When the Billings Chamber of Commerce joined Billings TrailNet as a corporate member in 2013, the organization had already been championing trails for several years.
In fact, the Chamber identified trails as a strategic initiative in 2009 when they decided that trails attract and retain talent.
John Brewer, president and CEO at the Chamber, explains, “a top priority of the Chamber has been to support and grow our work force, and trails are a big part of that because they are an easy way for people to connect with nature.”
“When you don’t have that in the community, there are many other places in the country that have developed, accessible outdoor recreation, and they can be more attractive places to live. We need to lead in those amenities. We have great geographic features in our rims, our river, and our heritage. And trails are a great way to connect to all of them,” he added.
John sees momentum from our community in support of trails. “The growth over the last ten years has been incredible,” he says. “There has been a mind shift in our community- where years ago, trails were seen as a nice amenity that was on the bottom of the check list of what we wanted accomplished, and now that has reversed. Trails are viewed now as an economic solution rather than just a nice amenity.”
When envisioning the future, the Chamber would like to see the Marathon Loop completed, along with further development in non motorized transportation routes to connect to the rims and the Yellowstone river. This would make Billings a more bike-friendly town where people can confidently ride to work and school. “How awesome it would be to connect a transportation network to that loop,” he concluded.