By Michael Howell
The Hamilton City Council, at a meeting on October 1, decided on a 4 to 1 vote to submit a grant application to the state’s Community Development Block Grant program to help fund an expansion project for Lake Milling and Supply. The Hamilton based company with a second facility located in Dillon plans to match the $200,000 CDBG loan dollar for dollar in an expansion project that includes construction of a fertilizer making plant at the Dillon site.
John Schneeberger from the Ravalli County Economic Development Agency (RCEDA), who is helping facilitate the loan application, said that the loan, if granted, would be at 2% interest over 10 years with balloon payments set at five and seven years. According to Schneeberger, the plan calls a new storefront, expanded warehouse and production facility, increasing sales and marketing opportunities, which will grow employment at the business, producing about eight new jobs over the next two years. He said that to comply with program requirements at least 51% of the new hires must be low to moderate income people.
Schneeberger told the Council that the company has been in existence since the 1890s and was purchased by the Lake family in the 1970s. Mike Pflieger took over the manufacturing business in 2000. He said they operate a roller mill and a steam mill and process about 3,400 tons of grain a year. He noted that the company recently received ISO certification and has been a very community minded business over the years, supporting 4-H, Breast Cancer Awareness and other community organizations and events.
Council Chairman Lynette Helgeland questioned why they were looking to the City of Hamilton to spearhead the loan application when the bulk of the money was going to purchase land and build a new facility in Dillon. Schneeberger said that the company headquarters is in Hamilton and as the business prospers it will increase revenue to the Hamilton based business and boost employment. He could not say how many jobs would be produced in Hamilton rather than at the Dillon plant.
Mayor Jerry Steele said that, whether it is one job in Hamilton or 15, it doesn’t matter, as creating even one job in the valley was worth the effort. The vote to authorize the application passed 4 to 1 with Helgeland casting the lone dissenting vote.
In other business the Council voted unanimously to:
– approve revised lighting district assessment amounts for Districts #10, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 for Fiscal Year 2014
– waive wastewater impact fees at 1110 S. 2nd Street at the request of Ravalli County Bank
– approve a $37,611 contract amendment with WGM Group for engineering services on Fairgrounds Road Phase 2, which includes the section between Highway 93 and Old Corvallis Road
– send a letter of interest in working with the University of Montana regarding site selection for Bitterroot College facilities. Councilors talked about relocating the facility in the downtown.