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Well, this is it! Get caught up on this week's business news with our last Montana Skim of 2019. We are so thankful for each of you - for reading, following and sharing The Work Spot MT with all your friends and family during this past year. It's an honor to be building this Montana resource for Montana professionals, together. Now that our Montana communities have officially kicked off the holiday season (Bozeman Christmas Stroll pictured) and ski resorts are open, it's now time to sign off and wish you all a wonderful holiday. We'll be back in your inboxes in January 2020! Big Sky Economic Development gets $2 million grant to renovate downtown Billings building The Big Sky Economic Development will receive a $2 million federal grant to redevelop the historic Montana National Bank building in downtown Billings and turn it into an entrepreneurial center for Big Sky EDA's Rock 31 program. Rock 31 provides local entrepreneurs with mentorship and resources to start or expand new companies. “It’s an exciting time. Billings was selected to receive a very important grant from the Federal Economic Development Administration to partner with the community on supporting the growth of entrepreneurship in our community,” said Big Sky EDA Executive Director Steve Arveschoug. The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce. According to a release from the commerce department, the grant "will be matched with $2 million in local funds and is expected to help create 95 Montana jobs and generate $6.6 million in private investment." Design and architecture planning still needs to be done for the new space. Arveschoug estimated construction wouldn't start until 2021. [ KTVQ ] Can Do: Paul Gladen on creating opportunities for rural entrepreneurs Paul Gladen of Missoula came to Montana in 2008, armed with a degree from Oxford University and more than 15 years of experience working with Arthur Andersen and his own firm Muzeview. Since then, Paul launched the Hellgate Venture Network , a Missoula-based local entrepreneurship forum. In 2009, he was the natural choice to lead the Blackstone LaunchPad and has since co-founded the Montana Code School and the Accelerate Montana's Rural Innovation Initiative . On today’s Montana Public Radio’s Can Do: Lessons from Savvy Montana Entrepreneurs, Paul discusses all things start-up. He’ll tell us what it takes to successfully launch a new business endeavor, particularly if you plan to work in a rural environment. [ Montana Public Radio ] Audience Awards moves to Missoula this week, with spotlight on women filmmakers Missoula-based Audience Awards brought its popular awards festival to Missoula this past week. Dubbed the AudFest: Film + Innovation Festival, the four-day event screened 100 short films and offered a wide array of related live events at the newly opened Zootown Arts Community Center. The event looked to engage attendees on topics ranging from talent acquisition to company culture, investing in female-founded companies and addressing gender equity in higher education. Paige Williams, the Audience Awards founder, CEO and Missoula resident said the time is ripe for women to exert their authority, take ownership and determine the genres of film that they create, direct, produce, write, act in and promote. Other familiar Montana women leaders were a part of the event including business leaders from non-film industries, such as Elke Govertsen, MyVillage ( hiring ) CCO; Deb Poteet of Poteet Construction ; Spider McKnight of CrazyLoveCo .; Chelsea Bodnar, Ahana Pediatrics founder; and Carol Williams, Montana’s first female minority and majority leader in the state Legislature. [ Missoula Current ] Montana girls invited to take Girls Go CyberStart Challenge Governor Steve Bullock recently announced that Montana will again partner with the SANS Institute to provide high school girls the opportunity to learn cybersecurity skills and compete for college scholarships through the 2020 Girls Go CyberStart challenge. “Girls Go CyberStart encourages girls to explore career options in cybersecurity through a fun and engaging program while allowing students to win college scholarships,” Governor Bullock said. “This is an excellent opportunity for girls to practice cyber and technology skills and bring more diversity to the field.” Montana first participated in the Girls Go CyberStart initiative in 2019. During the 2019 challenge, 70 girls from 11 Montana high schools participated and a total of $2,750 in cash prizes and scholarships were awarded to Montana players and their schools. [ Kootenai Valley Times ] U-System sees rebound in Montana high school grads Enrollment has been falling at most Montana University System campuses, but there’s good news on the horizon. After dropping for years, the number of Montana high school graduates has finally hit bottom and is expected to increase in the next eight to 10 years. “There’s an agreement that we have reached the low point and those graduate figures are expected to climb over the next eight years,” John Thunstrom told the Montana Board of Regents at their meeting last week in Bozeman. MUS officials have been watching for years as the