|Program||# of Grants||EDA Funds|
|Regional Innovation Strategies||1||$148,600|
Since the 1860’s, Montana’s economy has relied on extraction of a wealth of natural resources to sell in distant markets. Gold strikes in the 1860s, and later silver booms brought thousands of miners to Montana’s mountains. Just as quickly, the booms busted, leaving the state dotted with ghost towns. From the 1890s to the 1980s, the great wealth pulled from Butte’s copper mines drove Montana’s economy. Over the past 40 years, Butte residents have worked hard to diversify the economy of their region and have been able to develop a mix of health care services, public utilities, mining, education, trade, and manufacturing.
In 2013, with $200,000 in planning support from EDA’s Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP), the Montana Energy Research and Development Institute (MERDI), Butte-Silver Bow (BSB), Butte Local Development Corporation (BLDC), and Montana Tech joined forces to establish the Manufacturing Consortium of Montana’s (MCMT) Mansfield Prototyping Center. The Center incorporates a mixed-use business incubator and a machine shop makerspace focused on assisting high-growth entrepreneurial manufacturers, while serving as a single point of entry for manufacturing firms seeking assistance in automation, product development, management, engineering and design, and productivity.
Following on that investment, EDA awarded $148,600 through the i6 Challenge to further build upon these efforts. This investment will strengthen the Mansfield Center’s ability to support fledgling manufacturers with prototype development, proof-of-concept assistance, business mentoring, and product commercialization assistance.