SHERIDAN — Sheridan’s Economic and Educational Development Authority is within weeks of having five newly defined industry targets for economic development efforts. At its meeting last week, the joint powers board reviewed a draft of a final Target Industry Profiles and Career and Technical Education Training Recommendations study.
SEEDA enlisted the help of the Center for Adult Experiential Learning and Avalanche Consulting to review and “brush up” recommendations made during a previous study completed by the Wadley-Donovan Group in 2007.
The original study identified six of the most promising areas of development in Sheridan’s economy. They were information services, professional and technical services, supportive office operations, light manufacturing, creative and western arts and recreation and tourism.
The draft of new recommendations is loosely based on the groundwork of the previous study but narrows each field into more specific, imminent opportunities.
“It comes as no surprise that this particular industry targets are still solid and very viable for us to pursue,” SEEDA Administrator Robert Briggs said. “What they did do is recommend we refine those targets and their descriptions and streamline them a little bit more for the community.”
Based on this method, the initial target identified as “Information Services” will be renamed “Data Centers.”
“They basically told us everything we are pointing all our efforts toward is data centers,” Briggs said, recounting recommendations from CAEL and Avalanche. “So, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, call it a duck.
“I know that recommendation is one we weren’t 100 percent sure of, but we were willing to move it toward the SEEDA board.”
In the same spirit, a newly defined target of “Healthcare” was pulled out of “Professional Services.” While the latter category remained intact in the final draft, healthcare, which includes technically trained medical assistants and administrators, was highlighted because of its significance within the local economy and projected growth rate.
The third target area to be majorly refined was creative arts.
“Based on stakeholder feedback, creative arts has been broken out and given its own home as a target,” Briggs said.
Recent local efforts to bolster the creative arts economy have included the renovation and expansion of the WYO Theater on Main Street, efforts to grow Sheridan College’s theater department, further development of community events designed to cultivate a market for art and creative goods, including Sheridan’s farmers’ market and Third Thursday Street Festivals, and the development of the Creative Economy Council. However, the consultants working on the most recent study were reluctant to identify creative arts as its own economic pillar until SEEDA board members were adamant it should be included.
Light manufacturing, tourism and recreation and professional services remain unchanged as target recommendations.