Headwaters Resource, Conservation and Development is hosting a strategy meeting in two weeks in Virginia City to get input from Madison County residents about economic priorities in the county.
The meeting is part of the process to update the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for the seven-county area of southwest Montana covered by Headwaters RC&D, said Katie Weaver, economic development planner with the RC&D.
The comprehensive plan is updated every five years and each county has its own economic development strategy within the overall plan. The last time the plan was updated was 2007.
The meeting will be May 14 at 3 p.m. at the Montana Heritage Commission Rehearsal Hall in Virginia City. The idea of the meeting is to just collect ideas from local citizens about what they see as economic development priorities in their communities and the county, said Madison County Grant Administrator Barbie Durham.
“I think the real benefit of this is that it’s all driven by citizen input,” Durham said.
Some of the economic development priorities identified in 2007 included implementation of an affordable housing plan, flood plain mapping and alternative energy development, she said.
Some of the priorities identified in 2007 have been accomplished, like the affordable housing plan. Others haven’t and still others don’t seem to be a priority any longer. That’s the reason for updating the document, Durham said.
Ultimately, the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan can help people identify priorities as well as barriers to economic development, Weaver said. Once the plan is updated, then citizens, organizations or local government can decide if there are ideas or problems within the plan they would like to take on. To that end the RC&D can help both with leadership and by helping to identify grant sources and other funding.
“However, if we don’t know what those ideas are then there’s no way we can craft solutions,” she said.
The meeting is open to the public and people are encouraged to attend and bring their ideas. Weaver will serve as a moderator for the meeting.
“It’s more of just an information gathering opportunity,” she said. “Then we come back and say ‘Here’s what we learned, now what do we work on.’”
For more information about the meeting or the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, call Weaver at 533-6783 or Durham at 843-4280.