Strengthening Economies in Montana: A 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 Montana: A Forum for Coal-Reliant Communities on April 18th-19th, 2018 at the Billings Food Bank facility in Billings, Montana, through the support of the U.S. Economic Development Administration-Denver Regional Office.   

This educational and interactive forum was designed to convene and assist counties and regions in Montana experiencing economic and other community challenges due to changing conditions of the coal industry. The forum brought together stakeholders from local, regional, state and federal government, as well as nonprofit and private sector partners, to learn and share best practices, lessons learned and new opportunities to support economic diversification and other economic development efforts.  During the event, plenary sessions, small group discussions and mobile tours covered a variety of topics including  strategic partnerships; entrepreneurship; technology and e-commerce; downtown revitalization; and education and workforce development.

Below is the link to the full forum agenda, followed by links to the presentations.

Full Program: Strengthening Economies in Montana: A Forum for Coal-Reliant Communities


Setting the Stage: An Overview of Economic Diversification,  Dr. Erik Pages. Entreworks Consulting

Building More Innovative Economies–Lessons Learned from Appalachia,  Kevin Loux, Shaping Our Appalachian Region(SOAR), Kentucky

Brownfields Redevelopment & Restoration Economy

Strategic Resources and Funding for Transitioning Communities 

Building Stronger Economies in Montana: Outlook & Opportunity 

Roadmaps to Diversification: Lessons Learned from the Colstrip Economic Diversification Strategy

  • Jim Atchison, Executive Director, Southeastern Montana Development Corporation
  • Becky Bey, KLJ Engineering
  • Molly Herrington, KLJ Engineering


Additional Resources 


This forum was the second in a series of four state-based convenings that NACo and NADO Research Foundation will be leading throughout the rest of 2018.  A similar event was held in Richfield, Utah in October of 2017, while upcoming forums are scheduled for Wyoming and Colorado in June and September, respectively. 

This three-year “Building Stronger Economies in the West” effort is made possible through the generous support of the U.S. EDA- Denver Regional Office.  In addition to the in-person trainings and workshops, our project team looks forward to providing on going support and technical assistance to coal-reliant counties and regions across the West through a bi-weekly newsletter and an interactive webinar series.