Sheridan, Johnson Counties Launch Next Gen Sector Partnership

SHERIDAN - With a focus on opportunities to grow manufacturing, Sheridan and Johnson counties launched their Next Generation Sector Partnership on Nov. 1. Industry leaders, public-sector representatives, and community leaders have identified the opportunities and actions needed to promote and grow the manufacturing sector in both counties.

"This initiative is different in that it is private industry lead," said Joe Wright, CEO of Kennon Products Inc. in Sheridan. "This is a venue for manufacturing companies in Sheridan and Johnson counties to discuss issues that we all face and are important to our prosperity."

The Next Gen strategy moves industry professionals into position as the leaders in economic growth, with the public sector (such as economic developers, educators and workforce professionals) following their lead. The strategy also asks companies to discuss among themselves ways to mutually benefit the industry and the economy.

In previous Next Gen workshops, participants divided the state into eight regions and chose an industry within to focus on. Sheridan and Johnson counties chose manufacturing as an opportunity for growth, with business leaders identifying the following opportunities to drive that growth:

  • Growing markets, both locally and regionally,
  • New and enhanced products that can compete with overseas versions,
  • Emerging technologies like factory-scale automation inter-device communication,
  • Faster adaptation to new technologies,
  • And Policy impacts that positively affect business growth.

Participating business leaders also identified two major action areas - a manufacturing talent pipeline, as well as increased manufacturing business-to-business exchange and collaboration. The talent pipeline would market manufacturing as a source for great career opportunities with area schools, while the business-to-business exchange would promote level of collaboration among companies to pursue common needs.

"The resounding theme for me in the kickoff meeting was the significant interest from the attendees to have a group of motivated and talented people sharing problems, ideas, and best practices," Wright said. "Having that venue for manufacturing business leaders creates and enhances a passionate energy within our sector. I sincerely enjoyed spending time with such a diverse group of motivated people."

Industry leaders and other Next Gen partners will discuss these opportunities in November, and then will develop a draft of needed outcomes.

To learn more about the Next Gen Partnership initiative, visit here.

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