|There was really nothing new or surprising to come out of last week’s Community Assessment exercise conducted by a team of state economic professionals.
Every few years, similar exercises take place here. And the results have been quite similar: Custer County is one of the most scenic counties in the state; there’s a whole bunch of great people who live here along with a few rotten apples; tourism, real estate and ranching are all economic contributors, but there’s room for improvement.
Still, for local businessmen, elected officials and civic leaders, these assessments are a feel-good confirmation that overall, this county is doing pretty good for itself. (Scratch that “elected officials” mention; while two county commissioners attended one of multiple sessions, there wasn’t a single official from either of the towns or any of the special districts. Shame, shame.)
Based on the experts’ preliminary report – and there will be more to come – the county needs to come to grips with a few key issues, notably affordable housing, a way to draw and keep younger workers, and some missed opportunities on how we market ourselves to those elusive but important tourist dollars.
We’ll leave it up to the local Economic Development Committee to digest, regurgitate and act upon the various salient points of the study. In the meantime, congratulations all around to the local citizens who strive to make this community of ours a great place to visit and to call home.