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MT business roundup: West Paw expands to China, ATG and LumenAd apply for grants to create jobs and more

MT business roundup: West Paw expands to China, ATG and LumenAd apply for grants to create jobs and more


West Paw expands to China

Bozeman-based West Paw, which manufactures a variety of pet toys and beds has expanded its sales and distribution to China. The company currently sells its products in 35 countries and saw China as a huge opportunity with its large population and growing pet industry. The expansion is added good news for the certified B Corporation, which was recently named the top manufacturer in Montana by the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center and Business of the Year by local economic development agency Prospera Business Network. [Bozeman Chronicle]



Missoula tech companies looking to add hundreds of high-paying jobs

Advanced Technology Group and LumenAd, two fast growing tech companies in Missoula, have applied for state grants to create more than 100 high-paying jobs over the next two years. Per Nicole Rush of the Missoula Economic Partnership, other companies with active awarded grants supporting the creation of 120 new jobs include: Consumer Direct Care Network, OnXmaps, Orbital Shift, Audience Awards, Synema Studios, Tomis, Tru-Home Montana, Montana Distillery and Adelos, Inc. The grant money comes from the state’s coal severance tax, and the businesses can get reimbursed up to $7,500 for each job created. In addition to the impact this state fund can have, James Grunke of the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund recently stated that two manufacturing companies are currently evaluating whether to locate to Missoula and invest $420 million in new plant facilities and the creation of hundreds of new jobs. [Missoulian]


5 Montana companies make Outside Magazine's list of the 100 best places to work in 2017 

Outside Magazine recently released its much anticipated list of 100 best places to work for 2017, and (wait for it...), five Montana companies made the list! Bozeman-based Wisetail ranked #45 on the list boasting unlimited PTO, weekly catered organic lunches and a monthly “be well stipend”. Missoula educational conservation nonprofit, Ecology Project International came in at #55 on the list with it’s summer perk of company float lunches. #68 on the list is Greater Yellowstone Coalition. The Bozeman-based environmental nonprofit hosts a week-long cycle tour through the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem encouraging all staff to participate. Foundant Technologies, headquartered in Bozeman, came in at #73 giving kudos to the $1,200 personal development perk provided for team members annually. And last, but certainly not least, #76 is Helena nonprofit, Montana Wilderness Association, which provides a monetary incentive for green commuting. [Outside Magazine]



Bozeman tech company AdvicePay to expand after raising $500,000 

Bozeman-based processing company for financial advisors, AdvicePay, recently announced it has raised $500,000 in its initial funding round led by Front Street Capital Management and Goodworks Ventures. The company, a cloud-based software program, was born out of a need for financial planners to collect monthly fees (rather than the typical percentage-based payments) and is an offshoot of XY Planning Network - a cohort of financial planners aimed at advising younger clients. Per co-founder, Alan Moore, most of the seed funding will go toward hiring a handful of local developers and salespeople. [Bozeman Chronicle] 



From intern to CEO, Blackfoot's to boss takes charge of company's tech growth

In 15 years, Jason Williams has gone from intern to CEO of Missoula-based Blackfoot. Blackfoot, which began in 1954 as a cooperative to bring telephone service to the Blackfoot River corridor, now serves more than 12,000 customers over 6,500 square miles in western Montana and has risen to become a regional force in technology infrastructure across Montana, eastern Idaho and the Pacific Northwest. The company, which employs more than 175 people and adds nearly 20 new jobs each year continues to grow, recently announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with T-Mobile. Additionally, Williams who recently said “as Montana businesses grow, we’re committed to grow with them” is part of a push to create a technology and innovation corridor in western Missoula. He and others are working to develop a master plan to create a new West Broadway innovation center adjacent to the MonTEC high-tech incubator which is nearing capacity. Williams hopes these efforts will continue to boost collaboration and coordination between established companies and upstarts in western Montana. And if that wasn’t enough, Williams and Blackfoot have shown their commitment to growing the Bozeman market by investing more than $1 million in broadband fiber infrastructure in Bozeman. [Missoula Current]



Local legislators, ranchers, say Chinese beef deal will boom state's agriculture

The Stockgrowers' Association announced Wednesday that it will supply $200 million worth of Montana-sourced beef to Chinese eCommerce company JD.com, and that JD.com intends to invest up to another $100 million to build a new processing facility in Montana. Montana hasn’t had a large-scale meatpacking plant in over 30 years. The presence of a large-scale processing facility in Montana means that more steps in the process could come back to the state resulting in a nice boom in the state’s agriculture industry and more money in the pockets of local ranchers. Agriculture, the number one economic driver in the state, contributed about $4.6 billion to the state’s economy in 2015 with a total livestock value of about $2.1 billion that same year, according to the Montana Department of Agriculture. [Billings Gazette]