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Native development group excited for future of Billings Shrine building

Sold for $2.2M
Posted at 6:28 PM, Oct 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-06 20:28:03-04

BILLINGS — The Shrine Auditorium has been a landmark in Billings since 1950. It’s housed everything from basketball games to circuses, and now it’s undergoing a new chapter.

If the auditorium could talk, the stories it would tell could go on for years. Nearly everyone in Billings is familiar with the building and now after a year and a half on the market – it's been sold for $2.2 million.

The Shrine will now begin a new era, as the headquarters for the Billings-based Native American Development Corporation.

"Native American Development Corporation is a really an economic development organization. We have an expanding and growing native American population here in Billings. We who work here in Native American Development Corporation, we’re from all different tribes in the state and even outside of the state," said Leonard Smith, CEO of the NADC.

The building will offer entrepreneurial services, cultural events and medical services. Possible plans for the property include a full-service medical clinic, sports programs, and a place for job fairs and trade shows. All serving the native and Billings community.

"We grew significantly the last couple of years and we’re just playing catch up right now, trying to keep up with the growth. We’re having to restructure our organization as well to accommodate that as we hire more people, and we have a pretty large payroll that’s contributing to the economy of Billings," added Smith.

Sheldon King is the owner of Morningstar Propane and a tribal leader for the Northern Cheyenne. He says the NADC helped him create his company when he noticed a need on the reservation that "wasn’t being met."

"The thing is, they’re a big community help. They help wherever they can, business plans, feasibilities, whatever new that’s coming out they try to intrigue us to invest in it. So, that’s another thing that pushes our tribes towards the future. We’re a huge testimony of what they do for Native American tribes here in the state of Montana. And I’m just very appreciative for what they’re doing and not only that, now they’re helping out in the city of Billings," said King.

An important community landmark that will continue to serve, albeit in a new way.

"This is really important to the NADC because they’ve been in business many years and have been kind of operating under the radar in our community. Billings has the largest urban Native American population in Montana and possibly the United States. And it’s going to continue to be a great asset to the community and I personally, am happy to see an historic building like that continue that’s going continue to move on," said Jack Nickels, Realtor with Montana Land Real Estate Professionals.