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Montana soldier is 1st woman to complete the U.S. Army Sniper Course, Carpenter donates hand-carved American flags to law enforcement officials, University of Montana’s startup incubator receives $850K for Indigenous entrepreneurs...and more

Montana soldier is 1st woman to complete the U.S. Army Sniper Course, Carpenter donates hand-carved American flags to law enforcement officials, University of Montana’s startup incubator receives $850K for Indigenous entrepreneurs...and more

 Image by Alyssa Cereck 

Can the cats food drive helps keep Missoula food bank stocked

This food drive is a healthy competition between Montana State University Bozeman and the University of Montana to see who can supply the most donations. The director of the Missoula Food Bank, Aaron Brock stated that the impacts of the pandemic and the rising cost of living have affected many people, making the last year and a half a busy time for the food bank. Missoula claimed the food drive victory last year with 600,000 pounds and dollars combined flowing into Missoula Food Bank and Community Center during the two-week competition. This year, Bozeman claimed its victory in the 22nd annual food drive with 654,126 pounds of food and $449,657 for the Gallatin Valley Food Bank and MSU’s Bounty of the Bridgers food pantry. [NBC Montana] [NBC Montana]

Pumpkins For a Cause makes a big donation to Peace Place in Great Falls 

Jordan Schroeder, a Special Olympics athlete, and his father Phill started giving out pumpkins several years ago. The tradition became an annual event to help non-profit agencies in the Great Falls Community. Last year, they raised over $8,000 for the Great Falls Rescue Mission. This year, the Schroeder family raised $12,101 for Peace Place through the seventh annual “Pumpkins for a Cause” event. Peace Place is a non-profit agency in Great Falls that provides respite to families who have children with medical diagnoses and/or developmental delays. KC Beall, Peace Place director of administration stated the donation could not have come at a better time and they feel blessed to have been chosen by Jordan and his family. Jordan’s cause was not only supported by Montana but by people in Texas, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, New York, and Idaho. [KRTV Great Falls]

Town Pump holds annual food bank fundraiser

The Town Pump Charitable Foundation is matching $1 million in contributions during its 20th annual fundraising campaign for food banks across Montana. Over 100 food banks are participating in the statewide “Be A Friend in Deed, Helping Those in Need” campaign this year. During the 19 years that the campaign has operated, it has raised over $40 million for Montana food banks, including about $8 million in matching grants from the Town Pump Charitable Foundation. The Foundation hopes to raise $5 million for food banks this year.

 The money is frequently used to purchase perishable food items and the funds are becoming more crucial in helping many food banks stay open through payment of rent, utilities, space for storage, refrigeration, and freezing. [Whitefish Pilot]

Affordable housing project set to break ground next summer

The Whitefish Housing Authority is moving forward with plans to develop the property known as the “snow lot” into a townhouse project. The housing authority plans to construct 24 townhouse units on the property in 12 buildings designed to look similar to the houses in the surrounding neighborhood. Lori Collins, executive director of the housing authority states, “The need for affordable housing and workforce housing in Whitefish has reached a critical point and the WHA is working very hard to create homes that people can afford in our community.” The snow lot townhomes project will address the increased inequity of housing in Whitefish due to the pandemic by providing affordable homeownership opportunities to keep units affordable now and in the future. 

The total cost of the project is $6 million and the ARPA funds will be used to pay for a portion of the units. The goal is to keep the price per home under $300,000, far below the median home sale price in Whitefish during May 2021 of $611,500. The housing authority believes the townhouse project will be a step toward meeting housing needs in the community. [Whitefish Pilot]

Montana soldier is 1st woman to complete the U.S. Army Sniper Course

A Montana Army National Guard soldier graduated from the U.S. Army Sniper Course at Fort Benning, Georgia on Nov. 5, 2021, becoming the first woman in history to complete the course according to a release from the Montana National Guard. Major General J. Peter Hroneck, the Adjutant General for Montana stated, “We are extremely proud of this Soldier’s achievement and recognize that this is a milestone for not only Montana but the entire National Guard and Army”. With the completion of her training, the soldier will now join her unit. [KTVQ Billings]

$10,000 grant awarded to Adaptive Performance Center from the Montana Veterans Fund

The Adaptive Performance Center was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Montana Veterans Fund at the Montana Community Foundation (MCF) to help provide support to disabled veterans. Mary Rutherford, MCF President and CEO, joined Bill Kennedy, former Big Sky Honor Flight vice president, in presenting the grant to Karen Pearson, co-founder of Adaptive Performance Center. The Adaptive Performance Center (APC) serves disabled veterans and helps them improve and maintain as much independent active living as possible. [Billings Gazette]

