SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Economic and Educational Development Authority Joint Powers Board wants to help tackle the problem of minimal workforce housing in Sheridan County.
At its meeting Tuesday, the SEEDA board gave Sheridan College Vice President for External Relations and Economic Development Dr. Susan Bigelow the green light to put together a scope for a workforce housing study. The last study was completed in 2006.
The scope will be developed before the board’s next meeting and will be followed by proposals to conduct the study.
SEEDA vice chair and Northern Wyoming Community College District President Dr. Paul Young said the hardest thing in recruiting professional faculty, especially with the salaries offered, is the housing market.
He said generally, the only homes being built are expensive homes.
“For a young professional with a family, there just isn’t that kind of development for those people,” Young said.
This isn’t a problem just with recruiting school faculty, though; it’s a problem across the board in trying to attract young professionals to the area. Bigelow said the issue has also come up with companies like Vacutech LLC.
Bigelow said she would have asked to do the study sooner, but delayed the conversation because the Wyoming Business Council was looking into the issue statewide.
However, Bigelow said the action the WBC took, which was to put together a summary report of existing reports, isn’t sufficient.
“This is not enough to get interest from developers and financers to do housing here in the community, maybe some change in recommendations for local officials, so we need an actual study with some recommendations,” Bigelow said.
Bigelow said she wants to visit with developers to figure out what the scope of the study should be. She said she wants the study to answer the questions developers and the community have.
Sheridan city administrator Mark Collins said the city closed on applications for the new community development director last week and wants this project to be a priority for the incoming director.
“We will absolutely guarantee we will be at the table and be a very strong partner in terms of not only being involved in this but also helping some of the direction,” Collins said, explaining that a collaborative approach, including voices from the school district, private business sector and corporations, has worked with studies he’s seen in the past.
With no other group working on a study like this, Young said it’s a perfect project for SEEDA.
“SEEDA’s the right vehicle to think about the future of this community,” Young said. “…I’m talking about attainable housing for mid-level professionals.”
Article original source: http://thesheridanpress.com/79394/seeda-develops-scope-for-workforce-housing-study/
The Sheridan Press | By Chelsea Coli|September 20th, 2017