Butte to market Uptown as Opportunity Zone to spur economy

Posted at 3:21 PM, May 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-03 18:09:46-04

BUTTE – Getting economic development going in a place like Uptown Butte is a simple formula.

“You have investors, you have projects and you just need to be able to get them together,” said Butte Local Development Corporation Director Joe Willauer.

Some believe the solution is the federally created incentive called an Opportunity Zone, which Uptown Butte has been recently designated. Essentially, it works by people with money investing in a zone, and those with a business idea could receive financing from those investments.

“It is complex, but if (you) can position yourself correctly, we’re learning from other communities are positioning their zones and marketing them, we’re going to make sure we’re out there,” said Butte Community Development Director Karen Byrnes.

Butte’s zone includes much of the blighted Uptown area that has many available buildings.

“We have people reaching out regularly to see about investing in Uptown and bringing businesses to town and it’s just another tool to sweeten the pot to help get those deals down,” said Willauer.

Butte officials are working on a marketing packet and Website to help promote Butte’s Opportunity Zone.

“So when people are looking, when these investment firms these funds, are looking for projects they’ll be able to get all the information they’ll need on that Website,” said Byrnes.

This federal program is new and untested, but the city is still optimist that it could encourage investment in a building like the former Northwestern Energy Building which has been vacant for two years now.

“The old Northwestern Energy building, 40 E. Broadway is a prime example of what an Opportunity Zone could invest in,” said Willauer.

Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News