Why Butte Has the Best Labor Force in the West

We’ve discussed on this blog before why Butte makes a great place to call home. From the picturesque mountains, ski-trails and blue-ribbon trout streams within an hour’s drive, to the famous Irish festivals, to the low cost of living, Butte really is a wonderful place to live.

A picture of butte, with downtown in the foreground and the hill in the background. Cars driving up and down main street.
The Richest Hill on Earth

Such a city attracts innovative, hard-working people that will help your business grow and prosper. Here are just a few reasons Butte has the best labor force in the west:

Willing to work

At the turn of the 20th century, Butte’s copper electrified the nation. In the midst of World War I, Butte ramped up their mining efforts, working around the clock to supply the lion’s share of copper for the war efforts and established telegraph connections with the rest of the world.

A black and white photo of miners posing outside their mine in two rows.
Miners posing outside of a mine entrance.

Meanwhile, Butte engineered a way to harness the power of water and worked tirelessly to keep its ever-expanding mines powered.

The people of Butte always preserved, even if that meant working all hours of the day, instilling a strong work-ethic that still persists in the town today.

Highly educated

But the tenacity of the town isn’t the only reason Butte is known for its talented workforce. The working population is highly educated. Around 90 percent of adults in Butte graduated college, while another 25 percent have a college education or higher, according to the United States Census Bureau. This is on par with nationwide education attainment statistics.

Moreover, the city of Butte has a strong relationship with its outstanding college, Montana Tech of the University of Montana.

Montana Tech, which was named one of the “Best in the West” universities in 2011 by the Princeton Review, focuses on engineering and health sciences and offers associates degrees in Aerospace Welding Technology, Machining Technology and Metals Fabrication (among others).  

An archway that reads "Montana Tech" in the foreground with buildings in the background.
The Arch entrance to Montana Tech.

With such a university, Butte’s workforce continually gets waves of excited, well-trained graduates for its manufacturing and other job fields.

Diverse Business Sectors

The county of Butte-Silver Bow is a mecca for business, spanning sectors in high-tech manufacturing, healthcare/life sciences, information technologies, energy utilities and geophysical consulting. More and more businesses continue to relocate to or expand in Butte, including FedEx, SeaCast and REC Silicon.  

A group of signs showing where businesses are in an industrial park.
Companies currently at the MCBDP

The diverse array of businesses attracts a strong labor from within the city, state and beyond. With the support of the city-county and this talented workforce, these industries are assured to continue to grow and prosper.

By starting or expanding your business in Butte, you’ll be able to tap into the talented, hard-working labor force that Butte is known for.

6 Ways the Butte Silver-Bow Local Government Supports New Business

Butte has a long history of great ingenuity, resilience in the face of adversity and a strong, unbeatable character. As discussed before, these attributes, among others, make Butte a great place to do business.

A sign stating the history of Butte made out of stone.
Butte, a little town with a big history.

But the city-county itself is another reason to make the plunge and relocate to this picturesque mountain town. The city-county of Butte-Silver Bow has a strong commitment to helping businesses start, expand and thrive.

Here, we’ve listed six ways the local government supports local business:  

City-county government

 

The city-county of Butte-Silver Bow is structured as a combined city-county government, which is a fancy way of saying that the government has jurisdiction of both Butte the city, and the greater county of Silver Bow.

An artists depiction of early Butte, MT. Smoke Stacks rise over a small down on a hill.
Butte has seen many changes.

This unique way of organizing government causes long-term savings, increased efficiency, improved resources and enhanced planning capabilities, according to the National League of Cities. Because of these benefits, a city-county style government allows for a stronger relationship to develop between the government and the private sector, which is better for your business.

Tax Increment Districts

 

Under the Montana law known as Tax Increment Financing, local governments are able to “utilize property taxes brought about by new development to construct infrastructure and assist with facility construction to support additional industrial uses in the area,” according to the Butte Local Development Corporation.

Butte has three Tax Increment Districts—including one within the Montana Connections Business Development Park—to help new and expanding businesses offset the cost of infrastructure. This means that funds are available to help your business with site development (adding capacity, building facilities, parking etc). How much you can acquire through these funds is based on total project investment and job creation.

Low cost-of-living

 

Starting or expanding a business in an expensive market can be taxing for you and your business. You can’t take the proper risks or focus on your startup if you are strapped for cash. That is not a problem in Butte. Currently, Butte-Silver Bow’s cost of living is nearly 7 percent lower than the U.S. average, with a median home listing price at $113k, according to real estate website Zillow.

A screen shot of a zillow map of Butte Montana homes for sale.
Few real estate markets are better suited for expanding businesses.

