SHERIDAN — In an effort to help local businesses solve problems and continue growth in Sheridan’s economy, the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce is organizing peer-to-peer groups for owners and managers.

The Chamber’s Business Retention and Expansion Committee is organizing the peer groups. The Chamber had similar peer-to-peer groups several years ago, and the committee members have worked to bring it back.

A pilot group met earlier in the year in order to decide the setup and structure of the peer-to-peer groups.

“We ultimately want businesses to succeed,” Chamber Director of Marketing and Communications Ryan Koltiska said. “We want people to be successful in what they’re doing. The peer groups offer a confidential place to come and talk about real problems, not just generalities.”

Each group will consist of individuals from noncompeting businesses and a facilitator. The facilitator helps keeps the meetings running on time and on topic. Each participant will have a chance to ask questions pertinent to his or her business.

Ken Thorpe, who manages Powder River Heating and Air Conditioning, participated in the pilot program earlier this year.

Thorpe said that while the participants came from a variety  of industries and backgrounds, they shared a lot of common problems.

“We were able to bounce some ideas off of each other,” Thorpe said. “We had some common concerns and common solutions.”

He added that the group discussed everything from marketing and advertising to human resource issues and technology.

“It’s pretty easy to get stuck in a rut,” Thorpe said. “We do the same things that we’ve done for years, but (the peer-to-peer) group allowed us to hear new perspectives and insights to see if there were different ways to deal with problems.”

Part of what makes the peer-to-peer groups successful is the promise of privacy that each participant has to agree to. No business details are to be discussed outside the peer groups.

The Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce is still accepting applications for the next round of the program.

The cost to participate in the seven-week program is $150 per person. Groups will meet once per week for 60-90 minutes. Those interested in participating should contact the Chamber.