SURVIVE; REVIVE; THRIVE
EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY
LEGACY AWARD: DR. BOB WILMOUTH
IS S U E 2 7 | S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 0 - N O V E M B E R 2 0 2 0
PROMOTING PUBLIC SAFETY THROUGH
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table of contents
PROMOTING PUBLIC SAFETY Through Smart Design, Safer Spaces Cover photo courtesy Rhea Wolpoe
SURVIVE, REVIVE AND THRIVE: Strategizing For The Future Of Yellowstone County
CONVENER New Leadership Programming
BUSiNESS GROWTH Fine Wine, Good Spirits at Yellowstone Cellars & Winery
NEXT UP WITH NEXTGEN Creating Experiences for Growth
LEGACY AWARD Honoring Dr. Bob Wilmouth
4 SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
MURAL BY ARTIST ELYSSA LEININGER
YELLOWSTONE CELLARS CELEBRATES 10 YEARS
ENGAGE WITH NEXTGEN FOR ACCESS, EDUCATION AND CONNECTIONS.
TOP INVESTORS BIG SKY LEVEL
GRANITE PEAK LEVEL
DiA Events Holiday Station Stores NorthWestern Energy US Bank
BEARTOOTH LEVEL Albertsons All Around Roofing and Exteriors Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Floberg Real Estate Big Sky Economic Development By All Means CentiMark Computers Unlimited Crowley Fleck PLLP Denny Menholt Chevrolet Diamond B Companies Dovetail Designs & Millwork Inc. EBMS Entre Technology Services ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Co. Gainan’s Flowers & Garden Center Kampgrounds of America Kinetic Marketing And Creative Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. MSU Billings Foundation Northern Hotel Opportunity Bank of Montana PayneWest Insurance Phillips 66 Rocky Mountain Bank - King Sanctuary LLC Sibanye - Stillwater Spectrum Reach The Western Sugar Cooperative Vertex Consulting Group Walmart Walmart, Heights Western Security Bank, Downtown Yellowstone Valley Electric Co-Op, Inc.
Published by: The Billings Gazette Project Management: Dave Worstell Project Editor: Kelly McCandless Creative Designer: Brandy Dangerfield Project Support: Marya Pennington Advertising Sales: Contact Kelly McCandless at 406-869-3732 Kelly@billingschamber.com Photo Contributors: Billings Gazette Photographers, Billings Chamber, Visit Billings, Adobe Stock BillingsChamber.com PO Box 31177 Billings MT 59107-1177 406-245-4111 800-711-2630 Fax 406-245-7333
PRESiDENT’S LETTER 2020 And Beyond Priorities
CATALYST Connections Create Value
BUSiNESS CHAMPiON A Potential Storm Of Covid Suits
STAFF PROFiLE Daniel Kosel
MONTANA’S TRAiLHEAD Tourism And You
TRiPS ON A TANKFUL Exploring The Colors Of Fall In Southeast Montana
EVENT SPOTLiGHT Events and programming available this fall and beyond.
PRiORiTY SPOTLiGHT Equality Of Opportunity
SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY 5
FROM THE PRESiDENT/CEO
2020 AND BEYOND PRIORITIES BY JOHN BREWER PRESIDENT, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
he Billings Chamber is working toward a post-pandemic community where businesses thrive; its resident-workforce is healthy, happy and successful; and a place where families and individuals want to relocate. In June the Billings Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors selected a slate of community priorities focusing on addressing issues that grow our economy and workforce and create greater quality of life for all. Many across the country may be looking to relocate to communities that are healthy, safe, accepting and less crowded destinations. Being under the Big Sky can be a motivating factor, but it’s not enough. These priorities require immediacy, investment and allocation of significant Chamber resources.
COVID-19: IMPROVING THE HEALTH OF BUSINESS The Chamber exists to support local businesses. How we do that is evolving rapidly. The world has changed and the Chamber will continue to be in front of change as well as reactive to unforeseen situations. Economic recovery may be a series of surges and declines that will follow the public health trend line. The health of the 8,200 businesses in Billings requires support in the form of financial resources, marketing, connectivity and clear, trustworthy and timely communication.
EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY
must do more to allow people of color, differing religions, races, and LGBTQ+ populations to feel welcome and safe. The path forward requires our community to do better by intentionally identifying this as a priority, seeking to listen, learn and improve, and embracing diversity and inclusion in all areas of work.
A SAFER BILLINGS Public safety in a community (real and perceived) is an important determining factor of resident quality of life and relocation. It directly impacts consumer motivation in wanting to frequent business in areas of high risk. There are many contributing factors and potential solutions to crime and safety including addressing mental health and addiction, law enforcement, incarceration, and environmental design. In addition, public safety funding remains an area of concern due to racial tensions and officer-involved shootings across the country.
POLICY AND PEOPLE MATTER In January 2021 the people we elect to set policy will meet in Helena to act on business, community and societal issues. Selecting businessfriendly candidates to serve as elected leaders is the first step to developing business-friendly policies. Our comprehensive public policy agenda will address impacts to business post-COVID-19, taxation, public safety, needed community placemaking legislation, public private partnerships and more. Let’s all work toward a post-pandemic community that is inclusive for all as well as economically, physically and emotionally healthy. To get us there faster, don’t forget to mask-up.
