Ravalli County Targeted Economic Development District

Ravalli County in conjunction with the Ravalli County Economic Authority (RCEDA) is interested in fostering the development of secondary, value adding industries in Ravalli County as part of its overall mission to promote economic development, to improve area employment opportunities and to expand the community’s tax base. This effort will be facilitated through the creation of a Targeted Economic Development District or “TEDD” including the Ravalli Airport and other adjacent, contiguous areas. Ravalli County intends to use Tax Increment Financing as part of its overall strategy to provide infrastructure in support of value-adding industry per the 2013 Targeted Economic Development District Act, embodied in 7-15-4279, Montana Code Annotated (MCA). Comprehensive Development Plan

[Ravalli County TEDD Adopted Preliminary Engineering Report]

Lube Quick – Hamilton, Montana

Lube Quick and Quick Wash Tim and Becky Brough have been in business for 15 years with the highly visible Lube Quick and Quick Wash facilities on Highway 93 in Hamilton. Tim Brough oversees the day to day operations while Becky does financial management and marketing. All three of their college educated adult children work for the business. The Broughs purchased the business in 1999 and it has grown three fold because of the owner’s emphasis on customer service and quality work.

Tim and Becky purchased the Lube Quick property on North 93 when they bought the business but were leasing the South 93 location for Quick Wash, their car wash and detailing business.

When the property owner received an offer to purchase the south property, they notified the Broughs because they had a right of first refusal. Farmers State Bank approached RCEDA to pro-vide a portion of the loan because of the terms that RCEDA can provide using the USDA Interme-diary Relending Program. RCEDA’s participation made the deal possible in a timely fashion, meet-ing the deadline for the Broughs to exercise their lease-option. The company is now in a much bet-ter financial position owning the property, increasing the sustainability of this important employer in Hamilton.

Higher Ground Brewing – Hamilton, Montana

Higher Ground Brewing Fenn Nelson and Jasper Miller established Higherground brewpub in December of 2011 on Highway 93 in Hamilton. Since then, they have established a solid following for their micro brews and a restaurant serving hearth pizza, soups and salads. Relatively recent graduates from the University of Montana, Fenn is the business manager and Jasper the brew master. Both are active operators in all phases of the business. Their pub has also become a center for community fundraisers. The business achieved profitability in its second year and grew substantially despite the recession. They now employ 16 people.

Fenn and Jasper had succeeded in their plan to grow the business and, to further solidify the intrinsic value of their company, they decided to purchase the location. Farmers Bank approached RCEDA about taking a portion of the loan to get the deal done using the favorable terms afforded by the USDA Intermediary Relending Program. This project was another perfect fit for RCEDA’s revolving loan fund program: it was a financially solid business, making a well thought out investment in sustainable growth, but just shy of completely bankable. RCEDA was happy to team with a local bank to help Fenn and Jasper add a valuable real estate asset to their thriving business.

“We would like to thank the RCEDA and John for help in securing our business’s future here in the Bitterroot Valley. With the help of the RCEDA, we were able to acquire a real estate loan that we otherwise may not have had the opportunity to afford. For that we would like to say THANK YOU!” Fenn Nelson and Jasper Miller, Higherground Brewing Company

Billingsley Cider - Stevensville, Montana

Billingsley Cider in Stevensville, MontanaFinancing start-up businesses is difficult for all lenders, especially in the case of orchards that won’t start to cash flow for at least five years. Michael Billingsley came to RCEDA with a request for financing to start a cider apple orchard in Stevensville. Michael, and his wife Arielle, had a good plan, great credit and had invested a lot of their own resources in the business before they approached us. We helped polish up their business plan and teamed with Farmers State Bank to get them the loan they needed to plant the orchard and tide them over until the trees start producing in 2015.

