Project Funding & Incentives
Whether you need a low-interest real estate or infrastructure loan, workforce training grant or angel funding, Missoula Economic Partnership can connect you with the resources to help make your business happen here. Through our working relationships with government agencies, financial institutions and community development organizations across the region, we will direct you to the most appropriate sources of capital to fit your company’s needs. In many cases, we take an active role in assisting companies with the process of assembling documentation and application materials.
Montana, Missoula County and the city of Missoula offer an array of incentives, including Tax Increment Financing districts and New Markets Tax Credits, to attract business investment and nurture growth. Incentives vary by industry, business size and other factors. A full list of available state tax incentives for businesses can be found on the Montana Department of Revenue’s website.
The following is a partial list of programs we work with to help existing and relocating Western Montana businesses grow. In addition, we can connect you with commercial lenders throughout the area or to local investors via the MEP Angel Network. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information about these or other assistance opportunities.
PARTNERSHIP IN ACTION
When Missoula-based submissions management company Submittable needed help with the cost of attending Silicon Valley’s prestigious Y Combinator business incubating program, Missoula Economic Partnership helped it secure funds through an innovative application of incumbent worker training funds from Missoula Job Service. Read more about the results in our case study.
Big Sky Development Trust Fund — fosters development of good-paying jobs for Montana residents and promotes long-term, sustainable growth in Montana. The BSTF program provides financial assistance in two categories. Economic Development Job Creation Project grants, also known as Category I grants, are available for projects that create net new qualifying jobs that pay the lesser of 170 percent of Montana’s current minimum wage or the current average county wage, including the value of employee benefits. If employee benefits are to be included in the calculation for the BSTF required wage rate, the assisted business will be required to certify that the benefits meet the requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. Awards can reach $7,500 per qualifying job in Missoula County. Planning grants (Category II) are available for planning activities such as feasibility studies, business plans, preliminary architectural reports and preliminary engineering reports.
Community Development Block Grant Program — Montana Department of Commerce utilizes federal Community Development Block Grant funds to stimulate economic development activity by assisting the private sector to create or retain jobs for low- and moderate-income persons primarily through loans to businesses. Funding is also available to companies for employee training and infrastructure. The program is designed to assist businesses by making fixed-rate financing available to them at reasonable interest rates, given the risk of the project, and to provide public improvements in support of economic development activities.
FundingMT — launched in October 2013, FundingMT is an online grant management system for economic development grant programs administered by the Montana Department of Commerce. The system allows one-stop application submittal and grant management for the Big Sky Development Trust Fund, Primary Sector Workforce Training Grant Program, and the Community Development Block Grant Program.
Governor’s Discretionary Workforce Investment Act Funds — this program has similar requirements to the Primary Sector Workforce Training Grant program. In order for a company to qualify, the minimum wage and benefit amount must be equal to or greater than 110 percent of the state median wage. The maximum grant amount depends on availability of funding and the level of requests received when funding is available. Click here to read more about the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
Microbusiness Finance Program — Montana has a network for regional microbusiness development corporations that provide financing, training and business assistance to help very small businesses expand or get started. In Missoula, the Montana Community Development Corporation serves this role. Applicants generally must provide a business plan and other evidence to demonstrate the economic feasibility of the business, and the ability to repay the loan from cash flow generated by the business. The intent of the program is to finance economically sound business projects that are not otherwise able to obtain financing from sources such as their local banks. Interest rates are generally slightly higher than bank rates.
Missoula Job Service On-the-Job Training — offers the opportunity to fill skilled positions while building organizational productivity by reimbursing up to 90 percent of employee wages paid during a training period of up to six months. Aimed at providing skills enhancement to displaced workers or those who meet income criteria.
Montana Board of Investments Loan Programs — Montana law states that “the Board shall endeavor to invest 25 percent of the state’s Coal Tax Trust Fund in the Montana economy, with special emphasis on investments in new or expanding locally owned enterprises.” To achieve this objective, the board has designed a series of loan programs that can be tailored to meet individual needs of borrowers. These loans are tailored for value-added businesses, infrastructure and other needs.
Montana Board of Research and Commercialization Technology — created by the Montana Legislature to provide a predictable and stable source of funding for research and commercialization projects to be conducted at research and commercialization centers in Montana. Provides grants in the $50,000 – $200,000 range for research projects that show a clear path to commercialization.
Montana Technology Innovation Partnership — a state program tasked to build the short-term benefits of technology research and development into the long-term rewards of economic development through commercialization. MTIP serves as the Montana administrator of the National Institutes of Health Commercialization Assistance Program, a specialized technical assistance grant program for SBIR/STTR Phase II awardees. This program is designed to help promising, small, life science companies develop their commercial businesses and transition their technologies into the marketplace.
New Markets Tax Credits — a federally funded program providing subsidy financing to a wide variety of projects in low-income communities. The NMTC program gives taxpayers an aggregate 39 percent federal income tax credit over seven years against equity investments made in designated community development entities. In Montana, New Markets Tax Credits are administered by Montana Community Development Corporation in Missoula. In 2011, it received an allocation of more than $56 million. Any Missoula project over $5 million should be evaluated for possible utilization of NMTC funding.
Primary Sector Workforce Training Grants — provides grant funds to primary sector businesses for training of new, full-time and part-time workers. Primary sector is defined as a business with at least 50 percent of its sales from outside of Montana, or a manufacturing company with 50 percent of its sales from companies that have 50 percent of their sales outside of Montana. The grant review committee may award workforce training grants up to $5,000 per eligible full-time trainee, or $2,500 per part-time trainee, to primary sector businesses that provide education or skills-based training. A company must pay the trainees’ wages and benefits of at least the lower of the average county wage or average state wage.
Rural Development Business and Industry Loans — U.S. Department of Agriculture administers these loans, which exist to improve, develop or finance business, industry and employment to improve the economic and environmental climate in rural communities. This purpose is achieved by bolstering the existing private credit structure through the guarantee of quality loans that will provide lasting community benefits.
Rural Energy for America Program Guaranteed Loan and Grant — another USDA program, aims to encourage the commercial financing of renewable energy (bioenergy, geothermal, hydrogen, solar, wind and hydro power) and energy efficiency projects. Under the program, project developers work with local lenders, who in turn can apply to USDA Rural Development for a loan guarantee up to 85 percent of the loan amount.
Small Business Administration — federal Small Business Administration offers a variety of loan programs for very specific purposes. SBA 504 loans provide approved small businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing used to acquire fixed assets for expansion or modernization. The 7(a) Loan Program includes financial help for businesses with special requirements. For example, funds are available for loans to businesses that handle exports to foreign countries, businesses that operate in rural areas, and for other very specific purposes. The SBA’s Microloan Program provides small, short-term loans to small business concerns and certain types of not-for-profit child care centers.
Tax Increment Financing — Tax Increment Financing is a technique that allows a local government or redevelopment authority to generate revenues for a group of blighted properties targeted for improvement, known as a TIF district. As improvements are made within the district, and as property values increase, the incremental increases in property tax revenue are earmarked for a fund that is used for improvements within the district. Currently, two TIF districts exist in Missoula County: at the 46-acre Champion Sawmill site (now known as the Old Sawmill District), just west and across the Clark Fork River from downtown Missoula; and at the 148-acre Stimson Lumber Mill site in Bonner.
Wood Products Revolving Loan Fund — the Montana Distressed Wood Products Industry Recovery and Stabilization Program was created in 2009 with federal and state funding to help businesses in this industry affected by the recession to retain or create jobs. Payments into the fund are available as affordable loan financing for economic development projects in Montana.