“Open and Safe” is only a start to recovery. To become nationally competitive for talent and entrepreneurship, Billings must be “Open for All.” In a recent membership poll, 72% of respondents stated Billings
Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives
2015 Chamber of the Year
6 SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
CONNECTIONS CREATE VALUE BY JENNIFER REISER, CCE, IOM CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
m I invisible or am I valuable? Am I connecting to ENOUGH people? Am I connecting with the RIGHT people? In our ever-changing and uncertain economy, these are questions we should all be asking ourselves. Author and entrepreneur Seth Godin states that we are now transitioning into what he calls “the connection economy” in which value is created by connections. His call to action is that when marketing and developing business we need to rethink our strategies. One new strategy you should consider is joining a Chamber Connections Group Godin believes the new economy of connections has four key conditions:
COORDINATION – Someone needs to arrange the connections so they are meaningful.
TRUST – When you are at work and everyone is going in the same
BILLINGS CHAMBER CONNECTIONS GROUPS
PEOPLE. KNOWLEDGE. EVENTS. CONNECT, ADVOCATE AND GROW WITH US DURING YOUR WEEKLY EXCHANGE OF INFO, AND PROFESSIONAL CONNECTIONS.
direction, it enables you to find ways to connect and create value.
PERMISSION – When you offer ideas to people who want you to bring them, that’s a resource. Without that permission, it’s an annoyance. What’s new and significant is that the permission needs to be earned and not asked for.
THE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS – you will learn more from
people at a conference than from any random person you might otherwise meet because you’re deliberately exchanging ideas. It’s the confluence of time, place and purpose that gives significance to that exchange of ideas.
The Billings Chamber of Commerce Connections groups are a great place to do these very things. We coordinate weekly sessions where Chamber members can grow their businesses by developing meaningful business relationships. In addition, Chamber staff serve as a liaison to each group by attending meetings and providing updates on upcoming Chamber activities.
ELIGABILITY • Current member of the Billings Chamber • Industry specific with a limit of one member per profession, product or service • Non-members may attend as a guest twice before membership is required
Connections groups meet each week for one hour; Monday at 10 a.m., Tuesday at 8:30 a.m., and Thursday at 10 a.m. Each group has room for one representative per industry, giving individuals an exclusive opportunity to market unique products and services to other business professionals.
• If eligibility requirements are not met, members may be removed from the group at the discretion of Chamber staff
Your membership benefits give you access to connect to other business professionals and exchange community and business information. For Yellowstone level member investors the annual fee to join a Connections group is just $75. For all other membership levels, this is a complimentary member benefit.
• Must attend 75% of the meetings each quarter
Building trust and connections on your own can be difficult, but joining Connections can make it easier. We currently have openings for the majority of industries. Please contact Jennifer Reiser for information, to reserve a spot or to coordinate a visit to one of the groups. Jennifer@BillingsChamber.com or 406-245-4111.
ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS • If unable to attend, may send a representative from your business in your place • Participation in multiple Connections groups will NOT be permitted • If attendance requirements are not met, members may be removed from the group at the discretion of Chamber staff
SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY 7
MONTANA LAWMAKERS SHOULD BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES AGAINST A POTENTIAL STORM OF COVID SUITS BY DANIEL J. BROOKS, DIRECTOR; BUSINESS ADVOCACY
Regardless how the session functions, the content will be largely the same. Adjusting the tax code, supporting small business, addressing education issues, fostering economic development, and maintaining infrastructure to name a few. And, of course, the budget—six billion dollars that needs appropriated. Past legislators from Billings have hammered home the point that approximately one out of every six dollars the State collects comes from the Billings area. So, if my math is right, a fair, proportional distribution would mean that Billings has a billion dollars of state spending coming our direction for public safety, infrastructure, economic development…I’ve just been informed I shouldn’t hold my breath.
n my previous LiNK article, I went out on a limb to predict control of the Montana Legislature and Governor’s Office (spoiler: a Republican trifecta). We’re still a number of weeks away from the election, but I remain confident in my claims. Especially my bet that because of the unprecedented economic trauma, the 2021 Legislative Session will be dominated by discussions of reducing spending and saving for the next rainy day. You can take that one to Vegas…when it’s safe to do so, of course. I’m not sure how the 2021 Legislative Session will function, but neither are legislators. At the time of this writing a subcommittee of the Legislative Council Committee still has to discuss options for holding the session. Legislative staff has developed four options, based on protocols adopted in other states that held legislative sessions during the pandemic, ranging from a virtual session to a normal in-person session, and a couple hybrid options in between. Information below comes from the committee’s August 10th 2021 Session Scenarios and Decision Points report.
01 VIRTUAL SESSION Majority of 150 members and staff participate remotely from their home. Gatherings limited to 10 or fewer people.
02 HYBRID VIRTUAL SESSION Members and staff have option to participate remotely from their home or remotely from other locations in Helena. All public participation is remote. Group size limited to 50.
03 HYBRID, SOCIALLY DISTANCED SESSION Members and staff have option to participate remotely from their home, remotely from locations around Helena, or in person at the Capitol. In-person and remote public participation is allowed, with limits on group size. Group size remains under 250.
04 REGULAR SESSION Voluntary social distancing, most members and staff are in the Capitol. May still require some limitations and remote technology.
COVID LIABILITY PROTECTIONS What won’t be business as usual for lawmakers is Covid-related legislation. Unless they hold a Special Session between this writing and January, for the first time in their political careers, legislators will need to discuss how to handle legal liability for businesses amid a global pandemic. By now you’ve seen the headlines. Lowe’s is being sued for $20 million because of an unruly customer. A lawsuit against Safeway claims the company misled employees by posting a sign stating masks won’t protect you from contracting Covid—technically in line with CDC guidelines at the time. How will lawmakers ensure this doesn’t happen in Montana? There is a specious argument against the necessity of passing Covid liability protections. It goes like this: essentially, the threshold to definitively prove someone who has had myriad interactions in their daily lives contracted Covid from a specific business would be next to impossible. When I squint my eyes and put on my thinking face, that sounds right—I can’t imagine how you could prove that someone contracted Covid from a particular business, space, venue, person, etc. But, I’m not a jury of 12 that could be swayed to believe the improbable. As it turns out, there are lots of lawyers who are up to the challenge. According to the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth, which has been tracking the number of Covid-19 complaints, there are 4,113 as of August 6th. Granted, not all complaints allege violations by businesses. Only 269 are consumer cases, including exposure to Covid-19 in a public place. In fact there are almost as many challenges to government stay-at-home orders and group gathering bans. While we have yet to see a flood of lawsuits against businesses, we’re a long way from being done with this pandemic. Just a few weeks ago, the nation’s top disease doc, Anthony Fauci, acknowledged this, saying, “We haven’t even begun to see the end of [Covid] yet.”
8 SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
A safer workplace is about five minutes away. No matter the work, safety works in Montana. But improving safety on the job doesn’t have to be as time-consuming or expensive as you might think. Our library of safety videos is full of simple strategies to protect yourself and your co-workers. And they’re short. So you can get going again, safely. See them all at safemt.com.
Despite the difficulty of proving Covid contraction, the reality is that some businesses will be faced with unreasonable legal disputes, costing them time, money, and with many on the brink of closure, possibly their business. Additionally, it’s not always about winning in court. Some cases will be settled out of court as businesses hedge toward a reduced accommodation for plaintiffs rather than risk crippling court decisions.
WHAT WE NEED So what do we need to protect businesses? Certainly not blanket immunity as that would likely lead to businesses ignoring guidelines and prolonging the pandemic, which is ultimately bad for business. No, there aren’t many who argue for complete immunity. With most businesses already trying to do the right thing, we should make sure their good behavior is protected. Senate Bill 4317, part of the HEALS package of Covid relief being discussed in Congress, would offer protection for businesses that have made reasonable efforts to comply with public health guidelines and haven’t exhibited willful misconduct or gross negligence. Including a sunset date of October of 2024 makes this targeted, temporary proposal a good one. And at the end of the day, most people agree businesses should be protected. Nationally a survey of 800 registered voters by the Institute for Legal Reform found 61% support Covid lawsuit protections for businesses. Unsurprisingly, the business community is much more supportive than the population at large with the Montana Chamber finding that 92% of survey respondents support, and the Billings Chamber finding 89% support from survey respondents for Covid protections.
COVID LAWSUIT PROTECTIONS SUPPORT
*Institute for Legal Reform
Even if Congress passes widely supported Covid liability protections for business at the federal level, Montana lawmakers should follow suit with states like Iowa and Utah to ensure those protections at the state level as well. Our citizen legislators often get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to decision-making. After all, they’re not professional politicians, proclaimed experts due to years of experience—and we kinda like it that way. In that respect, it shouldn’t be unreasonable for lawmakers to extend the same benefit of the doubt to our businesses, who are doing the best they can to abide by health guidelines and combat this pandemic so we can get back to BUSINESS AS USUAL. Regardless how the session functions, the content will be largely the same. Adjusting the tax code, supporting small business, addressing education issues, fostering economic development, and maintaining infrastructure to name a few. Stay up-to-date with us during the session at BillingsChamber.com/blog.
SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY 9
POSITION: BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Describe your position in 5 words. In the business community’s corner What is one thing about the Chamber/Visit Billings you think most people don’t know? That the team members comprise an elite “super group” of diversely talented and experienced professionals who all work together tirelessly on behalf of the community and beyond. If you could make one change in Billings today, what would it be? I would actually expand the University system here to make Billings competitive with all the major cities in this entire region. One adjective that describes you: Vibrant The dish you’re known for cooking? Stir Fry If you could have lunch with one famous person, who would it be and why? Barack Obama—His life and experience are remarkably unique in the history of mankind. Words you live by: “I am a survivor not a victim.” The TV show you can’t miss: (Or, the movie you can watch over and over): Ozark (Jason Bateman/Laura Linney) Movie - A Good Year (Russell Crowe/ Marion Cotillard) What book is on your nightstand? The Collection of Poems by Langston Hughes
Tell us about your photo:
I prefer candid photos above all else because a candid reference tells the truth about the person in that moment rather than a projection. Photo Courtesy Rhea Wolpoe
10 SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
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SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2020 | |LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY 11 | 1321 Discovery Drive2020 | 800.800.7806 blueprintbytct.com | 1321 Discovery Drive | 800.800.7806 | blueprintbytct.com
BY JEFF EWELT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ZOOMONTANA
I have been fortunate to be involved with tourism for over 20 years. Currently, I am the executive director for ZooMontana in Billings, and serve as both the Chair of Visit Southeast Montana’s Board of Directors and as a member of the state’s Tourism Advisory Council. Thanks to my various roles, I get an inside glimpse at how tourism betters your quality of life.
here’s nothing quite like taking a travel adventure. The excitement and anticipation before leaving is sometimes unbearable. Short trips, long trips; they all get you out of your routine, something we all need. But have you ever really thought about how important your trip is, not just to you, but the communities you travel to, and even the community members you interact with?
