COLVILLE, Wash.—Washington State University Extension, its partnering organization Tri County Economic Development District (TEDD) and four other organizations recently received the 2012 Partnership Award from Inland Northwest Partners (INP) for rural, regional economic development efforts in support of a national initiative entitled Stronger Economies Together (SET).
INP, a regional nonprofit economic development organization, honored local communities and individuals with Hometown Awards at the organization’s annual meeting last month. The Partnership Award recognizes a significant economic development accomplishment through innovative partnerships. Along with WSU Extension and TEDD, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, Pend Oreille Economic Development Council and Washington State Department of Commerce were honored.
Led by WSU Extension and USDA Rural Development, the TEDD SET project began as a training program and an economic development planning effort involving business representatives, citizens and local governments. Regional experts from the University of Idaho, Eastern Washington University and others addressed topics such as regional assets, demographics, visioning and goals as well as planning and measurement.
According to Debra Hansen, WSU Extension Stevens County director, SET soon morphed into an action-oriented effort.
“People in our region are passionate about finding ways to grow the economy while maintaining our terrific quality of life,” said Hansen.
SET in northeast Washington attracted 42-75 participants per session from Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties for more than 1,805 contact hours of economic development learning. During seven sessions, community members weighed in on the state of the regional economy and proposed solutions to challenges. A number of ideas regarding entrepreneurism/small business, tourism, broadband, agriculture and many other critical topics surfaced during work sessions.
“Just about the time we thought SET was officially over, the group decided that they wanted to keep learning and working on the issues in six project teams,” said TEDD Executive Director Rob Willford.
Early successes with SET and strengthened partnerships will benefit regional WSU community and economic development work in the future, said Paul Johnson, USDA Rural Development, Washington. “We are delighted to have had this opportunity to work with WSU Extension and hope this is the beginning of many successful partnership efforts.”
WSU Extension SET team members supporting northeast Washington included Hansen; Community Coach Krisan LeHew; and WSU Division of Governmental Studies and Services Senior Associate Monica Babine.
For more information about WSU Extension SET efforts or INP, contact Babine, 425-827-8015, firstname.lastname@example.org.