Heritage commission looks to hire business manager

After a summer of big changes that included a major reorganization and laying off more than a third of their staff, the Montana Heritage Commission is now looking to hire a business manager.

The move comes after the commission decided at their September meeting not to hire a new executive director, said acting executive director and commission chair, Marilyn Ross.

The cut backs this year came at a time when the heritage commission was facing drastic budget shortfalls as federal funding was cut and state funding was tightened.

The reorganization of the operation included creating business development and cultural resource manager positions along with an executive director, Ross said.

However, the commission decided the cultural resource manager and the business development manager could handle running the operation for now without an executive director, she said.

The odd part of the decision not to hire an executive director is the commission advertised for the position this summer and was interviewing candidates when the board made the decision to switch their focus and not hire an executive director.

The move will save the commission money in the short term, but that wasn’t the reason for the decision, Ross said.
Once the reorganization was done, the major issues the commission was facing were addressed. The commission felt an executive director wasn’t needed.

“What we want to focus on now is primarily the business development, the marketing, improvements in Nevada City and our facilities and the whole business part of what we do,” she said. “The board of commissioners will look at that position again probably next spring.”

Ross’ term as acting executive director will be over in December when a new business manager comes on. She will remain chair of the heritage commission board.

Kate McCourt is the new cultural resource manager. She moved into the position during the reorganization. She formerly served as the staff archeologist with the commission in Nevada and Virginia Cities.

Her new job gives her oversight of all the cultural resources in both towns.

“It’s a big change,” McCourt said.

She has a staff that includes a curator and museum technician. They all work collaboratively to make sure the needs of the resources are attended to. Their work is really collaborative, but ultimately she’s answerable to the heritage commission’s board.

Once a business manager is hired, she’ll work closely with that person, McCourt said.

And though the recent changes have been major, the outlook of the staff is positive, she said.

“I feel like everyone is very positive and collaborating and we have a lot of plans and ideas for the future and for bettering the site,” McCourt said.

The Montana Heritage Commission will take applications for the business development manager position until Oct. 31. Ross hopes to have someone in place by early December. The position will pay between $41,000 and $50,000 a year based on experience.

For more information about the job, go online to montanaheritagecommission.mt.gov.

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