Sheridan served as a case study for recent research from the Western Rural Communities Program on how energy-focused communities adapt to a changing energy market. Here is an excerpt of the report from its Executive Summary:
In recent decades, the economy of the Intermountain West has shifted dramatically along with changes in the national economy. There has been a broad turn to service industries as a competitive strength in the face of pressure on basic commodity sectors from automation, globalization of trade, and low-cost competition from abroad.
Energy-focused communities—places where the local economy has an above average focus on producing and processing oil and gas, and coal—occupy a unique space in the broader economic transition. Their economies can be highly volatile as they respond to shifts in pricing, automation and new technologies, competition from renewable energy sources, the discovery of new fossil fuel resources, and changes in regulations and trade agreements.
Industry diversification is a core concept used to understand economic transitions and efforts to build economic resilience. Economic diversification is a shift from a single source to multiple sources of jobs and income covering large segments of the population.
Resilient economies absorb impacts and reorganize based on a new understanding of competitive positioning. A key is to pivot from trying to keep a community the way it is in the face of change, or even trying to control change, to shifting attention and resources to cope with and adapt to change.