Mike Sloan - November 23rd Speaker
Mike Sloan, Boundary County Economic Development Director provided information from the recently completed "Community Review Report" of the Boundary Economic Development Council and the Idaho Rural Partnership. The report conducted on September 21-23, 2010 provided an assessment of the state of the City of Bonners Ferry, Boundary County and the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, and provided suggestions for the future.

The Bonners Ferry "Connections" Strategic Plan, referred to as the "Hudson Study" was completed in 2001 as a joint project between the City, County and the Tribe. That study focused on 5 key planning elements: (1) Downtown Revitalization; (2) Industrial Development; (3) South Hill Public Safety; (4) 'Riverwalk' along the Kootenai River; and (5) the development of a Cultural Center concept.

The Boundary Economic Development Council, with the support of the City, County and the Tribe, asked the visiting team that conducted the 9/21-9/23 study to concentrate on 3 high priority focus areas: (1) Arts, Historic and Recreation Resources; (2) Infrastructure particularly focusing on 3-mile and the old mill site; and (3) Economic Development (i.e., the need and desire for more living wage employment opportunities. 

A  community center for the arts and/or indoor sports activities was one of the hot topics contained in the 160+ page community study. However, there appears to be divergent questions concerning how it is to be defined or used -- as an arts center, as a sports venue, for all age groups?  Infrastructure appears to be in good shape particularly as it impacts the two major areas of concentration -- 3-mile along with the airport and the old mill site. The third focus, economic development, will be the most difficult one to tackle. Items discussed were the availability of affordable broad-based internet  service, a dedicated industrial park for recruiting new industry, and the fact that with new industry comes the need for more infrastructure and taxes.

To quote from the study, "the community's assets are rich in natural, social, cultural and human capital. Many residents expressed a desire for change and new opportunities -- expanded health care opportunities, a recreation/community center, and a greenbelt along the Kootenai River. But we also heard a consistent refrain from adults -- "don't raise my taxes" -- and some even suggested opposition to the use of federal funds as well." 

The full report can be found on the city's website: www.bonnersferry.id.gov