Havre Daily News
The chief of Bear Paw Development Corp. and the chair of the Hill County Commission this week said they want to learn more about what a proposed Havre-Hill County port authority can do for residents here.
“The bottom line of a new economic development entity should be purpose behind its establishment,” Bear Paw Development executive director Paul Tuss said Wednesday. “I think its critical not to simply create a port authority because it works in a community several miles down Highway 2.”
Tuss said he wants more information. He's been asked by a committee, created by Havre Mayor Bob Rice, to research how port
authorities in Montana interact with regional economic development organizations like Bear Paw Development.
“This may be a perfect tool for (Bear Paw Development Corp.) to do our jobs better in Havre and Hill County,” he added.
Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette said today that no one from the city has yet approached the commissioners about the port authority. Bessette also said the commissioners work very closely with Bear Paw Development Corp. One of the
first questions the commissioners would ask, she said, was what a port authority could accomplish for Hill County that Bear Paw Development cannot.
Rice on Wednesday said that while Bear Paw Development Corp.
does a great job for Havre, it is a regional development corporation that also works for other communities. He hopes the creation of a port authority would help concentrate economic development efforts in Hill County.
“Bear Paw does a great job for us, I'm not denying
that,” he said. “But, I want a port authority to concentrate 100 percent on Hill County.”
Bear Paw Development supplies business loans along with training and technical assistance to residents of Hill, Blaine, Phillips, Liberty and Chouteau counties.
Tuss added that he had several questions he thought needed to be answered by the city for the whole community.
“Most other communities have the ability to levy taxes to support the port authority,” Tuss said. ”In my conversations with the committee, they haven't expressed an interest in asking for financing. It seems they are more interested in having a structure for a development entity in place.
The city, Tuss said, needs to take the answers he forwards and ask itself what the proposed port authority will do. If the city decides to move forward with it and they have a purpose, Tuss added, it may be a great thing for Havre.
The three-member committee investigating the proposed port authority has met with Shelby Mayor Larry Bonderud to talk about what the local port authority has done for Shelby and Toole County over the last two decades, committee member Andrew Brekke said. Bonderud has said the citizens of Havre shouldn't look at the port authority as competition for the regional agency.
The committee will meet with the Great Falls Development Authority soon, Brekke said. The findings made by the committee have been positive, he added.
“We discovered lots of positive things about a port authority,” he said. “We have not found any negatives thus far.”
Rice said the community would choose the members who would run the port authority. He also said there a few developments he has in mind.
“Long before I was a mayor, we had an opportunity to bring a prison in,” he said. “Shelby now has that prison, and I think a port authority could help with things like that.”
Rice added he would like to see wind energy brought in, adding that he supports anything that would bring jobs and new businesses to Hill County.
The committee, formed in March, has until June to bring its findings to City Council. Rice said the issue would be put on the ballot for citizens to vote on.
Brekke said the committee still has more work to do before it presents its findings and recommendations to Havre citizens.