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Ameya Preserve Sells Off Chunk of Land

Airport moving ahead with 20-year expansion plan

The Aging West

Among the best: Bozeman's economy ranks near top

Bozeman Touted as Retirement Destination

No. 1 small business ranking food for thought

Bozeman ranked 9th nationally in economic strength

Bozeman ranked No. 1 small-business market among small U.S. cities


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Livingston, Montana: Ameya Preserve Sells Off Chunk of Land
By SCOTT McMILLION Bozeman Daily Chronicle Staff Writer March 25, 2008

LIVINGSTON - Wade Dokken has sold roughly 4,000 acres of his proposed Ameya Preserve development to a neighboring landowner, Giorgio Perfetti, an heir to an Italian candy empire that includes Mentos mints.

Ameya touts itself as an environmentally sensitive development that blends ecology and culture, with a nature program as well as music, paleontology and other programs. Plans call for putting about 300 homes plus commercial facilities in the Bullis Creek drainage about four miles south of Livingston.

Perfetti proposed the purchase, one Ameya executive said, because he didn’t want to look at development from his own property. “He came to us, and for us, it seemed very hard to pass up,” said Jaime Prieto, one of the Ameya partners in charge of marketing. “He said he doesn’t want to develop it.” Perfetti wants to preserve his own viewscape on a ranch he owns at the head of the neighboring Strickland Creek drainage. Perfetti could not be located for comment.

Ameya sold the block of land on the west end of its holdings March 5 and some of it had been slated for development, Dokken said Monday. “He would have looked right down on it,” Dokken said of Perfetti. Dokken said the sale eliminates all of Ameya’s debt and puts cash in the bank, though he did not reveal the purchase price. “We have no debt and no interest costs,” Dokken said. “It’s a very attractive position for us to be in.”

Ameya earlier had taken out a $13 million mortgage, according to Park County records, as well as a $6 million line of credit. Forbes magazine said in 2004 that Perfetti and his brother have a fortune estimated at $2 billion.

Phase one of the Ameya development has received preliminary plat approval from county officials, and reservations have been taken for several parcels, Dokken said. Those parcels can’t be sold until final plat approval is granted. Future phases will bring about 300 homes to the scenic valley, Dokken said.

Park County Planner Mike Inman said he will be meeting with Ameya representatives April 3 to discuss final plat approval for phase one, which includes about 40 homes, according to a map on Ameya’s Web site. A large part of Ameya’s marketing program has focused on the access buyers would have to the entire property, which includes about 9,700 acres of deeded land and 1,300 acres of land leased from the state of Montana.

Dokken said the sale to Perfetti will reduce the number of hiking trails Ameya residents can use, but didn’t think it would make a huge difference to potential owners. “We probably valued that footprint more than they (buyers) did,” he said. People will still have access to about 5,700 acres of land, and another 1,300 if Ameya’s efforts to buy the two state sections are successful.

The lots are expensive: $2.1 million for a little less than 10 acres, according to the Web site for Hall and Hall, a Billings firm that specializes in high-end properties. Dokken has said he wants Ameya to be a model of low-impact development, that it will use green building materials and buy carbon offsets and wind-generated power.

Some local critics have scoffed at the notion that 300 vacation homes in an important wildlife area could be good for the environment. One of those critics, wildlife biologist Pete Feigley, said Monday that he doesn’t know enough about the land sale to say what impacts it might have on the wildlife or the project. The Ameya property is host to a herd of several hundred elk, plus a wide variety of other wildlife. Dokken said he hopes to begin construction of some commercial facilities in the summer.

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  Airport moving ahead with 20-year expansion plan 

By JODI HAUSEN Chronicle Staff Writer Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Jan 03, 2008  

Gallatin Field Airport directors will likely choose an architect next week to design the first phase of a 20-year expansion plan that will significantly increase the terminal size and more than double the capacity of the airport, Airport Director Ted Mathias said Wednesday. The decision likely will be made at the directors’ next meeting, Jan. 10. 

The $60 million first phase of the plan includes airport roadway improvements for better terminal access, increased vehicle parking, improved baggage claim and security areas, boarding bridges, a new airline ramp and remodeling of the existing building, Mathias said. He said they hope to begin work on the improvements by the summer of 2009. The 20-year master plan will include additional work on runways, taxiways, ramps and aircraft parking. 

The number of flights coming through Gallatin Field has decreased about 3 percent over the past year from 2006, although the number of passengers has increased about 6 percent, according to statistics posted on the airport’s Web site. Those numbers do not include December. 

Mathias attributes the decrease in air traffic to increased fuel costs leading to decreased discretionary flying by private pilots. But according to the master plan posted on the airport’s Web site, passenger demand is expected to more than double by 2025. 

