Park City Tour Participants Study Trends In Bozeman, Montana

Sep 11, 2018

Park City Leadership Class 24, Park City Council, staff and most of the Summit County Council returned from a 5-day trip to Montana and Wyoming for the annual City Tour. Melissa Allison finds out what they’ve found in towns north of Utah:

The City Tour made three stops. Bozeman and Livingston, Montana and Jackson Hole Wyoming.

KPCW caught up with Park City Mayor Andy Beerman and Summit County Council Member Glenn Wright while they were in Bozeman.

When asked about the expense of sending so many people on the trip, about $800 per person, Beerman said the money is well spent.

“I think it’s a valuable experience for us to go learn from other cities and get ideas," Beerman said. "You get ideas that would be pretty expensive if we had to study them or pilot them and its always a good opportunity to get to know the leadership class and interact with people in our community so I think its money well spent and we do it fairly economically.”

Bozeman is one of the fastest growing towns in the nation, along with Heber City. Beerman said it’s a trend along the Rockies.

“There’s a big migration right now from the east and the west coast where people are finding a high quality of life and reasonable cost in the Rocky Mountains," Beerman said. "So, I think it’s happening to all of us. But they seem to be hit particularly hard up here and they’ve got a lot of flat open land to expand here and for a very reasonable cost of living for a real high quality of life so, it seems to be a hot spot.”

Unlike Park City, Bozeman’s tech industry has taken off. Wright said he thinks it got its start from some early investors who started a variety of businesses that seemed to take root.

“Plantronics industry, some electronics industry," Wright said. "There’s, you know, western outdoor products and fly fishing. There’s a company I don’t know much about that makes firearm accessories. Unfortunately, I haven’t come up with any great ideas other than what drew me here was the same type of things we have in Park City, but they’ve been successful and we haven’t.”

As for their mental health programs, Wright said they have a unique nonprofit called HRDC, Human Resources Development Council which provides services for the city and county.

“An interesting eclective number of services that include mental health, homelessness, affordable housing and they run the bus system," Wright said. "And apparently this group grew up out of a need for - somebody to just take on these tasks and help the city and county contract out those services to this outfit called HRDC - interesting phenomena. That’s one of the take-aways I think, because we’re going to be looking at increasing mental health services and we’ve already started to do that. It might be an interesting way to approach the, some of those issues.”

When it comes to chain stores, Beerman said Bozeman residents don’t seem as concerned, but believes they’ll eventually have the same issues Park City is dealing with.

Bozeman’s commercial rental prices are about half of what Park City’s are, but there are no vacancies and filled with local businesses.

I’m Melissa Allison, KPCW News.