The proposed bill being drafted as an economic tool for One Big Sky District and the rest of the state, (LC1182) will essentially implement a provision that will empower communities to create what is being called 406 Impact Districts.

To get that legislation passed will be the focus of Big Sky Economic Development (BSED going forward, said Steve Arveschoug, director of BSED, in speaking to a joint executive committee meeting of BSED’s two boards of directors on Wednesday.

The proposed legislation is expected to “come out” next week, and is aiming to be introduced to the Senate Taxation Committee on March 18 or 19. Senator Roger Webb is working on writing the bill, a process that is incorporating input from all of Montana’s cities.

Following the rejection by the city council of an amendment to the city’s agreement with Landmark Development that essentially halted any advancement of the OBSD project, Arveschoug said that the partnership of community organizations, which includes the City of Billings, have held several meetings and everyone is in agreement that the vote will not halt the efforts to develop the vision of OBSD. “We are committing all our resources to get a statewide economic development tool.”

Another meeting with the Billings legislative delegation was also very positive, he said.

Arveschoug said BSED would have to decide if they are going to continue to engage their lobbyists, Jim Driscoll and Mark Taylor – an estimated cost of $40,000. He added that while it is commonly believed that the entire $300,000 that BSED appropriated for the second phase of OBSD is for lobbying, that is not true, he said.

Since the failure of the measure by the City Council, Arveschoug said “the Strategy Partners … strongly believe we have the platform by which we can continue our work on the development of the economic development tool in partnership with our legislative delegation. We have an approved plan and all the supporting fiscal and economic analysis that is needed to support our legislative work…”