County updating growth policy, economic development strategy

By Tracy McNew


Following a public outreach process which included open houses held in Libby, Troy and Eureka, as well as a public survey, Lincoln County is now updating their Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and their Growth Policy.

The two documents go hand in hand and are intended to lay out an action plan to guide countywide decision making on future economic development possibilities, land use issues, and more.

The two documents haven’t been updated since 2013 and 2009 respectively, and the CEDS document specifically, needs to be updated in order for the county to continue to qualify for assistance from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Darren Coldwell, County Administrator told The Montanian that federal assistance is very important for Lincoln county.

“Grant funding is huge,” he said. “It is through grants that we are able to employ 30 full time and part time employees.”

The process of updating these documents examines key economic indicators such as employment, population and housing trends as well as public infrastructure and services such as roads and parks.

The associated public survey received 373 responses and found that a majority of people were supportive of the county’s active involvement in recruitment of industry, including providing financial incentives. Most respondents also agreed that establishing stable road maintenance funding is important, and 58% indicated that they would support a countywide assessment for road maintenance. Reducing wildfire risk was also identified as a priority by 59% of survey respondents.

Draft CEDS and Growth Policy documents are being developed and will be reviewed by other stakeholders including a steering committee prior to being recommended for approval by the County Commissioners.