In early 2016, the Lewis Economic Development Council (Lewis EDC) began the process of developing a strategic plan to guide the organization’s short, medium, and long-range economic development activities. Funded under the US Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, the plan was intended to mitigate job losses and community divestment resulting from the closure of the state’s only remaining coal-fired power plant, TransAlta. The first of the company’s two coal-burning units were scheduled to shut down at the end of 2020, with the final facility slated to close in 2025.
TIP Strategies was engaged by the Lewis EDC to lead the strategic planning process. The resulting plan, which was finalized in December 2016, outlined a diverse set of strategic initiatives to recruit new businesses to the area, attract and retain talent, develop the local workforce, and expand existing industry and business sectors. Quantitative findings from the analysis were supported by qualitative data gathered from community site visits, which included personal interviews and focus groups with more than 50 community representatives and stakeholders. The recommendations were designed to build on Lewis County’s unique asset base and past successes, promote investment in targeted areas, and enhance the county’s quality of place. Community leaders obtained additional EDA funding to implement recommendations related to the attraction and retention of talent.