Thanks for this powerful, heartfelt call to action. It inspired me to write a letter to Greg Snow, which I wanted to share with you. If you find what I wrote to be useful, please feel free to share it:
Hi Greg Snow,
I used to be a resident of Newport, WA, and have recently moved over the border into Bonner County. I moved to Newport years ago due to the beautiful natural resources of the area and the strong support that Pend Oreille County has shown in developing high tech options for residents and businesses. I’m in my 30’s and grew up in Utah and Arizona. I love the outdoors: fishing, hunting, hiking, forestry; and I also love digital technology and rely on technology for my livelihood. Newport, and Pend Oreille County more broadly, offered the best of both worlds to me.
I’ve been following the smelter for years now, back when it was slated to go into the Addy location. I was very disappointed when I learned that it was planned to move to an undeveloped forest location just south of Newport. This was one of the reasons we decided to leave the town. Before I learned that it was coming to Newport, I had started talking with local groups about starting up digital technology classes for the community. But with the leadership of Pend Oreile County changing their focus from encouraging and supporting digital technology to effectively shutting their doors to businesses and individuals moving to the community for those same benefits that drew me there years ago, I, like many other residents, decided that I would rather be in a community that supported both the environment and digital technology.
Pend Oreille County and Newport are in a very unique position in time right now. The area has incredible potential due to the natural resources available there, as well as the digital infrastructure that has already been installed and developed to a high degree. The community is so wonderful, and the youth need only to be pointed in the right direction to take off on bright futures that prepare them for the increasingly digital world that they will face.
Creating jobs and protecting the environmental resources of the area are not mutually exclusive. There are many in the Pend Oreille and surrounding communities that would strongly support continuing to develop the counties existing investments in digital technology and natural resources with commerce, education and industry more suited to the unique opportunities that already exist there. I know that I would.
I believe that if the leadership of Pend Oreille County renewed their commitment to support digital industries, they would find businesses and individuals all over the area that wanted to take part in the opportunities that would arise from this decision. I for one would love to have the support of the county to train high school students in digital technologies and prepare them for entering that workforce. With the mass exodus from cities and urban areas around the national, small and medium-sized businesses are looking for beautiful places to move their headquarters for a better quality of life, and Newport and Pend Oreille County could provide incredible opportunities for those businesses.
I’m not against the smelter at all. I realize that we need this type of infrastructure development in order to provide the silicon that all of this digital technology I love is built on, but developing forest land half a mile from downtown Newport to build a heavy industrial park has a high risk of turning Newport, Pend Oreille County, and surrounding communities into areas that people don’t want to live in anymore, driving away the small businesses and people that make this area so great.
For what it’s worth, I, and many others in the community, would love to take part in discussions for developing forward-thinking job creation opportunities for Pend Oreille County and Newport: opportunities that build on the substantial technological investments that have already been made in the county, opportunities that prepare the young people growing up in the area for the digital world they will face, and opportunities that create jobs that enhance the beauty and natural resources that make Pend Oreille County such a unique gem.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I understand the difficulty of your situation, but you are not alone. We all want to see our area continue its journey towards a vibrant, growing, healthy community. Let’s work together to make it happen.
All the best,