ToolKit to Build a Sustainable Network

Created by Rural Support Partners (RSP), which is a social enterprise that works toward strengthening organizations through networks of entities as well as asset-based economic development. RSP developed this toolkit to help organizations within a community establish strategic networks. It includes steps on how to create a successful network and includes several worksheets for assistance in the network development process.

Building_a_Sustainable_Network Toolkit

Asset Based Economic Development in Rural Communities: Existing Infrastructure, Historic and Cultural Resources

This paper focuses on building economy in rural communities by utilizing existing infrastructure for further development. It also highlights the use of a community’s historical and cultural value, coupled with main street use and tourism, to boost economic investment. Read the full article for more planning ideas and case study results. 

Infrastructure Historic and Cultural Resources

Area Health Care Education Center

The Montana Area Health Education Center (AHEC) works to enhance access to quality health care by bettering the supply and distribution of healthcare providers through community and academic educational partnerships. The AHEC website provides residents with resources for researching the health needs and assets throughout the state, maintains community health profiles, and promotes community health education.


Brownfield Grants

  • Assessment grants (up to $200,000) provide funding to inventory, characterize, assess, and conduct planning and community involvement activities related to brownfield sites;
  • Cleanup grants (up to $200,000) provide funding to carry out cleanup activities at brownfields sites;
  • Revolving Loan Fund grants (up to $1 million) provide funding to capitalize a revolving loan fund and to make loans and provide subgrants to carry out cleanup activities; and
  • Area-Wide Planning grants (up to $200,000) provide funding to conduct reuse planning, market studies, infrastructure upgrade planning, funding assessments, and other planning efforts.

Click here for the direct link to EPA’s website.  

Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Rural Economies

The Sonoran Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting western states with development and sustainability through research, best practices, and expert guidance.  This assessment provides information on the importance of considering climate change in developmental planning. It offers data and best practice information on collaboration among local governments and private industry for successful economic development in lieu of impacts from climate change. Read the full assessment for details and follow the link for more resources from the Sonoran Institute. 


Regional Census Data

The following Excel files contain detailed census data for the region. If you do not have Excel, you can download the Excel Viewer.

This information and more census related information is also available here.

Improving Streets and Trails

Opportunity Link and partners held a technical assistance workshop to provide communities with information and resources on improving the safety and accessibility of city streets and recreational trails. Topics covered included health and the built environment, planning for improved street and trail networks, bicycle tourism, building trails on a local level, and funding for projects. The Street and Trail Resource Packet contains handouts and contact information for technical assistance providers, bicycle tourism opportunities, Montana Department of Transportation resources, and funding source options. Below are some links for additional information: