From the upcoming LiNK article by Keith Hart, Allison Corbyn and Lisa Harmon
The One Big Sky Center (OBSC) is the future of not just our city, but of our region. Here are a few facts for you to consider as the future of this project continues to take shape:
- OBSC is not a “project.” The idea for OBSC was originally conceptualized as a multi-use conference center/office building/public space. With the addition of the Hammes Co. to the OBSC team, it has become much more. We are now looking at the creation of an entire economic development engine in the form of a “Downtown District.” The district will comprise of an anchor piece (think convention center, area, multi-use athletic facility, etc.) that is a public/private partnership. Through the creation and construction of the district and the anchor, Billings will see increased ancillary development that will change Downtown Billings in a remarkable way.
- Hammes has a track record of success in the creation and implementation of the district development process with projects in Allentown, PA; Duluth, MN; and Rochester, MN.
- Billings faces a serious shortage of young, talented workers, as well as space to house said workers. With a shortfall in downtown residential living we will continue to face recruitment issues in regards to employees wanting to live, work and play in a thriving downtown.
- Every community in the United States is competing for talent and private investment. While our community experiences stable growth (approximately 1.5% population growth each year), it is not enough to support our workforce needs – 30,000 jobs will need to be filled in the next 10 years.
- OBSC would be an economic-driver for the heart of our community, providing amenities our community needs to continue to grow, a convention center that would draw people from all over the nation, and retail space suited for national tenants.
- We have the ability with this vision, and the public-private projects that could evolve from that vision, to energize our community, and more importantly, fill a need for the young professionals who are engaged and hunger for change.