Let’s start with the numbers. In 2019 alone, 12.6 million nonresidents visited Montana, spending over $3 billion. In return, this generates over $200 million in tax revenue and lowers your household taxes by over $500. Incredibly, this spending directly supports over 40,000 jobs in Montana.* Montana also benefits from our size, meaning in-state travel is an economic driver too. Visitors from other Montana communities to Yellowstone County brought $300 million in spending in 2018 – another major impact to our regional economy. Whether it is riding bikes along the Rimrocks, exploring museums and galleries, fossil hunting, skiing, or fishing - Montana has something for everyone, especially those of us who are fortunate to call it home. Numbers do not lie, and this data is strong. However, for me personally, the true impact of tourism is strongest on the personal level. Every day, I personally interact with tourists of all types. I speak to folks from out of the country, out of state and from the next town over. Every person I speak with has a smile on their face. They are away from work, with their families, and simply enjoying the day. At ZooMontana, *Source, ITRR
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there is nothing quite as rewarding as seeing a child light up when they touch an animal for the first time. These types of interactions have always been important, but perhaps now more than ever, the lifetime memories tourism creates also carry great importance for mental health. Cultural attractions such as the Zoo, Moss Mansion Historic House and Museum, Western Heritage Center, Yellowstone County Museum, Yellowstone Art Museum, DanWalt Gardens, or Wise Wonders Science and Discovery Museum, to name just a few, not only provide tourists a reason to visit our great city, they better our resident’s quality of life. Members of these organizations have pride in their hometown amenities, giving them a sense of belonging, a gathering place, and a family destination. As with supporting any cultural venue, a visit to ZooMontana serves a larger purpose. Guest spending provides care for over 100 animals of 56 different species as well as conservation efforts and educational opportunities. Every visitor through the gates of a cultural or entertainment venue deeply impacts that organization’s ability to carry out its mission and strengthens the cultural fabric of the Billings community.
In the end, let’s not forget the 40,000+ people who make tourism possible in Montana. Hospitality industry employees, destination marketers and managers like Visit Billings, influencers, front line workers; the list goes on. These dedicated individuals are your neighbors, family, and friends, each of whom are working tirelessly every day to benefit you, our community, and our state. This all has a trickledown effect that ultimately leads to you.
EVEN FROM A DISTANCE... For essential travel needs, our suites are designed with you in mind. All suites feature fully equipped kitchens.
• For your safety: knowledgeable staff, trained in environmental cleaning procedures and social distancing in effect. • Medical staff discounts.
During this COVID crisis, these folks need your support more than ever. Help them help you by wearing your masks, supporting their business, and above all, giving them a simple thank you. Our economy and livelihood rely on it.
The mission of Visit Billings is to generate room nights for lodging facilities in the city of Billings by effectively marketing our region as a preferred travel destination. Visit Billings is managed by the Billings Chamber of Commerce. VisitBillings.com
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(406) 652-7106 Marriott.com/bilts
SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY 13
colors of fall TRiPS on a TANKFUL
IN SOUTHEAST MONTANA BY MEGAN HOFFMAN, MARKETING SPECIALIST
Taking in the scenery along Highway 7. Photo Courtesy Donnie Sexton.
ummer is quickly coming to an end—and as the hot temperatures are traded in for cooler weather, Southeast Montana turns into a sea of color. All across the prairies, badlands, buttes, breaks and hills, the grasses and trees go from green to gold, red, orange, yellow, mauve and more. Look to the river valleys for the golden splendor of massive cottonwoods, but remember that the leaves on prairie grasses change, too. Hitting the road – especially those back country roads, you’ll find yourself immersed in a different landscape from one mile to the next.
Daybreak and dusk are the ideal times for prairie colors, especially as they pertain to photography and wildlife watching. Hop in the car and head down a highway in Southeast Montana for a spectacular show of color on one of these routes.
The prairies offer a unique look at the colors—taking in miles and miles of the countryside all at once. Start on Montana Highway 7 from Wibaux down to Baker and farther south to Ekalaka, cutting across the rolling prairies of Southeast Montana. Be sure to stop at Medicine Rocks State Park for a closer look at the pictographs and petroglyphs from past centuries.
PRAIRIE TOUR 2
The Warrior Trail, or what’s locally known as the “212 Cut-off,” crosses both the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservations and exemplifies the autumn beauty of Southeast Montana’s prairies. Just east of Ashland, the Custer National Forest surprises visitors with more jagged terrain, dotted with pine trees. Be sure to check directly with the tribal governments before heading out on this tour to get the most up-to-date information on what is and is not open on the reservations. Be prepared for checkpoints as well, which are designed to keep traffic moving through the area, while keeping residents of the reservation safe.
MUSSELSHELL RIVER TOUR Hollecker during the fall. Photo Courtesy Glendive CVB.
Follow Montana Highway 12 from Ryegate to Roundup to Melstone, Ingomar and Forsyth. Stop and stretch your legs at the RiverWalk and Heritage Trail in Roundup which follows the Musselshell River. Take in
14 SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
Meet the New SOUTHEAST MONTANA EXECUTIVE BOARD
The Visit Southeast Montana Board of Directors elected new members to the Executive Committee, effective July 1, 2020.
The Yellowstone River in the fall. Photo Courtesy Aaron Waller. colors of the trees, grasses and bushes that surround the river on the milelong walk. From Forsyth, follow the Yellowstone River tour but don’t forget to stop at a local shop for a bite to eat.
