Karen Byrnes, Butte-Silver Bow Community Development Director
The Butte-Silver Bow Community Development Department oversees the functions of three Tax-Increment Financing Development Districts; the Urban Revitalization Agency (URA), the East Butte Renovation and Rehabilitation Agency (RRA), and the Business Development Park, an industrial development district, often referred to as the TIFID.
The URA is one of the driving forces in the redevelopment of uptown Butte, something that we are understandably proud of. Through our partnerships with the business and economic development community over $25 million has been invested in our uptown business districts. This investment has come in the form of significant private investment, low interest loans and matching grants for building rehabilitation/improvements, infrastructure improvements, and new construction.
Over the last 8 years this has translated into over 40 new businesses opening their doors with a cumulative total investment of more than $12 million.
We have also been a major catalyst in the development of the East Butte development district, RRA. Eight new buildings have been constructed since 2006 on East Park Street, completely changing the streetscape. This year two new buildings have been constructed.
Butte-Silver Bow has also made investments in permanent community assets, with one shining example being the development of the Original Mine Yard. This investment has preserved one of Butte’s outstanding mining icons, while allowing us to hold community events and festivals (most notably the Montana Folk Festival) that showcase our rich culture and heritage.
Additionally, we have made major investments in infrastructure including sidewalks, lighting and electrical upgrades. We have also partnered with the school district in the redevelopment of Naranche Stadium, which is shinning new light on uptown Butte.
Butte-Silver Bow’s Montana Connections Business Development Park offers infrastructure grants and affordable land with large tracts available for development. Since its inception, there has been over $550 million in private and public investment, creating more than 400 jobs. Since 2006 we have seen the addition of SeaCast, FedEx Freight, Old Dominion Trucking, and Aerotec, the rocket engine test facility. With the recent expansion of the Port of Montana we are now recognized as a regional transportation hub.
Over the past few years considerable retail investment has also been made new housing and new neighborhoods are springing up near West Elementary, Hillcrest, and south Butte.
Others are also recognizing Butte’s progress. In August of this year, economists with the U of M reported that Butte is the second fastest growing city in the state. We rank third in the state for average annual wage, and our unemployment rate is below the state average.
I believe that we are well served by a strong business community and a team of professionals that are dedicated to making Butte a great place to live and do business. We are making progress and our work continues.