A local nonprofit has been awarded a nearly $800,000 federal grant to help a private developer create permanent jobs and train workers after the construction of a new hotel in downtown Missoula.
The Montana & Idaho Community Development Corp. announced this week that the grant, from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, will be turned into a below-market (as in, relatively lower interest) loan to Mercantile Investors LLC, the development group building a new five-story Marriott hotel in downtown Missoula.
The MICDC will stipulate that the $779,678 grant, once turned into a loan, will be used to allow the developer to hire what it calls “quality jobs” that offer comprehensive benefits, including health benefits, as well as paid time off and retirement.
The MICDC will work with the Missoula Job Service, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and the hotel to fill the positions. Homeword Inc., another local nonprofit, will provide financial literacy, personal budgeting, credit enhancement and a savings action plan for employees.
“This OCS grant is truly a win-win for Missoula,” said Dave Glaser, president of MICDC, in a press release. “It leverages federal funds to provide long-lasting, high-quality jobs with benefits and retirement plans. With that comes the opportunity for these individuals to increase wealth, gain self-sufficiency and improve the livelihood of their families and our community.”
Glaser said the hotel will create roughly 35 permanent jobs once it’s up and running, not to mention the hundreds of temporary construction jobs while it’s being built.
“The tourist economy is growing in Montana, and we’re very excited to link arms with local employment and job training organizations, and invest in a project that promotes quality, sustainable jobs for Montana workers,” said hotel developer Andy Holloran.
The MICDC was one of only 25 organizations across the country to receive the grant this year, and it got one of the largest awards. Previously, the MICDC has used the same type of grant to fund expansions at Kettlehouse Brewing, Neptune Aviation and Consumer Direct in Missoula, along with a hotel in Sidney and a wood products plant in Deer Lodge.
Glaser said the MICDC’s application was probably accepted because the feds recognized that it would provide jobs in a low-income area.
“The idea is to incentivize a project to get going with this money, and once fully up and running, get these projects where they can create jobs,” he said.
Stockman Bank is helping to finance the hotel construction, and Missoula market president Bob Burns said the grant, which came from the Office of Community Services within the Department of Health and Human Services, was important in completing the hotel project.
“This grant is the final piece of the financing package, and one that will help with job creation that truly benefits the Missoula community,” he said.
Stockman Bank is helping to finance the hotel construction, and Missoula Market President Bob Burns said the OCS grant plays an important role in bringing the project to fruition: “This grant is the final piece of the financing package, and one that will help with job creation that truly benefits the Missoula community.”
Sens. John Tester and Steve Daines of Montana both have supported the grant in the past.
“Strengthening Montana’s tourism economy is critical to growing good-paying jobs in our communities,” Daines said in a press release. “Thanks to projects like this, we will continue to attract those dollars to our state.”