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Strengthening Economies in Montana – A Forum For Coal Reliant Communities


Is your county or region experiencing economic challenges due to the contraction of the coal industry? Are you seeking effective approaches to support economic diversification, workforce development and improved quality of life in your community?

Join the National Association of Counties and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation in Billings, Mont., on April 18–19th for Strengthening Economies in Montana, a free forum designed for coal-reliant counties and regions from across Montana. This convening will bring together stakeholders from the public and private sectors for an educational and interactive gathering to share best practices, lessons learned and new opportunities to support economic diversification. Prepare for a mix of interactive sessions and small group discussions designed to deepen and foster new partnerships aimed at promoting innovation and prosperity throughout Montana and the Western regions.

The forum will offer ample opportunity to network with your peers, state and federal officials and other practitioners who are promoting economic and community development at the local, regional and state levels. All interested community stakeholders from Utah are welcome to attend, including: county and other local officials; regional development organization staff; workforce development professionals; non-profit and philanthropic leaders; business owners; and representatives from K-12 and higher education institutions.

This forum is funded through the support of the U.S. Economic Development Administration – Denver Regional Office, as part of NACo and NADO RF’s larger four-state initiative: Strengthening Economies in the West, which provide tailored  economic diversification support and technical assistance for coal-reliant counties and regions in Colorado, Montana, Utah & Wyoming. This initiative kicked off in April of 2017 with an educational forum in Denver.

Attendance for this forum is encouraged for Montana counties and regions economically linked to the coal industry and forum content will primarily focus on strategies and opportunities specifically unique to Montana. Through this regional initiative, a similar forum was held in Utah in October 2017, while forums will later take place in Wyoming and Colorado over the course of 2018.

Please visit this link to register for the forum.

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SEMDC CEDS Document Featured on NADO Website


The Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) has the potential to be a true road map that brings together many voices from your region to form a common vision for economic prosperity and resilience.  Through the CEDS Spotlight case studies series, the NADO Research Foundation is highlighting best practices and innovative elements of CEDS planning, development, and implementation from EDDs and other regional development organizations across the country.  Click here to view the SEMDC CEDS featured on their site.

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Energy Open scheduled for August 17th and 18th


The 14th Annual Energy Open Tours and Golf Tournament will be held on August 17th and 18th, 2017 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.”  This is a great opportunity to tour unique energy facilities, network with energy leaders, decision makers, legislators and golf one of Montana’s most challenging public courses.

The Energy Open starts at 9:30 am on Thursday August 17th at Colstrip High School with registration and networking opportunities.  Lunch will be served prior to the attendees departing on two different Tours.  The two Tours will feature the Colstrip Power Plant Complex (coal fired power generation), the Boilermakers Training Center (workforce training), Rye Park and 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 Wagon Wheelz Café / Moose Lodge.

On Friday August 18th, 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.

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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SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available to Montana Small Businesses


SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Small nonfarm businesses in 22 Montana counties and two neighboring North Dakota counties are now eligible to apply for low‑interest federal disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. These loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by drought in the following primary counties that began July 4, 2017, announced Director Tanya N. Garfield of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West.

Primary Montana counties: Fergus, Petroleum, Phillips, Richland and Rosebud;

Neighboring Montana counties: Big Horn, Blaine, Chouteau, Custer, Dawson, Garfield, Golden Valley, Judith Basin, McCone, Musselshell, Powder River, Roosevelt, Treasure, Valley, Wheatland, Wibaux and Yellowstone;

Neighboring North Dakota counties: McKenzie and Williams.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster,” Garfield said.

Small nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

“Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage. These loans have an interest rate of 3.215 percent for businesses and 2.5 percent for private nonprofit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years and are available to small businesses and most private nonprofits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship,” Garfield said.

By law, SBA makes Economic Injury Disaster Loans available when the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. The Secretary declared this disaster on July 10, 2017.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency about the U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance made available by the Secretary’s declaration. However, nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance in drought disasters.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The deadline to apply for these loans is March 12, 2018.

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Unveiling of Colstrip Economic Diversification Strategy


Colstrip, MT, May 16, 2017 – The City of Colstrip and Southeastern Montana Development Corporation (SEMDC) are pleased to invite you to a press conference unveiling the Colstrip Economic Diversification Strategy, Friday, May 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm MDT at Colstrip City Hall.  

This strategy is a cooperative effort of businesses, civic and economic development organizations, and the public to outline economic development projects and goals that will diversify and strengthen the community of Colstrip. Through the six-month study and public engagement process, multiple concepts have risen to the surface as opportunities for Colstrip to consider to bring balance and increased diversity to their economic drivers, while staying true to the core industries of coal mining and power generation that have built Colstrip into the vibrant community it is today.

“Thanks to all that were involved in the preparation of the Colstrip Diversity Strategy.

Now is the time for us all to come together and take up the challenges and work together using the economic diversification strategy as a road map.  Our plan of action is a destination to remain a continuing vibrant community with a quality living environment.” John Williams, Mayor, City of Colstrip.

The Colstrip Economic Diversification Strategy will serve as a roadmap to empower Colstrip to establish goals and objectives, develop and implement a plan of action, and access and utilize resources efficiently and effectively.

The complete economic diversification strategy can be found at after May 19th.

If you would like more information about the Diversification Plan, please contact Jim Atchison at 406-748-2990, or email at





Misc. Quotes:


“This is a huge day for Colstrip! Our community has had a great deal of attention in relation to the closing of Colstrip Units 1 & 2. Now is the time to showcase how we as a community, are going to work together to ensure Colstrip remains alive and vibrant, despite the economic challenges facing us.” Jim Atchison, Executive Director SEMDC



“To be successful, this collaboration between the Private, Public and Non-Profit Sectors needs to evaluate and most importantly, act upon the numerous opportunities before Colstrip.  The present challenges are significant, yet we as a community accept the responsibility to move forward  – – – – – today!”

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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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