Pillar 4: Market Montana

In Montana, we know “the last best place” is more than a slogan. It is simply a fact that Montana is one of the best places to live, work, and raise a family.

It is abundantly clear that business leaders and the many other Montanans who participated in the Main Street Montana Project see our quality of life as our greatest strength. Quality of life means different things to different people. To some, quality of life lies in the sun-soaked plains in the east and the snowcapped peaks of the west. To others, it’s our strong work ethic and small town character, diverse recreational opportunities, or our safe streets and great schools.

It’s clear we have to capitalize on our strengths. We have to position ourselves so our greatest strengths are evident and become our greatest assets as we attract new businesses, new employees and new customers.

We have to market Montana. In doing so, we certainly need to continue to attract visitors to come and enjoy the beauty, recreation, and amenities our state offers. More importantly, however, we need to develop a strategic plan to demonstrate to prospective businesses that Montana is where they should set up shop.

Main Street Montana participants considered tourism as a top strength within every region in the state. The programs in place promoting Montana as a tourist destination are very successful at increasing visitors. These programs can be strengthened and expanded. New markets can be explored and developed. We can take the lessons learned from past success in tourism and transfer that knowledge to other marketing efforts across state agencies. Montanans want an effective government, and this a perfect example of how coordination and sharing ideas can benefit our whole economy.

Capitalizing upon the opportunity to expand the markets for Montana-made and grown products (“Made in Montana”) will help Montana business grow. Creating an online directory of Made in Montana products can increase exposure for businesses. International outreach and trade missions can incorporate the Montana brand into messaging.

GOAL: Strengthen and promote the Montana Brand to recruit businesses and workers

Objective: Leverage the Montana Brand into a statewide business and employee recruitment and retention strategy focused on Montana’s strengths

Objective: Increase the reach of Montana’s tourism marketing

Objective: Strengthen support systems/provide resources to promote Montana businesses and products

GOAL: Increase promotion of Made in Montana products and exports

Objective: Establish and strengthen trade partnerships overseas

Objective: Market Made in Montana products to Montana customers

Project Highlights

  • Department of Commerce (DOC) reorganized creating the Tourism and Business Development division to allow for synergy and collaboration in all Montana promotional efforts.
  • The Department of Commerce, with Federal State Trade & Export Promotion Program funding, hosted 7 Montana Pavilions at international trade shows, promoting 34 Montana companies’ products and services.  With Federal State Trade & Export Promotion Program funding, the Department of Commerce provided 103 marketing grants to Montana companies for exhibiting at international trade shows, translating marketing materials, and participating in business matchmaking activities.
  • Governor Bullock led a trade mission in September of 2014 to China. The delegation included 10 businesses from a variety of industry sectors, as well as representatives from the Tourism and Education sectors. Governor Bullock received two inbound investment missions from China due to his trade mission. The Allway Corporation vetted and brought 23 investors from China to Montana for a seminar facilitated by the Montana Department of Commerce. A total of 24 businesses with investment opportunities in Montana each gave a presentation to the delegates followed by a networking reception. The second inbound investment mission brought 8 investors to a seminar facilitated by the Montana Department of Commerce for 15 company presentations.
  • Governor Bullock received a return delegation from our sister state, Guangxi, China in July of 2015. This delegation brought six members from the Foreign Affairs departments in key cities throughout the region to facilitate the relationship and look for ways to collaborate further. An interview was filmed by Stephen Maly about the importance of the relationships.
  • A delegation of seven representatives from the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER), including President Dr. Lee Ki-woo, visited Montana May 8-12 to participate in the second Montana / Asia Energy Summit held on the campus of Montana State University, Bozeman. Korea has been Montana’s second leading international trading partner in commodity exports, behind Canada.  The visit from KIER represents a positive follow-up to Governor Bullock’s fall 2015 trade mission to Korea / Taiwan strengthening this strategically important trading relationship for the state.  The summit revolved around sharing information and experience on key energy technologies including carbon capture as well as renewable energy technologies with an emphasis on increasing business opportunities.