Location: Libby, Montana | Client: EPA Superfund Redevelopment Initiative and Region 8 | Project Date: November 2016 – April 2018
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For decades, a mine near Libby, Montana produced the majority of vermiculite sold in the United States. Unfortunately, this vermiculite was contaminated with a toxic form of naturally occurring asbestos and many residents and workers exposed to the contamination developed asbestos-related disease. As the contamination cleanup comes to close, there is strong community interest in revitalization and boosting economic development in the area. The Lincoln County Port Authority owns the Kootenai Business Park, just east of downtown Libby. The property is part of the Libby Asbestos Superfund site and Libby Groundwater Superfund site and has been cleaned up for commercial, industrial or recreational reuse. The Port Authority is interested in attracting new tenants to the Business Park as well as seeing additional areas on the property redeveloped for commercial/industrial purposes.
To support the Port Authority’s revitalization goals, Skeo facilitated an initial visioning session with funding from EPA’s Superfund Redevelopment Initiative (SRI), and in coordination with EPA Region 8 and the Port Authority. Building on the economic development, job creation and recreational tourism opportunities identified in the visioning session, EPA Region 8 initiated a second phase of reuse planning support. Skeo conducted a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis and facilitated a second working session with an expanded group of stakeholders and regional economic development experts to evaluate opportunities and develop an action plan for moving forward.
The economic development experts brought fresh perspectives and regional expertise to the conversation. Based on the SWOT analysis and working session conversations, Skeo developed an action plan for the Kootenai Business Park that outlines near-term and long-term steps to position the Port Authority for business investment and strategies for removing significant road blocks to the development of the region’s only business park. The action plan outlines local coordination roles among economic development partners and leverages the assets of both the business park and the region to position the site well to support economic development in the region.