Update on April 27, 2016: Valley County officials learned Wednesday that they will advance to the top eight in the America’s Best Communities competition. They’ll bring home $100,000 to begin implementing an economic development plan. In 11 months the contest sponsors Frontier Communications, DISH Network and the Weather Channel will assess how well the eight communities are implementing their plans. They’ll then choose three winners who will receive $1 million, $2 million and $3 million. Arlington, Washington and Tualatin, Oregon are among the top eight as well.
McCall resident Sherry Maupin who spearheaded the contest effort in Valley County says she’s thrilled and excited to move on to the next level. She says with the $100,000 they will hire someone to oversee economic development for the West Central Mountains region. They’ll also establish a workforce housing trust. That trust won’t have any money in it yet, but Maupin says they’ll work on that next.
It’s been more than a year since McCall, Cascade and the other Valley County towns joined together to enter the America’s Best Communities competition sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network and the Weather Channel. This week the county competes in the semifinals. When Valley County was selected for the top 50 it got $50,000 to create an economic development plan. That plan was then chosen as one of 15 semifinalists.
Of the 15 semifinalists from 10 states, Valley County has the smallest population and the largest area. It’s the only county in the group; most of the others are suburban towns. The contest is about small-town economic development and the grand prize is $3 million.
This week Sherry Maupin and other Valley County leaders will pitch their plan to a panel of celebrity judges. Maupin is president of the Valley County Economic Development Board, works at a McCall bank and is on the McCall Chamber of Commerce.
“If we don’t get another dime, it has brought our community together and provided us an economic development plan that is just amazing,” she says. “And so we already feel like we won if we don’t get anything further.”
Maupin says the plan includes a more than 50 mile county-wide bike trail system and branding the area with the name “West Central Mountains.” But she says the top priority is creating a workforce housing trust.
“The cost of our real estate here makes it almost impossible for our work force to actually purchase their homes,” Maupin says. “Most have to rent. Right now we had over 200 jobs [listed] in the newspaper and we had seven rentals available.”
Maupin will find out Wednesday if Valley County will advance to the top eight. If it does, it will get $100,000 to begin implementing its economic development plan. In 11 months, America’s Best Communities will look at the progress each place has made and award three prizes: one, two and three million dollars.
Maupin says Valley County will do everything in its plan with or without winning the America’s Best Communities competition. But she says the prize money would make it happen a lot faster.
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