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Billings: Economy

Billings: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Agriculture has been one of the leading economic forces in Billings since its founding, and it continues to play a major role today. Because of extensive irrigation, the Yellowstone Valley and the northern Great Plains are some of the nation's most fertile agricultural regions. The city is the transportation, processing, and packaging center for this large, productive area. The main agricultural products include sugar beets, grain, and livestock such as cattle and sheep.

The energy industry (oil, natural gas, and coal) is also an important part of the economic picture in Billings. The mountains around the city and throughout eastern Montana are a rich source of coal, oil, and natural gas. A number of refineries and purification plants are located in the Billings area to process the raw materials into usable energy resources.

Billings is the retail and wholesale trade center for a vast area of land in the northern Rocky Mountain states and a primary and secondary market population of almost half a million people, reaching from Denver, Colorado, to Calgary, Alberta, and from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Seattle, Washington. Billings is also the medical and educational capital of the region. The city's medical community, including two major hospitals and more than 40 clinics, provides the most advanced health care in the four-state area. Three major colleges and a highly-rated public school system provide jobs and a well-trained workforce. It is also difficult to underestimate the impact of tourism and recreational diversity on the area's economy. The proximity of nearby Yellowstone National Park, as well as a wide array of other wilderness territories, mountain trails, rivers, and streams in the area bring much-needed tourist dollars and act as a magnet to companies and workers looking to relocate.

Items and goods produced: raw and refined energy products, sugar, flour, farm machinery, electric signs, furniture, paint, metal ornaments, cereal, creamery and meat products, canned vegetables, concrete, sugar beets, wheat, beans, livestock

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

The Billings Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is part of a statewide network of resource and technical service providers that assist start-up and existing businesses. The SBDC staff provides confidential business counseling, training and information to small business leaders and entrepreneurs. Services are provided at no charge and are funded by the Small Business Administration, Montana Department of Commerce, Yellowstone County, and local organizations. Areas of assistance include technical assistance in writing business plans for new and existing businesses, financial analysis, planning and state and private capital sources; assistance with marketing research, analysis and strategy as well as advertising, packaging and promotion; business plan review and critique; preBusiness workshops; and one-on-one counseling for existing and start-up business management. Additionally, the Business Development Council of the Chamber of Commerce maintains a comprehensive inventory of local and state programs. It also helps identify location alternatives, provides technical assistance, and maintains current information on Billings and its trade area.

State programs

State of Montana tax incentives include property tax reduction; no inventory, use, or sales tax; new industry income tax credits; small business investment tax credit; and tax reduction on pollution control equipment.

Development Projects

In 2004 renovations were completed on the historic Acme Hotel on North Broadway. Built in 1911 and rich with local history, the hotel was converted to residential homes, lofts, and commercial space in an area that included several more loft developments from refurbished buildings such as the Securities Building, Montana Avenue Lofts, and a proposed development at One South Broadway. Recent additions to the city's cultural and commercial growth include the $6 million Skyfest Amphitheatre, which presents outdoor concerts alongside the Yellowstone River, a $6.2 Yellowstone Art Museum expansion, and the conversion of several former hotels that were once stops on the Northern Pacific Railroad into coffee shops, antique stores, and restaurants.

Economic Development Information: Billings Area Chamber of Commerce, 815 South 27th Street, PO Box 31177, Billings, MT 59107-1177; telephone (406)245-4111; toll-free (800)711-2630; fax (406)245-7333; email blgscvb @visitmt.com

Commercial Shipping

Via Billings Logan International Airport a number of carriers provide air freight and express mail service to the city. Burlington Northern Railroad and Montana Rail Link operate rail lines from the Billings area. Burlington Northern also operates an intermodal (surface, sea, and air transportation) hub in Billings.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The Billings-area work force is educated above the national average, and a 2004 study found that one in four workers was overqualified for the jobs they were performing, creating an excellent climate for technical and higher-wage businesses looking to relocate to the area. The Billings area economy is service-based which includes specialized manufacturing, processing, and professional services to support the region's rural agricultural and energy economies. Billings serves as the regional hub for medical services, higher education, professional business services, retail and distribution, and travel and lodging.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Billings metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of non-agricultural labor force: 73,300

