I’ve been giving this idea some pondering and thought I would thrown in my ‘pitch’ for it, just as one possible slant on the OP’s idea.
In late 2259, deep within unclaimed and uncharted space four small, tightly grouped together planetary systems were discovered by long-range probes. Known as the Draconii Cluster (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta), scans have shown that each one has at least on asteroid belt that registers higher than normal levels of minerals, ores and metals—but huddled so closely together, they are a veritable untapped goldmine. Though the Federation wanted to keep the Cluster quiet, until after they could conduct a full survey and then lay claim to the resources, but that wasn’t to be so. Word of the Cluster leaked out and dozens of species, mining corporations and individual hopefuls now has their eyes set on it—a few looking to expand their sphere of influence, others to increase their profits, and some hoping for a new life.
In the Cluster, as the separate groups begin to stake their claims, small outposts and colonies begin to spring up on many of the asteroids, whilst some of the larger groups opt for small stations for trading or processing the materials. Though many groups work in friendly competition with each other, there are a few are only interested in their own goals and will stop at nothing to achieve them. Matters are compounded when the Insédi, a newly warp capable species from a system near the Cluster, begin hit-and-run attacks, seeing the region as their territory.
This way would explain the Federation’s minimal official involvement in the region, leaving it to private companies and individuals to tame the region, though maybe with one or two small Starfleet scouts on hand to chart the region and offer aid when needed. It would also allow for various aspects to be explored: profession companies (either the miners themselves, or perhaps the guardships they would hire to keep their investments safe), small independent crews, solitary prospectors or traders, station-based, colonists, established alien species or the Sioux-aliens (Insédi). As time progressed some of the groups may band together to defend themselves for aggressors, forming their own posses for protection. The level of competency and technology for each group would depend on who was involved, what their aim was and what they would be willing to do to achieve it.