Relending Program Encourages Copper Company Purchase

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Shelby Johnsen
(406) 585-2587
Owners Machelle LeProwse and Millie Rigby proudly highlighting some of the copper items sold in the store.

For years, Butte Copper Company was known as a tourist stop. People traveling through Montana would stop there after visiting the “Richest Hill on Earth” and purchase various souvenirs. But since the 35 year old business was purchased by Millie Rigby and Machelle LeProwse earlier this year, the reputation of Butte Copper Company has evolved. It now offers more items for local residents while still featuring various souvenir items for tourists visiting the historic Mining City.

Machelle never imaged herself owning the business when she first started working there, but when Millie came to her about the opportunity to purchase the business and inventory they both took the leap of faith. They worked with their local bank, Farmers State Bank, and Headwaters RC&D to make the purchase of Butte Copper Company a reality. Headwaters is a 501c(3) non-profit focused on improving the economic and social well-being of southwest Montana.

Headwaters RC&D has received several USDA Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) loans from USDA Rural Development to assist local businesses in southwest Montana. The IRP provides low-interest loans to intermediaries such as Headwaters RC&D, to re-lend to businesses to improve economic conditions and create jobs in rural communities.

Butte Copper Company is an ultimate recipient of a loan from Headwaters and used the funds to purchase the business and building. Butte Copper Company serves not only as a tourist destination stop for the town of Butte and the state of Montana, but also a gift shop filled with home goods and décor items.

The loan has enabled Butte Copper Company to employ 7 people in the community and provide a place to shop for both locals and tourists where there is “something for everyone.”

Fast Facts

Obligation Amount$245,259.50
Date of ObligationMay 2017
Congressional DistrictGianforte, At Large
Senator's Last NamesTester and Daines