Montana State Fund to Remain in Helena

The Montana State Fund board of directors has decided to keep its headquarters and roughly 300 employees located in Helena.

Miles City leaders asked the State Fund, which runs workers’ compensation insurance for the state, to consider a move to their city. Miles City said it could give the State Fund a vacated hospital for its headquarters.

But State Fund board members voted 5-1 to explore building a new location in Helena.

Laurence Hubbard, president of the Montana State Fund, told board members the agency risked losing many valuable employees if it moved to the other side of the state.

Board members agreed.

“I think service will not be the same for quite some time if we lose a lot of employees,” said board member Joe Dwyer.

The board is considering using about $20 million it currently has invested for a new building. Money that is now spent on lease payments would repay the investment.

The State Fund said it expects to grow to roughly 400 employees in the coming years.

Preliminary plans on different types of new construction were presented to the board. The proposal will be sent to the Board of Investments, which manages the State Fund’s investments.

But the recent decision ensures that the State Fund will remain in Helena.

Miles City said its plan would have been cheaper for the State Fund because all it would have to do is remodel the old Veterans Administration hospital.

The facility is now mostly vacant, and Miles City said it has been given authority from the federal government to “convey” the building to anyone who has a use for it. The city also offered possible moving assistance for current employees and training for new employees at Miles City Community College.

The State Fund board was concerned about travel costs in and out of Miles City and other issues that could stem from being so far away from state government, the Legislature and other major cities.