Diversification Spotlight: Colstrip & Southeast Montana


In the fall of 2015, staff at the Southeastern Montana Development Corporation (SEMDC) received a challenge from their constituents in the City of Colstrip:  help create an economic diversification plan to address the difficulties the region was facing as a result of the decline in the local coal industry.  Like many other coal-reliant communities throughout the country, Colstrip was feeling the economic effects reverberating from a mix of regulations, market forces, and the availability of cheap natural gas.  The call to action was especially prescient in light of an announcement made the following summer  that Units 1 and 2 of the local Colstrip Power Plant would be shuttered by 2022.

Through the support of multiple partners, SEMDC ultimately developed and released the Colstrip Economic Diversification Strategy in May of 2017, identifying six goals with 17 strategies to support economic diversification and improved quality of life in Colstrip and the surrounding region.

The National Association of Development Organizations(NADO) Research Foundation recently featured this plan–which is incorporated into SEMDC’s updated Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy(CEDS)–as a regional case study in their CEDS Spotlight series.

The full NADO case study, including an interview with SEMDC Executive Director Jim Atchison, can be found at the following link:  CEDS Spotlight: Southeastern Montana Development Corp.