BILLINGS – The cities of Billings and Bozeman have submitted bids to house two U.S. Department of Agriculture offices, which could bring up to 600 jobs to either city.
In Billings, officials are proposing the use of the downtown Stillwater Building, a former federal courthouse, to house the agency’s Economic Research Service or the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The federal agency requires a facility that’s at least 160,000 square feet, and the Stillwater fits the bill, say representatives of Big Sky Economic Development.
“The idea is that they want to get closer to their customers, and they also want to see them out of Washington D.C. for quality of life reasons. One of the big key considerations in the application process: Are you going to offer our staff a great quality of life, outdoor amenities, low commute time, and opportunities for education? So we really check the boxes well,” said Allison Corbyn, director of recruitment for Big Sky Economic Development.
The deadline to submit for the relocation was Monday. Bozeman has also applied, and Corbin said she expects thousands of communities nationwide will do the same.
In August, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the agency would move the two departments outside of Washington, D.C., to better attract talent from outside the capital and bring USDA resources closer to rural constituents.