Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) A growing business that's been operating in Missoula since 1978 plans to expand its manufacturing facility in two separate phases, which will require the addition of public infrastructure and utilities.

The Missoula Redevelopment Agency on Thursday approved a reimbursement request from Diversified Plastics to help pay for some of the work, including $46,000 to install a fire hydrant.

The second request would also enable the company to begin improvements in the public right of way along Grant Creek Road and Howard Raser Drive.

The reimbursements will only be made upon completion of the work, which will likely be carried out over time as the area evolves and the city makes improvements to the roadway.

“Our hope is that we'll have a better idea before we even start that construction,” said Jason Rice, a project representative with IMEG. “The water main will make it possible for other properties to consider expansion, because there will be a fire supply and suppression water closer to them than before.”

Diversified Plastics, which currently employs around 50 people, remains a family-owned business that designs, engineers and fabricates plastic components used in a number of industries including food processing, forestry and agriculture.

The City Council annexed the property into the city in May and added it to the North Reserve- Scott Street Urban Renewal District. Doing so made it eligible to request tax increment to help finance public improvements as the company expands its business.

Company President Brad Reid said his firm plans to add employees and complete two expansions. The first will add 4,000 square feet to an existing building while the second will include a new 25,000 square-foot building. The city requires that public improvements be made alongside the work and Diversified Plastics is requesting that some of those costs be reimbursed.

“This is an important part of the Missoula community,” said MRA board member Ruth Reineking. “I believe it's a catalyst for future development out there. I appreciate what they're doing with their labor force.”

MRA on Thursday agreed to a $46,000 funding request to install a fire hydrant on Howard Raser Drive. It also agreed to allow the company to begin other improvements on Howard Raser and Grant Creek Road, and to consider reimbursing those costs at a later time.

That work will likely be tied to the future realignment of Grant Creek Road and include boulevard improvements, sidewalks and other public infrastructure, including a water line. The latter would serve other businesses and help them grow with greater water pressure.

“Putting in infrastructure in this area is helping other business grow there,” said MRA board member Melanie Brock.

After both phases of expansion are complete, Diversified Plastic's property taxes are expected to increase by $150,000 annually. The company hired three new employees tied to the inertial expansion and plans to hire 15 more when the second phase is complete.

“It seems now is the time to to this. It's cost effective,” said Reid. “But somewhere down the line, Grant Creek (Road) water should be extended for people.”