Missoula County on Tuesday signed an extension for two grants to help two Missoula firms create new jobs, and a third grant to reimburse one of the companies for the jobs it already has created.

The job creation grants, offered though the Montana Department of Commerce and administered locally by Missoula County and the Missoula Economic Partnership, reimburse companies that create new jobs that pay a certain wage.

Leidy Wagener with the Missoula Economic Partnership said both Newfields Mining LLC and UNAVCO have applied for an extension seeking more time to create the jobs required by the grant.

The extension is good through October 2022.

“Both Newfields and UNAVCO were delayed in job creation last year because of Covid,” said Wagener. “They both have some good hiring plans through next October and are hoping to fill all the jobs they were awarded.

Newfields provides engineering and consulting services to the mining industry with a focus on civil and geotechnical engineering. It also provides services in the transportation and alternative energy sectors, as well as brownfield remediation.

Earlier this year, Newfields was recruiting for a Missoula-based engineer with compensation ranging from $55,000 to $80,000 annually. The company has created two local jobs and is seeking a $15,000 reimbursement through the state's Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund and its job creation grant.

Last September, UNAVCO also announced plans to open a Missoula office, where it hoped to partner with the Montana University System. MEP at the time received approval from Missoula County to submit a job-creation grant on the company's behalf for 27 new jobs.

UNAVCO operates the national Earth Science geodetic facility under an award from the National Science Foundation and NASA, along with other federal agencies and private partners.

Organization president Rebecca Bendick said Missoula's skilled workforce made it an ideal place to grow the company. The nonprofit claims 233 members from academic institutions around the world and currently employs around 90 people, most of them possessing advanced degrees or technical training.

“Missoula has a ready and able technically skilled workforce here that we’d love to recruit and integrate into our geodetic workforce,” Bendick said last year. “Missoula also offers an exceptional quality of life and frankly an affordability that Boulder does not offer to my scientific and technical workforce.”