Kalispell Chamber recognizes local leaders amid unprecedented growth

Kalispell has experienced valley-wide growth and honored several local business leaders during its Grand Event on Nov. 10. Tom Esch was honored with the “Community Legacy” award for his work facilitating the Kalispell Core Area Development and Parkline Trail projects. Jerry Meerkatz was posthumously awarded “Businessperson of the Year” for his work at Montana West Economic Development, which helped spur economic development in Kalispell. Samaritan House received the first-ever “Nonprofit of the Year” award. During the event, a new tagline was also announced: “Discover Kalispell – Venture Boldly.” Several others were also honored for their contributions to Kalispell’s economic and social growth. [Flathead Beacon]

Montana tech startup hopes to improve internet access

Helium is a Montana-based start-up that uses radios to provide a long-range internet system. Each radio is small and energy-efficient, and they are placed a few miles apart. They communicate with blockchain technology and can provide a new, innovative way to provide internet access in rural areas which have traditionally struggled to get it. This is perfect for Montana, where sparse populations can benefit. Helium also has a variety of other uses; the founder hopes to use the devices to capture air quality data, leading to an improvement in Montana’s air quality. Helium is growing throughout the state and hopes to one day have a nationwide network. [Daily Inter Lake]

$7.5 million donation creates University of Montana scholarship opportunities

When it comes to paying for college, many students often find themselves in the precarious middle ground between being unable to receive federal aid and an inability to afford their higher education. Now, with a generous donation from the Payne Family, up to 300 students will close this financial gap with scholarship awards ranging from $500 to $4000. Most of these students come from families whose income level places them above the threshold to receive federal funding yet have little disposable income to pay university tuition. In Montana, average costs associated with college (tuition, fees, etc.) account for 12.9% of disposable income. The University of Montana does not intend to disburse the entire donation in one go, but instead use some of the money to start building the scholarship towards perpetuity, ensuring that students in limbo will have access to financial resources for years to come. Students who have applied for the Payne Scholarship should expect to receive their awards for the Fall of 2022 beginning on December 1st. [Missoula Current]

Montana agriculture gets $7.5 million allotted for value-added grant funding

Gov. Gianforte recently launched a $7.5 million fund for grant dollars to be injected into Montana agriculture. With agriculture being Montana’s number one industry, this funding provides a unique opportunity for value-added agriculture business ideas and is intended to stimulate entrepreneurship, create jobs, and expand the diverse ag markets of our state. 

For those looking to apply for the funding, concept papers are due December 15th. Applicants whose proposals pass the initial review from a panel of industry representatives will be asked to submit a full application before securing funding. The funding will only be awarded if applicants have secured matching commitments, which scale from 1:1 up to $150,000, 2:1 up to $300,000, and 3:1 up to $450,000. More information can be found at agr.mt.gov/arpagrants. [Montana.Gov]

Montana Small Business Administration fuels Montana economic growth

In the fiscal year ending September 30th, 2021, the Montana District of the U.S. Small Business Administration granted over $186,000,000 in loans to 323 small businesses across the state, nearly doubling the loan value awarded the previous year. This immense growth occurred despite the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and spanned 34 of Montana’s 51 counties, with the highest concentration of loans going to Yellowstone (96), Gallatin (50), Flathead (41), and Missoula (35). Approximately $27,000,000 of these loans were approved through the 504 Certified Development Program, which focuses on long-term fixed rates for capital investments, while the remaining $159,000,000 in loans were made through SBA’s 7(a) Guaranty Loan Program. This program provides a range of financing options for start-up and expansion needs. From Brent Donnelly, SBA Director for Montana, “Montana is not only one of the greatest places in the country to live, but also to start and run a small business.” Of the total loans provided, $41,000,000 or about 22%, were made to new businesses. [Whitehall Ledger]

Outdoor recreation brings big money, countless jobs to Montana

We live here for a reason and it shows - last year in 2020, outdoor recreation brought $2.2 Billion in revenue, or 4.3% of GDP, putting Montana at the top of states where outdoor recreation is a powerful driver of local economic growth. While the pandemic brought a hit to potential growth, this industry still expanded across nearly all sectors, especially boating, fishing, and RV’ing, adding a combined $427,000,000 in value to our state economy. This should come as no shock to anyone adventuring around Montana this summer, where boats could be seen lining riverbanks and “Campground Full” signs were more common than not. In the state’s two national parks, some months saw record visitation numbers and state parks experienced approximately 3.4 million visitors. [Montana Free Press]

Neuro-ID takes in fresh capital to combat fraud from all of our taps, types, and swipes

