A Bozeman Mainstay Will Breathe New Life into North 7th St.

Bozeman, MT – June 17, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Construction will soon begin on one of the two large vacant buildings on North 7th. Last week, Universal Athletic Services purchased the IGA building and began a large rehabilitation of the site.

Universal is a Bozeman success story. Started in the back of a car by Larry Aasheim and Dick Hart in 1971, the partners wanted to provide high quality, specialty sporting goods for Montana’s young athletes. Today, Universal has 13 locations in five states. The three Bozeman locations are at capacity, and the new, consolidated facility on 7th will allow the business to continue to grow.

Universal’s new facility will mean good jobs for Bozeman; they plan to start adding as soon as this year to their 60 person Bozeman team. But their community involvement goes well beyond jobs. They are strong contributors to youth athletics offering scholarships to young athletes and sponsoring athletic events, and their staff members volunteer as administrators and coaches on local sports teams. Bozeman’s schools and sports leagues will continue to benefit as Universal grows.

As part of their commitment to Bozeman, Dick and Larry were intent on keeping their headquarters in the downtown core if at all possible. However, the cost of staying downtown was significantly higher than moving to the outskirts of town. Universal identified the vacant IGA building on North 7th as the ideal space and location, but the estimated cost for rehabilitating the building was much greater than for constructing a new one. To make the location work, Universal partnered with First Interstate Bank and Montana Community Development Corporation (Montana CDC) to bring New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) to Bozeman for the third time.

“We work with banks to turn the federal tax credits into cash and then use the money to invest in businesses that will have a profound effect on areas that need revitalization” said Montana CDC’s president, Dave Glaser. “In the case of Universal, over $1 million of subsidy was provided to the project through the NMTC program.”

The project helped First Interstate jump back into the New Markets Tax Credit arena. “We are dealing with a homegrown Bozeman company that we know, trust and believe in,” said Bruce Parker, Bozeman Regional President of First Interstate. “The tax credit funding made the financing more doable for both Universal and First Interstate – which clearly contributed to the feasibility of doing the project. The expertise of Montana CDC has been critical to both borrower and lender to get the job done.”

In May, there may be more tax credits available for Montana businesses. Each year, the federal government authorizes $3.5 billion for the country. Montana CDC has secured just under $300 million for Montana and Idaho and hopes to receive more this year. “We would love to see more projects in Bozeman,” said Glaser. “As of today in Bozeman, we have funded three projects, Universal, Block G and Town and Country Foods, totaling almost $30MM in capital to the Bozeman area. Imagine the possibilities of what we could do in the coming years.”

Senators Daines and Tester would like to see more new markets tax credits for Montana and have been supportive of the program for years. “This project will mean a lot for the Bozeman community and Montana’s economy. It’s exciting to see this local business— a made-in-Montana success story—thriving and creating new, good Montana jobs,” said Senator Steve Daines.

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