BSB County recruits Texas company for $67,500

Butte-Silver Bow is paying a Texas-based marketing company up to $67,500 to craft a better sales pitch and strategy for luring businesses here with an emphasis on Butte’s business industrial park.

Representatives of AngelouEconomics, based in Austin, Texas, will be in Butte Thursday and Friday to meet with county officials, business leaders and other stakeholders in the local economy.

They will first conduct one-on-one interviews and meet with groups to gain insights into the community.

Later steps will include roundtable discussions and surveys of businesses and residents to capture their perceptions of the area’s workforce capabilities, infrastructure, commercial development, competitiveness within the region and quality of life.

Then the company will help develop a marketing strategy to help lure new employers here.

“They are going to help us understand how we market and help us really refine that so when a site selector comes to town, we make sure they are getting the best information,” Kristen Rosa, administrator of Butte’s Tax Increment Financing Industrial District (TIFID), said Wednesday.

The tab of up to $67,500 is coming from tax dollars captured in the district, and although a goal is to attract more companies to the industrial park itself, the effort stretches countywide, Rosa said.

The park on the west side of Butte — called the Montana Connections Business Development Park — is home to Scoular Grain, the Port of Montana, SeaCast Inc., and REC Silicon, among others, but there is lots of room for more employers.

Interstates 90 and 15 join near the park as do two major railroads – two factors Butte has emphasized in its efforts to attract more companies.

Rosa said data on real estate, workforce, education and other areas have been sent to AngelouEconomics, as well as past studies on economic development, to give them a head start.

Community Development Director Karen Byrnes said the effort aimed at recruitment and retention was new to Butte-Silver Bow.

“We have never done anything like this,” Byrnes said, referring to one piece of the project as “reverse site selection.”

“They say, ‘Here is what this community thinks it has, and here is how they view themselves’ and they will come up with ideas and plans to follow through on how we present ourselves,” she said.

“We think we are the best thing ever … but how are we telling it to people and are we telling it the right way?”

Byrnes said the Butte Local Development Corp. is involved in the effort.

Jim Smitham, executive director of the BLDC, said the agency helped Rosa line up people for interviews and group discussions in several sectors, including big business, small business, real estate and retail.

He said AngelouEconomics has a good track record and brings an outside perspective and ‘tell-it-like-it-is” approach.

“It’s great to get critiqued from a third party, and they have expertise in the field and see where you’re doing a good job and not a good job,” Smitham said.

Mick Ringsak, a Butte businessman and board member of the industrial tax-increment district, said Butte needs to do a better job of marketing itself.

“We need to have a single approach,” said Ringsak, a former regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration. “This is a step in the right direction, and we need to go further.”

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Reporter with emphasis on government and politics.

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