Billingsley Cider planted 2,000 cider apple trees of American, French, and English origins on a stormy April weekend. This was the first step in producing juice apples needed to create a true, craft hard cider. Billingsley Cider’s long term vision is an orchard capable of producing over 3,000 bushels of apples each year. RCEDA staff visited the farm in July, along with a film crew from the new Al Jazerra America television network doing a story on rural development. Anyone who owns fruit trees knows the care they require, so we were enthused to see that the trees were doing beautifully and each had been painstakingly trellised and pruned.

Michael says he has cider makers already bidding for his first crop, because of the shortage of true cider apples available on the market. The next phase of the project will be the construction of a cidery, with a projected yearly goal of 30,000 bottles of craft cider with two full-time and three seasonal employees. RCEDA hopes to be a part of the next phase of Michael and Arielle’s exciting venture.

“We appreciate RCEDA’s help with getting the loan. They helped us with every step and made it easy.” Michael Billingsley

GlaxoSmithKline – Hamilton, Montana
GSK Vaccines Hamilton Announces Big Sky Economic Development Grant

Hamilton, MT: In July of 2011 the City of Hamilton received a $240,000 grant from the Big Sky Economic Trust Fund (BSTF) Program to assist GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) with the purchase of equipment. Receipt of the award was contingent upon hiring of up to 32 employees through July 2013. To date GlaxoSmithKline has created 26 new jobs that are scientifically based positions working primarily in the manufacturing center of the Hamilton facility.

The BSTF program is a Montana Department of Commerce funded program designed to aid in the development of good paying jobs for Montana residents to promote long-term stable economic growth in Montana. In order to qualify as a recipient of BSTF financial assistance, businesses must create net new eligible jobs that pay at least the average county wage. The new hires that will take place at GSK Vaccines are a welcome boost in job growth for Ravalli County. When the award was made to GSK unemployment hovered near 10% and today is still at 8%.

The grant funds will flow through the City of Hamilton. The City worked with the grant writing team of Ravalli County Economic Development Authority (RCEDA) and GSK to meet the requirements of the application.

City of Hamilton, Mayor Jerry Steele said Hamilton, Montana gives businesses and residents the benefit of living in a small town and with some amenities that one might expect to find in a larger community. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, has played an important role for some positive changes in our community. GSK is an anchor company for Hamilton that provides a stable source of good paying jobs with great benefits. Their highly educated workforce is engaged in social and civic opportunities helping to support the Performing Arts Center and other non-profit activities. Along with the Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIH’s state-of-the-art biomedical research facility in Hamilton, and GSK, our small town has a unique place in the high-tech world as well as offering a superior quality of life. We are proud to have GSK in Hamilton and we very much appreciate the Montana Department of Commerce programs that have enabled the Town to provide support to GSK for infrastructure, equipment, and workforce training.

GSK expect to fill the remaining positions by July of 2013. All new job openings will be posted on the GSK web site. Interested job seekers can apply on-line at Search for all jobs listed under “Montana” under the “State/Region” drop down menu. Wages and benefits at the Hamilton site are well above those required for acceptance for this type of grant.

GSK’s Hamilton facility produces a key component used in GSK vaccines to prevent cervical cancer, hepatitis B, and several clinical vaccines including malaria, shingles, lung cancer and melanoma.

The Montana Department of Commerce as well as the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration has a long history of supporting one of Montana’s top pharmaceutical companies. Retaining GSK Vaccines, an employer of over 200 people in Montana, continues to be a collaboration of state, federal, local government and this community.

GlaxoSmithKline – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit

AV8-ORR Helicopter Services – Hamilton, Montana

AV8-ORR Helicopter Services AV8-ORR Helicopter Services Andy and Melissa Orr approached RCEDA with the goal of expanding their commercial helicopter business by upgrading to a larger aircraft. Their young business had been growing rapidly, and expanding their capacity was essential to continued growth and hiring a full-time ground crew. Lacking a business plan, Andy and Melissa worked closely with RCEDA, attending Building Bitterroot Business classes and developing financial projections through one-on-one counseling. After completing their business plan, AV8-ORR Helicopter Services was ready to get financing. RCEDA teamed up with Farmers State Bank to enable the Orr’s to purchase a Bell 206 L-1 helicopter, effectively doubling the capacity of their agricultural and land management application services.

