Missoula County will receive more than $400,000 in economic development grants to create 65 new jobs at a growing data center in Bonner, a sign of increasing public and private investment in Missoula’s technology sector.
The Missoula Economic Partnership will also receive nearly $40,000 to help two businesses plan for local operations, including a business planning firm and a potential tire manufacturing facility.
The latest round of grants, awarded through the Montana Department of Commerce’s Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund, amount to more than $1.1 million and will create 116 new jobs across the state while helping businesses plan for future growth.
“As Montana’s strong economy continues to grow, Main Street businesses in communities across the state are adding jobs and seeking a skilled workforce to fill them,” said Gov. Steve Bullock. “These funds will help businesses plan for responsible growth and train employees for success.”
Among the job creation grants, Missoula County received $416,000 to help Project Spokane create 65 new jobs in Bonner. The funds will be used to purchase equipment and software, and to reimburse wages.
The company provides blockchain security services for the bitcoin network and is growing its Bonner-based data center.
“It’s important for us that Montana is supporting job creation in Missoula,” said James Grunke, president and CEO of MEP. “A lot of companies are moving away from having their own servers. Data centers like this are becoming more and more common, and they’re interested in Montana because of low energy costs.”
MEP also received two planning grants totaling nearly $40,000 in the latest round of funding. The first, a $27,000 grant, will help Green Diamond Tire – North American, Inc., complete a feasibility study as it pursues its interest in locating to Missoula.
The business, originated in Iceland, has production rights to manufacture the proprietary Green Diamond Tire product line, which includes vehicular tires suited for winter conditions.
“That’s a really interesting company,” said Grunke. “They’re looking at putting a tire manufacturing facility here in Missoula. The grant is to do the feasibility study to determine if Missoula and Montana make sense for a factory.”
MEP also received $12,000 to assist Modern Entrepreneur, LLC with the completion of a virtual curriculum program to help the business analyze market demand and external sales.
Grunke said the latest round of grants point to Missoula’s growing economy. The three new awards bring to 19 the total number of job creation and planning grants managed by MEP.
“A couple million in grants pales from the private-sector investment that goes along with them,” Grunke said. “It’s vital and important to our community. We have more companies looking to create jobs, and this is a way for the state to reward job creation. It’s one of the most important tools we have in our tool box.”