In spite of a rocky start to its proposal to locate a new osteopathic medical school in west Billings, Rocky Vista University officials now say they hope they will break ground soon.
Provost David Forstein told Q2 News Friday he hopes the new facility will be built and under roof by December.
Rocky Vista's Billings campus would be the company's third school in the Rocky Mountain region, joining existing locations in Colorado and Utah.
The privately funded project means big bucks for the Billings economy - an estimated $78 million impact over its two-year start up, as many as 350 jobs and an extra $1.2 million in local taxes.
While its economic impact would be huge, the school has battled controversy from the beginning. Billings Clinic pulled out of the project after inappropriate comments came to light from two of the school's representatives. And just two weeks ago, 50 Montana doctors signed a letter opposing the project. Among their issues: whether Montana could offer graduates sufficient internships and residency opportunities.
RVU anticipates its first class of 80 students in the summer of 2023, with the first round of clinical rotations taking place in July of 2025.
Earlier this week, RVU announced it had been accredited from the Commission of Osteopathic Medicine, considered crucial in getting the project off the ground.