2015 has been a landmark year for high tech and manufacturing in Montana. It has also been a period of significant growth for the Montana High Tech Business Alliance. Here’s a look back at six reasons to feel great about the state of Montana this year.
1. First Ever Report on Montana’s Technology Boom Shows Industry Growing 8-10 Times State Economy, Double Average Wage
On February 17, 2015 the MHTBA released the results of a member survey by UM BBER showing Montana’s high tech and manufacturing sector are growing eight times the state economy and paying an average wage double the state median. The story was picked up by more than 20 media channels, including Associated Press coverage that reached Washington D.C., California, and Spokane.
2. 600+ Attend Montana High Tech Jobs Summit
600+ people attended the first Montana High Tech Jobs Summit in Bozeman on Sept. 13-14, co-sponsored by the Montana High Tech Business Alliance with Sen. Steve Daines, the Montana Chamber, and the Bipartisan Policy Institute. The Alliance set up a dozen meetings for members with Fortune 500 CEOs, FCC commissioners, and venture capitalists. Six Alliance member companies had booths and 12 others served as panelists and moderators.
3. Montana #1 State for Startup Activity (Third Year Running) and Employee Engagement
In 2015, Montana was the #1 state for startup activity for the third year running according to the Kauffman Foundation Index. A Gallup Poll also found Montana is the #1 state for employee engagement, meaning Montana workers are enthusiastic about their work, passionate about their jobs, and connected to their companies. The Montana High Tech Business Alliance featured Five Montana Startups to Watch in our newsletter and at the Bozeman member reception.
4. Next Frontier Capital Launches Montana’s First $20 million Venture Capital Fund
In spite of the state’s impressive startup activity, Montana still ranks dead last for venture capital dollars invested and number of VC deals according to the National Venture Capital Association’s 2015 state-by-state report. Montana’s job creators got a huge boost in May 2015 when Next Frontier Capital, a Bozeman-based venture capital firm, announced the initial closing of its inaugural $20 million fund. Pictured here is founder Will Price.
5. Alliance Doubles in Size to 250 Members
The Montana High Tech Business Alliance signed up its 250th member in November 2015. The Alliance ended 2014 with 125 member firms. Here, members pose for photos at the Bozeman reception February 17, 2015 at Rocky Mountain Bank. Image by Thomas Kurdy, Ndigena.
6. Alliance Launches CEO Roundtables to Address Barriers to Growth
In February 2015, the Montana High Tech Business Alliance began hosting CEO Roundtables for members at the Bronze level and above prior to our statewide receptions. These popular events allowed for deeper networking and addressed common challenges faced by members. Here Bob Nystuen, President of Glacier Bank in Kalispell and a newly appointed member of the Montana University System (MUS) Board of Regents, hosted a CEO Roundtable at his home in Lakeside on the topic of Partnerships in Higher Education. Topics at the other four roundtables in Bozeman, Lewistown, and Missoula included Workforce Recruiting, Training, and Financing Business Growth. These conversations led the Alliance to create resources like this list of 50 Ways to Fund Your Company in Montana. Image by Ndigena.
Author: Christina Quick Henderson has served as executive director of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance since its launch in April, 2014. Henderson writes and speaks frequently on Montana business trends and high-growth companies for Montana Business Quarterly, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and other publications. She holds an English degree from the University of Iowa and an MBA from the University of Montana, Missoula.
Publisher: The Montana High Tech Business Alliance is a statewide membership organization made up of more than 250 high tech and manufacturing firms and affiliates. More information on the Alliance can be found at: www.MTHighTech.org.