Tester: Browning business expects to create 40-50 jobs with new port contract

Port of Del Bonita contract significantly less than original cost estimate

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester today said Browning-based Willow Creek Construction expects to create 40-50 jobs with a $5.8 million contract it received last week to rebuild the dilapidated Port of Del Bonita, on Montana’s northern border with Canada.

“For the security of our entire country, all of Montana’s ports need to be updated in order to keep out the threats of the 21st Century,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.  “Montana contractors—and the good, hard work they’re known for—are suited to meet the challenge.  I look forward to following the work of all Montana contractors and subcontractors as they help strengthen our national security and rebuild Montana’s economy.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agreed to grant the prime contract for rebuilding the Port of Del Bonita to a Montana business after Tester pushed the issue and hosted a workshop for Montana contractors Great Falls last June.

“This is very exciting because it will bring good dozens of good jobs to Montana while upgrading a facility that plays a big role in our security,” said Nikki Whitford, owner of Willow Creek Construction.  “All of the work—from designing to building—will be done by Montanans.  We’re grateful for Sen. Tester looking out for Montana businesses as these projects move forward.”

Tester noted the new $5.8 million contract is about one-third the original cost estimate for replacing the Port of Del Bonita.  For months, Tester pushed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to lower the costs of rebuilding the Port of Del Bonita and four other ports of entry along Montana’s northern border.

“America’s borders are only as strong as our weakest ports, and right now Del Bonita is one of them,” Tester said.  “But strengthening our ports and borders shouldn’t break the bank.  It’s a matter of making smart decisions about how to best invest taxpayer dollars—that’s been my message to the Department of Homeland Security all along.  I look forward to seeing stronger ports at more reasonable costs in the months ahead.”

In 2008, Willow Creek Construction won the Small Business Administration’s Region 8 Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year award.