The National Association of Counties (NACo) today announced the next phase in an effort to assist counties and regions that have experienced economic challenges related to the coal industry. Region 10 was selected to send a team to their upcoming Innovation Challenge.

With support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, NACo and the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation are hosting an “Innovation Challenge” to support job creation, business growth and long-term strategies that will benefit some of America’s hardest-hit communities. Under the first phase of this program, seven county-based teams in April participated in an educational workshop in Pikeville, Ky.

The second phase shifts geographic focus to Grand Junction, Colo.  Counties and regions in western states applied to join this program by forming multi-sector teams and submitting applications to attend a workshop in Grand Junction and access additional support from NACo and NADO Research Foundation.

“We are pleased to announce the next phase of this groundbreaking effort specifically designed to help communities respond to coal-related economic challenges,” said NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase. “This initiative will help foster economic conditions for growth and provide communities with tools to achieve their potential.”

“I look forward to attending this workshop with our local team, and  gaining additional tools and strategies to further the work  we are doing to diversify and strengthen our economy.” ~ Trish Thibido, DCED

The Region 10 is comprised of the following representatives:

  • Michelle Haynes, Region 10 LEAP Inc.
  • Trish Thibido, Delta County Economic Development (DCED)
  • Robbie LeValley, Delta County
  • Glen Black, City of Delta
  • Samia Singelton, West End Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC)
  • Sarah Hendley, Paradox Trust

Other teams include the following organizations and counties:

  • Moffat County, Colo.
  • Rio Blanco County, Colo.
  • Routt County, Colo.
  • Sherburne County, Minn.
  • Snowy Mountain Development Corporation, representing Musselshell County, Mont.
  • Carbon County and Emery County, Utah, and
  • Six County Association of Governments, representing Utah counties of Juab, Kane, Millard and Sevier.

The eight interdisciplinary teams participated in a competitive process to secure spots at a three-day training workshop in Grand Junction, Colo., scheduled September 16-18, 2015.

Each team will benefit from individual assistance before and after the event that will help them implement strategies related to economic diversification, asset-based development, cluster development, workforce training, broadband, recreation and tourism and entrepreneurship.

Trish Thibodo, Executive Director of DCED, comments, “I look forward to attending this workshop with our local team, and  gaining additional tools and strategies to further the work  we are doing to diversify and strengthen our economy.”

Later this year, NACo and the NADO Research Foundation will host the third and final round of competition to invite counties and regions to attend an economic diversification training workshop in Charleston, W.Va.

“We are pleased that the Region 10 team was chosen to participate in the program, and are looking forward to hearing and sharing with other communities strategies to improve our economy,” Michelle Haynes, Executive Director of Region 10 adds.

For more information about the Innovation Challenge for Coal-Reliant Counties and Regions, visit and for a full list of the selected teams chosen to attend the Grand Junction workshop, visit


The National Association of Counties (NACo) unites America’s 3,069 county governments.  Founded in 1935, NACo brings county officials together to advocate with a collective voice on national policy, exchange ideas and build new leadership skills, pursue transformational county solutions, enrich the public’s understanding of county government, and exercise exemplary leadership in public service.