by Dennis Gaub

It may seem curious to learn that a large engineering firm has become a major supporter of an urban, non-motorized trail system, in this case Billings’ regionally renowned trail network, but it makes good sense to the executive team of Morrison Maierle.

Jill Cook, Billings operations manager for the company, explained that Morrison Maierle looks for “great employees with a high level of technical expertise.”

And people with those skills have many options when looking for a place to work and live.

“Therefore, it benefits our organization, and other businesses in Billings, when we can offer an attractive community with recreation opportunities for our employees and their families,” she said.

Families nowadays compare communities and choose places with a high quality of life, and that’s to Billings’ advantage.

“Having a great trail system is a big part of what young families are attracted to as part of that quality of life,” Cook said.

Morrison Maierle, a multi-disciplinary engineering firm, focuses on engineering services in seven markets: airports, buildings, development, natural resources, industrial, survey, transportation and water-wastewater. The Montana-based firm has offices in Billings and six other cities in the Treasure State plus four offices in Wyoming and one in Washington state.

A Billings TrailNet donor over the years, Morrison Maierle decided to become a corporate member last year.

Cook said her company “bumped our sponsorship up to the next level … to show our strong support for trails and the role they play in a healthy community.”

Cook has been personally involved in Billings TrailNet as a member, donor and volunteer for events such as Tour de Fleur and Ales for Trails.

She said the firm’s big picture view of Billings TrailNet involves its key role in improving the sense of community in Montana’s largest city.

“Having a good trail system is part of having a healthy community,” Cook said.

Commenting during the peak of the Coronavirus outbreak in Montana, she said, “Especially in times like we are in, trails are important for our community to have opportunities to get outside and maintain their physical and mental health, getting some exercise and sunshine.”

Evidence of that benefit to the community is apparent to anyone who soaks up the outdoors in Billings.

“You can really see it now, with people (flocking) to the trails and, I think, gaining a new appreciation for our trails,” Cook said.

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