number of Montana high school graduates has steadily declined, hurting enrollment at most Montana public college campuses, with the exception of Montana State University , which has been an anomaly with increased enrollment the past twelve years. But demographics aren’t the only reason MUS enrollment has taken a hit – a strong economy with a low unemployment rate lures many high school graduates straight into the workforce. One way the university system hopes to reach potential students is through a new online portal . It’s intended to make it easier for high school students to find out about the wide range of career, training and college options offered by the state’s two-year and four-year colleges. The website is a place where students, parents and school counselors can find out how students can follow a career path, where they can earn a welding certificate or learn a trade, where they can earn degrees to become a teacher or a biologist or where they can find out how to pay for school. [ Bozeman Daily Chronicle ] Why millennials are moving away from large urban centers For years, rural areas and small towns consistently lost some of their most talented young people, who moved to urban centers. But recent census data indicates that this “brain drain” phenomenon is subsiding as both millennials and more Americans of all ages are increasingly choosing to live in suburbs and smaller cities. Jeffrey Brown of PBS NewsHour traveled to Montana to find out what's driving the migration. Read the full transcript of his interviews here . [ PBS ] Bedrock Sandals looks to launch Missoula HQ in January; begin operations The latest company to place roots in Missoula plans to create nine Missoula jobs over the next two years as it relocates a portion of its operations from California to Montana. Bedrock Sandals , founded in 2011 by Dan Opalesc and Nick Pence, expects to make the move in January, with a launch party planned next spring. “We looked at places like Boise, Bend and Bozeman, and other mountain towns,” Opalesc said Tuesday. “We really liked Missoula because of the strong sense of community here. We really liked how it wasn’t just a resort-type town.” Bedrock’s long-term location hasn’t been determined, though Opalesc said they’re looking around the downtown district. “We’ll have a flagship store at our (Missoula) location where we hope to attract locals as well as a lot of our customers from afar,” he said. “Our design and development will be done there. Our stateside assembly and manufacturing will remain in California, but all of our fulfillment will be in Missoula.” Bedrock, through the Missoula Economic Partnership , received approval Tuesday from Missoula County commissioners to apply for a job creation grant through the Montana Department of Commerce. The company plans to create roughly seven Missoula jobs in 2020 and grow its workforce to 10 the following year. While Opalesc didn’t reveal anticipated pay, the state grant requires a company to pay at or above the local median income, or roughly $19.86 an hour in Missoula. Opalesc said the full-time jobs will include paid time off, retirement contributions and health care. [ Missoula Current ] C2M Beta and Blackfoot Communications announce second accelerator cohort C2M beta , the corporate accelerator of Blackfoot Communications ( hiring ), today announced the graduation of three companies from its inaugural program and introduced three more technology companies to the program. C2M beta is the first of its kind in the mid-tier telecommunications industry. “This year’s cohort was geographically diverse, with startup companies representing Missoula and Bozeman in Montana and Orlando, Florida,” said Joe Fanguy, Blackfoot VP, strategic development. The 2019 C2M beta cohort included: docity - partners with communities to bundle telehealth access with the products and services that households already buy and use every month; Blocky which develops a suite of data immutability products with application on distributed ledger technologies; and Prime Labs - providing a user-friendly platform for data processing, analysis, reporting and visualization related to drug discovery instrumentation. The introduction of the C2M beta 2019 cohort brings a total of six companies having participated in the program to date. The 2018 C2M beta cohort included PatientOne , Audience Awards and Cartalytics . [ Business Wire ]
Coming off a big win for the Bobcats this past weekend and gearing up for a long holiday weekend hopefully full of delicious food and gratitude, get caught up with this week's skim of Montana business news below.  