The Prairie

Southeastern Montana Development Corporation
Quarterly Newsletter
Building Montana-One Job At A Time
Jan 2021 | Issue One
Welcome to the 1st Prarie Newsletter distributed by Southeastern Montana Development Corporation. We are excited to bring you all of the latest news and updates. Please share this with your friends, family, and colleagues. Check out our new website at
A Note From The Director
As 2020 came to an end, we were reminded of the essential things in life - family, friends, and community. At Southeastern Montana Development Corporation (SEMDC), we had the privilege of supporting our communities and many small businesses within our service region of Custer, Rosebud, Powder River, and Treasure Counties. Working together with them we all learned to navigate through this unprecedented time. Many challenges were faced as businesses were forced to close their doors and reopen with limited capacity to serve customers. Some communities lost businesses due to this. However, many were also able to be saved by utilizing grants and other designated COVID assistance. The country's economic hit was significant, yet in Southeastern Montana, we showed resiliency and a special spirit to weather through this storm much better than many other communities in our state and nation.

2020 was a record-setting year in many ways at SEMDC. There were many highlights, including the five (5) economic diversification projects that we have started in Colstrip, securing $4.5 million in state funds for infrastructure repair projects, assisting Custer County with funding for the new Event Center, and being awarded a $7 million grant for Powder River County to rebuild bridges destroyed by flooding. We were also excited to bring on Angela Mendoza as our new Grant Administrator and Public Relations Coordinator. She is already assisting our team in our efforts to make the economy in our region stronger and more resilient.

As we move forward into 2021, we realize that times are still uncertain. SEMDC will continue to do all we can to support the regional economy through business counseling, grants, low-interest loans for small businesses, and advocacy efforts with numerous stakeholders. I know 2021 will be much better as SEMDC has some significant and exciting projects coming out! Wishing you all a prosperous and healthy new year and please remember that - - - - -
“In every Adversity lie the Seeds of Greater Opportunity”

Jim Atchison
Executive Director
New Branding Campaign for Colstrip
and Eastern Montana
As part of a new diversification campaign in Colstrip, we will be releasing new branding and marketing designed to attract new companies and residents to the area. Maintaining a healthy economy in Colstrip and Eastern Montana is the goal at SEMDC.
USDA's Value-Added Producer Grants for 2021
The U.S. What does this program do?
The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and marketing of new products. The goals of this program are to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities and increase producer income. You may receive priority if you are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative or are proposing a mid-tier value chain. Grants are awarded through a national competition. Each fiscal year, applications are requested through a notice published in the Federal Register and through an announcement posted on
Program Funding: $33 million and any additional FY 2021 funding that becomes available.

Maximum Grant Amount: Planning Grants $75,000; Working Capital Grants: $250,000.

Matching Funds Requirements: 50 percent of total project costs.

Who may apply for this program?
Independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer- or rancher-cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures, as defined in the program regulation, are eligible to apply for this program.

How may funds be used?
Grant and matching funds can be used for planning activities or for working capital expenses related to producing and marketing a value-added agricultural product. Examples of planning activities include conducting feasibility studies and developing business plans for processing and marketing the proposed value-added product. Examples of working capital expenses include:
  • Processing costs.
  • Marketing and advertising expenses.
  • Some inventory and salary expenses

Please watch this webinar for more information.

REAP Grant Awarded to Broadus IGA
Broadus Foods Remodel
Broadus Foods was awarded a REAP grant from USDA. The grant is to assist in funding the extensive remodel the store is currently undergoing. The remodel includes a new condenser that has opened approx. 100 sq feet in the store's maintenance room; with the new coolers also installed, the expected savings are roughly $3000 a month in electricity. Next time you are passing through Broadus make sure you stop in and check it out.

The deadline for 2021 the REAP Grant is March 31st

EDA Awards Powder River County $7 million grant.
On July 29, 2020, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced that it had awarded Powder River County a $7 million grant from the EDA’s Disaster Recovery Program to replace or upgrade four bridges and resurface approximately 18 miles of road damaged by flooding in 2019. The EDA allocation is the second major grant Powder River County has received for the project. Last February, the Montana Department of Commerce awarded Powder River County with a $750,000 grant from the Delivering Local Assistance (DLA) Program. The two grants represent 89-percent of the $8,750,000 project and are the result of a collaboration between Powder River County, Southeastern Montana Development Corporation (SEMDC), and Great West Engineering. 

Atchison Awarded the 2020 Anthony J. Preite, Champion of Economic Development.
(Colstrip)  Jim Atchison, the Executive Director of Southeastern Montana Development Corporation (SEMDC), is the recipient of the Anthony J. Preite Champion of Economic Development Award. Montana Economic Developers Association gives the award to one person yearly who has significantly impacted Montana’s economy.

Atchison was nominated by his long-time colleague Julie Emmons Stoddard and the Mayor of Colstrip, John Williams, who commented that “Jim has literally taken the communities through floods, fires, and droughts,” he continued, “and provided us with the foundation to navigate through difficult times.” Williams also noted that Atchison “always has a “can-do” attitude and maintains a significant degree of humility while working hard.” The nomination included four additional written letters of recommendation, such as one from the Rosebud County Commissioners, who referred to Atchison as “a wonderful asset to our region.” Jason Rittal, Deputy Director of the Montana Association of Counties, stated that “he can think of no other economic development professional that acts with more dedication, passion, and cooperation.” Other letters included were from Herbert J.C. Kulow and Martin DeWitt. A few of the projects that were implemented or spearheaded by Atchison include creating an economic diversification strategy for Colstrip, acquiring $3.7 million in funding to benefit the region, and establishing a revolving loan fund for jobs creation and support of business in the four-county region he serves. While this is just a small list of what Atchison has contributed to Eastern Montana, it shows us a glimpse into why he was given the award. When asked to comment on winning, Jim humbly stated, “It was a shock, and it is very much appreciated.” He also credited his team at SEMDC for assisting him in pursuing the endeavors. One of Jim’s favorite quotes is, “Economic Development is a team sport. It is much more difficult to succeed performing as the Lone Ranger.”
You can view all of the letters and nomination form at