By Martin Kidston
A Missoula nonprofit that couples federal funding with private investment landed $90 million in New Market Tax Credits from the U.S. Treasury last week – money that will help it leverage new projects across the region.
From the GLR Building and Poverello Center in Missoula to the new Red Lion Inn & Suites in Polson, the Montana-Idaho Community Development Corporation has applied previous tax credits to create businesses, jobs and services in areas that generally lack access to investment capital.
Dave Glaser, the organization’s executive director, said Monday the latest round of funding will enable the organization to ramp up its mission.
“We have a bunch of different projects in western Montana that we’re looking at right now,” Glaser said. “New Market Tax Credits provide 15 to 20 percent of a project’s cost, and the business or organization has to raise the rest of the capital. It takes a little government subsidy and leverages that capital and private investment.”
Across the two-state region, Glaser said, the organization has applied New Market Tax Credits to create more than 2,300 permanent jobs and provide services to nearly 18,000 low-income individuals.
Since 2009, it also has provided $322 million in tax credits to fund 26 projects, including the GLR Building in downtown Missoula, the Copper King Hotel in Butte, and the Red Lion Inn & Suites in Polson.
“Polson told us loud and clear they needed a bigger winter draw,” said Glaser. “The Red Lion helps provide a strong year-round draw for the tourism industry. We used these tax credits to incentivize the Red Lion to have a convention center and adjacent restaurant.”
To qualify for funding, Glaser said a proposed project has to meet a number of criteria. It must be larger than $4 million, be in a low-income area and have a high community impact.
“There also has to be a need for the subsidy,” Glaser said. “Without the new market subsidy, the project wouldn’t have happened, or it wouldn’t look the way it does. In the case of the Red Lion, the hotel was going to get done, but the developers would never have done a hotel with a conference center and a restaurant next door.”
Several pending projects in Missoula could qualify for New Market Tax Credits, though Glaser wasn’t at liberty to discuss them.
When asked if the $150 million redevelopment of the Riverfront Triangle would qualify – including Hotel Fox and a planned convention center, Glaser said it would, though he wouldn’t confirm if it’s on the list of projects being considered.
However, the Missoula Food Bank has already made it known that it was working to secure New Market Tax Credits to help complete and open its new $4.5 million facility on South Third Street.
“Each of the projects are important to the communities they’re in,” said Glaser. “Some communities are really focused on job creation. The Golden Valley Natural jerky manufacturing facility in Shelley, Idaho, created 200 jobs. That was clearly a job-creating project. The Poverello Center in Missoula wasn’t about job creation. The benefits are tailored to the place they’re in.”
MICDC received the fourth-largest allocation nationally and the largest to a non-national nonprofit. The application process saw 228 organizations apply, requesting more than $17 billion. In the end, 120 organizations were selected for a total of $7 billion.
Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines both praised the program and its benefits.
“This job-creating investment will help small businesses open their doors in the pockets of our state that need it the most,” Tester said. “I have seen firsthand the important role New Market Tax Credits play in Montana’s economy, and I will continue to ensure that the folks at the Montana & Idaho Community Development Corporation are able to access this critical tool to help create jobs and increase economic activity.”
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at firstname.lastname@example.org