Tester Announces Funding for Job Training Program in Missoula

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – As part of his efforts to train Montanans and create good-paying jobs, Senator Jon Tester announced today that the Montana Community Development Corporation (MCDC) will receive nearly $800,000 in federal funding to help kick start Neptune Aviation’s new job creation and training program.

The $769,639 grant comes from The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Community Services.

Neptune Aviation will receive this money in the form of a low-interest loan, which they will use to train and hire low-income workers as entry-level mechanics. The money will eventually be repaid and go back into MCDC’s revolving loan fund to help other local small businesses grow and create new jobs.

“This money will help train and employ Missoula residents so they can work in good paying careers,” said Tester, a member of Senate Appropriations Committee. “This is the kind of investment that pays dividends for families, communities and all of Montana. The fact that Neptune Aviation will ultimately pay back the money to help other local businesses is just the icing on the cake.”

Neptune Aviation is a Missoula-owned and operated business that currently employs over 100 workers. In 2014, Tester helped Neptune get fair consideration for a major wildfire fighting contract with the U.S. Forest Service, which the company ultimately won. Neptune creates and operates a fleet of airtankers designed to help fight wildfires.

“We have long reaped the benefits of our community’s support, and Senator Tester’s support in particular,” said Ron Hooper, CEO of Neptune Aviation. “We are very excited to enact a program that invests training and resources back into the community, an investment that will ultimately benefit our city our state and our country.”

While visiting Neptune Aviation, Tester recently introduced his Western Wildfire Initiative, which encompasses three different bills aimed at fixing the way wildfire fighting is funded, helping seasonal firefighters gain permanent employment, and providing financial assistance to help communities devastated by wildfires rebuild.

Earlier this week, Tester also announced an $850,000 grant to help small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses throughout the state sustain and create new jobs.