By Tim Leeds
Executive Director Dick King will be leaving Bear Paw Development Corporation North Montana (BPDC) after 21 years with the corporation.
King, who has been executive director of BPDCNM since 1993, starts as the director of the Missoula Area Economic Development Corporation June 19.
Annmarie Robinson, who has been with BPCD since 1985, has been promoted to deputy director within the corporation. She will be handling the executive director duties in conjunction with administrative assistant Jenny Morse and corporation's board until a new executive director is selected.
Robinson said she will continue to focus on development and improvement of infrastructure and housing in her new position.
The corporation has already filled another recent vacancy. Karla Niebauer will start as the corporation's Small Business Development Center's new loan officer on May 15. Brent Melle, who has been with the corporation since last fall, is the assistant loan officer for the SBDC, and Tracey Jette is the SBDC director.
The corporation currently has some 115 outstanding loans worth about $8.5 million for business development and improvement. Robinson said these loans are to a variety of businesses in a variety of sizes, and are leveraged through several different programs.
The SBDC has several other programs for training and technical assistance, such as the NxLevel classes, to help businesses start and expand.
Part of the funding for the SBDC comes from matching grant funds from the Federal Small Business Administration. Local banks also make contributions to the center for development.
One of the corporation's services is to help local governments plan and prioritize their projects and apply for funding through different loans and grants. The local governments decide which projects they will work on.
Craig Erickson, the corporation's planner, handles much of the work helping local governments plan development projects. Erickson also helps coordinate the CTEP fund applications and projects in the area. This allows local governments to receive aid in projects to improve roadside areas. He currently has about 22 applications for projects due in July for this program.
BPDC, which is a private, non-profit corporation recognized by the Federal Economic Development Administration, was formed in 1968. It is the second oldest regional economic development organization in the state. The corporation's 13 members are five counties, six cities and two tribal governments in the area.
Robinson said the driving force behind the formation of the corporation was local governments looking for infrastructure and housing improvements in the area. She said they really didn't get into economic development until about 1989.
Robinson said the original focus of the corporation will continue to be a main emphasis into the future.
"The need is to make sure we're still doing this and satisfying local officials' needs in housing and infrastructure," she said.