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Kootenai Business Park

| January 4, 2007 11:00 PM

All too often people complain about the low-paying jobs and the lack of jobs in Libby. Now there's a chance to possibly make a difference.

Paul Rumelhart, executive director of Kootenai River Development Council, firmly believes one of the keys to better jobs in Libby is making Kootenai Business Park a viable option for companies.

Since Stimson Lumber Co. gave the 400-acre former mill site to the Lincoln County Port Authority in late 2003, the property has become an important tool for economic development. There are currently 12 companies renting space there. Those companies employ more than 360 people, though not all of them work on-site.

Rumelhart likes to think another 700 jobs in the park could be created with improved infrastructure. He says $2.5 million is needed to upgrade rail lines, roads and water, sewer and electrical systems. Up to $800,000 could come from federal Community Development Block Grants. Both the Lincoln County commissioners and Libby City Council have voted to support grant applications in the amount of $400,000 each.

The first of two public hearings on those grant applications s will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, in the Ponderosa Room at Libby City Hall. The second will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, at the same location. The first meeting is for providing information on the grant program. The second will be for gathering input from residents and businesses.

Public support is vital in obtaining funding through the Community Development Block Grant program. We at The Western News support KRDC's proposal and hope that others who are interested in Libby's future will join us at the upcoming hearings.