YELLOWSTONE RIVER MIDDLE TOUR Montana Old Highway 10, which skirts between the Yellowstone River and I-90, features golden cottonwood colors and several stops along the Trail to the Little Bighorn, a series of 19 roadside markers that highlight the U.S.7th Cavalry’s activities leading up to and immediately following the Battle of Little Bighorn. Traveling west from Forsyth, take Old Highway 10, which becomes Montana Highway 311, continue through Hysham (stop for a selfie with the statues at the Yucca Theater) on 311, and veer right when 311 turns to become Myers Road/Highway 311. Cross the Yellowstone River on Myers Bridge – stop on the north side for a brief walk-about at Howrey Island Recreation Area – continue on Myers Road, which becomes Pease Bottom Road to Musselshell Trail Road south to I-90 in Custer. To view Bighorn River Valley colors, backtrack east and take Highway 47 south to Hardin to I-90 or continue up the valley to Fort Smith and the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.
BATTLEFIELD TOUR The five-mile ridgetop drive from Last Stand Hill to the RenoBenteen Battlefield at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument reveals the history of the land coupled with Fall flyfishing on the Bighorn. all the amazing Photo courtesy Visit Southeast Montana. colors of Southeast Montana. Take in the undulating, fall-flaming prairies with the Wolf and Bighorn Mountain ranges in the distance. For a more enriched experience, continue east on highway 212 and turn south on Montana 314 to the Rosebud Battlefield State Park for even more history and beauty. As you head out to explore the colors of fall in Southeast Montana, please remember to check with your destination before heading out as not all services are available at this time. Remember to follow all local guidelines as they may be different between towns, counties and reservations, and stay home if you’re sick. Find the latest travel information at SoutheastMontana.com.
JEFF EWELT, Executive Director of ZooMontana, has been elected as Chair. Ewelt has served on the Visit Southeast Montana board since 2014 and served as Vice Chair for the last two years. SABRE MOORE, Executive Director of the Carter County Museum, was elected as ViceChair. Moore has been a part of the Southeast Montana board since 2017 and previously served as Secretary/Treasurer. JESSICA MALONE has been elected as Secretary/Treasurer. Malone has served on the Visit Southeast Montana board since 2018. She is currently the Treasurer of the Powder River Chamber of Commerce & Ag and the President of the Powder River Historical Society. DALE GALLAND, co-owner of Prairie Unique in Terry, moved from Chair to Past Chair. Galland has served as Chair since July 2018, and has been on the Board of Directors since 2011. All will serve two year terms on the Executive Board.
southeastmontana.com The mission of Visit Southeast Montana is to increase tourism to Southeast Montana by increasing awareness of our region, showcasing our cultural heritage, developing memorable experiences and educating our residents about the economic benefits of tourism. Visit Southeast Montana is managed by the Billings Chamber of Commerce.
SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY 15
16 SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
PROMOTING PUBLIC SAFETY THROUGH SMART SAFER DESIGN. SPACES. BY DANIEL J. BROOKS, DIRECTOR; BUSINESS ADVOCACY
here is a great public safety story happening in Billings right now and it’s probably not what you think. It doesn’t pertain to our esteemed safety officers, drug troubles, or the usual topics we associate with public safety. But it’s just as important.
I drive the 6th Street Underpass on a regular basis. Over the last six months the scourge of graffiti had taken over, canvassing the concrete and sending the message to passersby that vandals had claimed that territory. That was, until recently when a group of community members got together to reclaim the underpass, rolling vibrant hues over the spray painted tags.
s it turns out, removing graffiti, A adding public art, and ensuring an area receives proper maintenance play a role in crime prevention. But what does a beautification project have to do with public safety? As it turns out, removing graffiti, adding public art, and ensuring an area receives proper maintenance play a role in crime prevention. In fact they are all part of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED), a strategy that, depending on how well it’s implemented, can reduce robberies between 30-84%.1 I want to highlight these efforts because we need to keep this positive momentum. At the Billings Chamber we began our Smart Design. Safer Spaces. program in January, offering free security surveys to our businesses, as part of our Public Safety Priority. In the security surveys we recommend cost-effective safety improvements, which may have grants to help pay for them. Through the Downtown Billings Partnership, and thanks to City Council for approving the funds, businesses within the downtown tax increment finance district have access to matching funds for safety improvements recommended in a Smart Design. Safer Spaces. security survey. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic we had to hit pause on our security surveys while we worked to address other needs in our business community: lobbying for businesses ordered to close, communicating Casteel, Carri and Corinne Peek-Asa. 2000. “Effectiveness of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) in reducing robberies.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 18(4S): 99–115. 1
Public art installation in the alley of The Pub Station. Photo courtesy Rhea Wolpoe.
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with a keener eye on safety. When I attended my CPTED training courses last year the majority of participants came from government—police, planning departments, school districts, and others. Many areas around the country have embraced CPTED, building it into their city ordinances, building requirements, and yearly evaluations. During my training in Grand Rapids, MI, I visited with staff from their chamber of commerce and downtown business organizations about a recently passed CPTED ordinance which received high praises from the positive effects it had in just a short time. In fact, day two of the Basic Course covers “Planning, Zoning, and CPTED,” noting that writing CPTED into city code is one of the most effective ways to implement the strategy.
a safe re-opening, and advocating for sensible adjustments to health guidelines. That work continues but has let up enough for us to shift attention back to other priorities like public safety. So far we’ve completed security surveys for six businesses and intend to make it to the remaining 29 on our roster of sign-ups in the next 12 months. But like the underpass mural project, our efforts alone will not suffice to shift the public safety situation in Billings. We’ve made significant efforts to spread awareness of CPTED, it’s benefits, and how it works. We also need others in the community who can practice CPTED. Partly because we need to scale up implementation to have greater impact on Billings’ safety. But also, because we don’t intend to offer this service for free over the long term. This service could be a business that we’re hopeful an entrepreneurial Billings resident starts up. There are very few National Institute of Crime Prevention (NICP) certified CPTED Professionals in Montana (you can count me and the others on one hand). There’s clearly a need for the service, we just need someone with the background and passion to turn it into a thriving business—looking at you veterans and prior law enforcement folks.
