Job Creation

The Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund Program (BSTF) Job Creation funds are awarded to local and tribal governments in the form of grants or loans to assist basic sector businesses in creating good paying jobs for Montana residents.

It is highly recommended that potential applicants contact the Department for guidance and funding availability before submitting a formal application.

Can a business apply directly to the program? 

The eligible applicants to the program are local governments. The government would sponsor the application on behalf of the business.

What businesses are eligible? 

The business would need to be a Basic Sector business, which is a business that has a focus of out-of-state sales and/or clients.

What is considered an eligible job? 

To be an eligible BSTF job, the job must have been created after the contract's effective date, be full-time (working an average of 35-40 hours per week) and person in the new job must be making the required wage rate.

Are remote jobs eligible?

The local government is fiscally responsible for the jobs that have been paid on. It is up to the local government if they want to be fiscally responsible for jobs outside of their jurisdiction. The local government would need to indicate within their application resolution their intent on covering remote jobs. Otherwise, the expectation is that all jobs are created within the local government jurisdiction.

What is the required wage rate?

The employee in the newly created job must be making a minimum wage rate of 170% of Montana's minimum wage, which calculates to $15.64 per hour. ERISA eligible benefits can be included in the calculation in meeting the wage rate. However, the award is based on the quality of jobs, which is typically measured by the level of pay. Jobs paying at or above the county or state average wage are more likely to receive the full award amount. To find the average wage rate for your county, click here.

What happens if the proposed rate is below the County or State average wage?

If the proposed wage is greater than the minimum requirement but less than the average county and/or State, the reimbursement rate is prorated based on the proposed wage and this is the wage rate that is included within the contract.

What does net new mean? 

The program pays on the overall growth of full-time eligible jobs within the contract period. If the business starts with 10 jobs, then the program would not reimburse until the business has 11 jobs and the person in the new job is making the wage requirement.

How much can be applied for? 

The reimbursement is based on the increase in the overall full-time jobs making the required wage rate and within the contract period. The reimbursement rate per job is based on the location of the project. Per statute the reimbursement rate is up to $7,500 for high poverty county or $5,000 for non-high poverty county.

Where can I find the Poverty Map and what is it used for? 

The Montana poverty map can be found here.

If you are located in a county that has a poverty rate greater than Montana's average poverty rate, as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau, then the project is eligible for a higher reimbursement rate and lower match requirement. 

What are considered eligible expenses?

Typical eligible use of BSTF funds include the reimbursement of the following: purchase of land, building, equipment, wages of new workers, lease rate reduction for new leases and construction materials. Expenses that occur prior to the contract's effective date are not eligible for reimbursement. However, if they occurred within the last six months, the expense may be able to count towards the match requirement.

What are the match requirements?

For projects located in a high poverty county, the match requirement is $1 of local funds for every $1 of state funds in a non-high poverty counties; $1 of local funds for every $2 of state funds in high-poverty counties. This is considered the investment of the assisted business and th local government into the project. There must be sufficient match for all reimbursement of funds. 

When are funds disbursed? 

The funds are only disbursed after the eligible jobs have been created and expenses for both match and reimbursement have been incurred. As an example: in a non-high poverty county, the business would have had to incurred $10,000 of eligible expenses to be reimbursed for one net job. 

Are there any penalties?

It is the expectation of the Department, and as per statute, that at the end of the contract period any jobs that were reimbursed on are still with the company. This does NOT mean that it would be the same person.

Is there anyone locally that can help with the process?

The local Certified Regional Development Corporation (CRDC) or Economic Development Organization (EDO) can help with preparing the application and being the liaison between the assisted business and local government.

Eligible Applicants are:

  • incorporated city or town;
  • a county;
  • a consolidated government;
  • a Tribal government (including any state or federally recognized Indian tribe within the State of Montana); and
  • public districts or local public entities with the authority to spend or receive public funds (i.e. County Port Authority or Airport Authority).

Eligible Assisted Business must:

  • basic sector company (see guidelines for definition);
  • create at least one net new eligible job in Montana;
  • pay an average weekly wage that meets or exceeds the lesser of 170% of Montana’s current minimum wage or the current average weekly wage of the county in which the employee(s) are to be principally employed, including the value of employee benefits*; and
  • demonstrate that the business expansion is financially feasible.

*Note: If employee benefits are to be included in the calculation for the BSTF required wage rate, the assisted business will be required to certify that they benefits meet the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.

