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Economic profile to help define Big Sky

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By Bay Stephens EBS Staff Writer

BIG SKY – The Big Sky Chamber of Commerce hired Bridge Economic Development to create an economic profile for the Big Sky Resort Area District that outlines the viability of the area for prospective residents and business owners.

Essentially a snapshot of a community, an economic profile gives potential residents, business owners and investors an idea about how economically viable a city or town is. These range in size from simple documents to entire magazines, such as the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce puts out every year. Banks looking to fund a business venture in another town or city rely heavily on these profiles.

Big Sky’s profile will include information such as home sales prices; community infrastructure information concerning schools and the hospital; energy data; and, in Big Sky’s tourist economy, visitation data from Big Sky Resort and Yellowstone National Park.

“What we’re trying to do is solicit Big Sky as attractive to live, work, play, visit and do business,” said Candace Carr Strauss, CEO for the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. She compared the project to an online dating profile aimed at drawing people who are the right fit to the area.

“It’s kind of like our calling card,” Strauss said.

Alisa Pyszka, Bridge Economic Development’s president and founder, will be in Big Sky Jan. 24 and 25 with her consulting partner Steven Pedigo to familiarize herself with the market. The completed economic profile should be ready by mid to late March, Strauss said.

The chamber chose Pyszka in part because she worked with Leland Consulting Group to help Bozeman update its economic development strategy in 2016.

“We’re trying to leverage some of that knowledge of being a part of this great Gallatin Canyon ecosystem, and the interplay between us and Bozeman and the airport and the university,” Strauss said.

Although chamber-provided economic profiles are standard for cities and towns across the nation, Big Sky has never had an official profile. The chamber attempted something similar when it made a community profile in 2017, but an updated and more comprehensive version is necessary, Strauss said.

The economic profile will be a helpful tool for when Big Sky requests funding for infrastructure from the county and state, Strauss added, as it will show how much of an economic driver Big Sky is for the state and the associated struggles.

“We’re in a data-driven economy and we lack data to help tell our story and to go after funding to solve our problems,” Strauss said. Through the economic impact study, she added, “we’re trying to solve the problem of not having data to represent our market so we can go out and better solve our problems.”

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