Logan Simpson’s community planning team helped communities throughout Idaho’s West Central Mountains Region build the West Central Mountains Economic Development Strategy (WCMEDS), a plan for economic resilience. Just 10,800 residents live in the 3 million-acre region. Over the past 40 years, the area’s economy has changed dramatically. WCMEDS contains short- and long-term goals that address six elements affecting the region’s quality of life and economic future. The strategy identified five key industries for which the region is well-positioned. An adaptive management program with associated metrics allows the region’s communities to check progress against goals.
There has been consistent progress against the plan since its adoption, demonstrating the strong spirit of collaboration between the region’s communities. A regional economic summit has taken place; a housing trust has been established; development of a parks and recreation district is underway; and an area sector analysis project are reaching the point of completion. The group has effectively enhanced youth activities and formed partnerships to address veterans’ needs. Progress is also being made in other areas, such as workforce development, construction of bus kiosks, update of the Valley County Pathways Master Concept Plan, establishing business incubators, construction of community gardens, and forest preservation. Implementation of the plan was partially funded by two grants awarded through the America’s Best Communities (ABC) competition. The plan won the 2016 American Planning Association Vernon Deines Merit Award for an Outstanding Small Town Special Project Plan and the 2016 American Planning Association Idaho Chapter Outstanding Plan Award. Read the plan here or watch a video here.