A wide range of government officials and the general public attended a Thursday, May 30, open house and tour of facilities at the fledgling Montana Studios production site south of Hamilton. Steve Grover was the host. The three large buildings that formerly housed Garlick Helicopters already has a sportswear manufacturer, Outer Circle, signed up to use space for production. However, Grover and others at the open house were looking forward to video and movie production in the large area set aside for sound stage preparation. The Montana Legislature recently passed a bill that provides tax incentives for movie production in the state - a move that other states have used to successfully entice movie companies to set up camp. Julie Foster of the Ravalli County Economic Development Authority said that a USDA bridge loan of $400,000 was secured for Montana Studios and she believes the expansive facility would fit into any production plans in the area. The TV series "Yellowstone" has filmed south of Darby at the Chief Joseph Ranch recently.

The site also is in one of 25 Montana Opportunity Zones, created by the the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. It includes the eastern edge of Hamilton and Ravalli County areas southeast to Sleeping Child Creek. The Montana Department of Commerce says projects in the zone have incentives for further investment. Grover is also looking forward to working with instructional programs like MAPS (Media Arts in the Public Schools) and the Bitterroot College. Plans are being developed for the sound stage facility and possible expansion for an even larger sound stage.

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