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Neat, attractive community will attract people with money

| May 4, 2005 12:00 AM

To the Editor:

A recent letter commented that economic development had to do with building, expanding or developing something that would increase the local economy. The writer stated that it would be nice if Libby could build a civic center or some type of facility that could hold various sporting tournaments to bring more money into our community. Point well taken, but think further outside the box. As the numbers of visitors increase, we must simultaneously add additional accommodations such as housing space and the infrastructure to handle increased crowds.

Speaking of increased crowds, be mindful that tourism is already Montana's second largest industry and predicted to be one of our leading and fastest growing industries in 2005 and beyond. In Lincoln County alone, almost $18 million tourist dollars were spent in 2003 and more than 10,000 vehicles per day traveled through Libby on Highways 2 and 37. Sixty-one percent of travelers passing through Lincoln County are on vacation and will spend their money here when there is a reason to do so.

Also, be assured that a neat, attractive and well-maintained community including "pretty streets" does attract visitors. When visitors find products to purchase, especially those made in Montana, they will spend their money and that has significant direct and indirect economic effects throughout Libby.

The "Built it - They will come" concept is well known. Visit other Montana locales investing in tourism and downtown development and observe what is happening. People are coming, stopping, shopping and spending money.

As our leaders strive to make Libby a total destination attraction, no opportunity to make our community and downtown as attractive as possible, must be ignored.

A proverb says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now. Today, many civic-minded groups and individuals are partnering responsibly to enhance economic opportunities in Libby and our unique natural environment known as Kootenai River Country. Opportunities to invest in Libby's future abound. So, lead, follow, or get out of the way because Libby's future is bright and many are working to make it so.

Bobby Whitefield