SHERIDAN — At a meeting Thursday, members of the Sheridan Economic Development Task Force discussed virtual building plans as a means to shape a vision for Sheridan’s business parks.
Jay Stender, executive director of Forward Sheridan, plans to meet with graphic design artists today to begin laying out a hypothetical structure to help potential businesses conceptualize how a building would look on the land.
“It’s just a pictorial representation of a box building,” Stender said. “Our goal is to have a couple of these virtual buildings described by the end of September.”
Lots have been identified in the Airport, High-Tech and Commercial business parks that will serve as the canvas for the virtual buildings’ setups. The designs will be based on existing topography and utility supply sources.
Stender added that as the scope of the project grows, the task force may go as far as to have paperwork drawn up and the buildings will be “shelf-permit ready,” a philosophy that parallels the “shovel-ready” goal of Sheridan’s business parks in terms of zoning and infrastructure.
“That’s going to require a lot more dollars and a lot more thought to get that signed off,” Stender said.
The virtual building design is taking front stage now that the task force has submitted a site certification package to the Wyoming Business Council and McCallum Sweeney, an outside contractor hired to oversee the certification.
City of Sheridan Planning and Development Director Robert Briggs said representatives from both entities will review the material and advise the committee whether they should proceed with a third phase of the certification process.
“A lot of this isn’t only about our site, but about community readiness,” Briggs said.
City Public Works Director Nic Bateson agreed.
“They want to know about the schools. They want to know about the airport. They want to know about public transport,” he said.
After the task force provided detailed information about Sheridan to the WBC — everything from how to get to the nearest interstates to the percentage of unionization in the county — Briggs gave an optimistic report on the likelihood of moving on to phase three.
“We’re doing well, I think,” Briggs said. “We’re a little ahead of the game on things like wetlands determination from the Army Corps of Engineers and some of the utilities and environmental questions.”
Looking forward, phase three of the site certification process involves establishing safety net protocol in the case of unforeseen complications.
“If there are infrastructure deficiencies, we have to have a plan in place to have it corrected within 60 days,” Briggs said. “We have to have plans and have them signed off from the relevant companies to show problems can be corrected, and we have to have an engineering study to show how it’s going to be done.
“Phase three is designed so that when you combine it with something like a virtual building, someone could literally walk in and close in two weeks, start the project in four, and be up and running in 90 to 120 days,” Briggs said.
Briggs added that site certification would make Sheridan’s business parks flagship real estate to attract new businesses. The virtual buildings are a step beyond the required work for certification.
“We want to be able to pitch a polished presentation,” he said.
Sheridan is one of six communities in Wyoming currently participating in the site certification program.
In other business at the Sheridan Economic Development Task Force meeting Tuesday, the board elected to spend $2,300 to have a full-page advertisement for Sheridan placed in Rural Site Selector magazine. The ad will feature a 1/3 page graphic and a short editorial.
The board also elected to spend $550 to buy the rights to several aerial photos of the community taken last month over the course of two separate shoots.