Economic Development

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Program Overview

By attracting new business and industry, helping existing businesses to survive and grow, and pursuing improvements to public and private infrastructure, economic development promotes a healthy economy and quality standard of living.  Typical economic development objectives focus on creating conditions that lead to stable employment, sustainable wages, and tax revenues to pay for public services and facilities.  As economic development efforts are highly tailored to individual communities’ assets and needs, there is no cookie-cutter recipe in terms of successful strategies, policies, or programs. Broadly, economic development encompasses three major areas:

In our region, the CWCOG collaborates with local governments, economic development councils, non-profit agencies and organizations, and the community to address issues and gain resources that advance the region’s economic condition and strengthen its competitive advantages. CWCOG staff researches and monitors trends within Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties, generating a variety of data, information, grant opportunities and resources on behalf of local jurisdictions, businesses and the public.  The CWCOG works to coordinate Economic Development Planning with Transportation Planning to enhance the effectiveness of the effort.


Proposed Two-County Economic Development District (EDD)

The CWCOG, in collaboration with area partners and stakeholders, is working towards the establishment of an Economic Developent District to serve the Cowlitz and Wahkiakum Counties.  To establish such a district, the CWCOG must apply or designation through the Department of Commerce/Economic Development Administration (EDA).

The EDA plays a critical role in fostering regional economic development efforts through strategic local investments that promote job creation and attract private investments.  The EDA's grant programs in planning, technical assistance, and infrastructure construction are designed to leverage existing regional assets with federal funds to support the implementation of local economic development strategies making it easier to identify new business opportunities and grow the economic base ultimately bringing growth and prosperity to the local communities.

The EDD's are the conduit through which EDA identifies local and regional priorities and applies funding.  Established EDDs made up of private, public, and non-profit sector members create the forum for establishing a strategic blueprint of a regionally driven, economic development planning process; one that will attract new businesses, help existing businesses thrive, promote entrepreneurship, and provide infrastructure improvements. 

Previously, the CWCOG served as the administrative agency of the former three-county EDD (Cowlitz, Lewis, Wahkiakum); dissolved in 2017.  As directed by the CWCOG Board of Directors and the privious EDD's Cowlitz and Wahkiakum Counties' stakeholders, the CWCOG is pursuing on their behalf a two-county EDD. The proposed application is to be sent to EDA in early 2018.

Plans & Studies

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Report

The strategic blueprint is called a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Report, and is required by the EDA to convey the EDD's economic development priorities.  The CWCOG is responsible for developing and updating a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) that identifies the public infrastructure, projects, and programs needed to support economic development. The CEDS identifies strategies for improvement in various business and job sectors of the region and includes trends, indicators, and projects that address the region’s economic development goals. The CEDS is required to be updated every five years in conjunction with our many partners throughout the proposed economic development district. A CEDS action plan will be completed annually that includes economic updates, trends, indicators, and projects that support the CEDS five-year goals, objectives, and strategies.

CEDS Documents

The 2018-2022 CEDS document can be viewed here.

Regional Skills Center

2018 Feasibility Study for a branch campus to serve Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, and southern Lewis counties.

Fire & Ice Scenic Loop Corridor Management Plan

The Fire & Ice Scenic Loop Corridor Management Plan catalyzes economic growth in Clark, Lewis, Cowlitz, and Skamania counties. The Fire & Ice loop surrounds Mount St. Helens and includes State Routes 14, 503, 504, and 505; US Hwy. 12; Curly Creek Road; and Wind River Road. The final plan can be viewed here.

The plan, funded by the Federal Highway Administration, identifies cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic features around the loop, as well as strategies to enhance and promote these qualities to encourage more overnight visitor stays. The steering committee and technical teams that worked on the plan crafted recommendations geared to promote tourism, improve traveler safety, and increase access to recreational opportunities.

Related Documents


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Data / Information

"Regional Prosperity and a Skilled Workforce" presented by Southwest Washington Workforce Devleopment Council, Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council and Lower Columbia College, was given to a combined meeting of the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments' Board and the Cowlitz-Lewis Economic Development District Board on October 24, 2013.

The CWCOG has recently hosted Economic Development trainings, the most recent being a training on Census Data.  The Census Data training materials from August 3, 2017 are available here.

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Contact Staff

For further information, please contact us at, or call 360.577.3041.

Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments
Administration Annex
207 4th Avenue North
Kelso, WA 98626

Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Directions to our office

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