Number of workers employed in . . .

trade, transportation, and utilities: 19,400

professional and business services: 8,500

educational and health services: 11,200

leisure and hospitality: 9,700

government: 9,800

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.87 (Montana average, 2004)

Unemployment rate: 4.1% (February 2005)

Largest county employers (2000) Number of employees
Federal Government 2,480
Deaconess Billings Clinic 2,250
Billings School District #2 2,030
St. Vincent Hospital and Health Center 1,740
State of Montana 1,490
City of Billings 850
Better Business Systems 675
Yellowstone County 660
Wells Fargo Bank 615
First Interstate Bank 480

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding key cost of living factors for the Billings area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $227,500

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 98.3 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 2.0% to 11.0%

State sales tax rate: None

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: None

Property tax rate: 3.22% per $150,000 of assessed value

Economic Information: Billings Area Chamber of Commerce, 815 South 27th Street, PO Box 31177, Billings, MT 59107-1177; telephone (406)245-4111; fax (406)245-7333. Office of Research & Analysis, Montana Department of Labor & Industry, PO Box 1728, Helena, MT 59624; telephone (406)444-2430; fax (406)444-2638 or (800)633-0229 (within Montana) or (800)541-3904 (outside Montana); email questions4RAD@state.mt.us

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Billings: Recreation

Billings: Recreation

Sightseeing

Downtown Billings contains the Billings Historical District, a renovated area that consists of most of the original business district. The Castle Corner is a replica of the Potter Palmer Mansion in Chicago, an interesting structure modeled after English castles. The railroad brought prosperity to Billings, and prosperity brought Preston B. Moss. In 1901, architect H.J. Hardenbergh (designer of the Waldorf-Astoria and Plaza Hotels in New York City) created the elegant Moss estate. The three-story Moss Mansion remains authentically furnished and open year-round at 914 Division Street. The Black Otter Trail, beginning at the edge of the city, is a winding highway that follows the "rimrocks," natural sandstone cliffs that border the city on the north and east. Boothill Cemetery, burial ground for residents of the frontier town of Colson, and the Range Rider of Yellowstone, a life-sized bronze statue by artist Charles Christadora, are both located along the Black Otter Trail, as are Sacrifice Cliff and Yellowstone Kelly's gravesite. Pictograph Cave State Park, southeast of Billings, has cave paintings made by Indians who lived and hunted for wooly mammoth in the region some 4,500 years ago.

A number of national monuments, parks, and recreation areas are located near Billings, most within a two-hour drive. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, site of Custer's Last Stand, is 65 miles southeast of the city, and Pompey's Pillar, a spectacular natural rock formation, is 28 miles east of Billings.

The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument lets visitors relive the clash between General George Custer's 7th Cavalry and more than 3,000 warriors led by Crazy Horse. Yellowstone National Park is the world's first such park; President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed it so during his presidential tenure, and visitors today can see its famous geysers, painted canyons, and wildlife much as the way Roosevelt saw it. On the way from Billings to Yellowstone, Montana's highest peak is on view from Highway 212 over the Beartooth Mountain Pass.

Arts and Culture

The only major performing arts center in the region, the Alberta Bair Theater for the Performing Arts is the site of most of the cultural activity in Billings. The Fox Committee for the Performing Arts and the Billings Community Concert Association are both responsible for bringing a wide range of cultural events to the city each year, including jazz, opera, ballet, and popular music concerts. The Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale performs approximately ten concerts each season, including an annual free concert in the park.

The Western Heritage Center features changing exhibits pertaining to the region's history, and the Yellowstone County Museum contains historical relics and dioramas depicting scenes from Billings's past. The Yellowstone Art Museum museum holds one of the region's best collections of contemporary and historic art, including an impressive collection of Western art particularly strong in the works of Montana artists Russell Chatham and Deborah Butterfield; it also sponsors lectures and concerts.

MetraPark fairground holds concerts, rodeos, and the annual MontanaFair. Canyon Creek and a nature trail wind through ZooMontana's 70 acres of exotic animal exhibits.