Many delays are built around digital experiences, a problem many companies are looking for ways to solve. Recently, a startup that has built a real-time behavioral analytics tool is announcing funding as it sees demand for its services increase. Neuro-ID, an analytics platform capturing real-time customer behavior at scale for digital organizations so they can see and understand the intent of their digital customer and identify the root cause of customer friction, secured $35 million in Series B funding. CEO of Neuro-ID Jack Alton said, via email, it is on the back of “strong customer traction.” “Neuro-ID is on track to grow three to four times in both revenue and customer base in 2021,” he added. “This follows a huge year of expansion for us, during which we also saw three to four times in client and revenue growth as well as a 500% increase in monitored customer journeys. “The new capital follows $7 million Series A funding raised in December 2020, bringing the company’s total funding to $49.5 million since being founded in 2014. The company’s customer list includes Intuit, Square, Affirm, OppFi, and Elephant Insurance.

In the past year, the company nearly tripled its employee base, which now stands at 60, he said. Walker Forehand, partner at Canapi Ventures, said he considers Neuro-ID to be a one-stop-shop for identifying user intent and experience analytics that is differentiating itself from competitors through its unique ability to analyze first-time customers, whereas others focus on repeat customer interactions, he added. Traditional models are also using physical attributes for verification, like address and date of birth, whereas Neuro-ID uses other methods to identify if a customer is genuine or fraudulent. [TechCrunch]

University of Montana’s startup incubator, MonTEC receives $850K for Indigenous entrepreneurs

The university’s startup incubator, MonTECH received an $850,000 grant from the  Google.org impact challenge for women and girls to support Native American women looking to take the first steps toward owning a business. This money will be used on campus to create business classes geared toward women. The classes will be offered to everyone at UM, the Salish Kootenai College, and Blackfeet Community College. Business division chair in the business department at BFCC stated this grant will help Indigenous women turn their side hustles into businesses and create generational wealth. She is excited to see the business market grow in Browning and other native communities in Montana from this grant. Classes will be available in online formats so people across Montana will be able to benefit as long as they have access to the internet. [Montanarightnow.com]

Montana carpenter donates hand-carved American flags to law enforcement officials

A custom-furniture carpenter based in Montana has found a unique way to give back to his community, show patriotism, and help honor service members, law enforcement, and frontline hospital workers. Bear Thomas of Whitedog Woodshop uses his scrap wood to create magnificent American flags that he donates to community members. He has been doing this act of service for two years and hopes to let law enforcement know he has their back. The flags come in different sizes and take about 40 hours to make. He has delivered 30 of them from his woodshop and does not charge a cent for the flags. He stated that the time he takes to craft the flags reminds him of the sacrifices service members make for this country. Bear has received over 600 emails with nothing but support from people he has positively impacted. [Fox News]

Company Spotlights 

Centre Sky Architects

Centre Sky Architects is located in Big Sky and specializes in mountain architecture and sustainable design. Centre Sky is looking for a dedicated project manager to bring quality solutions to customized designs. The right candidate will be responsible for managing building projects from start to finish, including schematic design, construction documentation, design collaboration, coordination with design consultants, and client interaction. Check out post information on our Montana jobs page for more information. [Centre Sky Architects post]

FYR Diagnostics

FYR Diagnostics is a biotechnology company located in Missoula. FYR’s mission is to commercialize and implement its technology to accelerate the diagnostics of diseases. The technology can be used in applications related to cancer, neurodegenerative conditions, and pathogenic diseases. Team members at FYR are dedicated to being a part of a proud community located in the Northern Rocky Mountains of Montana. FYR Diagnostics is looking for multiple positions including a clinical lab technician. The perfect candidate has a self-starting mentality and experience in a lab. [FYR Diagnostics posts]

GL Solutions

GL Solutions provides software and related services to many industries such as medical, accountancy, and cosmetology. They offer customized software solutions to clients nationwide. GL Solutions is looking for a software team manager in Kalispell with opportunities to develop management, leadership, technical skills. Are you looking to develop business reports, interfaces, and websites? Head over to the job listing to learn more about this opening. [GL Solutions post]

Modern Machinery Co.

Modern Machinery Co. is a Komatsu dealer with locations across the Pacific Northwest. Modern Machinery prides itself on excellent customer service in the service and sales of quality, heavy equipment. With corporate offices located in Missoula, employees get to enjoy the incredible lifestyle of Missoula with access to the outdoors in every direction. Modern Machinery is looking for a Controller to head their accounting department. This role is responsible for internal control policies, procedures, and financial planning. Do you or someone you know have experience in finance or accounting? [Modern Machinery Co. post]