As the folks from White Plains, N.Y., consider where to locate their new Bresnan Communications operations center, they're sure to hear lots of detailed presentations on the amenities of various cities. We're going to boil down the sales pitch for Billings: It's a great place to live and do business.
Growing community Here's 10 reasons why:
1. Billings is a growing city in a growing county. As Montana's largest city (more than 90,000 people in the city with a countywide population of 130,000), Billings offers a ready pool of well-educated workers as well as employment potential for spouses of Bresnan employees.
2. Excellent schools — good public schools and private schools for children, Rocky Mountain College and Montana State University-Billings for employee training and development. MSU-Billings College of Technology is already growing to respond to business needs as is the MSU-Billings College of Business.
3. A wide variety of residential development — downtown lofts, various apartment buildings and a multitude of planned neighborhoods all around the city.
4. Best airline connections in the state.
5. State-of-the-art health care ranging from neonatology and pediatrics to heart surgery and work-force wellness.
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6. Recreation. Rappel the Rims, bike the trail, work out in one of several health clubs, golf at an array of courses ranging from par three to challenging terrain. Hunting, fishing, skiing and hiking opportunities abound in nearby public lands, including the Beartooth Mountains.
7. A variety of restaurants to suit all tastes.
8. Region's largest shopping district.
9. Arts, culture and entertainment. Billings has galleries, museums, professional sports —including a championship baseball team, concerts, symphony, theater performances.
10. Thriving downtown district where historic preservation and new businesses are developing in tandem.
No. 11 would be the community's leadership for local economic development. Last week, the Big Sky Economic Development Authority Board discussed an incentive package it could offer Bresnan for locating its multistate operations center here and providing good jobs over 10 years.
Business collaboration The incentive proposal includes county participation, a possible federal appropriation and private capital contributed by local businesses through the new Big Sky Economic Development Corp.
Big Sky EDA wisely requested an economic impact analysis. The study found that each new job the cable television company fills in Billings would create another spin-off job in our community. Over 10 years, the proposed Bresnan operations center potentially would result in $65.6 million in wages and other income for community members, plus generating $2 million in local tax receipts, according to the Center for Applied Economic Research at MSU-Billings. The proposed incentive package would be recouped in tax revenues alone.
Regardless of what Montana location Bresnan chooses, the state will benefit from the creation of decent jobs. However, we encourage Bresnan leaders to take a close look at Billings. It's growing. It offers a high quality of life in health services, entertainment, recreation and education.
Billings is highly livable and business friendly. That's a great combination.