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Bozeman Chamber of Commerce to consider foreign trade zone

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BOZEMAN, Mont. - Officials are considering creating a foreign trade zone for the 60 manufacturing companies throughout Gallatin County, according to Bozeman Chamber of Commerce President Daryl Schliem.

The decision comes after Simm's Fishing Products announced it would be moving its warehouse and shipping services to Seattle, which is home to a foreign trade zone.

"This will open our eyes again now," Schliem said. "Has the need for Simm's escalated to the point, and have other manufacturers here escalated to the point, now where it's of interest for us to do that common project?"

A foreign trade zone, Schliem said, would act as a central distribution center for local businesses. It would allow multiple manufacturers to operate out of one hub without collecting customs duties on shipments outside the U.S. He estimates it would be a multi-million-dollar venture.

"It boils down to what a farmer's market is," Schliem said. "You're bringing in all different types of products into one location for the general public to be able to come and buy those goods."

Simm's Fishing Products president K.C. Walsh told NBC Montana the move to Seattle will help the company focus on manufacturing and increase shipping efficiency.

"Because it's on a major shipping lane and not in Bozeman we're expecting to decrease the time to ship to our customers by one to two days," Walsh said.

Walsh said Simm's will make the move to Seattle come March 2018. He told NBC Montana the move does not translate to a layoff.

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