Vibrant Futures of North Central Montana

Vibrant Futures is a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant made possible by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The grant application was submitted in September 2011 by Opportunity Link on behalf of the communities of Northcentral Montana and awarded in November 2011.

The mission of the project is to enable the communities of Northcentral Montana to complete a region-wide visioning, planning, capacity building, and information exchange system that will help coordinate and move forward existing local plans to create a comprehensive response to high priority needs and opportunities for a more economically and environmentally sustainable development.

Developing our Northcentral Montana Workforce

Guided by a study on our available labor force, Opportunity Link is focusing its efforts on developing our workforce’s employability and retention through work-readiness and preparation programs and increasing access to training for the emerging green jobs economy in the state.

Growing our Regional Economy through Accessible Public Transportation

Opportunity Link led a 2007 planning effort that established four new rural transit systems and expansion of one existing system: North Central Montana Transit (NCMT, in Hill and Blaine Counties), Fort Belknap Transit (at Fort Belknap Indian Community), Rocky Boy’s Transit (at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation), Northern Transit Interlocal (NTI, in Toole, Pondera and Teton Counties) and Blackfeet Transit (Blackfeet Indian Reservation) to expand its service area. OL secured technical assistance from Western Transportation Institute, as well as local community match and/or start-up funds to help establish these systems. OL currently administers NCMT, which coordinates fixed-route bus services with Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy’s shuttles across 100 miles of frontier terrain.

 In July 2010, Opportunity Link is the recipient of two 2010 Transportation Planning Excellence Awards by the Federal Highways Administration and the Federal Transit Administration for Planning & Leadership and Tribal Transportation Planning. In May 2010, Opportunity Link/North Central Montana Transit received a Letter of Commendation for Outstanding Innovation for Public Transport by the International Association of Public Transport.

Developing Markets for Montana Biodiesel

Opportunity Link actively promotes the use of locally-grown and produced biodiesel to possible markets that could lead to Northcentral Montana’s growth and development.

Building Community Assets & Wealth Creation

In building our communities’ assets and improving wealth creation programs, Opportunity Link believes that we will be able to address family and individual assets and wealth building.

 Opportunity Link is invested in improving accessibility of asset and wealth creation programs while building capacity of our communities to continue to provide these services to their residents.

Making Homeownership Affordable

Homeownership is one of the most attainable means of wealth creation for low-income rural households while helping to build community assets. Opportunity Link is committed to supporting the Mutual Self-Help Housing program and other affordable housing programs (IDA Housing programs, 1home) that help make homeownership a reality for our rural families.