The National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Association of Development Organizations(NADO) Research Foundation hosted the Strengthening Economies in the West Forum on April 19-21 at The Curtis Hotel in Downtown Denver, Colorado, with the support of the U.S. Economic Development Administration- Denver Regional Office. This free forum was designed for counties and regions in Colorado, Montana, Utah & Wyoming that are experiencing challenges from the contracting coal industry and are seeking creative approaches to economic diversification.
This convening brought together stakeholders from a variety of public and private sectors for an educational and interactive gathering to share best practices, lessons learned and new opportunities to support economic diversification in coal country through a mix of plenary sessions and smaller group discussions. Topics including broadband infrastructure, entrepreneurship, local foods, arts/creative placemaking and tourism. This forum also included plenty of networking opportunities between community peers, federal and state officials, and other practitioners promoting innovative rural economic and community development strategies.
Below you will find resources from the forum for your reference or to learn more information about the event and content from our presenters.
This forum served as a kickoff event for a three year partnership with EDA-Denver Regional Office, in which NACo and NADO will continue to provide technical assistance and support to coal-reliant communities across Colorado, Montana, Utah & Wyoming.
Putting Things into Perspective: Lessons from Coal Transition
From Downturn to Transition: Case Studies & Best Practices in Economic Diversification
- Rural & Proud: Jack Forniash, Principal, Epicenter, Green River, Utah
- Best Practices from Appalachia: Karen Fabiano, POWER Program Manager, Appalachian Regional Commission
- Building a Resilient Economy: Michelle Haynes, Executive Director, Region 10 Economic Assistance & Planning, Colorado
- Strategies to Address the Changing Coal Industry: Sue Taylor, Economic Development Director, Beartooth RC&D, Montana
Facilitated Training Sessions
Agriculture & Local Food Systems
- Dr. Becca Jablonski, Assistant Professor and Food Systems Extension Economist, Colorado State University
- Jennifer Watkins, Director of Operations, Alliance for Rural Impact
- Greg Winkler, Regional Manager, Colorado Department of Local Affairs
- Michelle Haynes, Executive Director, Region 10, Colorado
Arts & Creative Placemaking
- Kiley Arroyo, Executive Director, Cultural Strategies Council
- Margaret Hunt, Director, Colorado Creative Industries
Luncheon Keynote: Building Your Community to Strengthen Your Economy
Luncheon Plenary: Building Meaningful Partnerships
Exploring Data and Mapping Tools
- Financing Models for Rural & Tribal Communities, Alliance for Rural Impact
- Inside the Gig Economy, CSU Regional Economic Development Institute