Wyoming Business Council: Will you tell us about your background?
Roger Miller: My family moved to Sheridan when I was a young kid. I grew up eight miles outside of Sheridan, but I attended Sheridan schools from 3rd grade through Sheridan High School. After High School, I served in the Air Force for two years during Desert Storm. After leaving the USAF, I returned to Sheridan and earned degrees from Sheridan College and Chadron State College in Nebraska.
In 1996, I moved to Colorado to find work in law enforcement where I worked as a police officer and Detective for the City of Broomfield. While in Colorado I got married to Dr. Jill M.H. Miller. We decided to move back home to Sheridan to raise our children away from a Metro city lifestyle in 2002. Since then, I’ve owned two businesses on Sheridan's Main Street and currently still own a Main Street building in Sheridan. In 2015, I ran for Mayor and was elected. I am currently working hard as the Mayor of Sheridan and working to keep Main Street alive and vibrant.
WBC: What drew you to the Main Street program?
RM: First, I’m really excited to be a part of the Main Street Program. Sheridan's Main Street is something I deeply care about and love. It is the heart and lifeblood of the Sheridan lifestyle. Growing up, I watched our businesses on Main Street go through the ups and downs of business over the past 30 years. I’ve seen many successes in our downtown over the past 10 years and some of these businesses have flourished the last few years. I want to be on the Main Street board to not only learn more about Main Streets across Wyoming, but also to share with other Main Streets some of the successes that have worked for Sheridan over the years. I hope to be a positive influence on the Board and help other communities develop similar success.
WBC: What are some of the successful strategies you hope to share with other communities?
RM: One example would be that we recently tested a three-lane striping configuration of our Main Street from the current four-lane configuration. I met a lot of resistance to this idea at first. It took me more than 18 months to talk with people and get them on board to try a test of the three-lane configuration. I talked with 63 Main Street businesses about the idea and with their support, WYDOTand Sheridan City Council agreed to try the lane configuration for a few weeks this past summer. After the first week, nearly the entire community changed their minds and started making comments that they loved the safety and comfort that the three-lane configuration provideed. A large majority of our citizens saw and felt the benefits that impact their daily lives and the success of their businesses on our Main Street. We are currently working at making the three-lane configuration permanent on Sheridan's Main Street.
We also have a fantastic public art program and a flower basket program that our residents and visitors openly appreciate. It’s the little niceties that makes people remember your downtown. It's the community spirit and service of those businesspeople along with the niceties that makes our Main Street thrive.
WBC: What is one of the biggest challenges you see facing Main Streets right now?
RM: Many business owners who have been on Main Street for many years are ready to retire but are having trouble passing along their businesses on to the next generation. Customers, business owners and generational demands are now 30 to 40 years different today from what they were in the 1970s and 80s when most of our Main Street businesses, our business owners and our property owners got their start. The biggest challenge is to meet both the financial demands of our retiring businesses and the financial capabilities of our next-generation businesses. Currently these two groups are on opposite ends of the financing spectrum for a successful and profitable modern day Main Street business.