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MT business roundup: UM Professor launches podcast featuring Geofli founder and others, Helena Chamber honors local businesses, One Big Sky Center in Billings seeks funding and more

MT business roundup: UM Professor launches podcast featuring Geofli founder and others, Helena Chamber honors local businesses, One Big Sky Center in Billings seeks funding and more

UM Professor launches ‘A New Angle’ podcast

University of Montana Associate Professor of Marketing, Justin Angle, is the brains and the host behind a new podcast that explores the work of inspiring people in the Montana business ecosystem. According to Angle, “We’ll have deep conversations with people who think differently and break paradigms with the way they approach their work, no matter what industry they’re in.” The series kicked off on January 30th with the first episode featuring Bryce Ward of UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research. The series will continue with 19 innovators already interviewed including Jeremy Sauter, marketer for Paramount Pictures; Karen Knudsen, executive director of the Clark Fork Coalition; Kyle Pucko, founder of GeoFli; Tyler Hamilton, former Tour de France cyclist; and Matt McQuilkin, co-owner of Black Coffee Roasting Company. The podcasts are available for download on iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud. Click here to listen to a highlight reel and subscribe. [University of Montana]

Helena Chamber’s annual awards luncheon honors local businesses

Several Helena businesses were recently recognized during the annual Helena Area Chamber of Commerce awards luncheon which was held at the Radisson Collianal Hotel (the winner of the 2017 Business of the Year award). More than 400 Helena community members attended the lunch which was sponsored by St. Peter's Hospital. Other award recipients included Helena McDonald’s owner and state Sen. Terry Gauthier as the 2017 George D. Anderson Business Person of the Year and business partners Scott Johnson, Chris Johnson and John Rosa, who were awarded the Small Business of the Year award for their recent renovation and reopening of Broadwater Hot Springs[Helena Air]



One Big Sky Center seeks funding to develop plan in Billings

The Hammes Group has requested $675,000 to help fund a comprehensive Development Plan for One Big Sky Center. One Big Sky Center is a project that was originally proposed to be a multi-purpose skyscraper in downtown Billings but has now shifted to more of a downtown district with two large anchor points - one focused on health and wellness and the other on lifestyle. Those being asked to help fund the project are expected to enter into a cooperative agreement by February 15, 2018. The group, being referred to as “strategy partners”, includes Big Sky Economic Development (BSEDA), the City of Billings, Downtown Billings Partnership, the Billings Chamber of Commerce, the Billings Tourism and Business Improvement District and various invested local private sector companies, as well as the Hammes Group. BSEDA stands ready to donate $50,000 from its Opportunity Fund to the development plan portion of the project which has been proposed for completion before March 1, 2019.  [Big Sky Business Journal]

Missoula, Bozeman make top 100 list

Livability recently named its “Top 100 Places to Live” with Missoula coming in at number 59 and Bozeman at number 96. The website ranks small- to mid-level cities in America by factoring in details from a wide range of information such as demographics, schools, neighborhoods and restaurants. [KPax]

ClassPass opens Missoula office and talks recruiting and growth

You’ve heard a lot about ClassPass from us lately given recent press on the company, its arrival to Montana and its plans for adding Montana jobs. Well, in front of a packed house last week, ClassPass CEO Fritz Lanman told the crowd “we really want people to be in Missoula”. ClassPass introduced itself to Missoula during a festive recruitment party highlighting the company’s ambitious plans for growth. ClassPass opened its third North American office in downtown Missoula last week, and it’s now looking to fill as many as 50 local jobs as the company grows and launches new products. [Missoulian]



Record-breaking year for Missoula Airport

Cris Jensen, Missoula International Airport Director, recently said “the continued growth of passengers into and out of the Missoula International Airport is a reflection of the positive economic health and growth of tourism in the Greater Missoula area”. Not only did the airport recently announce expanded direct flights during the summer travel season, but continued to see record numbers serving 770,000 passengers in 2017. [ABC Fox Montana]



Montana State University Billings science building campaign receives $500k

The campaign for an extended science building at MSU Billings (MSUB), a project dubbed the Yellowstone Science and Allied Health Building, is well underway and received a big lift recently from a $500,000 contribution by the Montana Coal Board. The campaign, which is being led by the MSU Billings Foundation, has now raised $3.5 of the $5 million its set out to collect. MSUB stated that 11 percent of its graduates work in the coal industry with more than 15,000 working in Eastern Montana - a part of the state with economies tightly tied to coal[Billings Gazette]

Grants to strengthen tourism announced by Governor Bullock

In recent remarks from Governor Steve Bullock when speaking on the impact visitors have on Montana’s economy, he said “by investing in our tourism and recreation resources, we will maximize our ability to attract and serve the visitors who drive one of Montana’s leading industries”. It was with this in mind that $750,000 in grants were announced to develop and enhance tourism and recreation in 27 Montana communities. The funds are being awarded through the Tourism Grant Program at the Montana Department of Commerce and Office of Tourism and Business Development. [State of Montana]



Flathead Community College receives $2.5 million dollar gift and launches ONE Campaign

Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) officially launched its ONE Campaign recently, announcing it has so far raised $5.6 million of the $18 million needed to construct the new Library/Learning Commons and College Center on its Kalispell campus. The Library/Learning Commons will be an addition to the existing Rebecca Chaney Broussard Center for Nursing and Health Science and will include a library with leading-edge technologies and collaborative spaces which is expected to open in January 2019. Additionally, the 50,000-square-foot College Center will include a performance and lecture hall, a multi-purpose activity center, an outdoor amphitheater and a lobby with a secured art gallery (expected to open by 2020). [Flathead Community College]

Theatre renovation in Belt is nearing completion

For nearly 25 years, the Belt Theatre Company has been making repairs and small improvements to the 100+ year old Belt Theatre. It wasn’t until this past year when the nonprofit successfully raised enough in funds to conduct a complete overhaul. Construction began in December on what is now referred to as the Belt Performing Arts Center, which is anticipated to open by May. More than just a theatre, it looks to be a multi-purpose community hub. A story familiar in other Montana towns like Bozeman, where the long-standing Rialto Theatre recently finished renovations (Bozeman Daily Chronicle), and the well-known Babcock Theatre in Billings which is now again showing films (Billings Gazette). [Great Falls Tribune]

Montana governor demands net neutrality of state telecommunications contractors

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock made an executive order on Monday to demand that all telecommunications companies doing business with state government abide by net neutrality principles. In December, the FCC repealed the nation’s net neutrality regulations, which barred internet service providers from creating virtual fast and slow lanes for different websites and services. Bullock’s action is the first to be enacted by a state since the FCC’s move, and New York has since followed. The order states that “the free and open exchange of information, secured by a free and open Internet, has never been more essential to modern social, commercial and civic life,” and that “Montana citizens rely on a free and open Internet to meet the world.” [Missoula Current]