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Havre, Montana’s Bear Paw Development Picked as One of Nation’s Top Economic Development Groups

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Through the federal Economic Development Administration, Bear Paw Development Corporation http://www.bearpaw.org/ was recently selected to participate in a study by Cleveland State University, the W.E. Upjohn Institute and Team NEO of the top twelve high-performing federally-recognized Economic Development Districts in the nation.

The assessment team spent two days in Bear Paw’s five-county District in northern Montana interviewing local and tribal government officials, business owners, university representatives, congressional staff members, chamber of commerce officials and others to assess the effectiveness of the organization and determine best practices that may be able to be shared with other multi-jurisdictional Economic Development Districts.

"Knowing there are more than 380 similar organizations in the United States, being singled out as one of the top dozen high-performing Economic Development Districts is a high honor and very humbling," said Paul Tuss, Executive Director of Bear Paw Development. "We were also one of only two districts in the EDA’s ten-state Denver region to be included in this study. This recognition certainly affirms the good work that our dedicated staff engages in every day and the long-term dedication of our Board of Directors, who approves our work plan and represents both the public and private sectors in our region of northern Montana."

Over the past five years, Bear Paw has coordinated more than $53.4 million in public and private financing to help the communities of the Bear Paw District build infrastructure, fund business start-ups and expansions, engage in community planning, assist value-added entrepreneurs and provide small business counseling and technical assistance to the private sector. Since the establishment of its revolving loan fund more than 20 years ago, Bear Paw has also assisted the business community to create or retain more than 1,200 jobs in northern Montana.

Shaud Schwarzbach, Mayor of the Town of Big Sandy and President of Bear Paw’s Board of Directors, said "It’s nice to be recognized in this way, but this honor is the collective work of more than forty years of meeting the community and economic development needs in our rural area on a regular basis. The trust we have developed with local and tribal governments, as well as the business sector, assures our ongoing relevance in continuing to make a positive contribution to the communities we serve."

Bear Paw Development is a non-profit corporation organized in 1967. They serve the economic and community development needs of Hill, Blaine, Chouteau, Liberty and Phillips Counties and the Rocky Boy’s and Fort Belknap Indian Reservations.

Paul Tuss

Executive Director

PO Box 170

48 Second Avenue, Suite 202

Havre, MT 59501

406-265-9226

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