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The Work Spot is a statewide, centralized hub for professionals already living in Montana or those looking to get here to find top Montana career opportunities across the state, learn about the diverse and impressive companies growing in our Montana communities and easily keep a pulse on Montana business news - all in one spot. 

Based in Bozeman, Montana  |  Serving all Montana communities



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Skim while telling everyone, "I voted."  Montana companies named among Outside Magazine's 50 best places to work Two Montana companies were recently named among the top 50 best places to work by Outside Magazine and a third received honorable mention. Coming in on the list at number 22, the Helena-based conservation organization, Montana Wilderness Association (MWA), noted its high average salary (more than $50,000), ample PTO and holiday time, pet friendly office and regular outdoor meetings. According to the organization, “You start your career at MWA with a total of 35 paid days off every year. Throw in the three-day staff backpacking trip, which counts as ‘work,’ and a paid three-month sabbatical after five years, and you’d be fair to wonder how we get so much done.” We should also mention that MWA is hiring , too. Right behind them on the list at number 23 is Bozeman-based software company Foundant Technologies (also hiring ). Perks at Foundant include unlimited PTO, mountain bike Mondays and healthy office lunches. According to the Foundant team, “Everyone latches on to our unlimited vacation, but that’s pretty common. We went ahead and implemented a ‘paid’ paid vacation. Not only do our team members get PTO, if they take two consecutive days off, they’re eligible for a $1,000 bonus to use toward that vacation. After five years, that bumps up to $1,500 annually. We encourage truly unplugging and getting away.” The list didn’t stop at 50 companies. It also included several honorable mentions like Bozeman-based environmental nonprofit Greater Yellowstone Coalition ( hiring ). [ Outside Magazine ] Bozeman-based Zoot Enterprises wins award for early childhood excellence in program administration Zoot Enterprises ( hiring ), a Bozeman-based fintech company providing advanced origination, acquisition, and decision management solutions to a global client base, is pleased to announce that it has received the Early Childhood Excellence in Program Administration award from the Montana Association for the Education of Young Children . The award recognizes the efforts of the Zoot Adventure Learning Academy (ZALA), which was opened in April to provide childcare for Zoot employees with children aged 0-5. “We created ZALA because we care about our employees and wanted to create an environment where our employees’ families can thrive,” said Rebekah Nelson, President of ZALA. “The positive reception that we have received from the community, our employees and the Montana Association for the Education of Young Children are indicators that we are on the right track.” The Montana Association for the Education of Young Children is an organization of childcare and early childhood education professionals working on local, state and national issues that affect children and families. They fight for the betterment of future generations through advocacy and by supporting, educating, and representing early childhood professionals. “We are proud of Zoot’s amazing work in the community and their attention to the early childhood needs of their community and business,” said Rhiannon Shook, Executive Director of the program. “We feel that they exemplify the need for businesses to provide childcare to their employees.” She continued, “We also feel that they really have been intentional about thinking of the needs of our youngest citizens.” [ Zoot ] The New Pioneers: Entrepreneurship is making a mark in Montana Big Sky Country is breeding entrepreneurs, and confirmation comes from three respected national rankings. ValuePenguin , the finance research website, released a report in July that identified Montana as the nation's top state for small business. Montana was No. 1 for employees working in small businesses, No. 4 for small business survival rate and No. 24 for small business "birth rate." Likewise, a September study by WalletHub , the personal finance website, named Montana the fourth-best state for launching a small business. And finally, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation , from 2013 through 2016, ranked Montana as the No. 1 small state for entrepreneurship. State officials say that Montana's fertile entrepreneurial landscape has been nurtured by a low tax environment and a long-term strategy to energize the state's economy from the ground up. "For a long time. we have focused on the ecosystem that we have in the state rather than providing a high level of incentives to move companies here," says Ken Fichtler, chief business development officer at the Montana Governor's Office of Economic Development . "That's really starting to pay dividends for us. We've been good at creating an organic business community." [ Site Selection ] Montana Business Assistance Connection to host a celebration of entrepreneurship and startups The Montana Business Assistance Connection (MBAC) invites the public to an evening celebrating the growing entrepreneurship in Helena, culminating with demos from three new Helena startups on Thursday, November 15 from 5-8pm at The