MISSOULA — Philipsburg’s Rotary Club and community leaders have launched a media campaign to attract new residents to town who can “telework” from anywhere they choose.
Their message: Why not Philipsburg?
The upper Flint Creek Valley is home to blue-ribbon trout streams, and lovers of history, hunting, hiking and skiing. It’s also a home of broadband and fiber optic connections, Express Mail delivery and airports less than 90 minutes away.
In short, Matt Kalinowski of Noctilucent Arts said Tuesday, Philipsburg is an attractive place for “dot-com employees, freelancers and sellers on sites like eBay.”
Rotary Club president Kevin Donlan is one such person.
He moved to the tiny, historic mining town (pop. 840) 10 years ago and raised his family there. Donlan logs nearly 50,000 air miles a year in his work as a pharmaceutical industry consultant.
“It’s really humorous, because when I explain to my typical clients why I moved here, their initial reaction is one of ‘I wish I could do that,’ ” Donlan said.
Living in Philipsburg allows him to provide more for those clients – many of whom are Fortune 500 companies – than he could from a large city, and to do so without the distractions and stress.
Jim Jenner moved his documentary production company to Philipsburg 10 years ago and said doing business in “the ’Burg” gets easier and easier.
“With high speed broadband I can share film data with support people anywhere,” Jenner said. “If I need something delivered, it’s a day away by UPS and we ship our DVDs worldwide using the local post office.”
Locals cite the area’s recreational amenities, including nearby Georgetown Lake and Discovery Ski Area. But Philipsburg also offers a student/teacher ratio of 9-to-1 in the schools, a “low-traffic” hospital and zero crime.
All that and “a perfectly preserved jewel of a mining town are an unbeatable combination for open-minded young families,” said Kalinowski, a publicist based in Portland, Ore.
Working with the Rotary Club, Kalinowski said the campaign is starting with pitches to Montana media, then “kind of working out in concentric rings.”
“After this, we’re going to places like the Seattle area, Idaho and Minnesota, to people who are likely to love the outdoors and who are also more comfortable with the weather in Montana,” he said. “Pitching to someone in Florida to move to Montana isn’t quite as logical.”
Travel writers and in-flight magazines will also be part of the yearlong campaign.
The Rotary Club regularly tackles bold projects like construction of an NHL-sized skating rink and activity center, complete with Zamboni, and a summer concert series. One of the club’s board members is longtime resident Ed Lord, who was president of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board in 1986 when it launched its famous “Beef – It’s What’s for Dinner” promotion.
“All of us involved in the project have our own love of Philipsburg and the Granite County area and would like to share that with like-minded people,” Lord said. “We’d love to see Philipsburg bloom into its full potential as a town and felt the time was right to embark on a strategic media campaign.”
Kalinowski pointed out that Men’s Journal recently named Philipsburg “America’s Coolest Town to Live in the Past,” and the town has been featured twice during Bob Dotson’s “American Stories” segment on NBC’s Today Show.
The town has also garnered national attention on the popular blog, TheMinimalists.com, which chronicles the efforts of two friends who gave up the rat race of corporate life to relocate to P-Burg.
The nonpartisan political information site, VoteSmart.org, is based in Philipsburg. According to the company’s website, that’s not only because of the 26 miles of fiber optic T-1 lines that were laid to support it, but for an environment “needed to offer strong incentive for the hundreds of unpaid college interns.”
Sarah Brabender is a telework pioneer in Philipsburg, where she remotely manages a team of medical transcribers in cities around the country. Brabender and her husband moved their family that included three young children to P-Burg eight years ago.
“It’s a great place for our kids, just in terms of the school,” she said. “The teachers are dedicated to their jobs and the small class sizes mean my kids get complete attention instead of being just another number on the rolls.”
The simple life around Philipsburg has also attracted some high-end ranches. Jim Manley’s Ranch at Rock Creek, an old mining claim that was homesteaded as a ranch around the turn of the 20th century, was identified recently by Luxury-Hotels.com as America’s most expensive luxury hotel.
Brian Valentine, Amazon.com’s senior vice president for eCommerce, maintains the $20 million Angel’s Nest Ranch, which provides respite and vacations for ill and recovering people and their families. Valentine donated a state-of-the-art computer lab to Philipsburg schools.