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Colstrip Economic Diversification Strategy Process


(Colstrip) In December of 2016, after nearly a year of planning activity, Southeastern Montana Development (SEMDC) kicked-off the Economic Diversification Strategy planning session for Colstrip.

Even before the announcement in July of 2016 that Colstrip Units 1 and 2 would be closing by July of 2022, the community identified a need in their Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) to conduct a diversification and marketing study in hopes of stabilizing the local economic base. As a result, SEMDC wrote and received grants from Montana Coal Board, Montana Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund and the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) to hire a consultant to conduct the work. In November of 2016, KLJ was selected.

In partnership with SEMDC, KLJ representatives kicked off the project with two nights of public meetings in early December, 2016. Local, regional and state community members, along with private sector parties and government officials attended, providing essential information and feedback as to the current economic drivers and challenges in Colstrip and ideas about potential diversification strategies.  In addition to strategies addressing clean coal and energy related technologies, the group identified a number of additional new manufacturing, tourist, construction, agribusiness, place making, and workforce development concepts. KLJ has taken this information and in conjunction with extensive research related to regional and national diversification best practices, is preparing a draft community diversification strategy.

A second public input session had been scheduled for January 31st, however, due to weather related road conditions, the meeting had to be postponed.  The second Public Input Session is now scheduled for Monday, March 20, 2017 at the Colstrip City Hall (6:00pm).  KLJ will present the draft strategies and will be asking for input and comment from the community and key stakeholders before finalizing the plan.  The general public is invited and encouraged to attend.

SEMDC and KLJ would like to acknowledge the tremendous support for this project thus far and encourage continued support as it moves forward. From local officials at the city and county to the Montana Department of Commerce, Governor’s office, the EDA, numerous Unions and even the White House, Colstrip and the future of coal and energy in Montana has received publicity, inquiry and genuine bi-partisan discussion which has propelled the success of this endeavor.

For more information or to provide input prior to the public input session on March 20th, please contact SEMDC at 406-748-2990 or visit their website at

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Colstrip United Legislative Reception


Colstrip UNITED and the Colstrip community cordially invite you to attend a reception celebrating Colstrip Day at the 2017 Montana Legislative Session.

Monday, January 23rd, 2017 ~ 5:30 PM

Great Northern Hotel and Convention Center

835 Great Northern Blvd., Helena

Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and beverages


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Daines Meets with Energy Designee Perry, Looks Forward to Confirmation


U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senator Steve Daines today released the following statement on President-elect Donald J. Trump’s designee for the U.S. Department of Energy, Rick Perry.



“After speaking with Governor Perry, I have confidence that he will work to restore the balance between fossil fuel and renewable energy investments and regulation, a balance that has been lacking in President Obama’s Energy Department,” Daines stated. “Governor Perry will work to make our nation energy secure.”


During the meeting, Daines invited Perry to Colstrip and the Crow Reservation and commended his attention to a letter from Lori Shaw, co-founder of Colstrip United, a grassroots citizens’ group to President-elect Trump imploring his attention to Colstrip.


“I’d like to thank Senator Daines for calling attention to the issues facing Montana’s coal industry and the thousands of families that depend on it,” Shaw stated. “I want to thank him for actively standing up for Colstrip.”


Mayor John Williams, Colstrip: “I appreciate that Senator Daines is bringing the situation in Colstrip to the forefront of our national energy discussion. It’s extremely important for Colstrip to continue to play a role not only in our state but in the Pacific Northwest. Colstrip provides for the needs of Montana and the region, and it makes good things happen in our communities. We in Colstrip recognize the value of our community and the value of what we do for others. We enjoy a great quality of life as a result of the development of Coal, and Montana also enjoys many benefits from our community. What happens in Colstrip will have an impact all across our state.”


Daines is a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction for the Department of Energy including nominations subject to Senate confirmation.

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Colstrip Community Input Meeting


Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Colstrip City Hall, 12 Cherry Street, Colstrip, MT

The City of Colstrip, Southeastern Montana Development Corporation, and KLJ need your input as they kick off the development of an Economic Diversification Strategy for our community.  Please join us for an interactive session where you will be able to hear more about the process, provide insights into the community of Colstrip and think creatively about how to continue to sustain the community and create economic diversity.  Everyone is welcome!

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Governor Bullock Announces Funding to Grow Businesses, Create 310 New Jobs across Montana


Helena, MT – Governor Steve Bullock today announced $266,800 in grants to help businesses in six Montana communities, supporting the creation of 310 new jobs for hard-working Montanans and help Main Street Montana businesses plan for future growth.

“Montana’s economy is poised for growth and we are seeing great opportunities for businesses to grow and expand all across the state,” said Governor Bullock. “Continued investment in our state’s economy helps businesses in communities all across Montana create more jobs, train new employees, and create economic prosperity under the Big Sky.”

