BOZEMAN – According to Policom, an economics research firm, Bozeman is ranked number one for economic strength in a micropolitan area.
This is the second year in a row Bozeman has earned this ranking, out of 551 current micropolitan statistical areas in the United States.
With a repeat of the top ranking, a question arises: what is Bozeman doing that other places aren’t?
“Focusing on the fundamentals, and for the city of Bozeman that means infrastructure and driving development with our infrastructure. The second would be workforce development and education and then, thirdly, supporting our local businesses. Those are the three primary areas the city of Bozeman works on,” said Economic Development Director Brit Fontenot.
The thriving economy is something the city is proud of, but as always, with growth come challenges.
“We’re not without our challenges — including affordable housing, wages and access to talent — so it doesn’t really talk about any of those challenges that we face, but we know them very well and we work on them every day,” Fontenot said. “We’re proud to be recognized for our strengths and we continue to work hard to try to overcome some of our challenges.”
A micropolitan area must have a population with less than 50,000 people. As Bozeman grows more each day, it’s reasonable to ask how much longer Bozeman will fall into this category.
“By the end of 2020, if that census comes in to show that we’re 50,000 and over, and now we’re going to be in competition with the major metroplexes that are out there. I don’t think that’s a big concern with us,” said Daryl Schliem, Bozeman Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.
“If you look at where we’re even ranking, and you go to the airport ranking where we had four direct flights some 15 years ago to 17 direct flights today, we’re now competing with almost every major airline,” he said.
Schliem continued, “so we’re competing with Dallas-Fort Worth but on a smaller, much friendlier scale. When you arrive here you still feel like it’s small-town Bozeman. So hopefully we can be able to continue to grow, grow the types of jobs, high paying jobs, but also keep the feel of what Bozeman, Montana has to offer to the family.”
To see the complete list of rankings, you can click here.
Story by Emma Hamilton, MTN News