Economic recovery is a hot topic in the Methow these days. Last summer’s fires wreaked havoc on many businesses. But the issue of a healthy economy for our community is not new—we all want to see living wage jobs, successful businesses and thriving downtowns.
With last summer’s natural disaster as a catalyst, the Twisp and Winthrop Chambers of Commerce and TwispWorks have teamed up to lead the creation of an economic development plan for the Methow Valley.
A planning team, led by Amy Stork (executive director of TwispWorks and president of the Twisp Chamber) and Julie Muyllaert (vice president of the Winthrop Chamber), will direct data analysis, sector-specific forums and public meetings towards answering the question: What does economic vitality look like for the Methow Valley?
Collecting and analyzing baseline data about jobs, wages, and revenues from different industries in the Methow Valley will help paint a picture of the economy as it is now.
“I love to ask people ‘what would an economically healthy Methow Valley look like to you?’” Stork says. “People say they want Liberty Bell graduates to be able to stay and raise their own families here. People hope there will soon be no empty storefronts. Others look forward to the day when we buy most of our goods and services from each other. Whatever the answer, when people think not about dollar signs, but about hopes and dreams, that is when we can begin to get creative about economic development.”
From there, the team will reach out to the community through focus groups with key individuals in various industries, as well as through a number of community-wide forums. Participants will discuss how to diversify the economy here to create year-round jobs; how to educate our workforce; and how to give businesses tools to start and grow.
The team is also working with the state’s Department of Commerce, WSU Extension and other regional economic development agencies to find out what resources are available to help our area recover.
By early summer, the team will develop a set of recommendations for programs that help create jobs, support businesses and attract visitors.
CONTACT: Amy Stork, Executive Director at TwispWorks, 509.997.3300, firstname.lastname@example.org.