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MT business roundup: ClassPass opening Missoula office with 50 Montana jobs, Bozeman Health expands its footprint in Big Sky, Blackfoot launches high tech innovation program and more

2018 is already off to a great start with lots of Montana sunshine (despite the cold temps)! With a weekly email delivered straight to your inbox, we look forward to keeping you easily in the know on Montana business news, as well as top Montana jobs and companies, during 2018. Please find the top Montana business headlines from the past couple of weeks - skimmed and summarized for you to easily and quickly digest and catch up from the holidays.

 

ClassPass opening office in Missoula, plans to hire 50 employees

International, tech-based fitness company, ClassPass, recently announced the opening of its third North American office in Missoula. ClassPass, which also has offices in New York and San Francisco – and international offices in London and Sydney – plans to open in the Millennium building in downtown Missoula this month. With several positions currently listed for the Missoula location, the company has said they plan to grow to 50 positions once established in Missoula. ClassPass serves as a boutique subscription service to fitness classes around the world. The service provides access to more than 1 million classes, benefiting both its members and its 8,500 gym and studio partners in 49 worldwide cities. According to Fritz Lanman, CEO, Missoula’s active culture and educated workforce fit the company’s corporate mission of promoting healthy, active lifestyles. “We wanted to find a city that was a fit for our mission and culture – a place that offers an active lifestyle and access to inspiring experiences, a progressive mindset, forward thinking civic leaders and a respected university. Missoula checks all those boxes and more.” [Missoula Current].

Blackfoot launches high-tech innovation program

Blackfoot recently announced official plans to launch a new high-tech innovation program, growing the company beyond telecommunications. To move the vision to reality, Blackfoot has hired Joe Fanguy as the new VP for Strategic Development. Fanguy most recently spent the past eight years helping revitalize the Montana Technology Enterprise Center (MonTEC) in Missoula. A piece of this vision includes a technology campus to boost collaboration and coordination between established companies and fledgling upstarts. The vision also includes programmatic elements to establish greater partnerships between investor groups, UM and MonTEC, as well as Blackstone LaunchPad and the Missoula Economic Partnership. [Missoula Current]

 

Bitterroot Valley Hospital expanding with a $15 million bond closing

Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital in Hamilton has plans for a new operating suite, thanks to a $15 million bond issue financed through the Montana Facility Finance Authority’s (MFFA) Master Loan Program. Montana Facility Finance Authority's Executive Director Adam Gill said, "These public-private partnerships are vital for ensuring Montana’s rural health care centers can continue to offer first-rate care to people in their communities.” And as an added bonus, the project is estimated to create approximately 90 construction jobs. [Montana Department of Commerce] 

Mixed-use apartment building and shops being developed on Montana Avenue in Billings

A combination country mercantile, antique booths, bakery/eatery and second-story apartments in a century-old warehouse on Montana Avenue in Billings is currently being planned by husband and wife duo, Jason and Amy Pawlowski. The building sits two blocks outside the downtown tax increment financing district, so the couple relied on financing and expertise from Yellowstone Bank and secondary financing by the Montana & Idaho Community Development Corporation. John Atkinson of AT Architecture designed the 37,000 square foot project, and Hardy Construction Company will build it. The mercantile, which they’re calling Liberty & Vine, will hopefully be opened by April or May of 2018.  [Billings Gazette] 

New convention center planned for Billings

A new full-service convention center on the west end of Billings is in the early planning stages. In 2015, Inner Circle, bought what was then the Billings Holiday Inn Grand and, in doing so, also became the owners of the convention center that sits just east of the hotel. Michael Sanderson, CEO of Sanderson Stewart (the planning firm spearheading the project), says the company sees the potential for a convention center at the site and is working with the South Billings Boulevard Urban Renewal District and the South Billings Tax Increment Finance district to map out the project and explore public financing options. [Billings Gazette]

 

Billings nonprofit expands services

New Day, Inc., a Billings nonprofit, which previously focused on serving children with serious emotional issues though daytime programs, outdoor therapy, an equine program and others, recently announced it has expanded its services to adults. The New Day adult services include intensive outpatient treatment, continuing and after-care and access to the equine programs. Robert Ironmaker, business development program manager at New Day, said they started the adult program from scratch this fall and have brought on new personnel. They now have three licensed addiction counselors and are also hiring for two other positions here. [Billings Gazette]

St. Vincent Healthcare to open a primary care clinic in Lockwood

The Montana Healthcare Foundation has awarded Lockwood School District and St. Vincent Healthcare a $75,000 grant to develop a primary care clinic for the community of Lockwood. The grant will cover the costs of development and implementation of the clinic which will be located on the campus of Lockwood Schools and is set to be complete and open February 2018. [Big Sky Business Journal] 

In search for rural teachers, schools eye graduates with small town roots

Montana’s most isolated schools have to search harder and harder each year to find teachers. Rural schools have trouble filling not just high school subjects and special education jobs, but the smallest schools have had trouble finding previously abundant elementary applicants. Potential solutions include better pay, changing certification processes, and targeted professional support for young teachers. But one solution already available is the concept of growing your own teachers — kids who attended a rural school and come back to teach in one. [Billings Gazette]

 

Bozeman Health expands its footprint in Big Sky

Bozeman Health continues its trend of growth with their most recent purchase of the Medical Clinics of Big Sky on January 1, 2018. The clinic, which is the only clinic to service the mountain at Big Sky Resort, has been in operation since 1994. It sees an average of 4,000 patients a year. Dr. Jeff Daniels, who opened the clinic, will join Bozeman Health as part of the transition. Daniels and his team of seven will continue to care for patients at the Mountain Clinic, situated in the ski patrol building at Big Sky Resort.

This is Bozeman Health's latest expansion in the health system’s imprint in Big Sky. In 2015, Bozeman Health opened a 50,000+ square foot hospital near the Town Center of Big Sky offering hospital care plus general patient care through the Big Sky Medical Center Family Medicine Clinic, which is housed in the hospital. In addition to its growth in Big Sky, Bozeman Health has seen tremendous growth over the past four years throughout the Gallatin Valley - opening Bozeman Health Endocrinology and Bozeman Health Pediatric Therapy, along with the purchase of three practices in the area. They also have several Montana job opportunities on its website here. [Bozeman Daily Chronicle]