This Livingston-based, veteran-owned company Svalinn trains some of the best protection dogs in the world Sometimes, the best answer to a threat to your well-being isn’t a gun, a knife or even your fists. Sometimes, the best answer has fur, barks ferociously, and gets along well with children and your loved ones, but knows how to turn up the heat when it’s go time. Montana-based Svalinn was one of the first companies in the civilian market to recognize this. The company, founded and operated by veterans of the US military, is named for the Norse mythological shield of ancient lore which is said to protect the Earth and its numerous inhabitants from the heat and fires of the Sun. And, that’s exactly what Svalinn dogs are — a shield. Svalinn offers civilian customers some of the most highly-trained canines in the world for personal protection and companionship. These dogs hail from a similar concept as the pooches various armed forces units use today, known military working dogs. These dogs, themselves the progeny of Svalinn-trained dogs, are put through an intensive build-up regime at the company’s 170-acre facility near Livingston, Montana. Using positive reinforcement, as well as a plethora of other techniques, these dogs are conditioned to live alongside humans, protect and defend their principals should the need arise, but also serve as loving and family-friendly companions wherever they are homed. One of the key ingredients in Svalinn’s success in producing and fielding over 200 dogs as of 2017 to scores of clients is the company’s trainers, all of whom are developed in-house (and they are hiring ). The company’s recruiting requirements for its trainers and handlers are seemingly very simple — candidates should not have any prior experience with other training houses, they need to love animals, and possess a strong work ethic. Once they’re qualified as trainers with the company, these matured handlers are easily counted among some of the most proficient and capable in their industry, empowered with a diverse skill set. [ Military Times ] Film + Innovation Festival to elevate female voices in film and leadership in the Big Sky State in Missoula December 5-8 The small city of Missoula has been recognized as a hub of outdoor recreation, cultural charm and technological innovation in the Rocky Mountain West. Companies, like global video platform Audience Awards , have sprung up from the minds of several of its most creative and industrious residents. Yet, Audience Awards founder Paige Williams sees room for growth, especially among female entrepreneurship — prompting Williams to bring her company’s annual live festival, AudFest: Film + Innovation Festival, home to Missoula, December 5 – 8, 2019. Previously held in Los Angeles, AudFest will screen the 100 best short films of the year from Audience Awards’ online video platform that receives more than 20,000 annual short film submissions from filmmakers around the world. AudFest’s Innovation track is the first of its kind in Montana, gathering female leaders and changemakers from the Big Sky State and beyond, like Alexandra Viglione, Cinedigm product marketing director; Sherri Davidoff, LMG Security CEO; and Lisa Stone, a managing director of WestRiver Group’s Opportunity Fund and co-founder of BlogHer. “A lot is changing right now,” Williams said, “We want to show female creators, leaders and everyone who strives to make a difference the amazing potential for growth within themselves, within their fields, and within their communities and beyond.”  [ Audience Awards ] Bozeman-based Bridger Brewing announces second location with amphitheater, distribution facility in Three Forks Bridger Brewing recently announced plans for a second location in Three Forks that will include, along with an additional brewery, a live-music amphitheater, grill, taproom, and distribution facility. The Bozeman-based brewery said in a press release groundbreaking is planned for Spring 2020, and the new location will be near the Copper City Trails on Highway 287 in Broadwater County. Brewmaster and Director of Operations Daniel Pollard said the new facility will help Bridger Brewing streamline its keg and can distribution while offering a "destination brewery experience." The business is in informal talks with area entertainment promoters for the new location's state-of-the-art amphitheater. [ KBZK ] The everything town in the middle of nowhere On any given day, thousands of packages from Walmarts, Targets, and stores around the country travel north along a two-lane road out of Billings, Montana to the town of Roundup, where they will be unboxed, re-boxed, and sent off to Amazon . At first glance, Roundup does not appear to be a hub for much of anything. But the geography of Amazon is strange: more than 150 million square feet of warehouses, distribution centers, and sortation depots located mostly in exurban sprawls and industrial zones, out of sight of the millions of customers who receive its goods on their doorstep. Even by Amazon’s standards, Roundup is an oddity. There’s no fulfillment center, Amazon’s term for the enormous warehouses where it stores and dispatches goods. In fact, there’s no official Amazon presence of any kind. Instead, Roundup is home to a growing industry of prep centers, businesses that specialize in packing goods to meet the demanding requirements of Amazon’s highly automated warehouses. Read more here . [ The Verge ] Grand opening: Mercantile adds 200 jobs in downtown Missoula The $30 million Mercantile building in the heart of downtown Missoula employs about 215 people among its nine new retail shops and Marriott Hotel, the Residence Inn . It held its grand opening last week, celebrating the new downtown additions. “At the hotel itself, we have almost 60 full-time jobs,” said Andy Holloran of