Festivals and Holidays

Annual events in and around Billings include ArtWalk and the MSU-Billings Wine and Food Festival in May, the Moss Mansion County Fair and Strawberry Festival in June, July's Crazy Days downtown and the Skyfest Parade and Balloon Rally; on Labor Day weekend the Heritage of the Yellowstone Folklife Festival is held at Eastern Montana College. Western traditions are observed with Native American craft demonstrations, cowboy cooking and games, calf roping, and a concert featuring cowboy music and poetry. Ethnic roots are preserved in the serving of foods of various nationalities, including Native American, Dutch, Norwegian, Yugoslavian, Hispanic, Hutterite, Chinese, Scottish, Laotian, German, and Welsh. On the fourth weekend in September the traditional German harvest festival, Herbstfest, is held in nearby Laurel. German foods, dancing, and music are featured. Downtown Billings is the site of Harvest Fest each October. Late November has the Holiday Parade and Christmas stroll occurs each December downtown.

Sports for the Spectator

Billings supports four professional sports teams. The Billings Mustangs, a baseball farm team of the Cincinnati Reds, play at Cobb Field; the Billings Mavericks of the National Indoor Football League play home games at 8,700 seat MetraPark arena; the Billings Bulls, who play junior hockey, and the new Billings Rims, set to begin play in 2005, are also at the MetraPark. Thoroughbred racing and parimutuel betting are offered at Yellowstone Exhibition, and the city features several rodeo events each year, including the Northern Rodeo Association finals, which have been held in Billings for 30 years. Auto racing takes place at Magic City Speedway, five miles east of town on Hwy 10.

Sports for the Participant

The mountains near Billings offer a complete range of year-round outdoor activity in some of America's most spectacular terrain: skiing (at nearby Red Lodge Mountain, and further away Big Sky and the new Moonlight Basin resort), hiking, hunting, fishing (some of the world's legendary trout streams are nearby, such as Rock Creek and the Stillwater, Boulder, Musselshell, Big Horn, and Yellowstone Rivers), camping, and a wide variety of water recreation. At a number of lakes and reservoirs, swimming, boating, sailing, and water skiing can be enjoyed. The city of Billings operates more than 40 parks that feature swimming pools, tennis courts, athletic fields, jogging and biking paths, and other recreational facilities. There are several public and private golf courses in the city.

Shopping and Dining

Rimrock Mall downtown is the largest shopping area, with more than 100 shops, including Dillard's, JCPenney, Eddie Bauer, Gap, and Bath and Body Works. West Park Plaza is another large enclosed shopping center. There are at least a dozen smaller shopping areas in Billings. Western boutiques to specialty shops serve up quality merchandise and great bargains, all with no sales tax, in the historic downtown shopping district or the Billings Heights area on Main Street.

Restaurants in Billings feature traditional Western fare as well as exotic ethnic cuisine in settings ranging from casual and inexpensive to elegant and intimate. Most restaurants are clustered around the main shopping and commercial areas of downtown on Montana Avenue (Eleven Café, McCormick's, Q, The Rex, and Sweet Ginger) and North Broadway (Travel Café, Creoles, Gunsmoke Barbecue, Montana Brewing Company, and Papa Eddie's Grill).

Visitor Information: Billings Area Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 31177, Billings, MT 59107-1177; telephone (406)245-4111; toll-free (800)735-2635

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Billings: History

Billings: History

Native Americans Resist Settlement

For thousands of years before the coming of European settlers, the site of present-day Billings was hunted by migratory peoples. Traces of their camps and elaborate cave drawings have been discovered and preserved at many sites in the region. By the time of America's westward expansion, the predominant tribes in the area included the Crow, Sioux, and Cheyenne.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1806 passed through the present site of Billings, and just 30 miles away William Clark climbed Pompey's Pillar, a 200-foot-high natural rock formation, which he named after the son of his female Indian guide. Although many Europeans explored the area, fierce resistance from the natives prevented any settlement. This led to the so-called "Sioux War," one of the more intense struggles between the U.S. Army and the native people. The infamous Battle of the Little Bighorn, where a large group of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors killed General George Custer and his entire 7th cavalry, took place 65 miles to the southeast of the future site of Billings.

Railroad Brings Ranchers, Farmers

Billings was founded in 1882 by the Northern Pacific Railroad as a rail head for the company's western line and named for the president of the railroad, Frederick Billings. Over the next six months more than 2,000 people settled in the town, which was incorporated as a city in 1885. The wide-open prairie lands were ideal for cattle grazing, and a number of large ranches grew up around the town. During the early twentieth century, families of settlers known as "homesteaders" arrived in the area, taking advantage of the offer of free land. Typically, a family and all its possessions would arrive in one freight car and receive a 40-acre plot of land. Conditions were difficult, but many families struggled through their first years and eventually developed successful farms.

Irrigation had been introduced in the Yellowstone Valley in 1879. Sugar beet growing was thus made possible, and a sugar refinery was built in 1906. Immigrant laborers came to work the fieldsfirst Japanese, then Russo-Germans, and finally Mexicans. The Russo-German workers were unusually industrious; soon they bought their own land at the Huntley Irrigation project outside Billings, where they constituted a third of the population by 1940.

Abundant Natural Resources Contribute to Growth

Billings grew steadily during the 1900s, spurred on by the development of vast natural resources such as minerals, coal, natural gas, and oil. At one time Billings was the largest inland wool shipping point in the United States. In 1933 pulp-drying equipment was installed at the sugar refinery; a thriving livestock industry developed around animals fed on beet pulp. By 1938 more than 600,000 acres of land around Billings was irrigated.

A true hub city and gateway to the West, Billings has become the commercial, health care, and cultural capital of the "Midland Empire," a vast area of agricultural, mountainous, wilderness, and sometimes forbidding terrain that includes eastern Montana, the western Dakotas, and Northern Wyoming. It is also an important refining and shipping center for agricultural and energy products.

Historical Information: Montana State University-Billings Library, 1500 North Thirtieth Street, Billings, MT 59101-0298; telephone (406)657-1662

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Billings: Education and Research

Billings: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Billings Public Schools District is governed by a nine-member School Board, which appoints a superintendent. With more than 15,000 students, it is the largest district in Montana. The district oversees 21 elementary schools, four middle schools, three high schools, two ninth-grade academies, an alternative high school, a Career Center, and an Adult Education program that offers GED accreditation, basic math, English, science, and other pre-collegiate coursework. Special education, enrichment programs, education for disadvantaged children, adult education, and extracurricular activities are offered by the district.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Billings Public Schools District as of the 20022003 school year.

Total enrollment: 15,778

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 21

middle schools: 4

senior high schools: 5 (including a career center and alternative school)

Student/teacher ratio: K-8, 16.3:1; 9-12, 17.8:1

Teacher salaries (2002)

minimum: $24,990

maximum: $54,205

Funding per pupil: $5,947 (K-8); $7,538 (9-12)

A number of private and parochial schools also serve the metropolitan area.

Public Schools Information: Billings Public Schools, 415 North 30th St., Billings, MT 59101-1298; telephone (406)247-3777; fax (406)496-2070; email sbond@in-tch.com

Colleges and Universities

There are two four-year institutions of higher education in Billings. Montana State University-Billings is a public, state-supported school with a 2005 enrollment of 4,600 students. A satellite campus of 12,000 student Montana State University-Bozeman, the college offers two-year associate and four-year bachelor's degrees in more than 100 programs of study on a 112 acre-campus in Montana's largest city. The University is strongest in areas of Arts and Sciences, Allied Health, Education, Business, and Technology (including nursing); students can earn master's degrees in education and business administration. Rocky Mountain College is affiliated with the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, and the United Presbyterian Church. It offers undergraduate degrees in more than 40 liberal arts and professionally-oriented majors and has an enrollment of about 1,000 students on a 60-acre Billings campus.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Parmly Billings Library contains more than 300,000 items, including 250,000 books (of these, more than 9,000 are large-print editions). There are also 190 magazine subscriptions, 7,000 music CDs, approximately 8,000 books on tape or CD, 11,000 videos, and 1,400 interactive CDs (games and other software). There are also 5 word processing centers and 18 Internet stations. Key collections include a full-text database research center, an Auto Repair Reference Center, Heritage Quest Online Genealogy Resources, and the NoveList Fiction Guide. There is an Outreach program and Infomobile for senior citizens. Other major libraries in the community are those of Montana State University-Billings and Rocky Mountain College.

Public Library Information: Parmly Billings Library, 510 North Broadway, Billings, MT 59101; telephone (406)657-8257; email refdesk@billings.lib.mt.us

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Billings: Population Profile

Billings: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 108,035

1990: 113,419

2000: 129,352

Percent change, 19902000: 14.0%

U.S. rank in 2000: 221st

City Residents

1980: 66,798

1990: 81,125

2000: 89,847

2003 estimate: 95,220

Percent change, 19902000: 10.7%

U.S. rank in 1980: 294th

U.S. rank in 1990: 263rd

U.S. rank in 2000: 307th

Density: 2,656 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 82,539

Black or African American: 495

American Indian and Alaska Native: 3,088

Asian: 533

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 38

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 3,758

Other: 1,300

Percent of residents born in state: 57.2% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 5,882

Population 5 to 9 years old: 5,985

Population 10 to 14 years old: 6,063

Population 15 to 19 years old: 6,290

Population 20 to 24 years old: 6,483

Population 25 to 34 years old: 11,869

Population 35 to 44 years old: 13,882

Population 45 to 54 years old: 12,284

Population 55 to 59 years old: 4,330

Population 60 to 64 years old: 3,440

Population 65 to 74 years old: 6,464

Population 75 to 84 years old: 4,969

Population 85 years and over: 1,906

Median age: 36.8 years

Births (2002, Yellowstone County)

Total number: 1,790

Deaths (2002, Yellowstone County)

Total number: 1,167 (of which 7 were infants under the age of one year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $19,207

Median household income: $35,147

Total households: 37,470

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 3,686

$10,000 to $14,999: 3,642

$15,000 to $24,999: 5,823

$25,000 to $34,999: 5,512

$35,000 to $49,999: 6,677

$50,000 to $74,999: 7,029

$75,000 to $99,999: 2,641

$100,000 to $149,999: 1,518

$150,000 to $199,999: 437

$200,000 or more: 505

Percent of families below poverty level: 9.2% (57.4% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 4,486

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Billings: Convention Facilities

Billings: Convention Facilities

The primary meeting facility in Billings is MetraPark, a multipurpose major event center located on the Rimrocks overlooking downtown. MetraPark features a 30,000-square-foot arena in addition to an exhibition space totaling more than 200,000 square feet with 10 break-out rooms. Total seating capacity is 12,000 people. The complex contains an art pavilion and a covered grandstand for outdoor events, a half-mile track used for both horse racing and auto racing, and is surrounded by nearly 90 acres of parking. The facility is diverse enough to hold large trade shows, professional sporting events for three local franchises, national touring shows and musical acts, and Gold Wing Road Riders Wing Ding gatherings.

The Holiday Inn Grand Montana Hotel & Convention Center is the largest facility in the four-state region to be built in conjunction with a hotel; recently renovated, it contains 50,000 square feet of meeting space in 15 rooms that accommodate groups from 10 to 4,600. Located downtown is the Alberta Bair Theater, which serves as the site of business meetings and conventions as well as performances, with a theater capacity of 1,400 people.

Conference and convention facilities for large and small groups are available in several hotels, motels, and bed-and-breakfast establishments throughout the Billings metropolitan area, including the Historic Northern Hotel, Sheraton Billings Hotel, and the Billings Hotel and Convention Center. Billings offers more than 3,400 hotel rooms and nearly 350 million square feet of meeting space. Alternatives to city hotel accommodations can be found outside Billings at the Double Spear Ranch in Pryor, Montana.

Convention Information: Billings Area Chamber of Commerce, 815 South 27th Street, PO Box 31177, Billings, MT 59107-1177; telephone (406)245-4111; toll-free (800)711-2630

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Billings: Health Care

Billings: Health Care

Billings provides the main medical services for a four-state area, with state-of-the-art equipment and highly skilled personnel. The community is served by nearly 500 physicians and dentists. Most of the health care facilities are concentrated in a 114-acre medical corridor that encompasses both of the city's major hospitals and 20 other health-related facilities.

Billings Deaconess Hospital, part of the Deaconess-Billings Clinic Health System, is a 272-bed Level II trauma center with general care and specialized services that include a cardiac care center, cancer services, an intensive care unit, the Kidney Center, a psychiatric center, pulmonary services, Women's Resource Center, occupational health and wellness, orthopedics and sports medicine, and a Research Institute. In 2004 ground was broken on a $27 million expansion to the hospital's Regional Emergency and Trauma Center.

A 302-bed Level II trauma center, the St. Vincent Hospital and Health Center is operated by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth and provides comprehensive inpatient and out-patient services, special services for women and seniors, and expertise in cardiology, orthopedics, general internal medicine, pediatrics, emergency and trauma, neurosciences, rehabilitation, neonatology, and oncology.

Other medical facilities in Billings are the Northern Rockies Cancer Center, Rimrock Foundation, which provides treatment for addictive disorders such as chemical dependency, co-dependency, compulsive gambling, and eating disorders, and several mental health facilities.

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Billings: Communications

Billings: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

Billings has one major daily newspaper, The Billings Gazette (morning). Weekly papers focusing on business, agriculture, and general news include Agri-News, Montana Farmer, and Western Livestock Reporter. Montana Land Magazine is published quarterly.

Television and Radio

Bresnan Communications provides cable television and high-speed internet service in Billings. All four major television networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) broadcast to the Billings area. 13 AM and 19 FM radio stations can be picked up in the Billings area.

Media Information: The Billings Gazette, PO Box 36300, Billings, MT 59107; telephone (406)657-1200; toll-free (800)543-2505; email gbruce@billingsgazette.com

Billings Online

Big Sky Development Authority. Available www.bigskyedc.org

Billings Area Chamber of Commerce. Available www.billingschamber.com

Billings Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available billingscvb.visitmt.com

Billings Cultural Partners. Available www.downtown billings.org

The Billings Gazette. Available www.billingsgazette.com

Billings Public Schools. Available www.billings.k12.mt.us

City of Billings home page. Available ci.billings.mt.us

Montana Labor Market Information. Available jsd.dli.mt.gov/lmi/lmi.htm

Parmly Billings Library. Available www.billings.lib.mt.us

Selected Bibliography

Raban, Jonathan, Bad Land: An American Romance (New York: Pantheon, 1996)

Van West, Carroll, Capitalism on the Frontier: Billings and the Yellowstone Valley in the Nineteenth Century (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993)

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Billings

BILLINGS

BILLINGS. Located in Montana on the Yellowstone River, Billings was founded in 1882 and was incorporated in 1885. The city was built by the Northern Pacific Railroad and was named after its president, Frederick K. Billings. It became the communications and trading center for southern Montana and northern Wyoming. At the end of the twentieth century Billings had a population of approximately sixty-seven thousand.

Between 1885 and 1890 the population of Billings decreased sharply, and it appeared the city was fated to become a minor railroad town if not a ghost town. However, civic leadership and the reorganization of the American railroad system after the depression of 1893 revitalized it. Billings became the meeting point of three railroads, the Northern Pacific, the Great Northern, and the Burlington. By 1900 Billings had three thousand residents and was on its way to becoming the most important city in the Yellowstone Valley in the twentieth century. Important industries centered there are coal mining, meatpacking, oil and sugar refining, and flour milling.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Phillips, Charles, and Alan Axelrod, eds. The Encyclopedia of the American West. New York: Macmillan, 1996.

West, Carroll Van. Capitalism on the Frontier: Billings and the Yellowstone Valley in the Nineteenth Century. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Henry E.Fritz

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Billings

Billings

Billings: Introduction
Billings: Geography and Climate
Billings: History
Billings: Population Profile
Billings: Municipal Government
Billings: Economy
Billings: Education and Research
Billings: Health Care
Billings: Recreation
Billings: Convention Facilities
Billings: Transportation
Billings: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1882 (incorporated, 1885)

Head Official: Mayor Charles F. Tooley (D) (since 1995)

City Population

1980: 66,798

1990: 81,125

2000: 89,847

2003 estimate: 95,220

Percent change, 19902000: 10.7%

U.S. rank in 1980: 294th

U.S. rank in 1990: 263rd

U.S. rank in 2000: 307th

Metropolitan Area Population 1980: 108,035

1990: 113,419

2000: 129,352

Percent change, 19902000: 14.0%

U.S. rank in 2000: 221st

Area: 33.82 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 3,126 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 49.2° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 13.65 inches

Major Economic Sectors: Agriculture, services, government, finance, oil and gas

Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (February 2005)

Per Capita Income: $19,207 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 4,486

Major Colleges and Universities: Montana State University-Billings, Rocky Mountain College

Daily Newspaper: The Billings Gazette

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Billings: Transportation

Billings: Transportation

Approaching the City

Billings Logan International Airport is only 2 miles from the downtown district and serves most of eastern Montana and northern Wyoming with more than 50 flights daily from major airlines and regional carriers. America West, Big Sky, Delta, Horizon, Northwest, Skywest, Frontier, and United all service Billings with planes as large as 757s.

Billings is at the junction of two interstate highways: I-90, connecting the city with the Pacific Northwest and the southern Rocky Mountain states; and I-94, providing a link with the midwestern states. U.S. 87, 310, and 212 also meet in Billings.

Billings is served by regional and interstate bus lines. As of 2005 there was no regular passenger rail service in or out of Billings.

Traveling in the City

Billings Metropolitan Transit operates 17 routes within the city. In 2004 Federal funds were authorized for the purchase of 16 new buses over a 3-year period. Auto traffic on major thoroughfares is light compared to most metropolitan areas. The downtown area is laid out in a grid pattern with numbered streets.

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Billings: Geography and Climate

Billings: Geography and Climate

Billings is located in southern Montana in the fertile Yellowstone River valley, with mountains on three sides. The Yellowstone River flows along the eastern boundary of the city. The mountains shelter the city from the most severe winter weather, but blizzard conditions are not uncommon in the spring and fall. Moist air from the Pacific Ocean, called "Chinook winds," often brings surprisingly warm weather in the winter and cooler temperatures in the summer. Spring features the most unpredictable weather, and summers are typically dry with cool nights.

Area: 33.82 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 3,126 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 22.8° F; August, 72.5° F; annual average, 49.2° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 13.65 inches

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Billings

Billings, city (1990 pop. 81,151), seat of Yellowstone co., S Mont., on the Yellowstone River, in a valley surrounded by seven mountain ranges; inc. as a city 1885. Founded in 1882 by the Northern Pacific RR, Billings quickly became an important shipping point and fur-trading center. It is the largest city in Montana and a medical, manufacturing, and trade center for the S Montana–N Wyoming region. Manufactures include paper, wood, dairy, and petroleum products; processed foods; and computer equipment. Wheat, sugar beets, livestock, and wool are traded. Rocky Mountain College and Montana State Univ. at Billings are there. Billings is the center of a recreational area and tourism is important; Custer National Forest and Yellowstone National Park are nearby.

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Billings: Municipal Government

Billings: Municipal Government

Billings has a mayor-council form of government with ten council members elected to a four-year term. Until the 1995 election the mayor was elected to a two-year term; the mayor now serves a four-year term. The mayor and city council are the city's only policy-making bodies. A city administrator is hired by the mayor and city council and may be removed by a simple majority vote of the mayor and council. Billings is also the seat of Yellowstone County.

Head Official: Mayor Charles F. Tooley (D) (since 1995; current term expires 2007)

Total Number of City Employees: 750 (2005)

City Information: City of Billings, 210 North 27th Street, PO Box 1178, Billings, MT 59103; telephone (406)657-8200; email ctooley@magiccity.org

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Billings: Introduction

Billings: Introduction

Billings is the largest city in Montana and the commercial, cultural, and industrial center of a large region of the northern Rocky Mountains. Known as the "Magic City," Billings has grown phenomenally since its founding in 1882, until 1970 doubling in size every 30 years. The city is also the processing and distribution hub for a rich agricultural area that encompasses more than 125,000 miles. Excellent road, rail, and air transportation networks helped the region's retail trade to reach $1.9 billion in 2000. Many scenic attractions such as Yellowstone National Park are nearby, and the wide variety of available recreation activities make the Billings area a popular vacation spot.

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