Why should we care what happens in Lockwood? a former Billings city council member questioned, some time ago, regarding the same issue that is currently at the fore —  a sewage treatment service agreement between the Lockwood Water and Sewer District and the City of Billings.

Have you ever seen Lockwood /Billings traffic on Highway 87 along Metra Park at shift change?

It could easily be claimed that Lockwood is the place Billings goes to work.

Over 3000 people go to Lockwood to work every day, according to data from ESRI, a GIS analytical firm. The number of jobs and businesses in Lockwood is hard to track since Lockwood is not geographically identified as a community separate from Billings, but the data indicates that there are 332 businesses in the community.

Lockwood is not the typical “bedroom” community to a larger city; Lockwood is a beehive of business, industry and activity that employs a significant portion of the population of Yellowstone County. And, the likelihood is, it will only continue to grow as a job center in Yellowstone County, especially if the TEDD (Targeted Economic Development District) draws the kind of manufacturing businesses it is being developed to attract.

It is the process of developing the TEDD that has resurrected many of the same questions people had ten years ago about entering into the agreement with the Lockwood Water and Sewer District (LWSD). LWSD and Big Sky EDA has now requested that the City agree to expanding LWSD boundaries to extend sewer into the TEDD, located at the intersection on Johnson Lane and the Interstate Highway. City officials are asking that property owners in the TEDD relinquish their right to protest any future annexation into Billings

EDA and county commissioners are concerned that the possibility of being annexed into the city will discourage the very businesses that the TEDD is intended to attract, diminishing future growth opportunities.

The 2018 Transportation Plan for the greater Billings area states that the employment in the Billings Urban area totals 77,639 jobs, and projects a 36 percent increase, or about 26,687, through 2040.

Because of the TEDD and the rebuilding of the Johnson Lane Interchange, and the connection of the Billings Bypass to the Heights, Lockwood was identified in the transportation plan as one area to experience an increase in employment density

Lockwood is the largest area projected to experience moderate growth in employment. The downtown area and airport are expected to experience the most intense employment growth.

The Johnson Lane/ Interstate 90 interchange area experiences a large proportion of daily truck activity. Improvements to the area with the Billings Bypass and diverging diamond interchange will enhance truck mobility.

Another study also projected more job growth for Lockwood A 2015 feasibility study that focused on the potential impact of just the Trailhead Commerce Park (TCP), which is now a part of the TEDD, was conducted by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research. They “conservatively” projected just the development of TCP would generate 2,279 jobs by 2020; 3,655 jobs by 2030; and 3,876 jobs by 2040. In terms of personal income those jobs were estimated to generate between $122 million and $321 million over the 20-year period.

The projected employment and income increases, due to TCP development, included both jobs at the park itself, as well as spin-off jobs and income from the surrounding community.

The bulk of the jobs expected to be attracted to the TEDD are in the industry segments of manufacturing, transportation and construction — generally high-paying industries.

Undoubtedly, the biggest employer in Lockwood is ExxonMobil. The company employs 319 full time people at the Lockwood refinery. Most Exxon jobs pay between $20 and $41 an hour. Many of the jobs demand highly skilled and trained workers, as in fact, do many of the jobs offered by other Lockwood companies, many of which pay similar wages.

Lockwood is home to dozens of other very successful manufacturing businesses, some of which are:

Northwest Industries – a precise and exacting business of conditioning and servicing all types of pumps and components, serving the petroleum, refinery, pipeline, municipal water plants, commercial and agricultural industries with customers from all over the US.

MAC Liquid Tank Trailers, Inc. — manufacturing liquid tank trailers.

Aspen Air  — provides liquid and gaseous nitrogen, oxygen and argon as well as storage and transportation solutions, serving the medical, welding, food, oil and gas, refining, high tech, chemical, paper and other industrial sectors throughout the region.

Polar Service Centers — offering exclusive engineered bulk unloading solution for tank trailers

Flying Lube, Car & Truck Wash – locally owned, full service company washing light duty trucks and cars to Semi trucks and more, complementing the businesses of two truck stops – Flying J and Pilot Travel Center – just a couple blocks away.

H-E Parts International — (H-E Parts) supplier of parts, remanufactured components, and equipment to the global mining, quarrying, heavy construction, and energy sectors.

Pacific Steel & Recycling – selling custom cut steel and purchasing scrap metal including vehicles, catalytic converters, aluminum, brass, copper, steel, miscellaneous scrap, ferrous, non-ferrous, and more.

Town & Country Supply — providing agriculture with agronomy expertise on fertilizer, testing and field testing, in-field services, and technology. 

Midwest Manufacturing—providing custom metal fabrication services, and custom manufacturing of products such as the GTUIT portable well site gas processing equipment which is sold around the world.

American Steel – providing steel for the building of warehouses, hospitals and schools.