Airport officials are embarking on a 20-year expansion to accommodate projected growth in passenger traffic. The plans will take the airport from its current six gates to 14 to meet the needs of more than half a million passengers. Stages in that growth are outlined below, with spaces listed in square footage.






Passenger traffic










Terminal space





Baggage claim space





Airline space






Sources: 2006 forecast study by Morrison-Maierle Engineering and the Gallatin Field master plan
671,500 passenger arrivals and departures annually. Passengers coming through the airport in 2006 numbered 335,700 for the year. By 2025, the current 74,422-square-foot terminal, which currently provides passenger access through six gates – four with bridges — is expected to expand to 238,800 square feet and house 14 gates.

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The Aging West

Forget retiring to Florida, Arizona, more boomers heading to Rockies

Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Dec 29, 2007

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — John Kerr wasn’t dreaming of palm trees and balmy winters when he retired from WGBH, the Boston public TV station known for producing such hits as ‘‘Antiques Roadshow.’’ His thoughts had gone West. 

The 69-year-old put on a green uniform and Smokey Bear hat and became a seasonal ranger in Yellowstone National Park, where snow can fall every month of the year, including July. ‘‘That’s why they have wood stoves and furnaces,’’ Kerr said. ‘‘Warm weather isn’t the issue for me. It’s keeping vital and interested and involved.’’ 

Demographers say thousands of people like Kerr are heading to the Rocky Mountain West in their later years. Forget the warmth of Florida and Arizona. Baby boomers, in particular, are gravitating toward the peaks and sagebrush basins of Wyoming and Montana, promising to turn these states from relatively young into two of the nation’s oldest. 

They’re drawn by low crime, fresh air, little traffic and abundant outdoor activities, said Larry Swanson, an economist and director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Missoula, Mont. Although people of all ages like those things, older people tend to be flexible enough in their careers, families and finances to finally kick up their boots on a porch rail, he said. 

‘‘If you’re 25, you say, ‘I’d like to live here, but maybe someday in the future,’’’ Swanson said. ‘‘But if you’re 45 or 55, the future is now.’’ The populations of Montana and Wyoming are not very old. In 2000, Montana ranked 18th and Wyoming 43rd for the relative size of their 65-and-over populations. But by 2030, the Census Bureau predicts Montana will rank fifth and Wyoming third in the nation for their over-65 populations. 

Florida is expected to remain on top, though Wyoming and Montana will both likely be a good deal older than Arizona — even as the Grand Canyon State moves up from 22nd to 14th. The two states are not seeking out older people; they are being discovered. Laurie Lyman, 55, was an elementary school teacher in San Diego when she began traveling to Yellowstone on long trips to watch wolves. In 2005, she decided it was time to get as close to the wolves as she could. 

‘‘I said to my husband, ‘You know what? Life’s too short. I’m going,’’’ she said, adding that many people like her are snapping up property around Yellowstone. Officials with the two states are preparing for the influx. This year, Montana established a trust fund so the state’s older population will have access to health care and other essential services, even in rural areas. 

‘‘We’ve done projections of stuff and seeing our elderly population doubling in the next 10 to 15 years,’’ said Charlie Rehbein, chief of the Montana Aging Services Bureau.‘‘I think it’s going to have a tremendous impact.’’ One challenge is that the two states already have very low unemployment, around 3 percent, and could face a real labor crunch when the oldest baby boomers hit 65 in 2011. 

‘‘We haven’t seen anything yet, because the exodus has not really begun out of the work force,’’ said Swanson, the economist. ‘‘That’s going to begin in two or three years.’’ Rather than struggle with a labor shortage, Wyoming officials hope to get older people to stay in the workplace and persuade business owners to hire older workers, said Rob Black, policy analyst for Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal. 

Swanson said most of the baby boomers moving in plan to work. Kerr, for example, said he would continue working — for now. "My life hasn’t slowed down,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve found a lot of sustenance — spiritual sustenance, I suppose — in the natural world. I think it helps put our fast-paced world into balance.’’ Working was what Lee and Beth Dix had in mind in 1999 when they began thinking about leaving Washington, D.C., where he was a systems analyst for IBM Corp. and she was a corporate planner for Fairchild Corp. 

Lee Dix, 62, said the couple researched dozens of communities in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, then flew to Denver and started driving. The couple ended up in Cheyenne, the first overnight stop on their trip. Lee Dix said the couple did not even consider Florida or Arizona after sweltering in Washington. ‘‘Except for the wind here, this is a pretty ideal place for us,’’ he said.