NICP CPTED TRAINING DEC 7-11 The Billings Chamber and Downtown Billings Alliance are bringing a national CPTED training to Billings. The 5-day course provides 40 hours of instruction from the National Institute of Crime Prevention (NICP), covering all the basics of CPTED. Our hope is to get Billings business owners, architects, facility management personnel, and anyone else who wants to improve safety in Billings to attend. We want to empower more of our business community with the knowledge to see their environment
ltimately the goal is to make U improvements to the environment around us that provides additional passive security, reducing opportunities for crime and increasing the perception of safety for residents. More importantly we need our architects trained in CPTED, looking at their designs with crime prevention in mind. That’s not to say that they’re not already, but a few students in my courses were architects who felt the instruction and awareness of CPTED would really add to their abilities and the value of their designs, especially when discussing the design elements of special facilities like schools and hospitals. Even when looking at the design plans for typical commercial buildings our architects in the class realized some standard practices in design produce less-than-safe scenarios for shoppers. Ronda Carlson, a local architect with Cushing Terrell and fellow CPTED certified professional, explained how the training helped her and her firm, "For me as an architect, one of the benefits of having gone through the NICP course is applying CPTED analysis in the early design phase to identify where we can make changes to the physical environment that will reinforce positive behavior, and this is a lasting way to make a positive contribution to our community. And one of the great things about CPTED is that it encourages collaboration amongst a diverse group of stakeholders to help ensure all perspectives are considered in shaping our public places." Ultimately the goal is to make improvements to the environment around us that provides additional passive security, reducing opportunities for crime and increasing the perception of safety for residents. In doing so, we can take some of the burden off of our law enforcement. I can’t imagine our law enforcement officers would be too upset if the ever-increasing calls for service they have to deal with actually started to trend downward. If we can be smarter about the natural design of our environment, we can even reduce the burden on our property owners, who help pay for the provision of public safety through their taxes. Sean Lynch, co-owner of The Pub Station, implemented some of the recommendations after I completed a CPTED security survey of the property. "At the Pub Station, we followed the principals of CPTED and addressed issues that were easily remedied," Lynch explained. "We added exterior art and lighting to our alley way. Since that change, we have seen a dramatic decline in crime related activities."
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C P T E D
rime revention hrough nvironmental esign
5 days 40 hours Dec 7 - Dec 11
Business and governments throughout the country are recognizing and implementing the benefits of CPTED in their planning and operations activities.
Whether you're a business looking to improve security for employees and customers, or a school district working to create a safer environment for our kids, CPTED principles can be applied to any physical space to enhance safety.
limited time local pricing
who should attend? Property Owners Architects/Engineers Economic Development City Planners Hoteliers Facility Management Security Personnel Events Venues Educators Non Profit Organizations Law Enforcement Hospital Management Church or House of Worship
SAFETY INITIATIVE SPONSORS
Community Safety CHAMPION
what will you learn ?
how the design and use of the environment can control human and criminal behavior and reduce the fear of crime crime prevention through natural means show natural access control and natural surveillance decrease the opportunity for crime different aspects of lighting and effects on human behavior how to evaluate an architectural site survey, utilizing the principles of CPTED to improve safety how to complete a security survey for an existing property the advantages of having a CPTED ordinance and how to construct and present it to lawmakers
Community Safety PARTNERS
Community Safety SUPPORTERS Pub Station Opportunity Bank Mike Schaer Buchanan Capital Clocktower Inn Kinetic Marketing PayneWest Insurance Blueprint by TCT Holiday Station Stores Rimrock Foundation Big Sky Economic Development
SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY 19
Speaking of reducing costs, we’ve set the pricing for the 5-day course at a significantly lower rate than if you attended a class elsewhere. We recognize it may be difficult to spend 5 days in training, so we want to ensure the price doesn’t keep the Billings business community away. Since we can only have 50, we hope to have 25 from Billings register before we have to increase the price and open registration to others around the country. Ideally, we get a couple dozen Billings folks trained to help bring the knowledge of CPTED to our community and begin using that knowledge to increase our public safety.
CPTED CRITICISM The murder of George Floyd has brought the issue of racism in our criminal justice system to the forefront of the national dialogue. Criticisms in other areas throughout the country— we haven’t implemented CPTED thoroughly enough to receive the charges—allege that CPTED is racist and criminalizes blackness. We acknowledge that racism remains a significant problem and our criminal justice system requires reform, but the allegation that CPTED, when implemented in its intended form, is inherently racist couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the core concepts of CPTED, “Eyes on the Street” (the principle of natural surveillance), comes from author and activist Jane Jacobs. In her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs highlights the need for recognizing your neighbor. “Eyes on the Street” is not about looking for suspicious activity but designing spaces that foster positive interactions. I see you; you see me. We acknowledge each other’s presence and humanity.
