In November, the Choteau Region Port Authority hired Jennifer Asselstine as a part-time community coordinator, who will work with ACAM, the Choteau Chamber of Commerce and other economic development organizations on a wide variety of issues. projects.
CAPA Board Chair Mary Sexton said the community coordinator position was widely advertised last fall and drew six candidates. The CAPA Board of Directors selected the nominees based on five criteria and recommended that two finalists be interviewed by a committee comprised of CAPA Board members Lisa Haas and Neal Wedum and the Vice -President of the Chamber of Commerce, Annie Olson.
One of the two finalists withdrew after the interview and the CAPA Board of Directors chose Asselstine to provide the service effective December 1. She and CAPA signed a two-year contract for 80 hours of work per month at $ 20 an hour.
“We couldn’t have been luckier,” Sexton said of the contract with Asselstine, who knows the community well, has financial background and is eager to learn.
CAPA Board Member Steve Dogiakos said Asselstine understands the vision of the Port Authority and the Chamber of Commerce and is excited to work to help make those visions a reality.
Funding for the position will come from CAPA, Choteau Chamber of Commerce, Heart of the Rockies Initiative in Missoula, Choteau Tourism Business Improvement District and Choteau Soroptimists.
“Funding is of the utmost importance, and we hope the community will support this position for the long term,” Sexton said.
Having a community coordinator will ensure continuity and consistency in economic development efforts at Choteau, alleviating some of the pressure from volunteer board members, Sexton said.
Dogiakos said Choteau banker Lyle Hodgskiss expressed the need for a community coordinator this way: Asselstine will be that person, Dogiakos said.
The six main tasks of the community coordinator are: finding grants and other funding possibilities for CAPA projects; facilitate and lead projects involving CAPA; assist in the coordination of projects, events and marketing among community groups; entrust the Choteau Chamber of Commerce with administrative tasks; support general community promotion and tourism marketing; and coordination with regional economic development and community organizations.
Sexton said CAPA initially identified three priority areas that Asselstine needs to tackle: addressing the housing shortage in Choteau; market the community; and learn about partners and other resources for economic development projects.
Asselstine came to Choteau when her husband was hired as a pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church. They raised their son and daughter here, and from next summer they will be empty nests.
In an interview last week, Asselstine said he liked the opportunity because it is flexible, part-time and portable. She could travel with her husband, for example, and continue to work.
Her husband, Jason, is an associate of the Bishop of the Montana Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. He is based in Choteau and has an office in Great Falls. His main job is to find pastors and support congregations throughout Montana and northern Wyoming.
“As a resident of Choteau for 15 years, it’s fun to be part of the community,” said Asselstine. “I see this as working with community leaders to work on making Choteau prosperous and a better place to live.”
She said the job of community coordinator was a good match for her skills. ” I’m a sociable person. I like to meet and get in touch with people, ”she said. “I have good organizational and time management skills, and I have skills in coordinating with people from all walks of life. “
She said she enjoys bringing people together and helping them see a united vision for the future.
Asselstine received a bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation management from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1998.
Most recently, she worked as a building superintendent and data manager for Diamond 4D Ranch west of Choteau; operated his own business, Catalyst Financial Coaching; and worked as a project designer and grocery clerk for Mountain Front Market.
Her volunteer experiences include serving as the Teton County 4-H Council Treasurer and working with the Caring Tree Christmas Gift Raising Project.
She uses a variety of software, has done website design and social media and newsletter / blog content creation as well as various research and publishing projects.
She is already coordinating with Tom Frownfelder, secretary-treasurer of the Choteau Chamber of Commerce, to resume her duties in early January. She said Chamber has a strong board which is very organized and the transition is going smoothly.
She also strives to learn the “who’s who” of economic development in the region and the state. “I consider this network to be just essential for our small towns,” she said, adding that she was impressed with the resources and willingness to help that she had already seen.
As January approaches, Asselstine said she would work on writing grant applications and coordinating CAPA’s efforts to address the housing shortage in Choteau.
She said someone recently asked her what her job was as a community coordinator, and she said it was about “connecting and helping the people, businesses and organizations in Choteau for collaborative work. and to seek and facilitate funding opportunities by subsidy for the Port Authority ”.
“I look forward to working with members of the Choteau community to make our home the best place to live, work, recreate and explore,” she said.