ENDOW has identified commercial air service as critical for the business community. Forward Sheridan and our board continues to support Critical Air Service Team as the community option for continued and growing air service.
The on-time results and proven reliable performance are showing consumer confidence. Renee Obermueller from Sheridan County reported last week that our paid passenger revenue is roughly $600,000 ahead at week 30 of our contract year versus paid customers last year. What does this mean? Simply that consumer use and confidence continues to grow and are evidenced by use.
CAST has been responsive and is bringing an updated schedule for the summer that will again allow the tourism market to be effectively served. CAST continues to work on some of the consumer hiccups such as code share and we are confident that these will be resolved.
As we are in the middle of the legislative session, many topics have focused around funding and, most importantly, the play of state funds as it fits the community. We, in Sheridan, have benefited from Wyoming Business Council and Water Development funds tremendously. Look at the Sheridan Area Water Supply and its impact on housing, rural development and simply the availability and value of rural properties. The large dollars that have come to Sheridan for the interstate exchange, tech park and development around Wrench Ranch have set the foundation for strong economic growth to a tune of over 150,000 square feet of new manufacturing area on the docket over the next two years.
A critical mass is being established for businesses to grow and thrive in Sheridan and for new businesses to look at Sheridan confidently. This remarkable and noted shift toward more manufacturing has resulted in renewed interest by BNSF. John Karl, who is one of the key BNSF folks working in Wyoming, came to visit Sheridan where he discussed rail and development opportunities with four local businesses and representatives from the city and county. To be on BNSF’s radar is always good; we have solid jobs and a very good rail yard within the community.
This is a piece of the landscape that is back in focus. Karl has been involved with Wyoming and specifically with Sheridan for more than two decades. This is a great foundation to build our business relationship. We convened several businesses to discuss their material needs and logistics to explore ways to make them even more competitive and to discuss with the city of Sheridan and Sheridan County what their long term plans are around rail capacity. We are exploring options to improve our capacity for rail transport.
Forward Sheridan is working with six Wyoming companies to explore avenues to capture subcontract work for the aerospace industry. Colorado is the second private aerospace state and is expanding in many ways. We are looking for opportunities to use our companies to provide services. Recently, Forward Sheridan was invited to listen as representatives from Northrup Grumman were touring Kennon Products. NG provided a glowing and positive impression on quality, innovation and work performance — this was great.
Jay Stender is the executive director of Forward Sheridan.