Economic Development is focus of annual meeting

The annual meeting of the Miles City Area Economic Development Council (MCAEDC) is coming up this Thursday with a full agenda.

Two main topics will be presentations on the 2016 Miles City economic impact and growth outcomes, and what makes Miles City great from an economic perspective. 

“In 2016 alone we brought in $1.9 million dollars in outside grant funding to support Miles City projects. That’s a significant amount of money that’s coming from outside of our city limits,” said Jackie Muri, MCAEDC Board President. “We’re bringing those dollars in to advance local work.” The grant applications were written by Kathy McLane and Julie Emmons. 

The projects receiving grant money included the Miles Community College (MCC) armory, and the Transco/MCC workforce training program. 

Also in 2016 MCAEDC’s Leadership Miles City program was given the opportunity to design the landscaping for the two roundabouts to be built on Interstate 94 at Haynes Avenue.

According to Leadership Miles City Chair Jolene Dutton they recently met with Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and one of the roundabouts was approved while the other still needed some work.

Over the years the leadership program has taught 170 local business leaders about Miles City, and its businesses, attributes and institutions.

MCAEDC plays a role in many projects but most of the time just as a facilitator.

Development Committee Chair Lew Vadheim gave the example of helping the Fire Department with ambulance problems. “We sorta lucked out with this one,” said Vadheim.

According to Vadheim, the fire department was having problems with being short-handed for their ambulances. 

They invited the fire department to one of the MCAEDC meetings. At that same meeting was a liaison from Sen. John Tester’s office who once she heard about the problem mentioned the possibility of receiving a grant to solve the issue. 

“They got invited to the meeting and the partnership was put together,” said Vadheim.  Problem solved.

According to Vadheim, MCAEDC is a group that looks for things that need to be done and tries to make a plan to make it happen. 

MCAEDC partners with many organizations around the county and region. A few of them are Southeastern Montana Development Corporation (SEMDC), the City of Miles City, Custer County, local banks and more. 

According to Muri and Vadheim, there are five main things that make Miles City great economically.

Topping the list is that Miles City is the trade hub in eastern Montana. The city offers a wide array of services.

The second is how economically diverse the area is. According to Muri, unlike some areas, there is no dominant industry but a group of industries that help the Miles City area thrive.

The third is that Miles City is still experiencing consistent growth while other communities have stalled. Muri referenced the new First Interstate Bank location, new businesses downtown and MCC’s new Ag Center.

The fourth and fifth items go hand-in-hand — collaboration and individuals. Through the individuals, collaboration is able to happen, MCAEDC officials said.

A prime example is the Milestown Community Improvement, Inc., Vadheim said. 

The meeting will be held at Vintage & Rustics in Montana at 813 Main Street from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. The public is invited to attend.