Forward Sheridan operates specifically to be aware of and encourage emerging business opportunities. Historically, we have done this with telehealth, cybersecurity, energy and other topics. This has been our push and has been initiated, typically, from our investors, board and neighbors.
Simply, they have people with new ideas or thoughts contact us to discuss the lay of the land. Due to the influx of folks during Sheridan WYO Rodeo and the summer recreation season, we have two new options to begin to think about as they possibly can impact Sheridan.
One very exciting option rests on the blockchain programming community. We have a local star, Spencer Kuzara, that has been part of this community for a good period of time and has a big reach. In fact, it was Spencer that opened our eyes at Forward Sheridan to some of the possibilities. Secondly, the state of Wyoming is one of the more progressive states in cryptocurrency/blockchain legislation due to bills passed in 2017 and 2018. A legislative blockchain task force meeting is scheduled for Aug. 19 and 20 in the choral room at Sheridan College to continue refining these legislative frameworks.
So how does this fit or affect Sheridan? Directly. A few weeks ago blockchain folks from California and Texas combined a Wyoming recreation trip to visit Wyoming and with Forward Sheridan about options around blockchain applications — tech implementation.
Their interest was spurred by their awareness of the Wyoming legislative push, social media by Caitlynn Long (task force leader) and the blockchain community that touts Wyoming. For FS the opportunity to seek professional techsters is ideal for our community; sometimes they are termed lone rangers as they can work anywhere as long as they have access to high-speed internet. So they combine lifestyle choices with the ability to communicate — Sheridan fits that as well or better than any community in the state.
We are in the process of connecting these folks with the blockchain leaders as well as looking specifically at projects/work that would enable a shop in Sheridan. This is what is very satisfying about Forward Sheridan’s activities. Provide information, contacts and establish a business foundation and begin the information process. This is also where the FS board excels; they can provide real, accurate and reliable information that can be used, from their experience, to make accurate business expansion decisions.
Second, emerging interest is around the hemp industry and its impact on agriculture and manufacturing. Again, this is very early in the process as Wyoming’s Legislature passed the hemp law and has convened statewide meetings. Currently, while hemp is waiting for federal USDA approval, our neighboring states are busy growing and processing and even selling hemp products, with CBD oils proving popular. FS views this as a wait-and-see issue. Our landscape is good for growing; in many areas where the sugar beet industry has fallen, hemp may be an alternative crop to consider.
FS has been queried by growers, manufacturers and distributors regarding the feasibility and market in our area. We are still very early in our education process but it is very clear we need to be aware and educated about this possibility.
Jay Stender is executive director of Forward Sheridan.