RESOURCES MAP & ALTERNATIVE TO 911 Another way we are helping our business community is the production of a resource map that can orient folks in the right direction to get the health and human resource services they need. Originally developed a few years ago by an AmeriCorps Vista, we recently raised some money to cover the costs of revising and reprinting the map. Pictured on one side is a map of the downtown area, locating a few of the primary locations that could benefit our less fortunate. The other side lists out the services available, hours of operation, and contact information. While it’s not a comprehensive list covering the incredible number of services Billings offers, it’ll steer people to the help they need, opening one door that will hopefully lead to others. Please let us know if you’re interested in obtaining these maps to have at your location (Daniel@ BillingsChamber.com). You can make it available to frontline staff who may often need to find or relay information to those in need of a hand up. Additionally, we want to prepare our businesses with good information. It’s not a crime to be homeless or have a mental health issue. There’s no need to dial 911 if there is no emergency or serious threat. That’s why we’ve added a reminder to notify other resources like Billings’ new Resource Outreach Coordinator, who is trained to work with those people suffering mental health and addiction issues. We’ve also listed a reminder that Montana 2-1-1 (simply dial 211 or visit montana211.org) is available and provides answers regarding housing and shelter, crisis care, mental health, addictions, and more.
Eyes on the “ Street” is not about looking for suspicious activity but designing spaces that foster positive interactions.
That is not to say that CPTED cannot be implemented in a racist way. Like any tool, it can be wielded in a constructive manner, or it can be used to harm. We believe that with proper training and understanding CPTED will be used as it was intended, avoiding contemptible misuses or profiling. Lastly, I would also encourage those who attend the CPTED training to get involved with the Chamber’s Equality of Opportunity group and learn how we can all work together toward a better Billings (BillingsChamber.com/EqualityofOpportunity).
Underpass mural photos by Marya Pennington and Hannah Vincent.
While it won’t be on this version of the map, Billings will be adding another incredible resource to provide care to those in crisis—a mobile crisis unit. As part of their efforts to address ongoing addiction issues, our local Substance Abuse Connect committee has secured the funding and organized for the creation of a mobile crisis unit, on-call to provide care.
IMPROVING PUBLIC SAFETY IN BILLINGS Our efforts at the Billings Chamber to address public safety needs are a small piece of the overall solution. Through our programs and partnerships we hope to create a safer Billings by making the physical environment safer and by redirecting calls for service to the appropriate agencies, freeing up our hard-working law enforcement officers to handle serious offenses like violent crime and drug trafficking.
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SURVIVE, REVIVE AND THRIVE: STRATEGIZING FOR THE FUTURE OF YELLOWSTONE COUNTY BY THOM MACLEAN, BIG SKY ECONOMIC DEVLEOPMENT PROJECT MANAGER PROJECT LEAD FOR THE YELLOWSTONE COUNTY ECONOMIC RESPONSE & RECOVERY TEAM
ellowstone County has encountered and overcome many economic challenges in its history, but the scale, scope, and speed of the economic stress imposed by the current COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. Under the duress of this global crisis, our region’s solid, growing economy mutated within weeks into a recession of evolving proportions. Our civic, business, and community leaders responded immediately, forming the Yellowstone County Economic Response and Recovery Team to respond to the immediate needs of our businesses to help them survive; to support, guide, and advocate to help them revive; and to develop a plan that will allow our community to thrive in a post-COVID-19 future.
CHANGE IN SMALL BUSINESS REVENUE* In Yellowstone County, as of August 1, 2020, total small business revenue decreased by 10.3% compared to January 2020.
*Change in net business revenue for small businesses, indexed to January 4-31, 2020 and seasonally adjusted. This series is based on data from Womply.
YELLOWSTONE COUNTY ECONOMIC RESPONSE AND RECOVERY TEAM Yellowstone County’s Economic Response and Recovery Team was formed at the beginning of this crisis with a mission to coordinate responses to the immediate needs of our business community, identify and fill gaps in services and resources, guide the development of the community’s near-term economic recovery plan, and help define objectives for a comprehensive economic development strategy designed to build the foundation for our future community and economic development growth. This team consists of business owners, County and City elected leadership, health care experts, and community and economic developers.
The resurgence of COVID-19 cases over the summer is cause for concern. With reopening allowing the return to many of the activities we avoided during the early stages of the pandemic, an increase in cases is expected. However, the dramatic rise in cases reminds us that this virus is highly contagious, and we must take necessary precautions to avoid overwhelming our healthcare system and reversing the tentative steps our businesses have taken toward recovery. Regressing in our phased reopening would have further devastating effects on the local economy.
BACKGROUND Beginning in March with Governor Bullock’s Stay-at-Home order, the state has acted under strategic public health measures which brought early success against the pandemic: COVID-19 peaked early at a relatively low number, our hospitals were not overburdened, and our state’s death toll from this pandemic has been among the lowest in the nation. These steps to protect public health have taken a drastic toll on our economy. Our inability to gather, shop, and travel during the Stay-AtHome order caused a severe direct financial hit to many of our businesses, with ripple effects throughout the economy. Economic output dropped sharply. Unemployment claims soared to record levels, reaching a peak of 11,598 in mid-April. In a survey conducted in late-April, 92% of businesses reported somewhat or extremely negative impacts to their business from COVID-19. Programs instituted under the Federal CARES Act—the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and the various grants and loans offered through Montana’s Coronavirus Relief Funds—have helped many businesses retain their workers and alleviate some of their financial stress. The Phased reopening has resulted in additional economic activity, but much uncertainty remains. Businesses are searching for better solutions and models to help them survive as they adapt to new precautions, limitations, and unexpected expenses.
