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Jim Kambich, longtime president of the Montana Economic Research and Development Institute in Butte, is taking a new job as assistant manager of Bert Mooney Airport.

Pam Chamberlin remains as manager, but the Airport Authority Board says an assistant manager is needed to help handle the duties and workload and chose Kambich among other candidates for the job last week.

Kambich said he is coming on board during “exciting times” at Bert Mooney. The airport opened a new passenger terminal last year, and in late 2017, the Federal Aviation Administration reduced weather minimums, which improves reliability of commercial flights during snow and fog by reducing canceled or delayed flights.

SkyWest and United Airlines are now competing for federal subsidies to provide air service to either Salt Lake City or Denver and private fundraising efforts are underway in hopes of landing flights to a second major city.

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“Butte needs the airport, and the airport needs Butte,” Kambich said. “I will love being a part of that.”

Kambich has been with MERDI for three decades. It has been involved in numerous economic development projects over the years and, among other things, helped build a fiber optic network offering data transmission and internet access in Butte.

It owned the MSE technology complex just south of Butte for years, but a Texas firm purchased debt on the facility in 2016, and it is now owned by CryptoWatt LLC, which runs a bitcoin mining operation.

Kambich said MERDI is undergoing reorganization, but he plans to remain on its board to help in the transition and start his new job at the airport in September. MERDI is looking for a more technical administrator to take his place, he said.

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Government and politics reporter

Mike Smith is a reporter at the Montana Standard with an emphasis on government and politics.

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