HomeBased Partners , Mercantile owner and developer, at the building’s grand opening celebration Tuesday night. “Within the nine businesses, combined with four restaurants, a couple of retailers and stores, they have about 200 full-time employees.” Linda McCarthy, Downtown Missoula Partnership director, said the creation of Missoula jobs in the new building and the attraction of shoppers and diners is merely part of the equation. “It’s a lot of new customers for downtown,” said McCarthy. “I think occupancy of the new hotel has been really good since it opened in early March. But it’s also taxes going to the city, county and school districts.”She noted that HomeBased Partners will pay $500,000 a year in taxes. The price of lunches and dinners are comparable to other restaurants in Missoula, she added. [ Missoula Current ] Montana college in Havre works to meet the demand for diesel technicians Enrollment in trade degree programs has been on a decline, but one Montana school is hoping to change that fact. Montana State University-Northern in Havre is working to produce enough graduates of its diesel programs to meet the nationwide demand. “In this industry it's especially bad, the number of people that are coming to Northern every year is increasing, all of them looking for skilled technicians, of course that is what our specialty is,” MSU-Northern chancellor Greg Kegel said. The trade is called diesel technician, and right now companies are in high need of them – including Modern Machinery of Missoula ( hiring ). Learn more about the diesel program at MSU-Northern here . [ KPAX ] Montana State University in Bozeman bucks national trends on growth, spending In a decade when many American universities are struggling with falling enrollment, Montana State University’s student population has grown, along with its graduation numbers and spending on instruction. The fall report card was presented recently to campus leaders at the University Council. It gave an overview of how many students and employees the Bozeman campus has, how many students earned degrees and where the campus spends its general fund budget. “Things are going very well at Montana State University,” President Waded Cruzado said afterward. “What I really like is the campus is really unified behind the goals of our strategic plan. I’m excited about the future.” In the last ten years, MSU has increased the number of students graduating within six years, the federal standard, from 48.3% to 56.1%. The four-year graduation rate has also increased from 20.8% to 29.7%. And this year’s fall enrollment of 16,766 is the second highest in MSU’s history, up 31% from 12,764 in 2009. The report for 2009 to 2019 also showed tenured and tenure-track faculty and scientists increased 10.4% over the decade, from 537 to 593 full-time jobs. And nontenured faculty, such as adjunct instructors, increased 43% from 309 to 442 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs. [ Bozeman Daily Chronicle ] Study looks at Hutterite impact on state economy, Montana jobs Montana's Hutterite communities contribute more than $365 million in annual spending for the state and 2,200 year-round Montana jobs, according to what is being touted as a first-of-its-kind study by the University of Montana and Montana State University . Our basic finding is that the presence of the 81 farming operations owned and operated by the 38 Lehrerleut communities examined in this study support production, employment and income in the Montana economy that is significant in size and scope,” the authors wrote. The 35-page report said its basic finding that the farming operations by the Lehrerleut communities, of which there are 4,318 members, “support production, employment and income in the Montana economy that is significant in size and scope.” More than 1,600 of the 2,200 Montana jobs which owe their existence to Hutterite communities are in a 10-county part of Montana north and east of Great Falls, the study said. Most of the jobs are in farming and farm support, construction, retail trade, health care and social assistance and food services. [ Great Falls Tribune ] Permanent film studio being built in Paradise Valley Many movies are set in Montana, few are filmed here. Often Utah and Canada are used as backdrops for the treasure state, but that is about to change. The Yellowstone Film Ranch is being built in Paradise Valley. Investors are planning on this permanent film studio to give Hollywood a run for its money. Producer and movie director Richard Gray is one of three investors creating the ranch, a group of 28 buildings under construction near Chico Hot Springs. Gray has filmed two movies in Montana and sees this permanent studio as a big boom for the state’s economy. “We employed almost 100 people in Livingston. We kept hotels open during the winter. We kept the bars running during the winter and we’re seeing the same thing again. And, these are lasting structures that will create jobs forever," says Gray. Livingston-based Soundcolor Studios has over 20 full-time workers helping build the film ranch. Project coordinator Abram Boice sees this as a great opportunity not only for businesses, but individuals. Boice mentors Park County high