Posted: May 16, 2013 4:26 PM by Chet Layman
Updated: May 16, 2013 4:43 PM
BOZEMAN - If trends continue, in the next 30 years, Bozeman will grow to 80,000 people and Gallatin County will swell to around 200,000, according to an economic report.
Downtown Business Association members gathered this morning to learn about what that growth might look like.
According to the report given by Ray Rasker of Headwaters Economics, Bozeman's downtown business is doing well. There are few vacancies in a community growing about 3% each year. Bozeman's business base is different than most communities in Montana, and that means it's competition is outside the borders.
"This town does not compete with Missoula and Kalispell and Billings. We're in competition with Boise and Portland and Boulder, Colorado. When I look at who's moving here and where they're moving from, they're moving from these bigger places and going, you know i can now do what I used to do in Portland. I can now do that here," Rasker said.
Bozeman has much that's attractive to potential new residents, including a dynamic downtown, major medical services and outdoor recreation.
There is no question that access to a major medical facility is important, as is a friendly downtown is to growth in a community, but the experts also say this is what makes a difference for true growing communities - access to a major airport.
The interesting thing for the Gallatin Valley is that a lot of the income that is here is not coming from working folks. More and more of the income base in the Gallatin Valley is coming from Baby Boomers who've already retired.
"If you think of the age-related income in the county, there's more age-related income now, just a little bit more than our entire construction industry, and this was true during the booms years as well. Think about this too, the retirees, the Baby Boomers, that big tsunami, that age-wave tsunami that's headed our way, they are just now starting to retire and trying to figure out where they want to live. So that's headed our way. That's the big demographic wave and the big question is - how many of these retiring baby boomers from around the country are going to land here?" Rasker said.
Rasker's challenge to the group is affordable housing. Fifty percent of Bozeman renters are paying more than 30% of their income just for that rent.
As for the retirement income, for all of Montana, that income is three times the income coming from all resource-based income, including mining, logging, oil and gas combined.