Montana CiderWorks – Darby, Montana

Montana CiderWorks Montana CiderWorks North Fork cider received a Gold medal at the 2013 Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition. The blend includes hard-to-find traditional cider apples & crab apples alongside Bitterroot Valley apples.

Montana CiderWorks (MtCW) is an agricultural producer and manufacturer of mildly alcoholic cider, owned and operated by Lee McAlpine. The orchard and production facility are located on the McAlpine’s 42 acre property between the towns of Darby and Conner, Montana and have been in continuous operation since 2007. MtCW is the only commercial hard cider producer in Montana and maintains the only English/American cider-apple orchard in Montana.

RCEDA received a 2012 USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant to provide technical assistance to Montana CiderWorks.

GrainMaker – Stevensville, Montana

GrainMaker grain mill

Wild West Machine received a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) to assist with marketing and technology for GrainMaker. The USDA investment was matched by the company. Wild West Machine has a B2B relationship with Bitterroot Tool & Machine (BTM). Wild West Machine’s “GrainMaker” is one of the products manufactured by BTM that provides jobs for 20 employees. The company is located within the North Stevensville Tax Increment Finance District. Owners Bonnie and Randy Jones Come recently set up a new show room.

The latest success story announced by the company is that Williams Sonoma is now carrying the GrainMaker.

Bitterroot Tool & Machine – Stevensville,MT

Bitterroot Tool & Machine (BTM) LLC, located in Stevensville was founded on the basis of providing quality machine tools and parts for select industries. BTM continues to operate under a mission where the emphasis is on high quality, superior performance and outstanding customer service. They manufacture quality machine tools and parts for select industries one of which is a company that sells to impressive multi-national customers, parts produced in Stevensville, Montana.

BTM has also partnered with Wildfibre, an advanced technology company located in Hamilton, to produce bone shaped-fibers used to strengthen concrete. This breakthrough technology puts BTM and Wildfibre in a strong position to take advantage of the US government priority of $1.6 trillion in comprehensive infrastructure improvements in the next 5 years.

Bitterroot Tool & Machine became one of only 25 companies in the state of Montana to receive their ISO 9001 Certification. A USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant written by RCEDA  provided $33,000 in matching funds that was used for technical assistance for the company to contract with the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center.

Visit the Bitterroot Tool & Machine web site for further information on this Montana company.

Retaining Montana Rail Link service in the Bitterroot

Support Letters

Surface Transportation Board Comments

Huls Dairy

Dan Huls runs the largest dairy, Huls Dairy,  in the Bitterroot Valley on his family farm started by his father and grandfather in 1951. He and his crews milk 350 cows in a high tech operation that is powered by electricity generated by burning methane from the operation’s supply of manure. In addition to producing milk, the methane digester also produces high value compost that Huls is marketing under the name “Afterburner”. Consumer response has been enthusiastic.

“The Ravalli County Economic Development Authority played a pivotal role in the Huls dairy methane digester project.  Without the assistance we received from the Ravalli County Economic Development Authority the project surely would have been delayed and may not have gotten started at all.” Dan Huls

GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals

The Belgian pharmaceutical giant GSK Biologicals recently completed a $137 million, 130 thousand sq. foot expansion of its Hamilton adjuvant manufacturing facility. GSK acquired the facility, formerly Ribi Immunochem and then Corixa, to capitalize on its history of pioneering work on the MPL adjuvant that greatly increases vaccine effectiveness. The facility employs 290 people with a base salary of $40,000 and plans further expansions. RCEDA provided assistance with a Community Development Block Grant for hiring and training purposes. RCEDA previously submitted successful application for infrastructure (sewer) in the amount of $2 million dollars that enabled and Corixa to remain in the Bitterroot Valley.

