Even the insurance company wants to be a part of revitalization efforts in downtown Billings.
PacificSource Health Plans, an insurance company that set up shop in Montana six years ago, just opened a storefront on Montana Avenue and is now open for business.
"When we started looking at office space we really wanted to keep it to just this corridor," said Todd Lovshin, vice president of PacificSource and Montana regional director.
PacificSource came to Montana in 2012, one of the insurance companies approved by the state to offer healthcare plans through the Affordable Care Act's newly created state insurance exchanges.
The company first opened office space in Billings two years after arriving in Montana. Sales executive Mel Reinhardt opened a little two-room office in Transwestern 1 in 2016. By the end of 2017, five employees were squeezed into the space, so PacificSource started looking for new digs.
"It was time to open a storefront," Lovshin said.
PacificSource wanted something that would be open to customers; it has started offering Medicare Advantage plans in Yellowstone County. A storefront open to customers will allow those wanting to purchase a plan to come right in and meet with a representative. It also allows existing customers a way to find help with an insurance policy.
At 5,000 square feet, the new office will have room to grow as PacificSource expands its operations in Yellowstone County.
"People recognize and understand that we're local," Reinhardt said.
Both Reinhardt and Lovshin grew up in Montana and feel tied to the community. The building they're in on Montana Avenue was built in the early 1900s and sits next to Walkers Grill.
PacificSource has worked to integrate with the community. It offers a number of local grants each year that support community programs dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles. Its "charity of choice" is United LUV, a nonprofit started by Billings resident Ryan Eaton, who died of cancer in 2013, a year after launching the charity.
United LUV is dedicated to putting interactive technology like iPads into the hands of young patients to give them a way to video chat with family and friends during extended hospital stays. The charity also donates interactive technology to children who are boxed in by conditions like autism or cognitive disorders that make communicating or learning difficult.
For Lovshin it illustrates that PacificSource is committed to Montana and he's hopeful that the storefront on Montana Avenue will be a reminder of that.
"It's an important part of being in Montana," he said.