The funds are being awarded through the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) program.

Full List of Grant Recipients:

Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) – Job Creation and Planning Grants

The BSTF program provides state funds to promote long-term stable economic growth in Montana. More information can be found at

· The City of Great Falls received $120,000 of BSTF Job Creation funds to assist First Call Resolution, LLC to expand to Montana and create 300 new jobs in Cascade County. The BSTF funds will be used for reimbursement of equipment, construction materials and furniture. First Call Resolution, LLC, which will be located in Great Falls, is a provider of outsourced live agent contact center and businesses process solutions to various sectors of the new economy, including high tech, startup, mobile commerce, wireless, telecom, finance and insurance.

· Lincoln County Port Authority received $75,000 of BSTF Job Creation funds to assist Invizon, LLC to expand to Montana and create 10 new jobs in Lincoln County. The BSTF funds will be used for reimbursement of equipment, software/broadband, lease rate reduction and wages. Invizon, LLC, which will be located in Libby, is a full-service professional provider of software development services and cost-effective web-based solutions.

· Southeastern Montana Development Corporation received $4,300 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Fox Lumber Sales, Inc. with an equipment assessment of two drying kilns. The determination will be made as to whether the kilns, currently owned by the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, are repairable. The kilns will allow the company to expand its market, thus creating additional jobs. Fox Lumber Sales, Inc., which has an office in Ashland, manufactures and sells lumber products.

· BitterRoot Economic Development District, Inc. received $27,000 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Tru-Home Montana, LLC with the creation of a strategic business development plan. Tru-Home Montana, LLC, which is proposing to be located in Bonner, is a business start-up that will construct pre-built housing using sustainable methods and locally sourced materials.

· Montana Business Assistance Connection received $27,000 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Townsend Health Systems, dba Broadwater Health Center, with a campus master plan. Broadwater Health Center, which is located in Townsend, is a nonprofit, rural hospital that provides full services, including a wellness clinic and assisted living center.

· Snowy Mountain Development Corporation received $13,500 of BSTF Planning Funds to assist Friends of the Historic Adams Hotel with an architectural report to determine the current conditions of the building and if restoration is feasible. The Adams Hotel, which is located in Lavina, was built in 1908 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

More funding opportunities are still available. The deadline for submitting an application for consideration at the next Grant/Loan Review Committee meeting is Dec. 28. For more information, contact Section Manager Annmarie Robinson by phone at 406.841.2250 or by visiting HTTP://


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Executive Director / Loan Officer Position in Miles City


Miles City Area Economic Development Council (MCAEDC) and Southeastern Montana Development Corp. (SEMDC) are now accepting applications for an Executive Director / Loan Officer position based in Miles City, MT.  Position acts as the economic development officer for MCAEDC serving Miles City and Custer County and as loan officer for SEMDC serving eastern MT. This full time position offers a competitive salary, excellent benefits package and requires a college degree and minimum three (3) years experience in commercial lending, marketing, economic development or related areas.  A complete job description is available upon request or online at or  Please send Letter of Interest, Resume and Reference List to: SEMDC, Attn: Jim Atchison, PO Box 1935, Colstrip, MT 59323.

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2016 Energy Open Scheduled for August 18th & 19th


The 13th Annual Energy Open Tours and Golf Tournament will be held on August 18th and 19th, 2016 in Colstrip, the “Energy Capital of Montana.”


Southeastern Montana Development Corporation (SEMDC) and Colstrip UNITED cordially invite the public to participate in this unique opportunity which “showcases the economic benefits of responsible energy development.”


The Energy Open starts at 10:00 am on Thursday August 18th at the Colstrip High School Auditorium with registration and networking opportunities.  Lunch will be served prior to the attendees departing on two different Tours.  The two Tours which run concurrently, will feature the Colstrip Power Plant, formally PPL MT (coal fired power generation), the Boilermakers Training Center (workforce training), Castle Rock Lake (environmental and quality of life benefits) and the Western Energy Rosebud Coal Mine (mining, safety and award winning reclamation efforts).  The first day will conclude with a dinner at the Moose Lodge featuring Keynote Speaker, City of Colstrip Mayor John Williams.

On Friday August 19th, the Ponderosa Butte Golf Course in Colstrip will host the Energy Open 18-Hole Golf Tournament with lots of prizes, a shot at the “Coal Cup” Corporate Trophy and the $20,000 Hole-In-One prize.  The golf teams will be treated to a breakfast prior to the tee time of 10:00 am.   The day will conclude with a scholarship raffle and the tournament awards presentations.  This is a great opportunity to network with energy leaders, decision makers, legislators and golf one of Montana’s most challenging public courses.