Holter Museum of Art. Though Helena may have a reputation as a government center, it has a strong, growing business community. It is around this idea that the MBAC created a new program to support startup businesses in the Helena area named “Accelerated Startups.” The program is designed to provide resources, accountability, and mentorship to new startups. The Accelerated Startups program accepted its first class of entrepreneurs in Spring 2018. The six-month program will culminate with a demo night for these entrepreneurs the week of November 12. This night will be a celebration of Helena’s previous business success stories as well as an opportunity for the Accelerated Startups graduates to introduce their businesses to the community. Learn more about the upcoming event here . [ MBAC ] Entrepreneurial programs rev up a local economy With a population density of only 6.5 people per square mile, Montana is not a place most people think of when they want to start businesses. But at the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship (JJCBE) at Montana State University (MSU) in Bozeman, they have been working to change that. With a goal of making the school an engine that creates such a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem so students do not have to leave the state to find work once they graduate. With a dedicated minor and certificate in entrepreneurship, as well as officially becoming the home to Blackstone LaunchPad , the university’s business incubator; 406 Labs , its business accelerator; and a regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for the county, the school has also adopted a new approach in its curriculum that has created more opportunities for students to collaborate with business leaders, build relationships with the community, and connect with local entrepreneurs. This model of entrepreneurship in the classroom, on campus, in the community and through competition is shaping the experiences for the students and accelerating the frequency of engagement among faculty, students, and local business leaders. Additionally, it also has helped the community address one of its greatest economic challenges: its remote location. [ Biz Ed ] Forestry experts: Industry rebounding; natural resources draw visitors and spending to Montana According to a panel of experts convened by the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce last week, the forest products industry in Montana is on the rebound due to tariffs and increased timber harvest limits put in place after a disastrous wildfire season. Recently, researchers at the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) at the University of Montana compiled a report on the state of Montana’s forestry industry . For many years, Montana’s largest manufacturing sector employer was the wood products industry, but recently that was surpassed by the fabricated metals industry. In 2000, wood and paper jobs were 28 percent of the state’s manufacturing employment and 31 percent of labor income, according to study authors Dorian Smith, Steven Hayes and Kate Marcille. In 2016, only 13 percent of jobs and 11 percent of income was generated by wood products manufacturing. In late 2009, for example, the Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. in Frenchtown, which processed logs for various products, put 417 people out of work. However, the study's authors said Montana’s wood products industry is on the rise again due to a commitment from the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies to address forest health and increase timber harvest levels. Companies like Idaho Forest Group ( hiring ), which owns and operates a sawmill in St. Regis (west of Missoula), are planning on doubling capacity. And, SmartLam , a company that manufactures cross-laminated timber products in Columbia Falls, plans to add 75 Montana jobs in 2019. [ Missoulian ] Bozeman entrepreneur helps launch app to train workers displaced by technology A Bozeman entrepreneur has launched NextStep Interactive , a company that will use a mobile phone app to help train workers displaced by artificial intelligence and automation for careers in the growing health care industry. Removing the barrier of having to take classes in person, users can complete coursework on the app to become certified in various entry-level jobs, like a home health aid or medical assistant, NextStep CEO Chris Hedrick said. Available for a one-time $20 fee, the app will ask users questions to filter them into their best role. The company will also help set up internships and hands-on training opportunities for users. The company is in its early stages of operation right now, having just secured $3 million in seed funding. The round was led by JAZZ Venture Partners , with participation from Pioneer Square Labs , Learn Capital’s LearnStart fund and Springrock Ventures . Montana-based Frontier Angel Fund also provided a small amount of funding. NextStep is being piloted right now in Washington, but in two years, Hedrick said he hopes to see the app available across the country. As the country’s population ages, demand for entry-level jobs in health care will continue to increase. [ Bozeman Chronicle ] Perficient buys Bozeman-based digital marketing firm Elixiter Missouri-based information technology consulting firm Perficient Inc. announced last week it had acquired Bozeman-based marketing consultancy Elixiter, Inc. The acquisition of Elixiter will add 40 people to Perficient's workforce, including Elixiter President and Founder Andrew Hull, who will join Perficient in a "key leadership role." [ Saint Louis Post-Dispatch ] Whitefish will host session on Montana’s $7.1 billion outdoor industry Montana’s outdoor recreation economy generates more than $7.1 billion in annual consumer spending and employs more than 71,000 people each year, making it the second largest sector of the state’s economy, according to the Montana Department of Labor & Industry. In response to those statistics, the Montana Office of Outdoor Recreation will host the Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit December 4-5 at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish. Summit organizers want to bring together leaders, community members, recreation and conservation groups from Montana and the Greater Crown of the Continent, including Alberta and British Columbia, to provide a platform to discuss promoting and strengthening outdoor recreation and the economic activity it supports. Also, the Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit is incorporating a competitive funding award program supporting Montana organizations with on-the-ground conservation and recreation projects. Six finalists will be selected and spotlighted at the summit, where attendees will vote on two winning projects. Each winning organization will walk away with $5,000 to support its important work. Find more information here . [ Daily Inter Lake ] Students attend 25th “Jobs for Montana’s Graduates” conference in Helena Students across the Big Sky state were in Helena last week for the Jobs for Montana’s Graduates (JMG) 25th annual LEAD Conference. 250 students from 34 Montana schools took part in the conference, which helps students meet with business leaders, and attended workshops to expand their leadership skills. JMG works to provide students the opportunity to gain important skills needed for career readiness such as critical thinking and decision making skills. Erica Swanson, State Director of Jobs for Montana’s Graduates, said she’s thrilled to see so many schools, including four middle schools, attend this year’s conference. Governor Steve Bullock recognized the students at the event for their commitment to academic excellence and leadership development. “Jobs for Montana’s Graduates helps ensure every Montana student, no matter their background, strengths, or learning styles, know that their success matters and that high school graduation is within their reach,” Governor Bullock said. “I am humbled to spend time with the students who have made this commitment in their education and in their futures.” JMG is funded by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry to support students in connecting with their communities by providing them with leadership development, social and civic responsibility and career awareness. [ KTVH ] Bozeman named in Matador’s list of 25 coolest towns in America Bozeman was recently named by Matador as one of the 25 coolest towns in America. In a collection of towns with less than 100,000 in population, Matador shared its collection of towns where people can have the weekend of their lives — and maybe even stay for good. Citing the stunning mountain ranges, beautiful landscapes, quick and easy access to Yellowstone National Park , Big Sky Resort and Bridger Bowl along with the world class fly fishing and plethora of other outdoor activities, it was easy to see how Bozeman made the list. Coupled with Montana State University the Museum of the Rockies and vast dining options, the report notes that Bozeman’s charms have made it one of the fastest growing towns in the region. [ Matador Network ] Hutterite colony sees a future of agriculture and manufacturing, aided by the Internet Hutterites have farmed and raised livestock on the Northern Plains of North and South Dakota, Eastern Montana and southwestern Canada for more than 100 years. But agriculture hasn't sustained them like it used to. Therefore, leaders at the Golden Valley Colony near Ryegate, Montana, decided to branch out of agriculture by launching a steel fabrication operation. The Colony brought a state-of-the-art steel fabrication and production facility to their agricultural operation, which runs on technology and practices that were pioneered, in some cases, generations ago. This can present a myriad of issues. As operations at Valley Steel are underway, workers have been churning out steel trim and siding for barns, homes and warehouses for nearly a year now. It hasn't been easy and managers have had to troubleshoot at nearly every turn, including bringing the Internet to the Colony for the first time ever in order to electronically correspond with contractors and customers. Golden Valley is the only Hutterite colony in Montana to branch outside agriculture with its steel fabrication plant, but a handful of colonies in North and South Dakota have tried it and found success. [ Billings Gazette ] Butte bio-pesticide manufacturer LAM International expands production capacity LAM International , a company that manufactures bio-pesticides at its Parkmont facility near MSE south of Butte, will expand its production capacity thanks to the rollout of a new product. Maryland-based Certis USA, which purchased the local manufacturer in June 2017, recently announced the release of a new bio-pesticide called BoteGHA. According to a news release from Certis, LAM International “has embarked on a major investment to expand its solid fermentation production capacity.” Felicia Gillham, a spokesperson for Certis, said in an email message that “once completed, the production process will be highly automated.” However, there could still be potential new Montana job openings for a few operator positions. [ Montana Standard ]
