Joe Willauer

Joe Willhauer stands outside the Thornton Building in Uptown Butte.

Editor's note: This is the first of what will be monthly Butte business columns written by Joe Willauer, director of the Butte Local Development Corp. In these columns, Willauer will strive to keep Butte residents as well-informed as possible about local efforts to spur economic development.

What does the BLDC do? This is a question that we are asked frequently, and one that we are always excited to answer because of the tremendous amount of value that our organization brings to the community. We’re incredibly grateful to begin writing a monthly column to share with our community as much as we can about the inner workings of economic development and introduce you to the work that our team is so passionate about.

Economic development takes many forms, but the three most popular forms are recruitment, expansion and retention; keeping our great businesses here, bringing in new businesses for job opportunities for our residents, and assisting with the growth and expansion of the businesses already prospering in our community. We work diligently with our local business community to provide the support that they need through trainings, small business loans and a variety of services that are tailored for many great entrepreneurs. The success of these projects can be seen in the form of growth within our business community. On a regular basis, the BLDC submits grant requests to the State of Montana to support our local businesses. In each of the last two years, over $500,000.00 has been awarded to local companies to create new jobs, with well over 100 new jobs tied directly to these projects. These funds help our businesses grow and have covered the spectrum of technology companies, manufacturing and many others.

The most popular aspect of economic development, and the most challenging, is recruitment. These projects are always in the works, and we have had a tremendous amount of success in this regard, with the siting of FCR being the largest recent recruitment effort. We are very fortunate to have any incredibly strong team comprised of our organization, Headwaters RC&D, Butte-Silver Bow Local Government and the Chamber/CVB. This group of dedicated professionals interacts on a daily basis and aggressively looks for opportunities to enhance the economic vitality of our community. We are currently seeing significant interest in our Montana Connections Business Park from manufacturing and logistics businesses as well as in the uptown and ‘Flat’ areas for retail locations and technology companies. Patience is key for success when it comes to recruitment, as many of these large projects take years to come to fruition. But for all of the time and effort committed, the reward is great.

We know that it is an exciting time for our community as we see investment in our businesses on a multitude of levels. There is a buzz around Butte that is palpable, and we are positioned for success and a future that our community truly deserves. As our community’s economic leaders we are proud to serve the business community of Butte, and look forward to the many opportunities that lie ahead.

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