Butte-Silver Bow seeks to continue keeping the cost of living low, while striving to raise the already high standard of living.

Access to grants funded by the state of Montana

 

Butte-Silver Bow is committed to helping you find the grant money you need to expand your current business or get your new business off the ground.

The county will help you find the proper grant program that’s likely to provide necessary funding. Available grants include workforce training grants, incumbent worker training grants, economic development grants, business infrastructure grants and a host of other programs designed to bring business to the state of Montana. For a comprehensive list visit the BLDC’s website.  

The Butte Local Development Corporation

The Butte Local Development Corporation (BLDC) is a private/public organization that serves as a liaison between you and the government. They are there for you to help expedite project activity, as well as work as an intermediary for introductions to all the key players you may need in launching a successful business.

Not only that, but the BLDC boasts on their website that they provide key market intelligence including demographics, labor availability, taxes, cost of living comparisons, and research on workforce, recruitment and training assistance.

Taking a team approach

 

Kristen Rosa, who works in Community Development in the Butte-Silver Bow government said the number one way her city-county supports new business is by taking a team approach when it comes to supporting startups.

The Montana Connections Business Development park works alongside the BLDC, Headwaters, a non-profit focused on improving the economic well-being of Southwest Montana, and the local government to figure out what kind of help your business needs.  

A collection of business buildings with mines in the background.
Butte’s beautiful business district hasn’t aged a day.

From there, they continue to work together to meet with the people who can provide this help. They don’t give you a name and leave it at that—they introduce you to those who have the resources you need. They are by your side every step of the way.

The success of your new or expansion of your current startup is one of the top priorities for the city-county of Butte-Silver Bow. And is just another reason Butte’s a great place to be a business.

Transportation Hub: Butte Montana

The Montana Connections Business Development Park is the only location within Montana where two highways intersect. Nestled at the intersection of Interstate Highways 15 and 90, we are the best place for good distribution anywhere in the Rocky Mountain West.

A map of montana highways and cities, with Butte circled for emphasis.
Map of Montana Highway System

Clients like FedEx Freight and Old Dominion Freight have thrived in our industrial park, in part, because of this connectivity. While the benefits of being so close to two major interstate highways are nearly endless; we have compiled five major advantages you may not have thought of:

A group of signs showing where businesses are in an industrial park.
Companies currently at the MCBDP

Access to all of North America

Major market centers are a straight shot on the two freeway corridors that stretch north, south, east and west. Reach prime industry and manufacturing cities, including Calgary, Salt Lake City, Spokane, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego and Minneapolis with ease.

Desirable destinations are only a day away

Interstate Highways 15 and 90 allow you to get where you need to go fast. Interstate 90 is the longest Interstate Highway in the United States, running east-to-west and Interstate 15 runs north-to-south. As we said, desirable locations — including international ports — are on the direct route from our location in Butte, Montana. This direct route increases your ability to get exactly where you need to go in a reasonable amount of time.

A simple map of the US showing I 90 running across.
A map of Interstate 90

Greater predictability for planning

Major American interstates were carefully designed and constructed to allow for reliability. The Interstate System is a streamlined system that did away with infrastructure that caused delays and added infrastructure (passing lanes) to increase traffic flow. With access to not one, but two, major interstates, companies can better plan the logistics of their hauls, knowing with a greater surety exactly when their products will arrive where they need to be. At the same time, this reliability allows companies to successfully avoid delays, caused by traffic, construction and even weather.

A blue diagram with a truck, a train, and an airplane on it.
Ground an air transportation options.

Uniformity of regulations

With major market centers a straight shot in either direction, businesses don’t have to worry about meeting the weight, size and height restrictions of smaller highways. Interstates have a greater uniformity of regulations. While states determine laws and regulations for portions of the National Highway System that are not a part of the Interstate System, the Interstate System is controlled primarily by the national government. Set your mind at ease by knowing that whichever direction you’re heading in, you won’t have to worry about state-specific restrictions.

An image showing the regulatory costs per manufacturing employee annually.
Regulatory Compliance Costs in 2014 dollars (according to NAM).

Easy transfer of goods from truck-to-rail or rail-to-truck

We are the only place in Montana where two Class I railroads are located. Access to both the Union Pacific and the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroads allows for easy distribution both east-west and north-south. The Port of Montana is located within the boundary of our industrial park and assists companies with transfer between truck-to-rail, rail-to-truck, and truck-to-truck, so the world is truly at your fingertips.


Montana Connections Business Development Park boasts numerous benefits to help your business to thrive, including a transportation and distribution service that cannot be beaten.