ClassOne Technology of Kalispell extends business to Japan, plans for major expansion in Kalispell ClassOne (currently hiring ) opened up an operations arm in Kalispell six years ago, refurbishing Semitool processor machines that create wafers, which hold microchips and go into all types of technology. The company deals in electroplating equipment, electroplating tools, spray solvent tools, and spin rinse dryers. ClassOne Technology started in Atlanta, Georgia, before getting its bearings with a branch in Montana. And now, it is on the precipice of a $100 million market for its equipment and plans to double the size of its operations footprint in Kalispell - with plants to eventually build a headquarters in the Flathead Valley. The first three years in the Montana location were tough, said president Kevin Witt. But once they found that their ClassOne products were accepted in the marketplace, business has grown 50 to100 percent every year. “The refurbishments are popular, and we’ve had hyper-growth in new products.” [ Flathead Valley ] Sawmill District in Missoula unveils plans for tech and innovation campus; room for 1,000 new Montana jobs With Missoula’s tech scene heating up, the Old Sawmill District and its team of developers unveiled their plans for a tech and innovation campus, one large enough to support more than 1,000 workers when the build is complete. According to project developer Ed Wetherbee, “There’s a great need for companies to co-locate, and for companies to feel like they’re in a great work environment that not only is great for efficiency and effectiveness but is also great to recruit and retain employees.” The first structure for the campus is already permitted and ready for construction, which will occur with the acquisition of a tenant. When fully built, the campus will offer up to 200,000 square feet of commercial space. It will also serve as a showpiece for Missoula’s burgeoning tech industry and could play a role in recruiting top talent to the city. [ Missoula Current ] Montana Ag Network: Dillon sheep ranch finds success in sheep-to-shelf clothing A Montana sheep ranch that wanted to find an alternative to getting commodity pricing for its wool created Duckworth , the world’s only source-verified, single-origin Merino wool apparel company. “We were tired of getting commodity pricing for our wool. We were really putting in the extra work to make it a little bit better than the general commodity,” said Evan Helle of Helle Livestock in Dillon. All the wool used in Duckworth products is 100 percent Made-in-the-USA from their very own Helle Rambouillet Merino flock and certified Duckworth Wool Cooperative growers. Schnee’s in downtown Bozeman is just one of the many locations in the United States and the world where you can find Duckworth clothing apparel. Owner John Edwards says Duckworth’s Sheep-to-Shelf concept is resonating well with customers. “People seem to really appreciate the quality of the Duckworth products and the fact that it’s all made in America. We’ve been able to tap into the Helle resource of some premium Merino fiber and people seem to really respond well to it.” For wool producers like the Helles, it’s also rewarding to know their Duckworth brand is helping to create jobs and keep the U.S. textile industry alive. [ KTVH ] Bozeman makes list of 2018 10 best places to raise a family Livability just ranked Bozeman in the top 10 best places to raise a family. According to Livability, Bozeman is more like a giant outdoor playground than a city. And with an average commute time of less than 15 minutes, there’s more time to spend together as a family skiing, fishing, rafting, golfing and hiking. The report continues to share that Bozeman is home to Montana State University , which is the city’s largest employer, as well as a burgeoning tech scene . And on top of that, the population is still under 50,000 people, so you can easily get to know your neighbors and feel a genuine sense of community in Bozeman. With rankings of Bozeman’s top kid-friendly restaurants, weekend activities and coolest indoor playgrounds, Livability shows why Bozeman made the top ten list. [ ] Local Great Falls middle school receives $30,000 entrepreneurship grant Last week, East Middle School in Great Falls became the first in the nation to receive a 30,000 dollar grant from AT&T to start a new student-run entrepreneurship program called RAM Enterprises . The grant allows students to learn entrepreneurship through the school year and summer. It gives kids the chance to learn everything from business aspects to incorporating technology with creating products to financial literacy and teamwork. "The ability to begin their own businesses, to make some money, but then to also learn some of the soft skills like how to deal with customers and take orders. It's exciting to see because looking around this room today, you know that tomorrow's leaders are being trained right here in our public schools today," said Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. The students in RAM range from 12 to 14 years old. They'll run the entire program from hiring to marketing while learning trade skills like woodwork, engraving, and ceramics. The products they make will be sold to customers at local events. [ ABCFox ] City of Bozeman releases podcast series focusing on local businesses The City of Bozeman launched its own podcast – called “Micromegas” this week. The podcast, a continuing series created by the city’s Office of Economic Development, will focus on business success stories in Bozeman’s rapidly-growing community. The title “Micromegas” refers to the idea that “big things come in small packages,” a nod to how small business entrepreneurs can change an entire community. Episode One, entitled “Meeting Mo’Bowls” looks at local entrepreneurial team, brothers Jesse and Tyler Collins, who run the Mo’Bowls mac and cheese food truck and brick-and-mortar restaurant. Bozeman Economic Development Director Brit Fontenot says although a podcast might seem like an unconventional way of approaching citizens, it’s proved to be an innovative outreach tool for other groups. An official introduction to the podcast can be found here . [ ABCFox Montana ] Soiree at the Wilma: Missoula’s ATG celebrates deal with Cognizant, projected job growth Employees of Advanced Technology Group ( hiring ) welcomed Cognizant , their new corporate owner, to Missoula last week to celebrate the future - one that could see the local workforce swell to four figures and expand the company’s partnership with the University of Montana. Cognizant, a global consulting firm, announced last month that it had purchased ATG. The deal closed last week and was punctuated by Tuesday’s soiree at the Wilma in downtown Missoula. “We did a lot of good, quality work together and believe this is the right thing to do for both companies,” said Ronan O’Flaherty, head of strategy for enterprise application services at Cognizant. “Now the fun starts. This is the starting point of something we think will be really great.” Cognizant ranks 9th on Forbes’ list of fastest-growing technology companies and 196th on the Fortune 500. The firm has retained ATG’s brand, listing it only as a Cognizant company. With the acquisition complete, corporate leaders are already evaluating the future, including the idea that ATG’s workforce in Missoula could expand far beyond its 130 employees. [ Missoula Current ] Bozeman, Billings, Missoula competing for USDA's new research headquarters The United States Department of Agriculture announced on Monday that it’s fielding offers from more than 130 parties to host two of its research center headquarters, and Montana State University is one of those potential locations. The USDA announced in August its intention to relocate its headquarters for the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) from its current home in D.C. MSU threw its hat in the ring earlier this month. The university’s 42-acre Innovation Campus , which is spearheading the proposal, is vacant and open for development. But now it’s up against 135 other offers from across 35 states – and Montana itself has three proposals on the table. Billings’ Big Sky Economic Development and the Missoula Economic Partnership are also hoping to score the new headquarters. The move would bring 620 USDA employees from the ERS and NIFA headquarters in Washington, D.C. to the future location. The next steps are likely to include a formal proposal to the USDA. The department says its goal is to make a decision and finish negotiations on the new headquarters by the end of 2019. [ ABCFox Montana ] Turning military inventions into golden opportunities Military innovations are often the perfect launching pad for commercial businesses far beyond military base fences. For that reason, Nicholas Ripplinger, founder of Dayton’s Battle Sight Technologies , doesn’t see TechLink as just another program. Neither does Timothy Shaw, president and chief operating officer of Riverside’s GlobalFlyte Inc. TechLink, based at Montana State University in Bozeman, calls itself the U.S. military’s sole national “partnership intermediary” for technology transfers to private companies. And, it helped Ripplinger, Shaw and their companies get launched. The organization does the same for dozens of companies across the nation. In 2018 alone, TechLink facilitated 91 technology license agreements across the Department of Defense (DoD) , including 48 from the Air Force, 28 from the Navy and 15 from the Army. [ Dayton Daily News ] Missoula Economic Partnership, UM and local government set course on collaboration Grant Kier, the new executive director of the Missoula Economic Partnership (MEP), predicts that Missoula’s thriving economy will have generational impacts leading to stronger ties between the city’s premier institutions. At an event this past week, Kier said, “If economic development is anything, it’s about making sure the children that grow up in our town, and in our state, have every opportunity to take their skills and build on that. If they’re willing to put their energy and their efforts to work in our community to make it stronger, we as a community will give them a platform to succeed.” Discussions at the biannual event with MEPs partners and investors signaled a shift toward a stronger collaboration between MEP, the University of Montana (UM) and local government, including the city and the county. With joint master planning taking place between the city and UM, and technical assistance provided by a number of organizations, including Blackstone LaunchPad , the Montana Small Business Development Center , the Montana World Trade Center , and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center, among others, the planned “innovation corridor” across Missoula is beginning to take shape. According to UM President Seth Bodnar, he is excited about what’s been done and where the community is headed. “We have more than 20 exciting Missoula startups spanning life sciences, education technology, drones and software-to-service companies that are housed at MonTECH that need a good place to get their business started, and the university provides that,” said Bodnar. Bodnar and Kier cited a number of recent and now-familiar successes, including the arrival of 4Cast and ClassPass , which recently announced plans to grow its local workforce to 175 employees in downtown Missoula. But Advanced Technology Group , recently acquired by Cognizant, took center stage for its number of potential new Montana jobs, its Missoula roots and its growing ties to the university. The company recently hired its 100th UM graduate – a trajectory that exemplifies Missoula’s future, Kier said. [ Missoula Current ] Hard-rock mining in Montana digs up $2.7B a year, report says Montana’s hard-rock mining industry supports more than 12,300 permanent, year-round Montana jobs with average annual earnings of $86,030, according to a recent report that was discussed by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) at Great Falls College – MSU earlier this week. The 14-page BBER study, sponsored by the Montana Mining Association , found that mining produces $2.7 billion in economic output statewide and almost $200 million in state government revenue annually. “The Montana hard-rock mining industry is an important source of prosperity and value to Montana households, businesses and governments,” the report states. “Not just in the mining community but throughout the state.” The BBER report also studied the economic impacts of three new mining projects now in the permitting process. [ Great Falls Tribune ]
PHOTO CREDIT: DAVID HEBERT PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN Industry's fastest home equity loan now available online from FinTech company Figure™ San Francisco-based Figure Technologies, Inc. (FigureTM), a FinTech company with offices now in Bozeman, recently announced the release of its first product, the Figure Home Equity LoanPLUS. Figure's flagship product allows consumers to borrow against the equity in their homes without the paperwork-intensive, 45-day process most lenders require. Figure offers approval in five minutes and funding in five days — all online. Figure will also soon launch its second product, a sell and leaseback alternative to reverse mortgages for retirees and empty nesters. This is a unique solution addressing a massive demographic challenge — underfunded retirement. We should also mention that the company is hiring . [ PR Newswire ] New tech developed in Billings detects gunshot, instantly sends alarm, promising new market What if a shooting in a school or any other public area were reported and its location identified within five seconds of the first shot? How valuable would that technology be? The technology has been developed by a Billings-area inventor, Alan Overcast, the founder of Tracer Technology Systems, Inc. Overcast plans to produce the product in Billings and is already searching for a site for its manufacturing plant, having finally acquired a patent and the necessary certifications. The technology can accurately detect the sound of gunfire, recognizing it from all other sounds. The system then immediately notifies law enforcement, or any others designated to be notified, utilizing existing means of communication. Overcast likens his system to smoke detectors. “When was the last time there was a death reported in a school because of a fire?” he asks. The answer: 1958. 1958 is also the year that smoke detectors were mandated by law in all schools. But schools are not the only potential market for Tracer Technology Systems. In fact, public schools in the US represent only about five percent of the potential market, said Overcast. [ Big Sky Business Journal ] Glacier Rail Park opens in Kalispell Glacier Rail Park is now open for business in Kalispell. State and local officials celebrated the grand opening of the business park Monday morning. The more than 40-acre site off Whitefish Stage Road is home to Kalispell’s rail-based businesses, including Northwest Drywall , a CHS fertilizer distribution plant, and a Mission Mountain Rail transload facility ( hiring ). Montana West business development and marketing manager Kim Morisaki said the Glacier Rail Park project has been in the works for eight years and has cost more than $20 million in local, state and federal funding. Nevertheless, city officials say it will change Kalispell for the better. Train traffic will be rerouted from downtown Kalispell to Glacier Rail Park, a crucial step in the city’s plan to revitalize and build a trail system downtown. “There are 44 acres of undeveloped or blighted property along the train tracks in Kalispell,” Morisaki said. “As soon as those train tracks come out, that property is available for redevelopment.” Removing the tracks will be an immediate benefit for drivers in Kalispell, but officials say Glacier Rail Park will benefit the city long-term too. [ NBC Montana ] Can Do: KOA, the future of camping On a recent episode of Can Do: Lessons from Savvy Montana Entrepreneurs , host Arnie Sherman talks with Kampgrounds of America President Toby O’Rourke , the first woman president in the company’s 56-year history. KOA got its start in 1962 in Billings, Montana, when