Economic Development Plan Set for Review

By Beacon Staff

If you’re concerned about the future of the Whitefish economy, plan to be in the city council chambers on Oct. 17 for a public workshop on the Whitefish 2020 Plan – the chamber’s economic development blueprint for the next five to seven years.

Three years ago, Whitefish’s business and community leaders came together to develop the first iteration of the Whitefish 2020 Plan, a strategy for helping to improve – and diversify – our town’s economy. Many of the goals set forth in the original 2020 Plan have come to fruition; others are in progress; and still others have fallen by the wayside in favor of other programs or projects.

Implementation of the original Whitefish 2020 Plan has been the purview of the chamber’s Trustee Program, a group of corporate investors who’ve dedicated their time – and resources – to putting the economic development plan into action. The trustees have been the driving force behind a number of major economic development efforts, including the formation of Glacier AERO – a new nonprofit dedicated to expanding commercial air service to the Flathead.

Other projects spearheaded by the trustees include development of the chamber’s new website; publication of the annual Whitefish Guide – the city’s primary business attraction and relocation tool; development of the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park; removal of the old “drive-thru” building in Whitefish Depot Park; creation of a Business Development Center at the chamber offices; research into the need for summertime public bus service; and creation of the Great Northwest Oktoberfest to help spur shoulder season visitation.

Today – 36 months later – the state of our local, state and national economies is far different than in 2010. That means it’s time to take a second look at the plan, determine the changes and adaptations that need to be made, and come up with some new strategies for moving the Whitefish economy even further into the 21st century.

Workshop set for October 17 to update Whitefish 2020 Plan

The Oct. 17 workshop – scheduled for 6-9 p.m. in the city council chambers – will begin with a brief overview of the existing Whitefish 2020 Plan, followed by a 90-minute “brainstorming session” in which attendees will be divided into smaller workgroups to help identify economic development programs, projects and opportunities that could benefit the Whitefish economy.

The input received at the workshop will be used by the chamber’s trustees and board to draft the updated 2020 Plan during the chamber board’s annual retreat later on this fall.

If you’re interested in taking a more active role in charting Whitefish’s economic future, here’s your chance! The workshop is open to business owners, managers and anyone with a interest in helping local businesses to survive … and thrive!

For more information, call Chamber of Commerce Director Kevin Gartland at 862-3501, or email

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