Good economic news in the Flathead -- construction companies are reporting a surge in new business since the beginning of the year, and city planners say building permit applications submitted in 2013 have already surpassed all of those submitted in 2012.
"Construction's really picking up this year,” said Kalispell City Planning Director Tom Jentz. “We're at 43 single-family homes. That is more homes than the entire year of 2011."
Jentz says several large businesses are under construction in Kalispell, including Cabela’s and Glacier Eye Clinic -- which he says accounts for more than $8.5 million in economic activity.
Bighorn Development owner Tom Bower says his company has built or plans to build 49 home this year -– up from a low of only seven homes in 2009.
“When you take 49 houses, you wonder how many people does that affect,” said Bower. “If you start doing the math -- it affects a lot of people."
Bower said he has sold homes to people from 23 different states in the last six months.
“A lot of single people, oil field money, lot of young guys that wouldn't think would buy a house are buying one."
Jentz says so far the growth appears to be sustainable.
"This is healthy growth. A boom is not good for anyone. If we can keep consistent, healthy growth, that would benefit everyone in this community," said Jentz.