The Energy Open is free to the public but prior registration is required.  For more general information, please contact SEMDC at (406) 748-2990 or email or Additional information is available at

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Lt. Governor Mike Cooney Presents Grant Funds for MCC Armory Project


Lt. Governor Mike Cooney presented two grants for the MCC Armory purchase – a CDBG grant for $650,000 and a Coal Board grant for $50,000.

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Miles Community College to Purchase Former Armory Building


Dr. Stacy Klippenstein, President of Miles Community College (MCC), announced recently that the final funding pieces were in-place to allow MCC to purchase the former Armory site in Miles City.

MCC teamed up with the regional economic development group, Southeastern Montana Development Corporation (SEMDC), to identify, structure and secure funding for the purchase. SEMDC provided grant research, structuring assistance, and the submission of three (3) of the grants needed to secure the nearly $1.49 million dollar project. Other funding came from private sources and MCC.


“We are honored to receive the funding to secure the purchase of the former Armory,” states MCC President Klippenstein. “The Armory will enable us to strengthen our CDL and Heavy Equipment Programs to further meet the regional workforce demands. The partnerships formed between Custer County, the City of Miles City, SEMDC, as well as many other agencies and people were vital to this project. We are grateful to everyone involved in helping secure funding for the Armory purchase.”

The new site and building will provide much needed space for the expansion of MCC’s Heavy Equipment and CDL programs. These popular programs are intended to train students and help bridge the employment gap with regional heavy equipment, transportation, and construction operations.

Special thanks go out to not only SEMDC but also Custer County and the City of Miles City for teaming up to apply for a Montana Department of Commerce Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) of $650,000. The Montana Coal Board also granted $50,000 to the cause. The Eastern Montana Brownfield Coalition contributed $21,000 for environmental assessments and the federal Economic Development Agency (EDA) rounded out the grants package with over a $529,000 award.

Other support and assistance came from the Miles City Area Economic Development Council (MCAEDC), Great West Engineering, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Montana Military Affairs and the Montana Job Service – Miles City Office. Also included in this list are Montana elected officials: Rep. Ken Holmlund, Rep. Geri Custer and Senator Duane Ankney. All three of the Montana Congressional Staffs also contributed.

“It was our pleasure to partner with MCC on this success story,” noted SEMDC Executive Director Jim Atchison. “Our Grant Administrator, Julie Emmons, deserves special credit as she did most of the heavy lifting on this very challenging funding structure. She found a way to make it happen and MCC, including the entire region, will benefit for years to come,” added Atchison.

For more information, contact Jessie Dufner at MCC, 874-6226 or visit their website at

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Invest In Success Small Business Seminar March 15-16, 2016


The Montana Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network invites you to our 7th annual Invest in Success (IIS) small business conference March 15 & 16, 2016 in Havre at MSU-Northern! The IIS conference provides hundreds of Montana entrepreneurs essential business workshops on leadership, marketing, financial management, operations and technical training for specific industries. This year we are expecting over 200 attendees and 25 vendors. The 2016 conference will help you “Solve Problems by Creating Opportunities,” and learn how to meet business challenges with strategic solutions. Our goal is for you to come away with new ideas to set higher standards for performance outcomes. For more information on breakout sessions, our Shark Tank live pitch business plan competition, and our Keynote Speaker, visit

What’s happening this year?

Tuesday, March 15:

  • Tours of “Havre Beneath the Streets” and “Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump” – Starts at 2:00 PM
  • Evening networking reception featuring the Triple Dog Brewing Company – Starts at 6:00 PM
  • Opening Reception featuring Triple Dog Brewing Co., Vendor Tradeshow, Silent Auction for Montana Job Service Employer Committee (JSEC), and Networking with Montana business owners

 Wednesday, March 16:

  • Registration opens at 7:30 AM; Breakout Sessions Begin at 8:30 AM
  • Luncheon and Keynote Speaker Paul Leach of Loenbro 12:15 PM
  • “Shark Tank” Live Business Plan Competition Starts at 3:00 PM
  • Door Prize Winners Announced at 4:30 PM (Grand Prize: New Laptop for your Business!)


Where can I find more information about the conference?
Visit for more information on breakout sessions, the Keynote Speaker, Shark Tank and more.

How do I register for Shark Tank?
Registration for Shark Tank is live through Submittable. You cannot register for Shark Tank here. If you participate in Shark Tank, you will receive free admission. Do not register on this site if you are a Shark Tank participant! Please go to to register. Applications close Feburary 19.

Where can I find out more about the presentations?
Download the PDF here.

Can I change my mind about the breakout sessions later?
Yes. If you select a breakout session you no longer wish to attend, please feel free to change the day of.

Where are the conference accomodations?
The BestWestern Plus Great Northern Inn (406) 265-4200(406) 265-4200 has a conference rate of $89/night for one or $99/night for two. The room block closes on February 23, 2016.

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