Montana State University

Pilot program will aid community and economic development

September 14, 2007

Sarah Hamlen   High-Res Available

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Tel: (406) 994-4571
A new partnership will provide communities in Gallatin, Park, and Meagher Counties improved access to the economic and community development resources available from Montana State University Extension.

The program is a pilot project from MSU Extension and the Northern Rocky Mountain Resource Conservation and Development Corporation. The two groups have hired Sarah Hamlen as Extension area economic development coordinator. She will work with other partners to deliver educational programs and develop new projects that aid communities in reaching their economic and community development goals and objectives.

MSU Extension developed this three-year pilot project in response to increasing opportunities and demands for university resources in community and economic development.

"This partnership identifies a model that we would like to utilize to increase the impact of Extension in these areas that are so important to communities while we remain true to traditional Extension visions and purposes," said Doug Steele, MSU Extension Director. "MSU Extension has field staff serving every county in Montana. Through this comprehensive network, we have realized an increase in the need for extension personnel to aid local governments and businesses in community and economic development."

Josh Kellar, Northern Rocky Mountain RC and D coordinator said he is enthusiastic about the opportunities presented through this partnership. "MSU Extension is known for providing unbiased, research-based information and facilitation services to communities," Kellar said. "This partnership provides our organization with direct access to these services, the resources of the MSU campus, and an increased capacity to meet the economic and community needs of our area."

Hamlen said that even though the work didn't begin until the end of July, already there are many projects underway. By partnering with an existing organization, MSU Extension has hit the ground running with projects such as workforce housing, energy project development, community infrastructure planning, and community visioning projects.

Hamlen is excited to see the partnership develop. "This partnership model," she said, "is a great opportunity to connect the resources of higher education through Montana State University to the community and economic development needs of our region." She will be working in all three communities, and can be called at (406) 209-7679 or 582-5700 and emailed at

Contact: Sarah Hamlen (406) 209-7679 or 582-5700,