school students interested in the industry. “There are good, technical, high paying jobs that will be available for projects like this for decades to come.” [ NBC Montana ] Missoula sets record for job-creation grants; airline passengers see $14M in savings In fiscal year 2019, $1.4 million worth of state-funded job creation grants created 192 new jobs at eight different companies in Missoula, a new record. That’s according to Grant Kier, the executive director of the Missoula Economic Partnership , who was speaking at the organization’s annual update last week. On top of that, Kier added, Missoula County created more Montana jobs than any other county in the state last year with 1,720 new positions. The Big Sky funds go to Missoula County through the Montana Department of Commerce Office of Tourism and Business Development. Businesses must pay at least $19.65 per hour to be eligible for the maximum BSTF Job Creation grant award, which is up to $7,500 per full-time job created. Local tech companies were the biggest beneficiaries last year. ClassPass ( hiring ), a fitness tech company with offices in Missoula that’s growing in popularity worldwide, scored $300,000 in grant funds to create 40 Missoula-based jobs. Submittable ( hiring ) received $262,500 for 35 jobs, ATG-Cognizant ( hiring ) got $255,000 for 34 jobs and LumenAd ( hiring ) got $195,000 for 26 jobs. Consumer Direct Care Network ( hiring ), a home-health company, got $255,300 for 37 jobs, and smaller companies PatientOne , ALPS ( hiring ) and Reflex Protect split other awards. [ Missoulian ] Montana Apprenticeship Program signs first caregiver agency The first caregiver organization signed up for the Montana Apprenticeship Program last week. The program will provide 14 caregivers with dementia training at First Choice Home Health in Bozeman, where they say most of their patients are suffering from some form of dementia. With 50,000 caregivers in the state, staff at First Choice Home Health say they can suffer from "caregiver burnout." "The average retention rate for caregivers is one year, meaning after a year they want to move on," said Dreyer. It's why the business received a $4,600 grant to help their caregivers receive specialized training to give them a competitive edge, provide better service and be able to charge more. "We're going to need more health care workers, and so companies like this are going to be able to develop their own workforce and address the needs that they have," said Montana Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney. He says any business in Montana, no matter what industry, can benefit from the apprenticeship program through the state's Department of Labor. [ NBC Montana ] CBD manufacturing company opens in Ronan, Montana The first hemp-processing license in the State of Montana was issued to a Ronan business in November from the Montana Department of Agriculture . Green Ridge Biosolutions moved into a 15,000 square-foot building near Ronan in September. Sam Belanger, chief operations officer, said he looks forward to becoming part of the community. Belanger hopes to have a positive impact on the community by creating jobs and getting involved. “As a socially conscious business, we want to be members of the community,” he said. “We want to be involved with the food bank and other programs that work to help people, not just things that make you look good on paper. We want to do something that really helps.” He said the business could also have a multiplier effect on the community. He imagines the business growing to provide 30 local jobs and those employees will need haircuts and groceries and will spend their paychecks in local businesses. He said people will also travel to Green Ridge for business meetings and frequent restaurants and other services. [ Valley Journal ] Child care in Gallatin Valley: Bozeman Health Deaconess partners with MyVillage Co-founder and CEO of MyVillage ( hiring ), Erica Mackey, stopped by for a recent visit and interview. MyVillage was created out of Erica's own frustrations as a parent trying to find child care in the Gallatin Valley. Now, they have created a program where you can run a child care or preschool program for up to 6-12 kids out of your own home, with MyVillage providing resources and support services to ensure a high-quality program for children and thriving business for educators. A fast-growing network of exceptional child care programs currently operating in Montana and Colorado, MyVillage recently paired up with Bozeman's largest employer, Bozeman Health ( hiring ). MyVillage's business partnership is offering Bozeman Health employees preferred placement (bypassing waitlists) in MyVillage child care programs across Gallatin County. [ KBZK ] Whitefish-based xD Bio Inc. receives STTR grant for genomic work xD Bio Inc. , a privately held, Whitefish-based company announced today that the National Human Genome Research Institute , part of the National Institutes of Health , has awarded the company $149,959 over 6 months for the first phase of a Small Business Technology Transfer grant. The award supports researchers at xD Bio and collaborators at the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Data