With the hope of being able to snag a grant for as much as a million dollars to help pay for it, Big Sky Economic Development (BSED) Director Steve Arveschoug informed Yellowstone County Commissioners that they are putting the process of acquiring new headquarters on hold.
A BSED team that comprises the Future Facilities Taskforce, headed by Becky Rogers, has been in the process of analyzing the proposals they received in response to an RFP (request for proposal) but the possible grant which is being made available through the federal Economic Development Agency, has requirements that might impact the final decision about which proposal will best meet their needs. “We want to factor the requirements into our due diligence process,” said Arveschoug. The “pause” will probably be no more than two to three weeks.
Arveschoug said that getting the grant would place a significant role in “our ability to deliver on our mission.” BSED has estimated that the cost of acquiring a new and larger facility will cost the agency between $2 million and $3 million.
The grant requires a 50-50 match.
The purpose of the EDA grant is to promote entrepreneurship which would involve most of BSED’s programs, but it would certainly include BSED’s plans to incorporate into their new facility, a new aspect of the agency’s efforts – that of providing space and support to new start-up businesses in order to encourage entrepreneurship.
Besides the degree to which the agency is dedicated to encouraging entrepreneurship, the federal grant also requires that their facility be located in an “opportunity zone,” which reflects a new tax law to attract investment to specific areas of the city. Yellowstone County has five such designated zones, one of which involves a portion of the downtown area, said Arveschoug.
Of 12 proposals EDA received in response to their RFP, the committee has narrowed the choices down to seven proposals—two are options for purchase and five are leases – and all are in the downtown area, which the RFP said was their preference.