Big Sky Trust Fund Job Creations Program: An Opportunity to Grow Your Business

By: Lorene Hintz | SBDC Regional Director

As the SBDC Regional Director and Business Advisor for over fifteen years I have seen many similarities that small business owners face that want to start, purchase, or expand their business.  What is similar? Money, or lack of it!  Money seems to be biggest problem for small businesses.

The Big Sky Trust Fund Job Creation Program is one of the avenues where I can offer financial assistance to growing or expanding businesses. Businesses can actually receive up to $5,000 for every new job they create!

What is the purpose of the Big Sky Trust Fund program besides giving money to businesses for creating jobs?  The program was created in 2005 to assist economic growth in Montana.  Its purpose is to help retain or expand existing business, provide a better life for future generations, and create good-paying jobs for Montana residents.

So, what does it take to meet all the qualifications for this program?

One of the requirements is that the business must be a basic sector company, a business with a focus on out-of-state markets and clients. So, if your business is on-line and you sell a good share of your products to out-of-state customers, you could qualify.

Applicants are eligible to apply for up to $5,000 for each eligible net new job that they create. The BSTF defines a net new job as a new, full time, permanent position. The program wants to make sure that you are offering good paying jobs that are full time and meet the required wage rates.  BSTF says the job must meet 170% of Montana’s current minimum wage or the current average weekly wage of the county.  I can visit with you to help you find out how much that would be for your company.

Of course, receiving free money doesn’t come without some stipulations.  The business is required to provide a $1 to $1 match.  The good news is that the match can be money the company is using to expand the business.  It can be for building improvements, machinery and equipment, computers or software, furniture, fixtures, and equipment purchase, or even wages.

Here’s an example of how the program works:

Company XYZ has the opportunity to purchase a new building to expand their business.  The company currently has 20 employees, and the expansion will enable the company to create 10 new jobs.  Once the company has filled those positions and now has 30 employees, they can collect the funding.

The building purchase is $250,000, and new equipment costs $50,000. The total of the expansion is $300,000.  The company put the building in a separate LLC (Company ABC) so it can’t be used for the match but the $50,000 of equipment (listed under Company YXZ) can be.   After the company hires the 10 employees and they have met the wage requirement, the company can be reimbursed ($5,000 x 10) $50,000 through the BSTF program.  $50,000 of Company XYZ money = $50,000 BSTF grant money.

A local or tribal government (Big Sky Economic Development) must apply for the BSTF Job Creation grant on behalf of the basic sector business to create at least one net new eligible job in Montana.   Contact me for more information.