Coordinating Center at Stanford University to demonstrate the ability to run advanced computational analyses directly through a web interface on xD Bio's web based platform, Truwl.com. Truwl is xD Bio's flagship product that enables researchers to find, understand, use, and share computational methods for DNA sequencing data on a publicly available web-based platform. [ PR Newswire ] Helena-based nonprofit Mountain-Pacific Quality Healthy receives $15M federal contract for health care quality improvement The Helena-based nonprofit Mountain-Pacific Quality Health has received a $15 million federal contract to help improve the quality of health care in Montana and beyond. U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines announced this week that the nonprofit had received the five-year contract from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services . “It’s money we are going to be able to use to continue the work that we’ve done for many years, in partnership with the federal government,” said Sara Medley, Mountain-Pacific’s CEO. Mountain-Pacific currently has about 100 employees working around its region and is hiring . [ KXLH ] Helena business among 3 in state to receive inaugural awards for apprenticeships Tri-County Mechanical and Electrical in Helena was among the businesses across the state that received awards from the Montana Department of Labor for their apprenticeship last week. The Helena-based business was founded in 1972 and has offered apprenticeships for over 30 years. The business currently has 24 apprentices in Helena, Butte, Havre, Bozeman, Great Falls and Wyoming. Tri-County offers five-year apprenticeships in electrical engineering and plumbing. Additionally, they offer a four-year apprenticeship in sheet metal engineering. It is the first business to be honored by the labor department for its commitment to apprenticeship programs. "Investing in a skilled workforce is also an investment in our state's economy," Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney said. "Ninety percent of apprentices work in Montana after graduating." In addition to honoring Tri-County, the labor department also honored the Montana Health Network with the Emerging Apprenticeship Industry Excellence award for being the largest and most rapidly growing new apprenticeship industry in Montana, as well as Montana Sheet Metal Workers Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee for being one of the largest sponsors of apprenticeships in the state working with businesses like Tri-County. [ Helena Air ]
Home of the free (and these breathtaking Montana sunsets)  because of the brave. To those in uniform serving and to those who have served, we honor and thank you. Find this week's skim of Montana business news below. Economic development grants awarded to six growing Montana businesses Six Montana businesses are sharing more than $600,000 in economic development grant awards to support the creation of up to 114 Montana jobs at growing businesses across Montana. A release from Governor Steve Bullock says the reimbursement grants will be awarded through two programs at the Montana Department of Commerce: The Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) and the Primary Sector Workforce Training Grant (WTG). According to Governor Bullock in the release, “These grants are critical to making those investments and enhancing partnerships with private business as they realize growth and opportunity.” The full list of grant recipients includes: Billings | Big Sky Economic Development Authority on behalf of Fort Belknap Planning and Development Corporation dba Island Mountain Development Group ; Bonner | Missoula County on behalf of Botanie Natural Soap, Inc ; Butte | Ray Holes Leather Care Products, Inc; Hamilton | Ravalli County on behalf of Montana Studio, LLC ; Malta | Phillips County on behalf of Big Sandy Meat Shop dba Hi-Line Packing; Missoula | Missoula County on behalf of Newfields Mining and Energy Services, LLC ( hiring ); and Missoula | Missoula County on behalf of The Insight Studio, LLC . [ KULR 8 ] Can Do: Montana tribe builds global tech powerhouse from scratch in St. Ignatius, Montana On this episode of Can Do: Lessons from Savvy Montana Entrepreneurs, S&K Technologies CEO, Chad Cottet, shares what it was like after he took over the operational reins in 2018 after having served as board chair for seven years. Turning a seed funding of $150,000 from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in 1999 into S&K Technologies ( hiring ), the company has grown to a family of five companies of more than 900 employees with offices throughout the U.S. and around the world. From its headquarters on the Flathead Reservation, nestled in the Mission Valley in rural St. Ignatius, Montana, the company manages a complex government acquisition business that includes a landmark $4.2 billion contract from the U.S. Air Force. [ Montana Public Radio ] Gaining a foothold: Bedrock Sandals to bolster state’s booming recreation economy in Missoula Missoula and state outdoor industry leaders recently welcomed news that adventure footwear manufacturer Bedrock Sandals will relocate its flagship retail store and repair workshop from