SMDC considered for prestigious designation

Friday, September 18, 2020
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Evelyn Lim, Region 8 Administrator for the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, spoke to the group during the meeting with SMDC about its application to be designated as an EnVision Center.
Photo by Katherine Sears

Snowy Mountain Development Corporation is currently in the application process to become designated as a National EnVision Center by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. On Tuesday, SMDC staff met with HUD Region 8 Administrator Evelyn Lim and Jackie Girard, HUD State Director of Montana, to discuss the organization’s qualifications for the designation, as well as their assistance in guiding plans for the Petroleum County Community Center in Winnett.
SMDC is a non-profit organization that serves six counties in Central Montana to lead, develop and implement the region’s economic development plan.
EnVision Centers are centralized hubs that provide people with resources and support needed to excel, according to their website. To be considered for an EnVision Center, an organization must be committed to self-sufficiency and have strong organizational capacity and leadership.

They must also align with four pillars, including economic empowerment, educational advancement, health and wellness, and character and leadership.
“The idea is to leverage other federal programs in the area,” Lim said of the purpose of an EnVision Center.
Lim added the leadership shown at SMDC stood out in their consideration, along with the organization’s history of building partnerships for success and their commitment to creating a strong business climate.
“The entire team is well rounded and energetic, each bringing a unique set of skills which allows them the opportunity to provide a holistic approach to supporting the four pillars of an EnVision Center,” said Lim.
She further added, “Overall, SMDC has garnered a great deal of support from local and regional partners and has a portfolio of completed projects that speaks for itself.”
In a recommendation letter for SMDC from Senator Steve Daines, he explained the importance of designating the organization as such.
“The SMDC EnVision Center would effectively break down the silos among service providers to support local entrepreneurs and small business owners and leverage long-term partnerships with federal, state, and local agencies, the Congressional delegation and political representatives, and public and private industry professionals,” the letter stated.
Kathie Bailey, executive director of SMDC, told Lim that the organization possess all four pillars of an EnVision Center, especially when it comes to the community center project in Winnett.
 “These folks are already very skilled, but I think they all learned a lot in this process,” said Bailey, referring to Petroleum County officials present at the meeting and the project’s contribution to educational advancement, as well as character and leadership.
Petroleum County officials present at the meeting included Gail King, Sue McKenna, Luann Knutson, and Paul McKenna.
“You can feel their dedication to this project,” said the officials of SMDC staff’s involvement in planning the community center.
“This is exactly what we envisioned for an EnVision Center,” said Lim, “I look forward to all we’ll get to do together.”
As SMDC moves toward celebrating 20 years, the staff is excited to be considered for such a designation and Bailey said the designation will allow for the opportunity to open new doors and bring in additional resources.
 “SMDC is excited about the opportunity to become an Envision Center. This designation will open up doors and access to new resources for our six-county region in Central Montana,” said Bailey. We are honored to have caught the attention of this very important federal partner. We are already identifying other federal partners that will help us further our mission to build community and economic capital in central Montana.”
The organization will be notified when it has officially been designated an EnVision Center. If so, it will be one of only two EnVision Centers in the state of Montana.
Over the last decade, SMDC has made 63 loans for a total of $26,654,699; leveraged $507,884,176 in additional dollars; created or retained 1,414 jobs; and assisted 1,535 businesses, according to its website.