BOZEMAN- From classroom teacher to business owner, Derek Ivester, the owner of Mountain Fresh Italian Ice, is capitalizing on a sweet treat. He's just one of many people taking advantage of a Bozeman business boom.
Ivester moved to Bozeman a few years ago with his wife in hopes of starting a business together.
“I’m from Atlanta, and this sort of thing wouldn’t have been possible,” Ivester said, “Bozeman is an incredibly friendly local community and they put their money where their mouth is and support local products.”
In the years he has been here his business has been growing and over the years has consumed more and more of his time. Mountain Fresh Italian Ice was voted "Western Montana's Favorite Fair Food" in 2017.
“It was the idea to hopefully grow this where it could be full-time,” Ivester said.
Last year, he left his teaching job at a rural school and is now focusing on his business full-time. He’s not the only one taking a leap in Gallatin County.
The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau says Bozeman is the fastest growing town of its size in the nation. As part of the boom more jobs are being created, more real estate is being purchased, and more companies are moving to the Gallatin Valley.
The City of Bozeman says they issued 703 new businesses licenses last year alone.
Daryl Schliem, president of the Bozeman Chamber of Commerce, expects the growth to continue. He's predicting around $3.5 billion to be invested in new construction in the next few years.
Schliem went onto say that the growth specifically in Bozeman will hopefully benefit the surrounding communities.
The Chamber estimates 10 people per day move to Bozeman. Gallatin county’s population grew 25% in the last decade to about 112,000 people.
He says Bozeman once the quiet cowboy town is now in a modern-day gold rush, each one of those people moving here is a potential new customer for new businesses like Mountain Fresh Italian Ice.
“Every year it’s been growing and growing and growing and that’s really exciting,” Ivester said, “I don’t think that would’ve been possible in most places in Montana but definitely around the rest of the country.”
Mountain Fresh Italian Ice is now in grocery stores across the Treasure State and Ivester credits his success to Bozeman.
Each week on Wake Up Montana we will take you inside a business in Bozeman. Contact us with questions, comments or a recommendation!