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A local group of stakeholders recently participated in the Coal-Reliant Communities Challenge held on May 1 - 3, 2019 in Denver. The event was sponsored by NACo (National Association of Counties), NADO (National Association of Development Organizations), and the EDA (federal Economic Development Administration). The training event was organized to help coal communities with events, ideas, strategies, networking, promote discussions, and to share future goals.  Eleven coal impacted regions from six states attended with one Team from Montana.

Southeastern Montana Development Corporation (SEMDC) organized a local team of stakeholders and actively participated at the event. The Team from Southeastern Montana consisted of Bill Briggs, Chief Dull Knife College; Julie Emmons, SEMDC Community Services Director; Jim Atchison, SEMDC Executive Director; Doug Martens, Rosebud County Commissioner; John Williams, Colstrip Mayor; Jennifer Anderson, MSU Extension - Rosebud County and Jack Standa, General Manager - Westmoreland Rosebud Mining. Also attending as coaches for the Team were John Rogers, Consultant; Liz Ching, MT Department of Labor & Industry and Molly Herrington, KLJ.

“This turned out to be an excellent opportunity to listen to other communities and to share with them what Colstrip and Rosebud County is going through,” noted Jim Atchison of SEMDC.  “It was also a healing process of sorts as we all realized we were not the only town going through these challenges.” Atchison added.

The two + day event featured networking opportunities, community presentations / discussions and active interactions with all the communities.  Specific community visions and future plans were all set in-place.