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MSUB building

An artist's rendering of the new Yellowstone Science and Allied Health Building at Montana State University Billings. 

First Interstate has matched fundraising for the Montana State University of Billings Foundation in funds that will go toward the new science building which is set to begin construction this summer.

On Wednesday Brian Brown, market president for First Interstate presented Bill Kennedy, MSUB Foundation chief executive officer and president, and MSUB Chancellor Dan Edelman with a check for $100,000. The money will go to renovating and expanding the Yellowstone Science & Allied Health Building. 

In January 2018, First Interstate Bank promised to match $100,000 in funds for Montana State University Billings Foundation if they raised the money by December.

Donations from local businesses and banks, as well as fundraising from a brick campaign, where people bought engraved bricks to be used in the building, helped the foundation meet their goal. Many of those people were present Wednesday, and Edelman and Kennedy expressed thanks to those who helped raise money.

"Because of all of you it wasn't just $100,000 from First Interstate. We doubled it," Kennedy said.

Construction for the new science building is slated for July, Kennedy said. The building will renovate the existing science building, built in 1947, and expand it 30,000 square feet.

The plans for the building were revealed in March by architect Mike Dowling of Dowling Studio Architects, and now contractors and subcontractors are bidding, Kennedy said. 

More than 57 contractors and subcontractors have bid on the work, he said. Once a contractor is chosen, construction will begin. The building is scheduled to be finished in January 2021.  

Fundraising for the building has been a struggle for the MSUB Foundation since 2013. The Montana Legislature approved $10 million in funding in 2013 if the MSUB Foundation could come up with $5 million first.

That $5 million was finally raised in August 2018, and the Board of Regents approved the building in September, giving the school access to $2.1 million in student fees to finish funding the project. 

The foundation is still fundraising, accepting private donations and selling bricks, and are more than $100,000 short on funds, but that shouldn’t disrupt construction, he said. That money would be used for finishing touches, like installing the engraved bricks, furniture or art for the building. 

Edelman said he hopes the new building will increase enrollment — which would serve his goal of increasing enrollment to 6,000 students in five years. 

"Once the bulldozers show up and we start breaking down it’ll help with enrollment, it’s going to help us with our pride and in many ways," he said. "Think about this: the students studying in the building you are helping pay for are going to be the doctors that help you when you get to be my age. So, you are making a big difference in our community." 

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Night Reporter

Night reporter for The Billings Gazette.