Planning

The Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund Program (BSTF) Planning funds are awarded to eligible applicants to assist with economic development planning efforts that promote long-term, stable economic growth in Montana. Applications which support a critical activity to move an economic development project forward and directly assist a basic sector business and provides a Return on Investment (ROI) on the state's investment are the highest priority for the Department.

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

Contact Annmarie Robinson, Section Manager at 406.841.2250.

Can a business apply directly to the program?

Can the planning funds be used for a housing study?

  • Although we all recognize the need for housing and the impact that affordable housing has on the economy, the program typically does not fund this type of planning effort. Commerce's Community MT division does have planning funds to help with this effort.

Can "in-kind" be used to meet the match requirement?

  • The match needs to be cash match. Typically, the program would pay 50% of the consultant's invoice.

Does a consultant have to be hired? 

  • The planning grants are to assist with planning efforts that the business is unable to complete on their own and which requires professional services. Additionally, the consultant needs to be an independent third party.

Can a planning grant help prepare my projections?

  • Any document prepared with public funds is subject to the public's right to know (Article II, Section 9 of Montana Constitution). If the document could contain any propriety information, then BSTF funding would not be appropriate funding source.

How can I find my local Certified Regional Development Corporation (CRDC) or Economic Development Organization (EDO)?

  • A map of the eligible planning project applicants (CRDC and EDO) is available here

Eligible Applicants

Funds are available the following entities, applying on behalf of an eligible business:

  • Certified Regional Development Corporations (CRDC), for projects located within a CRDC region;
  • Local or Tribal governments;
  • Other economic development organizations, which are located in a county that is not part of a CRDC region and have been approved by the Department as meeting program eligibility requirements.

Eligible Activities

Planning funding is awarded for economic development planning activities in Montana for the following activities:

  • support for business improvement districts;
  • central business district redevelopment;
  • industrial development;
  • feasibility studies;
  • creation and maintenance of baseline community profiles;
  • matching funds for federal funds;
  • preproduction costs for film or media; and
  • administrative expenses.

Limits

Typically no more than $27,000 per application.

Match

Local participation, commitment or local buy-in is one of the ranking criteria. Typically projects have been providing a $1 for $1 match to show the local commitment. In-kind contributions are not considered match.

Planning Project Application Guidelines are available and include more information about the program specifics, including eligibility, penalties, procedures and other requirements.

Process

  • Step 1 - Determine if you have a need to hire an independent third party to prepare a report that will help move your ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT project forward.
  • Step 2 - Determine if the state's investment will be result in a Return on Investment (ROI) such as creation of jobs, expanding the tax base, etc.
  • Step 3 - contact your local Certified Regional Development Corporation and/or Economic Development Organization and/or local government about sponsorship of the application
  • Step 4 - Develop a clear scope of work. It is helpful to contact several consultants to determine the cost of the report.
  • Step 5 - Once an application is submitted, the assisted entity/business will have an opportunity to "pitch" their project to the review team. 

Applications

Applications to the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) Program are accepted through the funding portal https://funding.mt.gov. To view the application, click Application Form

Submittal and Deadlines

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

If you should have any questions about managing your The 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 are required to be submitted with each draw request and quarterly until the BSTF Contract has been closed out by the Department.

Forms

The following forms are used for managing Planning Projects:

