Last November, the BitterRoot Economic Development District landed a $20,000 grant from the Montana Department of Commerce’s Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund to identify industries and businesses that would be suited to set up shop at the former Smurfit-Stone pulp mill near Frenchtown, which closed in early 2010. The Illinois-based Green Investment Group, which acquired the mill for about $19 million in May 2011 with plans to scrap and redevelop it, planned to chip in another $20,000 for the study.
But this week, BREDD is sending the grant money back to the state. GIGI Vice President Mark Spizzo wrote in a Sept. 7 email to BREDD’s director that the company has “chosen not to take the traditional industry-specific path…Please go ahead and return the money to the grantor. We won’t be engaged in that type of feasibility study.”
Instead, Spizzo wrote, GIGI has “funded a group to look at development of the site from a different viewpoint.” He also mentioned discussions with “several other large entities interested in marketing the site worldwide.”