Montana State University

Whitehall Business Park helps prepare for long-term economic solutions

November 9, 2010 -- MSU News Service

(L to R) Tim Dimock, Barrick Golden Sunlight Mine General Manager; Tom Lythgoe, Jefferson County Commissioner; John Rogers, US Economic Development Administration; Sheila Hogan, Jefferson Local Development Corporation Board President; and Scott Mendenhall, Montana State Representative in House District 77. (Photo by Steve Siegelin.)   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
The Sunlight Business Park east of Whitehall broke ground on Monday, Nov. 1, 2010. The Business Park was created through a partnership between Jefferson County Commissioners, Jefferson Local Development Corporation (JLDC), Barrick Golden Sunlight Mine and its Community Transition Advisory Committee, and Montana State University Extension.

Community and mine leaders realized 10 years ago that the Golden Sunlight Mine's finite ore resource would eventually end, and with it, end contributions to the community and economy. By building partnerships and working for the long term good of the community, efforts began to develop new economic opportunities to help replace the wages and tax base provided by mining operations.

The groundbreaking ceremony marked the beginning of infrastructure work on phase one of the 200-acre business park, and celebrated the hard work of people involved during the development years of the project. The Business Park is located north of I-90 between the Cardwell and Whitehall exits, just below the Golden Sunlight Mine.

Barrick Golden Sunlight Mine and MSU Extension's partnership goes beyond economic and community development. MSU Extension has assisted the mine in achieving sustainable development goals as a mining operation. Barrick is one of the few mining organizations listed on both the national and international Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

Jefferson County Extension agents Tara Mastel and Tom Harrington are among a growing number of Extension agents in the state working on community development efforts.

"Having the nonprofit structure is helpful to accomplishing economic and community development projects throughout Jefferson County," said Mastel. "The Sunlight Business Park is our largest and longest term project."

Through an agreement with MSU Extension and Jefferson County, the agents serve as loaned staff to the JLDC, which is Jefferson county's lead economic development entity.

"Creating this shovel-ready space for businesses to start and grow is the cornerstone of our economic sustainability plan for the area. With this space for business development, businesses will have excellent access to key transportation routes, infrastructure and visibility from the interstate," said Harrington. "We are working to create a more diverse economy so that when the mine eventually closes, it will not have such a devastating impact on the economy of the area."

Sara Adlington (406) 994-4602 or