With as many people as could fit in Snowy Mountain Development Corporation's conference room in Lewistown on Wednesday, and with a few people there virtually, the corporation celebrated being the first economic development corporation in the country to be designated as an EnVision Center by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.
EnVision Centers are designed to provide communities with centralized hubs for support in the four pillars of economic empowerment, educational advancement, health and wellness, and character and leadership.
"The designation will help Snowy Mountain Development Corporation by bringing us resources, helping us access federal and state partners and additional resources so that we can accomplish the goals of our communities,” said Kathie Bailey, Snowy Mountain Development Corporation executive director.
Snowy Mountain Development Corporation serves six counties in Central Montana: Fergus, Judith Basin, Wheatland, Petroleum, Musselshell and Golden Valley.
Bailey said the new resources and partners are very important because the area is so rural. "Without having the Snowy Mountain Development Corporation working on community and economic development, we would not be able to access these federal resources or state resources. Our businesses would be not able to grow and expand,” said Bailey.
HUD's regional administrator, Evelyn Lim, said Snowy Mountain was a perfect candidate for the designation. "They have great partnerships, great programs. They're really helping the community and it's aligned with our EnVision Center goals,” Lim said. "We’re really just trying to leverage what they're already doing."
A big gesture for a small community, likely to pay off in a big way.
As of Wednesday, there were 66 EnVision Centers nationwide, with most being non-profit agencies, housing authorities, or multi-family offices. One of those 66, the only other EnVision Center in Montana, is the Fort Peck Housing Authority.
For more information, call the SMDC at 406.535.2591, or click here to visit the website, which includes this overview:
In 2001, a group of community-minded volunteers founded Snowy Mountain Development Corporation (SMDC) as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to build community and economic capital in a six-county area comprised of Fergus, Judith Basin, Wheatland, Petroleum, Musselshell and Golden Valley Counties situated at the geographical heart of the State of Montana. Local, state, and federal governments provide funding for SMDC to carry out this mission. Notably, the US Economic Development Administration recognizes SMDC as an Economic Development District and the State of Montana recognizes SMDC as a Certified Regional Development Corporation. With these designations is funding to support SMDC's partnerships with local governments, community organizations, businesses and entrepreneurs to implement key community and economic development projects.