Strengthening Economies in the West: A Regional Forum for Coal-Reliant Communities


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.  

AGENDA:  Strengthening Economies in the West: A Regional Forum for Coal-Reliant Communities

Presentations/Additional Resources: 

Putting Things into Perspective: Lessons from Coal Transition

From Downturn to Transition: Case Studies & Best Practices in Economic Diversification

Facilitated Training Sessions

Agriculture & Local Food Systems

Broadband Infrastructure

Arts & Creative Placemaking


Luncheon Keynote: Building Your Community to Strengthen Your Economy

Luncheon Plenary:  Building Meaningful Partnerships

Exploring Data and Mapping Tools


Additional Resources: