KALISPELL – The Montana Economic Development Association presents the Innovation Award each year to a project significantly impacting a Montana community and its citizens.
This year Kalispell’s Core and Rail Redevelopment Project was recognized and it’s more than just a shiny plaque that will hang on the wall in the City of Kalispell.
Kim Morisaki with Montana West Economic Development says it’s a symbol of the many partnerships on a project that began eight years ago she says as a vision to transform the heart of the city.
“The whole purpose of the award recognizes partnerships and innovation and we feel that this project wouldn’t have gotten done without our partnership primarily with the City of Kalispell but then with a host of other organizations,” Morisaki said.
The $21 million project — which includes the Glacier Rail Park and Trail System downtown — got a big push in 2012 with a $10 million TIGER grant from the US Department of Transportation.
Morisaki says private-partnerships brought $11 million to the table in order to secure the $10 million transportation grant.
“That was the innovative way that we got the financing done was bringing all of those different entities together. It’s a textbook case of a private-public partnership,” Morisaki told MTN News.
A grand opening of Glacier Rail Park is slated for early October with a ribbon cutting and a ceremonial driving of a Golden Spike.
Meanwhile, Kalispell is set to have its train tracks removed next year to make way for the trail system.
“When you decide that there is a goal and you want to get it done and you’re willing to go find all the partners you need to get to the goal you end up with a lot of partners sometimes and that’s great,” Morisaki said.
The grand opening of the Glacier Rail Park is set for October 8.
-Nicole Miller reporting for MTN News