In the West, most community leaders and government officials become enthusiastic over the prospect of more energy development coming to their area. After all, more development means more tax revenue and a stronger economy.

In Sheridan, the community and the leaders in economic development were abuzz when a coal mine on this side of the Montana state line started the permitting process. Finally, they said a few years ago, our county might benefit from another energy boom. There was talk of new job creation and affordable housing, but we’re still waiting. More recently, officials have been searching for ways to diversify the economy — light manufacturing, manufacturing related to the energy business, data support management — even an expanding workforce relevant to the business of arts and tourism. Taken together, we want to avoid the ups and downs of the energy industry and stabilize our economic base. But why wait?

In an article The Sheridan Press published Feb. 25, local business owners revealed that they are doing business in other parts of the state and region. For example, firms from Campbell County, the Bakken oil region of North Dakota and Montana are utilizing Sheridan area companies to fulfill their needs in surveying, legal and land consultation. This business development is apart from on-site drilling operations yet has a local impact. One primary reason is connectivity. It becomes easier and easier to work with organizations from afar.

Teleconferencing, video meetings via the Internet, DropBox and other web-related programs allow documents and ideas to be exchanged instantly. Gone are the days of waiting for a package in the mail with what you need to progress on a particular project.

Sheridan is ideally situated for work across the region. We’re just 90 minutes from Gillette, two or more hours from the energy booms in Natrona and Converse counties, and a few hours from the southern corner of the state where the Niobrara shale formation has been making news as of late. We’re only a few miles from the Montana border, where many of our residents work, and where several local companies work in close quarters with the mines just across the state line.

While a boom of our own would be advantageous, there’s no need to wait for business to come to us. Let’s go get it.