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Among the best: Bozeman's economy ranks near top

By NICK GEVOCK Chronicle Staff Writer Monday, January 17, 2005


Bozeman's economy ranks among the strongest in the country for towns its size, according to a new study. Policom Corporation based in Florida, pegged Bozeman ninth out of 573 "micropolitan" areas -- towns with between 10,000 and 50,000 population -- in the country for its economic strength. The corporation used a formula relying on 23 factors and looked at data from the past 20 years to come up with the ranking.


That puts Bozeman in the top 2 percent of similar-size towns nationwide. "It's a pleasant surprise," Gallatin Development Corp. Executive Director Mark Evans said. "It makes my job easier, because when we talk to companies that want to relocate here, we can point to that study."


The study measures whether an area's economy is growing or declining and what's driving those changes, Policom Director Bill Fruth said Thursday in a telephone interview . Fruth has spent decades developing methods of evaluating an area's economy and makes his living advising communities on their strengths and weaknesses.


In places where the economy is growing, the study looked at the quality of that growth, measured by how much the standard of living for residents is improving, he said. For example, while explosive job growth could be seen as a positive, Fruth said he prefers to see steady job gains.


"You have these boom-and-bust communities and that's not good," he said. "Steady job growth shows that there's a consistent flow of people coming in, and government can plan accordingly."


And Bozeman has experienced strong, steady growth in both population and its economy, especially over the past decade.


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Bozeman Touted as Retirement Destination

By CAMDEN EASTERLING, Chronicle Staff Writer


Bozeman as a place to retire is, in one word, "fabulous," according to new book out in stores this month. And local retirees couldn't agree more.Bozeman snagged a spot in Arthur and

Mary Griffith's book "50 Fabulous Places to Retire in America." The book profiles, but does not rank, different cities across the country.


Bozeman-area retiree Donna Hunt, 62, said she hopes the book doesn't cause an influx of golden agers because she likes the city's small-town feel. But she has to admit the Griffiths' description is accurate.


"The minute I set foot here, I said, 'This is it,'" she said of arriving in Montana when she and husband Jack, 67, were considering retirement spots. The Hunts relocated to Bozeman from Laguna Beach, Calif., six years ago because the city fit their requirements, such as being near a university and places to fly fish for Jack.


"We've never looked back," Donna Hunt said. Fly fishing was a draw for Jan and Dick Young, too, although the couple first visited Bozeman when their son attended Montana State University. The Youngs, both 64, also liked that Bozeman had fewer people than their then-hometown of Broomfield, Colo., which seemed to be more and more crowded all the time, Dick Young said.


"The population was probably the major reason we left," he said. Bozeman also offers the same kinds of recreation the couple enjoyed in Colorado, he added. Recreation was part of the Griffiths' reason for putting Bozeman in the book (Career Press, $24.99). They also cited cultural events and proximity to a university as selling points.


"I really think it would be a super place for people who are active and fond of the arts," Mary Griffith, 65, said. The Griffiths, who live in Alaska, have never visited Bozeman. A friend whose daughter attends MSU recommended the city and the Griffiths liked what they learned about Bozeman from research.


Another point in Bozeman's favor, Griffith said, was that it is in Montana, which she knows to be a friendly place. Jan Young agrees with that characterization. "What we've found and hope will continue, is a small-town atmosphere with people who seem to want to meet new people," she said.


Jim Smith, who moved here from Washington, D.C. , with wife Camie, said he, too, has found people in the area to be welcoming. But Bozeman does have its drawbacks, local retirees say. Donna Hunt, who lives off Huffine Lane, misses having the fast Internet connections that were available in California.


And Smith, 68, and Hunt both noted the cost of living in Bozeman isn't exactly the bargain some people might imagine when they hear "Montana." "One thing I would caution people against is it's not cheap to live here," Smith said.


Even compared to Washington, D.C., Bozeman is pricey, he said.

The median home price in Gallatin County was $270,500 in December 2005, according to the Gallatin Association of Realtors. That number fluctuates each month depending on what sells.


The Griffith's book puts that figure around $213,000. Data change constantly, so the authors used the figure they found while working on the book. "I know that things go up ... so this is a ballpark thing," Mary Griffith said.


The authors considered numerous aspects of cities, such as cost of homes and availability of medical services, when choosing their 50 spots. Each city profiled includes information about utility rates, taxes, weather and crime rates.


The book covers a range of places, from urban to rural. Some states have no fabulous spots, others have a few. The only other Montana city to make the list was Missoula.


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No. 1 small business ranking food for thought

OPINION Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Bozeman frequently pops up on those national small town rankings for recreation opportunities and social amenities -- to no one's great surprise. This is, after all, a pretty fun place to live. But Bozeman's No. 1 ranking as the best small-business market in cities of its size comes as a bit of a surprise to some of us at least.

