need for a Chicago-style McCormick Place (the largest convention center in North America) but we need space for more than just a couple hundred people.
Such a facility could spur economic development, increase our tax base and give the extra shot of marketing “wow” that we need.