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Investment firm is considering Polson for a new data center

A pile of bitcoins

A large data center could be built near Polson in the coming years, according to a proposal pitched during a technology summit in Bozeman this week.

Entrepreneur Kevin O’Leary, also known as Mr. Wonderful on the TV show “Shark Tank,” announced at the summit that his investment firm is working with the Bitcoin mining company Bit Zero and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to potentially build the data center.

“The demand for these centers is insatiable all around the world, and the states that have figured this out have wind, have hydro, have solar,” O’Leary said. “This is the future.”

O’Leary said the center could provide services to bitcoin miners and data storage for other web-based services. Most of the power to the facility would come from the Salish Kootenai Dam south of Polson on the Flathead Reservation.

Martin Charlo, CSKT tribal council secretary, said the tribes are interested in jobs the center could provide for locals.

“Our tribes have always been a people of vision and I believe that Kevin, and Mr. Daines, and Governor Gianforte, and Akbar are bringing this great vision to us,” Charlo said.

While the tribes say they haven't committed to the project, they’ll continue looking into the data center to see if it’s a viable business opportunity.

Aaron Bolton is Montana Public Radio's Flathead Valley reporter.