By LYNNETTE HINTZE
Eureka Business Incubator a Thriving Entity
A business incubator in Eureka’s 22-acre business park is full, and that has the Tobacco Valley Industrial District Board of Directors looking at plans for future expansion.
The Wood Development Center in the business park three miles north of Eureka was built with a $634,000 federal economic development grant. It opened in July 2012, focusing on creating economic diversification and jobs, and promoting value-added wood products.
The center is now home to Glacier Peak Holistics (which occupies two of the four bays), Media Management Associates and Cabinet Creek Interiors.
Tracy McIntyre, executive director and administrator of Eureka Rural Development Partners, the industrial district’s administrative partner, said close to 20 jobs have been created — most of them within the last year — by establishing the business incubator.
“It’s working,” McIntyre said. “A business incubator was the perfect fit to promote economic diversification and job creation in the Tobacco Valley.”
The Wood Development Center is situated on one of 12 lots within the business park. Tenants are able to spend three years developing and growing their businesses. Business owners get a 30 percent break on their rent the first year, 20 percent the second year and 10 percent the third and final year.
“At the end of the third year, if they’re not quite ready to move on, we could approach the Economic Development Administration and ask for an extension,” McIntyre said.
Money for the incubator came through the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration Community Trade Adjustment Act.
The goal is to help new businesses either build a facility in the business park or help them relocate to another suitable site.
Debe Gwynn, a co-owner of Glacier Peak Holistics, saw more than a 50 percent increase in her business after the first year of operation.
“This building is ideal for a start-up business likes ours,” Gwynn said. “We have access to professional technical assistance providers at our fingertips. The workshops, library, materials and knowledge that are all available are priceless.”
The center’s high-speed fiber and broadband capabilities are what attracted Media Management Associates to the Wood Development Center, owner Mike Hill said.
“Plus, the additional resources to expand my business are just outside my door, which makes this a win-win for Media Management Associates,” Hill added.
The Tobacco Valley Industrial District board is moving forward with a marketing plan that would develop a water system for the business park.
“The Wood Development Center was a great start and now we have the momentum and success behind us to move forward, industrial district President Robert Haidle said. “The district will move forward with working with potential businesses in and outside of the valley to build further opportunity … we have businesses seeking us out and wanting to work with us to expand, start or move their business to Eureka.”
McIntyre said economic conditions are improving in the Eureka area, even though the local economy is still struggling in some respects.
“I personally think we’re seeing a comeback,” she said. “We’re doing a lot more business development work. I think people are starting to realize the opportunity is here.”
The trade influence from Canada is a key factor in Eureka’s economy. McIntyre said Canadians have been buying property and investing in the community in various ways, from volunteering to pursuing business opportunities such as starting branches of Canadian companies in Eureka.
“I think Canada will play a huge role for us,” she said.
McIntyre has been working closely with economic development officials across the border to determine what kinds of products are needed in areas such as Calgary and oil sands epicenter Fort McMurray.
“Their work force is depleted,” she said. “Is there opportunity for our work force? We’re looking at what kind of business we can recruit or develop locally that they don’t have the work force to do.”
The development of Alberta’s oil sands will create or preserve between 1,280 and 4,640 jobs per year in Montana and will contribute an average of $127 million to $437 million annually to Montana’s economy through 2035, according to statistics shared recently at the Montana West Economic Development Flathead economic outlook forum.
Oil sands development will support an average 62,720 to 168,360 U.S. jobs per year between 2011 and 2035.
“It is an exciting time to be involved on the ground and improving our economy one business at a time,” Haidle said. “Through our partnership with Eureka Rural Development Partners we are looking at hosting more business workshops and outreach than before … 2014 will be a great year.”
Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at email@example.com.
We’ve Come A Long Way Baby!
Senators Baucus and Tester Announce Key Economic Development Grant for Tobacco Valley Business Park
(Butte, Montana) – Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced today significant U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to help communities in Montana create jobs and boost local economies.
Link to Baucus announcement: