Legislators, economic development specialists, investors, and members of the general public recently attended an open house at Montana Studios located south of Hamilton at the turn-off to Skalkaho Highway. Montana Studios is the operating and production company responsible for operations of the largest state of the art media production facility, not only in Montana, but within a 400-mile radius, according to CEO Steve Grover.
The facility itself currently consists of three large buildings with portions already in use while other portions are being renovated. The three buildings, totaling 30,000 square feet of space, sit on a 19-acre piece of property with room for expansion. Montana Studios serves as the anchor tenant in the complex, but the property and facility is owned by a separate entity called BGD Hamilton Campus, LLC.
The south building already houses a couple of other tenants including a sports clothing company and a pool manufacturing company and more space is available.
The center building is being remodeled to create a new entranceway and office space for Montana Studios. It also houses what Grover called “the mill,” where construction, electrical, carpentry, welding and metal fabrication take place.
The north building houses a 7500-square-foot insulated sound stage to serve for small projects like commercials as well as big ones like movie productions. Initial work at Montana Studios has included a three-month contract to provide production logistical support to Paramount Pictures for Kevin Costner’s TV series, “Yellowstone”. In addition, Montana Studios produced a short TV pilot for the proposed series Healthy Eating, sponsored by CocoBowlz, an Australia based specialty products company.
Grover comes from an extensive background in the construction trades, land development and project financing and is a specialist in developing highly competitive financing packages that combine debt, equity, tax credits and other unique products to help maximize client and project success.
A couple of things being celebrated at the Open House that Grover believes will be a boost to the enterprise was the recent passage of the Montana Economic Development Industry Advancement (MEDIA) Act and the creation of a Qualified Opportunity Zone in the county.
The MEDIA Act is a tax credit for film productions in Montana. The MEDIA Act provides for a 20% production expenditure tax credit, with additional components that can increase the transferable credit to a maximum of 35% of total base film production. According to Grover, these tax incentives play a crucial role in luring large film companies to work in any given state.
The Ravalli County Economic Development Authority and the local legislators played a key role in establishing the county as a Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ), making it eligible to receive new capital gains investments, subject to preferential tax treatment. These Qualified Opportunity Funds are new investment vehicles to invest unrealized capital gains within a QOZ and enjoy a tax deferral until 2026, tax reductions of up to 15% and tax-free growth of opportunity fund investment when held for 10 years.