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County initiates strategic economic planning project


By Michael Howell

The Ravalli County Commissioners have decided to establish a committee to pursue strategic economic planning for the county.

“It’s all about jobs,” said Commissioner Matt Kanenwisher, who was instrumental in initiating the effort. Kanenwisher told the Bitterroot Star that the initial efforts will be aimed at establishing a comprehensive assessment of the economic infrastructure that currently exists in the valley. He said establishing certain goals and aims for future economic development will come later.

“First we need to determine what our current assets really are,” said Kanenwisher. He said that most of the information needed is already out there but needs to be pulled together and made available in a comprehensive fashion.

Kanenwisher said that the aim was to set up a steering committee of nine members, consisting of two county commissioners, the County Planning Administrator, the director of the Ravalli County Economic Development Authority, and five citizens, preferably experienced and successful entrepreneurs. He said several existing boards and committees as well as some new ones could serve as subcommittees in the process and help gather demographic statistics, explore cooperative opportunities and identify barriers to economic development in identified areas of concern.

According to Kanenwisher, the information gathered by the committee could be used by the county when considering criteria for state or federal programs or planning as well as accurate information for economic development and business recruitment efforts. It could also provide industry with a useful picture for determining actual economic opportunities in the county. The effort will be broad based and provide accurate information for all aspects of the economy including natural resource development, retail sales, tourism, real estate and agriculture.

Anyone interested in being involved or wanting more information can contact Kanenwisher at 369-2976.

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