Richmond, California, to Missoula, as well as its corporate headquarters. Bedrock Sandals co-founders Nick Pence and Dan Opalacz announced their move from the high-priced San Francisco Bay Area, citing Missoula’s lower cost of living, rigorous affinity for the outdoors and a surging economic stewardship model. They’ll arrive in early 2020. The local shop will open with 5-7 employees, until it grows. While it remains to be seen exactly where Bedrock Sandals will locate its shop in Missoula, the industry as a whole looks very promising for Missoula residents seeking work. Additionally, Big Sky Fulfillment , a Missoula distribution company located near the airport, will handle inventory and distribution for Bedrock. CEO Patrick Claytor said his office will add one full-time employee and one part-time employee to service the Bedrock Sandals account. [ Missoula Current ] Supporting a community-led effort to boost eastern Montana tourism, business Over the last year, the Montana Department of Commerce worked with partners to hold 14 listening sessions with tourism and economic development leaders from 23 eastern Montana counties digging into the region’s needs, goals and on-the-ground expertise when it comes to showcasing all that eastern Montana has to offer. As a result of these efforts, the Department of Commerce is now working on goals of increasing visitation and strengthening business growth through a community-led collaboration called the Eastern Montana Tourism Partner Initiative . As a part of this initiative, the Office of Tourism and Business Development at Commerce is investing $1.3 million over two years in promotional marketing, local grants, staff expertise and new research to support the region’s objectives of enhancing marketing efforts and strengthening tourism amenities. The initiative kicked off in May with regional marketing campaigns to promote eastern Montana’s diverse landscapes, outdoor recreation opportunities, cultural experiences and family activities. The campaign transitioned this fall to a marketing campaign featuring eastern Montana’s vast upland bird hunting opportunities and will continue to shift over the next two years. [ Havre Daily News ] In demand: UM, tech industry announce initiative to train highly skilled workforce Missoula County’s booming tech businesses have partnered with the University of Montana in an effort to train the thousands of highly skilled employees needed in the next decade. The resulting Tech Skills for Tomorrow initiative was unveiled last week at Missoula College. Tech leaders said they anticipate a shortage of at least 10,000 skilled employees in Montana as an estimated 100,000 baby boomers retire over the next 10 years. Jobs like cloud computing, fiber-optic cable installation/repair, cybersecurity and software engineering already are in demand. The across-the-industry initiative will provide real-world, hands-on training for UM students. Growth in the tech business sector is up 11% in Missoula County – compared to only 4% across Montana, said Grant Kier, Missoula Economic Partnership president and CEO. Among the other sponsors of the Tech Skills for Tomorrow initiative are Allegiance ( hiring ), ATG a Cognizant Company ( hiring ), Blackfoot , Community Medical Center ( hiring ), The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation , Glacier Bancorp ( hiring ), Glaxosmithkline ( hiring ), Inimmune ( hiring ), iResponse , LMG Security ( hiring ), LumenAd ( hiring ), Montana Hospital Association ( hiring ), Silvergate Recruiting , Stockman Bank ( hiring ) and Submittable ( hiring ). [ Missoula Current ] Bozeman airport adds 8th airline, additional flights to Minneapolis-St. Paul An eighth airline has been added to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport’s offerings to passengers, the airport announced earlier this week. Sun Country Airlines in June will begin nonstop seasonal service to Minneapolis-St. Paul two days a week. Airport director Brian Sprenger said one-way tickets could be available for as little as $89. Bozeman Area Chamber of Commerce President Daryl Schliem said the additional flights may add a boost to the Bozeman economy. “Every time we open a new direct flight and a new direct market, we see multiple businesses and multiple homeownership come (as a) result of that,” Schliem said. He also said the new flights may help curb the summertime vehicle traffic coming to the area from Minneapolis-St. Paul. [ Bozeman Daily Chronicle ] UM master’s degree in business analytics taps into booming job market A fifth-year master of science degree in business analytics has the University of Montana College of Business looking forward and onward as data becomes increasingly crucial across the board. The beauty of the program is that Zoom video conferencing allows busy business professionals to enroll part time or full-time students to study locally or elsewhere. The 32-credit, accelerated program covers the bases in many high-paying technical jobs. The types of jobs graduates secure include marketing analytics, digital analytics, business intelligence, data science, marketing science and product management. [ Missoula Current ]
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