The ranking was the result of a study conducted by American Cities Business Journals, a firm that publishes business journals in major cities around the U.S. The study ranked Bozeman the top small business market among cities with fewer than 100,000 people for things like the ratio of small businesses per 100,000 people and growth rate in small businesses -- an amazing 10.7 percent over two years, in Bozeman's case.

The study also pointed to the high-quality work force found locally as a reason the area might be attractive to entrepreneurs. Small business owners who have been having a few problems making ends meet recently probably question the ranking. The fact that Bozeman attracts so many newcomers -- many with dreams of starting their own business -- may, in fact, create an extremely competitive small business market.

The ranking provokes another thought: Local activists have waged energetic campaigns against the entry of big box stores into the Bozeman market for fear they would swallow up mom-and-pop, locally owned businesses and destroy the town's character.

The fact that the area ranks No. 1 in the nation among small cities for the best small-business market -- even though a number of big box stores have set up shop here -- speaks to the resiliency of these small businesses and maybe to how little big box stores impact smart and enterprising businesspeople.

This much is certain: A No. 1 ranking in the widely distributed American Cities Business Journals is going to attract even more attention to our area as a great place to locate and a great place to recreate. And that kind of attention is probably going to make the market an even better place to do business.

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Bozeman ranked 9th nationally in economic strength


Bozeman, MT (January 5, 2005) – In a study of “economic strength” released yesterday, Bozeman ranked 9th out of the 573 Micropolitan Statistical Areas (MICRO) across the nation and first among MICROS in Montana.  This ranking places Bozeman in the top 2% of all MICROS nationwide.


“This ranking is good news for Bozeman, the Gallatin Valley, and Montana,” stated Mark Evans, Executive Director of Gallatin Development Corporation, the local economic development organization serving Gallatin County.


A MICRO is defined by the US Office of Management and Budget as a geographic area covering at least one county and with an urbanized area between 10,000 and 49,999 in population. Approximately 11% of the US population lives in MICROs.


The other MICROS in Montana and their rankings include Helena, Kalispell, Butte, and Havre.


The study reviewed earnings, income, and other labor data over a 25 year period to assess the relative strength and stability of each local economy.


Policom Corporation, an economic research firm in Florida, conducted the research study. The study can be vieweed online at Gallatin Development Corporation is the lead economic development organization in Gallatin County, serving the communities of Belgrade, Big Sky, Manhattan, Three Forks, and West Yellowstone. 

GDC works to promote and support business creation, expansion, retention, and recruitment.  The services GDC provides include business consulting through its Small Business, assistance with obtaining business financing, economic research and information, and entrepreneurial development and education. 

For more information on GDC’s services or membership, please call (406) 587-3113, or visit them on the web at

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Bozeman #1 small-business market among small US Cities

Bozeman #1 small-business market among small US CitiesBozeman is the best small-business market in the United States among cities with fewer than 100,000 people, according to a new study by a national publisher of metropolitan business journals.American Cities Business Journals, which publishes business newspapers in 41 major American cities, ranked Bozeman first among the nation's top 16 small-sized markets. Kalispell, the only other Montana city listed, was ranked 10th.

Bozeman is a "high-amenity area," that provides recreation, scenery and opportunities for businesses to succeed, ACBJ said in an article that will run in business journals nationwide. The ranking by ACBJ is truly an honor for Bozeman, said David Smith, executive director of the Bozeman Area Chamber of Commerce.

ACBJ, "is highly read by the business community," Smith said. "When they come out with a list, it's researched very well; it has a high degree of credibility." Bozeman beat cities several times its size for the first-place ranking because it has a high ratio of small businesses per 100,000 people and a two-year growth rate of 10.7 percent, the article said. As a high-amenity area, Bozeman draws highly educated, enterprising people with technical skills, the article said.

"It's not just the city limits of Bozeman, it's the economy of the Gallatin Valley," Smith said. "It's without a doubt the lure of the university, the recreation, the highly-educated work force and the rest of those intangible quality-of-life issues." Those advantages attract people making lifestyle and career changes who are willing to take a risk on a small business to live in a safe community with quality schools. "Every day it's hard running a small business," Smith said. 

"You have people starting up businesses from things they've done on the side or something maybe they did for somebody else." Bozeman is followed in the ranking by Kill Devil Hills, N.C.; Gillette, Wyo.; Woodward, Okla.; St. George, Utah; Sheridan, Wyo.; Edwards, Colo.; Heber, Utah; Palm Coast, Fla. and Kalispell. "A common theme runs through ACBJ's rankings of large, medium and small-sized markets," the article said. "Places that are supposedly out of the mainstream -- Portland, Maine; Bend, Ore. and Bozeman, for example -- actually provide top-notch opportunities for budding entrepreneurs." ACBJ publishes an on-line version available at Bozeman Small Businesses - Tops the List 

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