Regional Planning

The Regional Plan strategies have been developed from the input of Northcentral MT Residents collected from over 36 community meetings, nearly 350 surveys, and countless discussions among community leaders.

Because our region is larger than some eastern states, we have unique challenges, such as the high cost of long-distance transportation and lack of basic services in remote areas that do not have adequate population to support a school, clinic, or grocery store. Responses to these challenges must consider diverse geographies that range from agricultural landscapes to mountainous areas, to population settlements. Solutions must also reflect the rich cultural diversity represented by Native American traditions, European heritages, and rural values of the American West. This diversity brings multiple perspectives to managing changes that are inevitable with the passage of time. The region encounters change in many forms that include demographic shifts, market preferences, technological advances, and legislative initiatives. Embracing this change in order to identify opportunities and, working together as a region to respond to these changes, are underlying premises of the Regional Plan.

In order to safeguard what we value as a region, we must identify the challenges associated with change and offer communities a coordinated response that will help turn threats into opportunities.

Strategic responses to change, executed in ways that reflect local values and priorities, are our keys to promoting vibrant communities.

A regional plan that successfully prepares for change will rely on combined resources from diverse communities to advance the public’s vision. Residents agree that our region can accomplish great things if everyone works together. The following guidelines for cooperating as a region reflect regional input:

  • Build on previous work done in communities around the region;
  • Identify common needs, priorities, and aspirations;
  • Include a mix of strategies that are appropriate for rural and urban communities;
  • Emphasize voluntary and cooperative strategies for counties, cities, tribes, and other agencies;
  • Respect existing planning documents in the region by recommending complementary goals;
  • Coordinate local-to-regional-to-statewide decision-making;
  • Direct investment to expand economic opportunities;
  • Improve the quality of life through enhancement or development of programs;
  • Improve transportation, infrastructure, and communication systems.

The Vibrant Futures project supports multi-jurisdictional partnerships and an integrated approach to addressing issues of housing, transportation, health, and environment. The regional plan provides a long-term vision for the region. Recommended strategies rely on incremental development practices that will implement the vision over time. Transparency and accountability are keys to this planning process and all undertakings that result from this plan.