By Joseph T. O’Connor EBS Managing Editor
BIG SKY – Forming a Targeted Economic Development District through Tax Increment Financing has been a topic of conversation in Big Sky for the past year. Now, a local group is taking steps to inform the community about the concept.
The Big Sky TEDD Committee, a subgroup of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, will hold a town hall meeting at the end of July to discuss TEDD and TIF, tools that could work together to add value to Big Sky by developing a district to supplement public infrastructure and encourage economic development in the area.
The public meeting, to be held in the Big Sky Chapel at 3 p.m. on Thursday, July 23, will be hosted by the chamber, and will also explore workforce-housing opportunities, among other chamber updates.
It’s the first of a number of meetings the committee is planning in order to explain a complex concept to Big Sky residents, according to TEDD Committee member Kevin Germain.
“The whole point [of a TEDD] is to attract value-added industry to help diversify the Big Sky economy,” said Germain, who also sits on the chamber board and is the vice president of planning and development for Lone Mountain Land Company. “Currently, we’re almost 100 percent tourism based, and we want to bring [other] industries in.”
Three groups working with the committee will present findings at the meeting. Northern Rocky Mountain Economic Development District is surveying businesses in southwest Montana that are considered value-added industries, Germain said.
The surveys will help tailor an infrastructure deficiency report, part of a comprehensive development plan the committee hopes to present in the fall to both the Gallatin and Madison county commissions, which will ultimately decide on the implementation of a TEDD in the Big Sky area.
Bozeman’s Thinktank Design Group will be present at the meeting to discuss progress its founders are making on the comprehensive development plan, which will map out both infrastructure deficiencies and potential improvements.
CedarHouse Partners, a Kalispell-based investment group, will present findings on two scopes: the impacts a TEDD might have on taxpayers outside the district, and the impacts to Big Sky’s existing taxing districts including Big Sky’s Water and Sewer District, and fire and school districts, among others.
“This will be the first town hall meeting,” Germain said, “and we’ll start at the beginning.”
The committee hopes to have up to three more public-engagement meetings this fall.