Tester talks jobs during Bozeman visit

Bozeman Daily Chronicle

by Carly Flandro

Montana Sen. Jon Tester got an on-the-ground feel for how the challenging economic times are affecting those in the Gallatin Valley in a Saturday visit to Bozeman.

Tester met with local officials and representatives, including Mayor Jeff Krauss, at the Human Resources Development Council bus barn.

Krauss described to Tester what he called an “undercurrent of desperate times in this valley,” and said the hardships here are “still about jobs. “  

Heather Grenier, the special projects director for the HRDC, told the senator that the organization helps about 500 people per year, but noted that there are another 200 it’s unable to help.

Tim Trzinski, program director for the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, said it serves about 11,000 people each year — which is about 12 to 13 percent of the county.

Tester said after the meeting that the numbers were a reminder that there’s still a long way to go to restore local economies.

“We’re ultimately in the middle of this process,” he said, adding that the high growth in Gallatin County has likely made the recession more of a challenge.

Trzinski said he hoped the conversation would help the senator bring “the lives of real people in Montana to Washington, D.C.”

Grenier said she thought the meeting went well and that she felt Tester was receptive to their concerns.

Tester also added some fun to his visit in Bozeman, spending the morning at the Wild West Winterfest at the county fairgrounds. In the late afternoon, he was also scheduled to make a visit to Tiffany Lach’s Sola Café in south Bozeman. Last year, Lach was named the state’s Woman Entrepreneur of the Year.