Limits and Match Required

The location of the project will determine the maximum funding level and match requirements:

  • Businesses located in a high-poverty county
    • The maximum grant or loan award is up to $7,500 for each eligible new job created
    • Match required is $1 for every $2 awarded (1:2)
  • Businesses located in a non-poverty county
    • The maximum grant or loan award is up to $5,000 for each eligible new job created
    • Match required is $1 for every $1 awarded (1:1)
Complete program guidelines are available and includes more information about the program specifics, including eligibility, penalties, procedures and other requirements.

Process:

  • Step 1 - contact your local Certified Regional Development Corporation (CRDC) and/or Economic Development Organization (EDO) to discuss the project. In many cases, the CRDC/EDO will be liaison between the business and the local government.
  • Step 2 - Update the business plan and all financial information to be included in the application.
  • Step 3 - Determine how many jobs will be created and the proposed rate of pay.
  • Step 4 - Work with the CRDC/EDO to prepare the application.
  • Step 5 - Once an application is submitted, the business will have an opportunity to "pitch" their project to the review team. 


The following items are required:

  • Application Form
  • Business Plan
  • Financial Statements (Historical/Projections) comprises of the Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss and Cash Flow
  • Benefit Certification Form if benefits are to be included in the calculation to meet the BSTF required wage rate.
  • Hiring Plan refer to the Guidelines for specific requirements
  • Training Plan (if the proposed use of funds is for workforce training);
  • Local Government or Tribal Government Resolution.


Application Submittal:

Applications to the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) are accepted through the funding portal https://funding.mt.gov.

The funding deadlines for Job Creation Projects are September 14, 2022, December 14, 2022 and March 15, 2023

If you should have any questions about managing your Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund Program (BSTF) award, please contact your BSTF Liaison. Staff is here to assist the Awardee with effective start-up and implementation of the project.

Reporting

Progress Reports, Job Creation Reports and Job Creation Certifications are required to be submitted with each draw request and quarterly until the BSTF Contract has been closeout by the Department.

Forms

The following forms are used for managing Job Creation Projects:

Big Sandy / Town of Big Sandy received $82,500 of BSTF job creation funds to assist Big Sandy Organics, Inc. with the creation of 11 jobs in the first year. Big Sandy Organics produces Kracklin Kamut snack made from Montana organically grown Kamut grain.

Billings / Big Sky Economic Development Authority received $288,600 of BSTF job creation funds to assist Reciprocity Industries, LLC with the creation of 78 jobs in the first year. Reciprocity Industries is a growing high-tech software development, website management, and SEO &PPC marketing company with specialist expertise in legal and television advertising and has had call center services with a legal advertising focus.

Billings / Big Sky Economic Development Authority received $24,000 of BSTF job creation funds to assist Montana Custom Millworks, LLC with the creation of 6 jobs in the first year. Montana Custom Millworks is a direct sawmill company

Butte / Butte-Silver Bow County received $74,000 of BSTF job creation funds to assist Foothold, Inc. with the creation of 10 jobs in the first year. Foothold is a prefabricated housing manufacturer.

Butte / Butte-Silver Bow County received $21,500 of BSTF job creation funds to assist Montana Craft Malt Company with the creation of three (3) jobs in the first year. Montana Craft Malt Company owns and operates a barley malting facility. The design capacity at the facility is 10,000 metric tons of malt per year.

Hamilton / Ravalli County received $100,000 of BSTF job creation funds to assist Local Bounti Corporation with the creation of 20 jobs in the first year. Local Bounti Corporation is a disruptive indoor agricultural technology company. They grow local, fresh, and sustainable living lettuce, herbs and loose-leaf lettuce across the US.

Kalispell / Flathead County Economic Development Authority received $175,000 of BSTF job creation funds to assist Nomad Global Communication Solutions, Incorporated with the creation of 35 jobs in the first year. Nomad Global Communication Solutions (GCS) is a provider of advanced interoperable communication solutions.

Kalispell / Flathead County Economic Development Authority received $44,100 of BSTF job creation funds to assist Endpoint Utility LP with the creation of 9 jobs in the first year. Endpoint Utility LP is a start-up IT company that delivers a turnkey, end-user computing architecture

Phillipsburg / Granite County received $10,000 of BSTF job creation funds to assist Pintler Medical, LLC with the creation 2 jobs in the first year. Pintler Medical LLC is a medical device manufacturer and distributor.

Totson / Broadwater County received $21,500 of BSTF job creation funds to assist Permafrost Coolers, LLC with the creation of 5 jobs in the first year. Permafrost produces coolers, chiller buckets, cutting boards and other plastic products.