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Population spike in Butte promising sign for city's economy, leaders say

Posted at 8:55 PM, Feb 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-26 12:43:18-05

BUTTE — Butte, Montana, has had a recent spike in population, bringing it to a level it hasn’t seen in over 40 years. That’s why economic officials say this is a good time to encourage more development and industry in the Mining City.

“It’s great to see Butte growing. I think we're on the cusp of big things in our community,” said Kelly Sullivan, executive director of the Butte Local Development Corp.

Census figures in 2022 showed Butte-Silver Bow had an influx of almost 1,000 people, taking the population over 36,000—a figure it hasn’t reached since the mid-1980s.

Population is an important factor for new businesses.

“It can help particularly with retail recruitment. A lot of the bigger stores look at population numbers and they like it to hit certain thresholds,” Sullivan said.

A town with a large workforce is vital to bringing manufacturing companies to the region. Butte is courting the Norwegian-based company Cenate which will make battery components. The company is also considering locating in another community in Washington state, so Butte is trying to woo them with tax and equipment abatements.

“A lot of great paying jobs, they will be supported by REC, which they hope to site right next to out at Montana Connections. It would be great if they could absorb some of the folks at REC that stand to lose their jobs with the shutdown of the poly side of the plant,” said Sullivan.

Butte has seen some major population fluctuations over the past century.

Butte’s population was over 47,000 in 1900. It peaked at an estimated 100,000 in 1917. By 1990, it dropped below 34,000 and jumped over 36,000 in 2022.

“I think we’ll see just some nice slow and steady growth and all the good things that come with that,” said Sullivan.