The Miles City Area Economic Development Council (MCAEDC) got input from Billings, Helena and Bozeman in addressing a variety of issues at last Thursday morning’s meeting.
Lew Vadheim gave an update on his visit to the Billings Community Growth Conversations in May.
The event was set up with four business leaders from Billings and was moderated by the editor of the Billings Gazette.
They spent around an hour and a half in a panel form.
“The take-home message, I think were that you establish the issue or establish a goal then try to develop a plan to meet that goal with open communication of all the groups concerned,” said Vadheim. “And finally find funding.”
According to Vadheim Billings had taken those ideas and put them into action.
“For example they had decided as a community to do something about the downtown homeless situation. They identified the people who were involved and set up a program of counseling,” said Vadheim.
The people identified were counseled on various offenses. They also had a point system.
“For instance, urinating in public was worth so many points and if you accumulated so many of these points you were sent to jail,” said Vadheim. “Every time you were arrested you were given a chance to go into rehab.
According to Vadheim over a year they had identified over 70 people. Of those about 40 percent of them had left town, about one third of them had gone to rehab and are no longer a problem.
While Vadheim didn’t think the homelessness model fit Miles City. The Miles City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Laney suggested that Miles City could replace the homelessness subject with suicide to help the community.
The committees also gave updates.
According to MCAEDC President Jackie Muri, the executive committee is working on four key things.
The first being updating the office after having a technology assessment done. This was done to identify gaps and how to make the office more efficient.
MCAEDC Executive Director Mike Coryell is currently determining the greatest values from the assessment.
“Right now for example we don’t have some important things like a firewall or back up processes of any kind in place,” said Muri. “The nice thing about having that assessment done we know where the opportunities exist to find some solutions. It’s an important step to get this addressed.”
The executive committee is also going over the strategic TIF District membership. In the last few meetings the involvement in the TIF District has been discussed as Coryell has been offered a liaison position to connect the TIF District and MCAEDC.
“There’s just potential of conflict of interest. We have an idea of how we will approach that and Mike is following up with that group,” said Muri.
Another item that has been talked about is the opportunity to possibly partner with MSU-Billings. They would play a facilitator role and assist MCAEDC with ‘leading or facilitating community wide collaboration with key partners.’
According to Muri MSU-B has a center that would be able to support the council. MCAEDC currently doesn’t know what this partnership would look like but is an interest for the council.
Lastly, the committee worked on editing the conflict of interest and confidentiality statements. The council finalized these documents.
According to Coryell the committee met with Miles Community College President Stacy Klippenstein looking for input on the upcoming year. They are hoping to work together on the upcoming leadership class.
The committee is in the beginning phase of advertising the the next round of leadership classes. They are beginning to look for applicants for the next leadership class.
“We hope to change a few things but we’ll build on the successes from the spring that we have,” said Coryell.
According to the development committee chair Vadheim they have since the last meeting met with the fire department twice.
The development committee has been working with Ron Nemec from Job Service to help the fire department identify key issues and create a plan.
“This last meeting Ron Nemec was asked to review the job description and other documents to offer suggestions,” said Vadheim.
Nemec made several suggestions to the fire department who is currently reviewing those.
According to Vadheim Capt. Mike Miller and Chief Gary Warren are reviewing the document. After the business plan is revised it would be sent to Human Resources, then to the city attorney and then finally to the City Council to be finalized.
“They have been very supportive and appreciative of Ron’s efforts,” said Vadheim. “Mike has also sent out a document that goes over different types of business plans.”
According to Vadheim most of the suggestions are language changes and updates.
“I don’t want it to sound like the fire department doesn’t have anything in place because that just isn’t true,” said Vadheim. “They’ve got several things in place. This is just an update and revisions.”
Vadheim is hopeful for a first draft to be ready soon.
Vadheim had good news to share with the council. The fire department recently filled two of their three vacant positions. They are hoping to be fully staffed soon.
The committee is slowly moving forward with the possible signage on the west and east ends of the interstate.
According to Vadheim members of the Department of Transportation (DOT) are looking into the signage.
“There was a lot of talk and discussion and as you can imagine the DOT has a book of signage regulations and ideas and things that they permit,” said Vadheim. “These are both federal and state regulations. So they are researching possibilities for the west end.”
The committee provided the DOT with several ideas of their own.
According to Vadheim they promised to get back to the committee in the next few weeks.
The communications committee is currently working on local development, website/social media content and communications calendar items.
Also at the meeting Chris Mehl of Headwaters Economics, who presented over a conference call, how Headwaters could help MCAEDC.
Headwaters Economics is located in Helena and Bozeman.
They help small rural cities who don’t have much staffing for economic development.
MCAEDC is focusing on the socioeconomic side that Headwaters Economics provides. Mehl was able to produce a profile of Custer County’s socioeconomic measures.
For example the profile says that from 1970 to 2014 the population decreased from 12,136 to 12,092. It also provides employment, personal income and other information.
When creating this profile you can also compare with other areas.
There is no meeting in July.