So what are you waiting for? Join our family and take your business to a higher level.

12 Reasons Butte is Good for Business

As we’ve discussed on this blog before, Butte is a place of history and character, hence the nickname Butte, America. Nevertheless, history and character don’t put food on the table.  In addition to being a great place to live, Butte is a great place to locate your business.  How is that, you ask?  

We can think of 12 reasons how, which we’ve listed here.  

  • Location – Situated at the intersection of Interstate Highways 15 and 90, and along both the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroads, we are the best placed location for manufacturing expansion and development, and also the best placed location for distribution anywhere in the Rocky Mountain West.  
  • Infrastructure – Butte’s rich history of both light and heavy industry has resulted in well developed infrastructure and capacity.  The Bert Mooney Airport offers daily flights to regional hubs, just a few minutes’ drive from uptown.  There’s ready access to water, sanitation, gas and electric utilities, high speed fiber, as well as the highway and railroads listed above.  In addition, local crane and heavy hauling services, equipment rentals and dealerships make doing business in Butte more convenient and affordable.
  • Reduced Import/Export Costs – The Port of Montana services rail cars and trucks, with a 86,000 pound lift capacity and both indoor and outdoor storage.  The Port of Montana and Montana Connections are located in a designated Foreign Trade Zone, which eliminates costs on import and export duties (explained in greater detail in each entities’ linked pages).  
  • A Talented Workforce – Butte is home to businesses spanning sectors including high-tech manufacturing, healthcare/life sciences, information technologies, energy utilities and geophysical consulting, which combine to generate and attract a talented workforce.  
  • An Outstanding University –  Montana Tech of the University of Montana has earned such accolades as the fourth best value in higher education nationwide and the fourth best public university in the west by the Princeton Review, and the ninth best public university for return on investment nationwide by the Wall Street Journal.  With degrees ranging from earth and health sciences, and in 12 engineering fields, Montana Tech keeps the workforce talent pool fresh and deep.
  • An Outstanding Technical/Trade School – Montana Tech offers certificates and Associate’s Degrees in fields including Aerospace Welding Technology, Machining Technology and Metals Fabrication, ensuring that Butte’s manufacturing base is staffed and state-of-the-art.
  • Low Home Prices -As of this writing, Realtor.com reports the median listing price of homes in Butte is $119k, compared to Missoula’s $315k and Bozeman’s $385k. Butte is an inexpensive place to be a homeowner, plain and simple.
  • Access to Outdoor Recreation –  Surrounding Butte are 3.2 million acres of National Forest, with ample opportunity for mountain biking, rock climbing, dirt biking, hunting and fishing.  There are 7 alpine ski areas within 3 hours of Butte, and Moulton Reservoir hosts nordic ski trails, operated by the Mile High Nordic Ski Club.  Three golf courses serve the area, including the Jack Nicklaus-designed Old Works Golf Course in nearby Anaconda.
  • Work Ethic –  During its peak production years, Butte’s mining industry supplied copper to electrify the nation, supply the World War I buildup and establish telegraph connections with the rest of the world.  Around the clock, thousands of people toiled underground in Butte’s mines, instilling an unwavering work ethic that persists to this day.
  • Great Food –  Keeping the old world, neighborhood grocery store alive, the Front Street Market operates a full service deli, offers a full wine selection, and has something for the gourmet in all of us.  The M&M Bar and Cafe first opened in 1890, and has enough neon and polished stainless steel to satisfy the diner enthusiast in all of us.  They make a great burger, too.
The M&M Bar and Cafe | Source: Flickr
  • Summertime Festivals –  The Montana Folk Festival is one of the Northwest’s largest music festivals, hosting more than 20 acts, with food vendors and artists’ booths scattered throughout uptown.  Even better, attendance is free of charge.  For the more adventurous, Evel Knievel Days bills itself as ‘the only extreme sports festival of its kind in the world,’ a claim that can’t be refuted.  It’s three days of stunts, spectacles and generally following Butte native Evel Knievel’s risk-taking example.
  • Strong Cultural Heritage –  Butte is steeped in its Irish heritage, which it celebrates any chance it can.  St Patrick’s day in Butte is a regional draw of revelry in the streets, which, without any open container law can get quite spirited.  The An Rí Rá Montana Irish Festival celebrates Butte’s Irish heritage, and is regarded as one of the best Irish festivals in the country.

We’ve listed 12 reasons Butte is good for business, but there might as well be a million.  The point is, it’s a great place to live, work and play.  After all, that’s what doing business is for, at least in Butte, America it is.