Do you have any ideas for a development project in Montana, Wyoming or Idaho that would cost at least $4 million? The Montana & Idaho Community Development Corp., a nonprofit finance organization in Missoula, would like to hear them.
The development corporation recently was awarded $65 million in New Markets Tax Credits from the U.S. Treasury, and the money will be deployed to projects and businesses that create jobs, stimulate growth and deliver critical community services in areas of high poverty, low wages and high unemployment.
And yes, areas in Missoula fit that bill. That’s why New Markets Tax Credits were used on projects like the new Missoula Food Bank and the Garlington, Lohn and Robinson law building downtown.
“We’ve had the pleasure of bringing federal dollars into Montana that transform our communities," said Dave Glaser, president and CEO of Montana & Idaho CDC. "This program has helped Montanans grow their businesses and create jobs, has breathed new economic vitality into lackluster areas in our downtowns and has helped our nonprofits expand to deliver critical community services where they are needed most."
"One of the businesses we financed created over 100 jobs in a city of just a few thousand," Glaser continued. "It’s results like those that make me honored that we received another award for our communities.”
For awhile Glaser and his staff were worried that the New Markets Tax Credits program was going to be axed by Congress, although the program has bipartisan support. Both of Montana’s U.S. senators, Jon Tester and Steve Daines, support the funds.
“New Market Tax Credits have helped spur economic development across Montana,” Tester said in a press release. “I will continue to support New Market Tax Credits and I will fight on the Appropriations Committee to ensure these resources continue to finance job creating projects. Thanks again to the Montana & Idaho CDC for getting these funds to the places where they are needed the most.”
Daines has also supported legislation that would make the program a permanent part of the tax bill.
“Congratulations to the Montana & Idaho CDC for winning big for Montana’s small businesses,” Daines said in a statement. “With over 97 percent of businesses in Montana registering as small, they are driving forces of our local economy. This tax credit will give Montana’s small-business owners the relief they need to grow jobs, increase wages for hardworking Montanans and invest in our rural communities.”
The funding only comes around once a year for Montana, and the awards are highly competitive. The funds are highly sought after for business financing and are often spent very quickly. The MICDC sells the tax credits to investors, turning the awards into cash that’s used to finance businesses, nonprofits and real estate developments. In the past, everything from an aquatic center in Polson to new hotels and grocery stores have been financed with the funds.
Glaser said tax credit-financed projects can have a snowball effect.
“There’s a positive domino effect to these projects that extends well into the future,” he said. “Where these investments are made, we’ve seen additional investment follow. The tax credits are the catalyst, but Montanans take it from there.
"In some communities, the tax credits went into a hard-to-finance project on a vacant block. Inevitably, once developers and businesses hear that there is tax credit financing in place, the neighboring buildings are sold and redeveloped, and within a couple of years you would never know the block was vacant.”
One only has to look at Missoula’s downtown to see the transformation from the tax credits program. After the Garlington, Lohn and Robinson law office was built on Ryman Street, officials from Stockman Bank in Billings told the Missoulian that when they attended an economic development meeting on the top floor of the law building, they decided to build a new five-story bank building just down the block because they saw promise in Missoula.
The money has gone to both for-profit private projects and public nonprofits, such as the Poverello Center homeless shelter.
If you know of a project that totals at least $4 million and won’t happen unless it gets such funding, call NMTC Director Sarah Fitzgerald at 844-728-9234 or email email@example.com.