the sight of travelers heading west on Highway 10 towards the Seattle World's Fair sparked the imaginations of a group of business people. Noticing the numbers of people overnighting by the side of the road, they created a campground along the Yellowstone River where, for $1.75 a night, travelers could pitch their tents near a picnic table, fire ring and a hot shower. Since then, KOA, which is still based in Billings, adopted a franchise structure, and the number of campgrounds across North America exploded. Listen and learn on this episode of Can Do: how the recreation industry is evolving, how to create a feeling of community among your many franchisees, and what role technology will play in the future of outdoor-focused businesses. [ Montana Public Radio ] Non-resident tourists spend $3.2B in Montana; Glacier Country reaps 17,500 Montana jobs Nonresident travelers spent $3.24 billion across Montana in the most recent data period, according to an annual report published by the University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research . This is an increase of 2.6 percent from the previous year’s spending estimate. Glacier Country in northwest Montana received more than $1.07 billion in spending by nonresident travelers – 33 percent of all spending in the state. This spending supported a total of $1.32 billion of economic activity and more than 17,500 Montana jobs, along with more than $461 million in associated labor income. In south-central Montana’s Yellowstone Country, travel spending by nonresidents totaled over $917 million, which was 29 percent of the state total. This spending supports about $1.16 billion of economic activity. Likewise, over 15,200 Montana jobs and nearly $410 million in labor income can be attributed to this spending. The full report, including estimates of the economic contribution of nonresident travelers in the other four Montana travel regions, along with county-level estimates, is available on the ITRR website here . [ Missoula Current ] Montana Made: Lewis and Clark Brewing Company One Treasure State company is managing to stand out in the crowded craft brewing industry. The Lewis and Clark Brewing Company , which started in the Capital City (Helena, Montana) more than a decade ago, has come to gain national recognition. What started at home has grown into a sprawling factory with state-of-the-art equipment pumping out some of Lewis and Clark’s most popular brews, including Miner’s Gold and Prickly Pear Pale Ale. The brewery added a $9 million expansion just last year, increasing production six times over. Owner Max Pigman said the one thing that makes the beer so special is Montana’s amber waves of grain. “Being able to utilize some of the best-malted barley in the world — which is grown just north of us in the Golden Triangle and malted just north of us up just above Great Falls — is a huge advantage for us.” The brewery, which currently distributes into Montana, Idaho, eastern Washington and soon Wyoming, is now looking at expansion overseas with Pigman saying that he’s already traveled to Japan to talk with some interested clients. [ KPAX ] University of Montana disease treatment research center pulls in $22 million in grants A research center at the University of Montana earned $22.4 million this summer and fall from the National Institutes of Health . "It has validated that what we set up in Missoula through this Center for Translational Medicine is working to advance discoveries at the University of Montana," said Jay Evans, center director and research professor in the Division of Biological Sciences. The center launched at UM after GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines , a giant pharmaceutical company with an office in Hamilton, Montana, announced it would move its staff out of state. The team did not want to leave Montana and instead negotiated employment contracts with UM, where staff have been since 2016. The grant pays mostly for personnel, with staff jobs paying top salaries in Missoula from $50,000 to $75,000. Once the center has hired all the staff it needs, it will have roughly 30 employees, of which 16 will have split appointments between UM and corporate partner and Missoula-based startup Inimmune, with Evans as CEO. [ Missoulian ] MSU tech park vies for federal research facilities, would mean 600 jobs to Bozeman A Bozeman tech park is vying to become the next headquarters for two major federal food and agriculture research offices. The move would make the city home to more than 600 new Bozeman jobs. In August, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced plans to move the research hubs out of Washington, D.C., and the Montana State University Innovation Campus hopes to sell the Trump administration on Bozeman as a base for the nation’s Economic Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture. The National Institute for Food and Agriculture needs a roughly 90,000-square-foot facility to house 360 employees while the second office needs roughly 70,000 square feet for 260 employees. Justin Cook, the MSU innovation Campus executive director, said Bozeman’s connection to good schools, outdoor adventure and a growing airport makes the city a contender. MSU Alumni Foundation , a separate nonprofit fundraising arm of the university, owns the tech park and has until Oct. 15 to deliver a letter of interest to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. [ Bozeman Daily Chronicle ]
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