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New Big Sky Report Highlights Growth Trends And Associated Challenges

Resort residencies in Big Sky, Montana, 2006.
Jim (CC-By-SA-2.0)
Resort residencies in Big Sky, Montana, 2006.

A new economic profile report about Big Sky highlights one of the fastest population growth trends in the state and some of the struggles that come with it. Big Sky’s population has grown 21 percent over the last five years to almost 3,000 residents, according to a new economic profile from Bridge Economic Development released this week.

It says 70 percent of homes are secondary residences, and the median home value is over $1 million. About half the town’s workers commute from Bozeman, Belgrade and West Yellowstone. There are currently about three dozen income-restricted rental units and plans to build more this year. But keeping up with affordable housing demand will be a challenge as Big Sky expects about 600 to 900 more jobs by 2023.

Candace Carr Strauss is the CEO of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce and Visit Big Sky. She says the report is meant to give a snapshot of the community and show the economic viability for future residents, entrepreneurs and investors.

“I’m constantly asked for by bankers who are looking to fund new entrepreneurs to start businesses here, as well as investor groups who are looking on the larger scale to invest money in our development of Big Sky from a tourist destination to a sustainable community. So we heard the need and responded to that need and are very happy with the product,” says Carr Strauss.

Because Big Sky isn’t incorporated, it doesn’t have a local governing body. Instead, 50 non-profit organizations, 7 special purpose districts and around 100 homeowners’ associations work together to make decisions on pedestrian crosswalks, speed limits, etc.

Big Sky has three private residential clubs and straddles the Gallatin and Madison counties, all of which have their own unique regulations.

“Just the basics of navigating a community to do business or just to live here — it’s not a simple process, and so we hope that anyone coming to this community can read this document and have a better understanding of how we function as a community,” Carr Straus says.

She says the report will serve as a helpful tool when Big Sky requests future funding from the two counties and state for infrastructure projects. Those could include a wastewater treatment expansion and better fiber and cell service.  

Governor Steve Bullock recently signed Senate Bill 241 into law, which would allow Big Sky to increase its local resort tax from three percent to four percent for future infrastructure projects. Carr Strauss says they’re developing a community strategy that will guide how that revenue could be used.

Big Sky Chamber will discuss the report’s highlights, as well as current and future development projects Thursday from 6-8 PM at Lone Peak Cinema in Big Sky