Supporting Coal Regions in the West

When we think about America’s coal economy, we typically first think about Appalachia.  But, the reality is that most coal in the US comes from the West—from regions in Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming in particular.  Communities in the West are also facing challenges as the demand for coal slows, and they must seek out other economic engines to diversity their economies.  Last week, I was in Denver for a conference on “Strengthening Economies in the West” and I learned a great deal about what’s happening with coal –reliant communities in the Western US.   I plan to dig deeper on this topic in future blog, but, for now, let me share a few helpful resources that I learned about last week.

  • The Changing Coal Industry:  This report for Montana’s Coal Country Coalition assesses the regional impact of Montana’s coal industry, and maps the potential effects of its decline.  It also offers a series of recommendations for how impact communities can respond and recover.
  • ENDOW Wyoming:  Wyoming is also looking to develop new business opportunities via ENDOW (Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming) Wyoming, a new initiative to encourage communities to develop strategies for economic diversification.   ENDOW seeks to link a host of initiatives such as programs to research new carbon capture technologies, a statewide outdoor recreation task force, and Wyoming Grown, an effort to bring Wyoming natives home to the state.
  • IceLab:  In Gunnison CO, local leaders have embraced entrepreneurship via IceLab, a local accelerator and working space that seeks to become the hub for entrepreneurs and innovators in Western Colorado.