Pillar 2: Create A Climate That Attracts, Retains, And Grows Businesses

By capitalizing on and supporting Montana’s entrepreneurial spirit, businesses will thrive and Montanans will prosper.

We have a strong entrepreneurial spirit in Montana. New businesses have added over 70,000 jobs since 2007, helping to lead the way out of the Great Recession. Over 20 percent (20.3 percent) of Montana households have at least one member who owns a business, ranking Montana fourth highest for business ownership in the nation. This is a great foundation for economic growth – a strength we can leverage to build our own Main Street job opportunities.

Montana businesses will grow and flourish in a business-friendly environment – an environment without unnecessary regulation and where government approaches businesses with a spirit of customer service and assistance. We know job growth comes from the private sector. Government can support that growth by opening doors and providing predictable and transparent regulation, supporting Montana’s entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic.

Businesses need access to capital to grow. Creating partnerships between the public and private sector can help identify gaps in lending and investment resources, and address methods for increasing access to capital. Traditional leaders, venture capital funds and angel investors are already operating within our state. Businesses can benefit from improved coordination and promotion of these capital resources, helping us reach our economic goals.

Montana has a complex landscape of economic development organizations that work very hard to promote and grow local and regional economies. Through better coordination and communication, we can help these organizations reach their full potential.

Up and down Main Streets all over Montana, entrepreneurs and workers are providing quality goods and services. Through the recommendations contained here, we hope to open doors and pave the way for continued economic success. By capitalizing on and supporting Montana’s entrepreneurial spirit, businesses will thrive and Montanans will prosper.

GOAL: Foster a business-friendly climate through efficient and effective government

Objective: Foster a culture in state government of improved customer service and responsiveness

Objective: Maximize efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of public services

Objective: Eliminate unnecessary state and local regulations for businesses

Objective: Maintain and enhance Montana’s competitive tax environment

GOAL: Increase access to capital and resources for Montana businesses

Objective: Increase availability and awareness of capital resources available to Montana businesses

GOAL: Coordinate economic development efforts throughout the state

Objective: Develop a coordinated economic development effort among state, regional, tribal and local economic development organizations.

Project Highlights

  • A recurring theme heard throughout the Main Street Montana Project was the need for government at all levels to be more responsive to the needs of businesses by streamlining duplicative, outdated and ineffectual rules and regulations. To that end, 460 such agency and board rules have been repealed and 1452 have been revised to make state government more efficient and effective.
  • State-chartered banks no longer pay regulatory assessment saving the industry approximately $1.4 million. Mortgage license renewal fees reduced by 50% for a savings of approximately $700,000 to the mortgage industry.
  • Based on recommendations from the Main Street Montana Project, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development recently released the Business Navigator, a tool for entrepreneurs and small business owners. The Business Navigator is an online tool that guides prospective business owners and entrepreneurs through a streamlined process for identifying the necessary registrations, licenses, permits, and resources needed to start a business in Montana.
  • State procurement processes overhauled to expedite and streamline the client’s and general public’s experience. Montana ranks in the top ten nationally in procurement (Governing Magazine, February 2016). The State also ranked 5th overall in the nation for procurement workforce, training and certification.
  • The Department of Administration (DOA) also completed a project offering e-government services to local governments. The resulting online program allows local governments to submit financial reports electronically, increasing transparency and cutting submission times and needless red tape.
  • Numerous initiatives completed to recruit, hire and promote with a customer service focus including adding the customer service as into job hiring and rating processes at Department of Administration.
  • Montana has improved from the state with the highest workers compensation premium rates in 2010 to 11th highest in 2014 (latest figures available).