  • Anaconda / Headwater RC&D Area, Inc. received $27,000 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Force Rembrandt, LTD with an architectural and engineering building design. Force Rembrandt is proposing to manufacture large, flat engineered polymer panels.
  • Anaconda / Headwaters RC&D Area, Inc. received $12,500 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Riggsby Real Estate Enterprises, LLC with redevelopment of historic building located in the center of Anaconda’s downtown and central business district. Riggsby Real Estate Enterprises is looking to redevelop the building to a multiuser structure.
  • Billings / Big Sky Economic Development Authority received $10,800 of BSTF planning funds to assist Zest Billings LLC with architectural design plan. Zest Billings, LLC is a retail kitchenware store and is looking to develop a multi-purpose commercial, teaching and studio kitchen.
  • Billings / Big Sky Economic Development Authority received $13,500 of BSTF planning funds to assist 1111 Entertainment, LLC with the feasibility study for an outdoor venue. 1111 Entertainment is performance booking and event venue company
  • Billings / Big Sky Economic Development Authority received $13,500 of BSTF planning funds to assist Flex Family Health, PPLC with expansion of their facility. Flex Family Health is a Direct Primary Care primary healthcare clinic.
  • Billings / Big Sky Economic Development Authority received $7,500 of BSTF planning funds to assist TKI CNC, Inc. with LEAN evaluation. TKI CNC is a CNC machine shop who also manufactures high quality snowmobile and motorcycle parts.  
  • Billings / Big Sky Economic Development Authority received $20,000 of BSTF planning funds to assist Yellowstone Industrial Development LLC with surveying and wetland study. Yellowstone Industrial Development LLC is proposing to build a railroad spur with a 164-acre transloading industrial park in Billings.
  • Bozeman / Prospera Business Network received $27,000 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Montana State University Innovation Campus with a site master plan. MSU Innovation Campus is leading the development of a 42-acre research and innovation campus.
  • Butte / Headwaters RC&D Area, Inc. received $27,000 of BSTF Planning funds to assist M&M Bar and Café Properties, LLC with a building design. M&M Bar & Café Properties, LLC is looking to reconstruct the M&M Bar & Café which was destroyed by a fire in the spring of 2021.
  • Butte / Headwaters RC&D Area, Inc. received $12,500 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Injection Tech LLC with a feasibility study. Injection Tech, LLC is a start-up business who hopes to commercialize a precision meat injector.
  • Butte / Headwaters RC&D Area, Inc. received $25,000 of BSTF Planning funds to assist National Center for Health Informatics (NCHCI) with a geotechnical investigation. NCHCI is proposing to construct the Praxis training facility in uptown Butte.
  • Butte / Headwaters RC&D Area, Inc. received $27,000 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Lucon Engineering Inc. with a feasibility study. Lucon Engineering Inc. is the technology incubator.
  • Clancy / Headwaters RC&D Area, Inc. received $6,995 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Nature Story Montessori LLC with conceptual design for 2nd egress at their Clancy facility. Nature Story Montessori consists of full day childcare for full time working parents, while providing quality early childhood education for preschoolers through the Montessori philosophy.
  • Colstrip / SouthEastern Montana Development Corporation received $27,000 of BSTF Planning funds to assist with a coal to hydrogen feasibility study.
  • Columbus / Beartooth RC&D Area, Inc. received $27,000 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Stillwater County with industrial park feasibility study in Columbus.
  • Fort Belknap / Bear Paw Development Corporation received $26,250 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Island Mountain Development Corporation with assisted living/dialysis feasibility study and $27,000 to assist Island Mountain Development Corporation with a feasibility study for a commercial greenhouse. Island Mountain Development Corporation is an autonomous economic development arm of the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Nations.
  • Great Falls / City of Great Falls received $24,300 of BSTF Planning funds to assist MT Gems, Inc. with architectural design work for a building expansion. MT Gems, Inc provides care for those in need of assisted living and Dementia care.
  • Helena / Montana Business Assistance Connection received $27,000 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Melcher Manufacturing with manufacturing evaluation. Melcher manufactures the highest quality composite ramps.
  • Helena / Montana Business Assistance Connection received $22,950 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Mountain-Pacific Quality Health Foundation with telehealth research project. Mountain-Pacific Quality Health partners with health care providers, practitioners, stakeholders, patients and families on a variety of data-driven, quality improvement initiatives to achieve better care, better population health and lower health care costs.
  • Missoula / Missoula Economic Partnership received $5,000 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Felco Industries with a feasibility study. Felco Industries manufactures excavator attachments and products for underground, infrastructure and oil & gas installation and replacement.
  • Missoula / Missoula Economic Partnership received $27,000 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Paradise Dental Technologies with an architectural design report. Paradise Dental Technologies manufactures dental instruments.
  • Sanders County / Lake County Community Development Corporation received $5,750 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Sanders County Community Development Corporation with a relevant survey of businesses throughout Sanders County.
  • Vaughn / Sweetgrass Development received $27,000 of BSTF Planning funds to assist Karhu Koski Distillery, LLC with a feasibility study. Karhu Koski Distillery, LLC will be constructing a new top to bottom distillery, tasting room and restaurant.