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History in the making

Postcard from First National Bank of Bowman with the animal mounts. Submitted Photo

Our downtown district holds an abundance of history. In 1907, the addresses of 13 E Divide and 13 ½ E Divide were one and known as First National Bank of Bowman.

Staff Report

In 1999, after transitioning from Liberty Bank to Norwest Bank, the building became Wells Fargo. A portion of the building was leased in approximately 1995 and later purchased in 1999 by the Bowman County Development Corporation.

When operated as First National Bank of Bowman, it served as a showroom to exotic animals with furs and mounts covering the walls. When the Rouzie family recovered and removed the mounts, the marks they left on the walls and the history of the building remained. Decorative pieces and pictures of Bowman’s history were hung to cover the old spots, but the marks were still seen.

In October 2018, the BCDC received word that their USDA Rural Development Grant Application had been approved for Mainspace, a new concept to benefit the businesses in the region. The grant allowed for the renovation of the offices that were leased to Wells Fargo to be turned into a community conference, education, and technology center. Different then the computer lab that had previously been operated, this space allows for utilization in a business’s day-to-day operations. With construction already happening it was the ideal time to make updates to the existing space as well.

Old photo from when the building was one, looking at BCDC’s entrance. Submitted Photo

Construction began on February 28th, 2019 and the office staff relocated to the basement for the duration of the construction but remains accessible to the public. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of May with Mainspace opening early fall.

“This is a cutting-edge opportunity for Bowman County. It’s not about the space, it’s about what you do with it,” said Teran Doerr, Executive Director, Bowman County Development Corporation.

Mainspace will offer opportunities for employees, artists, business owners, makers, entrepreneurs, and youth to not only attend pre-planned programming, but also host events, meetings, and trainings of their own. Event programming is likely to include classes such as QuickBooks, business marketing, crafting, and personal development.

Many have voiced concern over Bowman Regional Public Library’s conference space, which they removed to expand their circulation. Tearing down the walls to their 671 square foot conference room left them with still approximately 750 square feet for arts and crafts in their maker room.

“I think that community projects are always a good thing,” said Sarah Snavely, Director, Bowman Regional Public Library. Not only is the Library in support of the space, but several businesses in the area wrote letters of support for the grant application.

“Having access to the technology and a space to conduct this training would be helpful in recruiting and retaining employees,” said Scott Jaeger, Manger, Pro Point Co-op. Mainspace will serve as a great place for business to hold their trainings or attend classes offered by the BCDC.

“I am more likely to be able to attend trainings in Bowman as it is hard to step away from my business for extended periods of time and it can be cost prohibitive to travel,” said Bobbie Fossum, Owner, Urban Obsession. With small businesses being a big part of our community, Mainspace will help them thrive and be a part of creating a vibrant downtown district. As we search to bring in new employees to our community and keep Bowman growing and thriving, Mainspace will be a key element in attracting younger generations.

“We are excited about the possibility of having a modern workspace added to our community’s Main Street as an attraction for new employees,” said Jon Brosz, Senior Project Engineer, Brosz Engineering, Inc. The vibrancy and traffic Mainspace will bring downtown will not only benefit those using the space, but Main Street and business in general.

If you have distance learning you’re interested in, the BCDC would love to hear your ideas. They will do everything they can do accommodate the needs of the community when scheduling programming. Feel free to visit the office anytime and see history in the currently making.

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