Meetings set on Hi-Line economic development


Resource assessments organized by the Montana Economic Developers Association in two local communities have prompted action in Chinook and meetings covering much of north-central Montana.

A series of meetings is scheduled Thursday to discuss creating a cooperative to raise and process baby carrots locally, and Chinook is taking public comment about 12 goals developed for a comprehensive economic development strategy it plans to complete early next year.

The meetings are the results of community assessments done in Chinook and Liberty County by teams of professionals assembled by MEDA earlier this year.

The cooperative meetings resulted from a proposal by representatives of the Riverview Hutterite Colony to form a co-op to raise and locally process the high-value crop, which the colony already raises.

Chinook is trying to collect public comment about the goals it has identified from its assessment. The City Council will approve a list of the goals as part of the economic development strategy once it is comfortable with the list and the language used in it, Bear Paw Development said in a press release.

Chinook Mayor Bill Oehmcke could not be reached for comment this morning.

The list of 12 goals includes encouraging and supporting development of Bear Paw Battlefield south of Chinook as a unit of the National Park Service; encouraging and supporting the development of biofuels and lubricants in the area; examining creating a cooperative clothing and retail store; and beautifying U.S. Highway 2 in the Chinook area.

Other goals are developing a local economic development agency, developing a grant-writing group or cooperative, supporting and sustaining local businesses, developing a full-time visitors center, developing a youth leadership program, seeking and supporting improvements to the irrigation infrastructure in the Milk River basin, and pursuing funding for the construction of a new fire hall and buying new fire trucks for the Chinook Fire Department.

People are invited to contact Oehmcke or any member of the Chinook City Council to make comments.

The baby carrot cooperative could impact the people in the Chinook area as well as any area with irrigated land in north-central Montana.

The cooperative would use a Chester plant to process irrigated crops raised in the area.

The meetings will be joined by Bear Paw Development Corp. executive director Paul Tuss, Paul Wipf Jr. of the Riverview Colony, Chester Mayor Wayne Wardell and Fraser McLeay of Global Development Services, a company conducting a feasibility study on the cooperative.

The series of meetings is set to start Thursday at 8 a.m. at Norley Hall in Conrad, running to 9:30 a.m. The next is from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the ag center in Fort Benton, then from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Chinook Motor Inn and from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Liberty County Courthouse.

For more information, contact Tuss at 265-9226 or e-mail [email protected].


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