Sleeping Child Farm

Sleeping Child Farm (SCF) is a restaurant, bed & breakfast, and farm stand owned and operated by Darla Coleman. Located in the Sleeping Child valley near Hamilton, SCF grows sustainable vegetables, berries, and flowers for use at its on-site restaurant, and for sale at its farm stand and local farmers markets.

Naturally grown produce in an aesthetic setting provides an engaging and educational venue for local residents and tourists visiting the Farm Table Café and Farm Stand. This business model takes advantage of the growing interest in agri-tourism, such as the “farm-to-table restaurant”. The Farm Table Cafe is the first of its kind in Ravalli County.

RCEDA for authored a successful USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant for with a water and sewer project necessary to meet the expected customer volume in the spring of 2009. SFC had its successful Grand Opening in May of the same year.

Catalyst Physical Therapy

Owner Rebekah Stamp has 10 years experience in orthopedic physical therapy and musculoskeletal disorder evaluation and treatment.  She started Catalyst Physical Therapy in 2006. Rebekah was in need of funding assistance to obtain training in Musculoskeletal Disorder prevention, Ergonomics Certification and work risk analysis. With this training she could expand her business into the area of work-injury prevention and consulting to reduce the risk of workers compensation claims for area employers.

RCEDA was able to secure $9,300 in matching funds from USDA Rural Development for her to obtain this training. She is now successfully providing pre-screening and injury risk prevention consulting to a number of area businesses, diversifying her business and providing added staff.

BVS Inc. (BVS)

BVS Inc. (BVS) located in Florence, Montana is to pursuing a proven, multi-phase approach to commercializing a control method for the Mountain Pine Bark Beetle and the Southern Pine Bark Beetle. The U.S. Forest Service is the primary customer for this product. BVS Inc. has secured, through a tech-transfer, a unique technology that has positioned BVS, Inc as the only company that can do the testing with the agent and meet the Forest Health Protection (FHP) requirements. BVS Inc. is the only company that the US Army has licensed and established a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to use the Integrated Virus Detection System (IVDS) that is integral to this testing.

Funds are being used to contract with the US Army, Edgewood Biological Chemical Center, to validate a representative sub-set of product in order to receive certification from Forest Health Protection for application of this product. The prototype biological control to be validated is manufactured by a Florence, MT company that makes a product to kill beetles. This validation is necessary for FHP, The U.S. Forest Service and private forest entities to consider a new technology to mitigate bark beetle damage. A USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant submitted by RCEDA that provided $30,000 as well as a loan from the RCEDA Microloan Fund were used to assist this project.

Mountain Spirit Inn

The Mountain Spirit Inn is located in the town of Darby, Montana, situated in the scenic Bitterroot Valley in Western Montana.  RCEDA provided technical assistance in the form of business plan development, assistance with financials preparation for loan write up which resulted in obtaining a loan from the RCEDA USDA/MBOI IRP in partnership with a local lender.

Ravalli Entrepreneurship Center

RCEDA began this project with a business plan funded by the Big Sky Trust Fund and the CDBG-ED Planning Grant. The business plan for the Ravalli Entrepreneurship Center, a 10,000 square foot business incubator and training facility was funded in part by the Economic Development Administration in June of 2008 with a $1.6 million dollar grant. The additional $1.8 million dollars was made up of a $200,000 CDBG-ED, and local match.

The Ravalli County Economic Development Authority (RCEDA) had its Grand Opening of the Ravalli Entrepreneurship Center (REC) on January 21st, 2010. The RCEDA with its anchor tenant the Bitterroot Jobs Service along with the Bitterroot College have been sharing the facility since their move in date on November 13, 2009. The REC has become a one-stop business services facility for technical assistance, financing, and work force needs, training and development.

Call the RCEDA Office at 406.375.9416 or email RCEDA General Information