Port Authority sets 2018 goals

By: 
JENNY GESSAMAN
Reporter

The Fergus County Port Authority set its sights on 2018 last Wednesday, laying out goals for the coming year. The roughly three-hour brainstorming session concluded with four defined objectives, including the actions needed to make them happen.

Development and maintenance of a strong, sustainable Lewistown workforce was one of the goals. Members Mike Dowdy, KellyAnne Terry and Tony Brown recommended initial assessments to determine what other parts of the state were doing with work programs, as well as the skills and education needs in this area.

Support is the key to workforce maintenance, according to the trio. Keeping workers means making sure they have the resources to do well in their jobs. The three members referenced the current childcare shortage as an example of an area where support could grow.

Terry said the idea included workplace support, too.

“Maybe as employers, we have to let go a little bit on the rigidity of, ‘You show up here at 8 a.m.,’” she said.

In general, the three agreed a supportive workplace culture not only allows people to work to their full potential, but also creates workers loyal to their company.

Members Karen Kuhlmann and Robin Fleming fleshed out another goal: marketing the region’s business friendly attitude.

The two suggested creating social media accounts and a website for Fergus County Port Authority outreach efforts. They also suggested more communication through local news outlets, and building a “Live here, work there” marketing campaign.

It will be a selling job, according to Kuhlmann, and that could make it tricky.

“It’s not something you just do, it’s not a task: It’s ongoing,” she said.

While the Port Authority wants to put a message out there in 2018, it also wants to draw something in: new businesses.

Chair Bret Carpenter and Secretary Pete Peterson outlined business recruitment as a goal. The pair mentioned two local projects, saying the Port Authority should continue supporting the new brewery while offering help and support to any grocery stores interested in coming to Lewistown.

To draw in more new business, the two suggested creating better connections at the state level, as well as a marketing campaign. Carpenter and Peterson added the Lewistown Municipal Airport Park would be attractive for new ventures.

“We’ve got to continue to move forward,” Carpenter said.

The group also considered collaboration and partnerships to be key for the coming year. Vice Chair Dave Bylerly and member Chris Cooler suggested strengthening communication between the Port Authority and local authorities, such as the Fergus County Community Council and the Lewistown City Commission, with annual reports.

The two also suggested a quarterly economic development newsletter and an updated emailing list.

Member Dave Phillips facilitated the discussions and presentations around goals, and was satisfied with group’s direction for 2018.

“I think you’ve done a really good job this morning in getting to the heart of these issues,” he said.

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