One important additional precaution is the use of masks or face coverings to stem the spread of the virus. Our team launched the Masks Mean Business campaign to communicate the message that mask usage is vital to maintaining and improving both the physical and the economic health of our community. When Governor Bullock subsequently issued the mask mandate on July 15, our message and signs prominently expressed the need to adopt the new measure not only for public health benefits, but also to save the businesses we love, the jobs we depend on, and the cultural and recreational institutions that make Yellowstone County a special place. To date we have helped to distribute over 50,000 masks for free to area businesses thanks to numerous community partners.
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STRATEGY This Yellowstone County Economic Response & Recovery Strategy will be a guiding document developed by the Economic Response and Recovery Team. Because the continuing public health crisis is fluid and evolving with many unknowns, this plan must remain flexible, ready to adapt to changing circumstances and timelines. The plan is developed in three parts, based on the primary purpose and the time frame. STAGE ONE
Response and Stabilization
MARCH – SEPTEMBER 2020 Goals: ▶ Help businesses overcome the immediate challenges ▶ Focus on safely and effectively reopening our economy ▶ Re-activate our workforce ▶ Assist businesses as they learn and adapt ▶ Restore consumer confidence and reengage customers The focus of this stage has been to identify and help address the immediate and short-term challenges created by the onset of COVID-19. Our goal was to ensure that area businesses have the resources, information, and support they need to weather this disruption. As we moved toward reopening parts of our shuttered economy in late-April, our team worked in partnership with our businesses and the public health department to facilitate a safe and effective restart of our local economy. STAGE TWO
JULY 2020 – APRIL 2021 Goals: ▶ Sustain response and stabilization momentum ▶ Advocate for businesses and restore consumer confidence ▶ Support businesses’ needs to adapt, grow, and build resiliency As we transition from response to recovery, there will be an ongoing need to communicate with and assist businesses—to identify new and evolving challenges; to provide resources to support growth, diversification, and resilience; to advocate for their needs; and to help them reengage their customers and regain their market. Public health and economic health are tightly intertwined, so we must monitor and protect both. STAGE THREE
Building Economic & Community Resiliency OCTOBER 2020 – APRIL 2023
Goals: ▶ Understand the economic impacts and business trends that have affected our community and region ▶C onsider new opportunities and strategies to build a strong, resilient, and vibrant regional economy ▶ Position Yellowstone County for the future Our purpose in this stage will be to determine a common vision that the leaders, businesses, organizations, and residents of Yellowstone County can believe in and support. We will work together to create a thoughtful strategy to address the challenges posed by COVID-19 and to discover and consider new opportunities to develop a stronger, more resilient, regional economy.
THE TEAM IS SUPPORTED BY A TECHNICAL SUPPORT GROUP IN THE FOLLOWING DISCIPLINES: STRATEGIC RESTART PARTNERSHIP JOHN BREWER – Billings Chamber of Commerce LILLY CORNING – Corning Companies ECONOMIC IMPACT ANALYSIS ALLISON CORBYN – Big Sky Economic Development ANDY ZOELLER – City of Billings PLANNING WYETH FRIDAY – City of Billings NICK ALTONAGA – City of Laurel LEGISLATIVE LIAISON DANIEL BROOKS – Billings Chamber COMMUNICATIONS MELANIE SCHWARZ – Big Sky Economic Development KELLY MCCANDLESS – Billings Chamber LEGAL JEANNA LERVICK – Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office PROJECT MANAGEMENT THOM MACLEAN – Big Sky Economic Development
RECOVER TOGETHER A comprehensive plan for recovery must address diversity and inclusion. We must find ways to include all cultures, education levels, and socioeconomic backgrounds in our recovery. Our goal is to create economic prosperity for all, to build a stronger foundation that will support a more resilient economy. To attain this goal, we need to embed the ideas of fairness, equity, and access into every aspect of our effort. We must account for and address the additional challenges faced by disadvantaged groups and ensure they have access to the resources and assistance needed to overcome them.
“MOVE TO WHERE THE PUCK WILL BE.”—WAYNE GRETZKY Wayne Gretzky is considered the greatest hockey player ever. A lot of his success can be attributed to years of practice and competition to hone his skills. But some must be ascribed to his attitude, his mindset. Gretzky did not dwell on the past or react to the present. He anticipated the future. He moved to where the puck would be. We must do the same. Optimists proclaim that bigger challenges hold greater opportunities, and that will be the case with this challenge. Realizing these opportunities will take a concerted effort by all sectors—businesses, healthcare, local government, education, arts and cultural organizations, non-profits, and individual citizens—to restore our economy and rebuild our community. Our efforts will need the support, assistance, and cooperation of all levels of government and society. It is essential that the people and organizations of Yellowstone County proactively address, plan, and create the future we wish to see.
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NEW LEADERSHIP PROGRAMMING DRIVES ORGANIZATIONAL ENGAGEMENT BY JENNIFER REISER, CCE, IOM CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
ow more than ever it is critical that you invest in yourself and your team. Organizations and communities in crisis need strong leaders to navigate complex situations, answer difficult questions, help your teams and preserve your culture to emerge stronger post-crisis. Leadership development is a key workforce retention strategy as well. Gallup’s recent research shows that engaged organizations have higher levels of resiliency than not-engaged organizations. And, organizations with above-average levels of engagement are better positioned for postcrisis success. Engaged employees are more likely to "bounce back," and helping them contributes to your overall organizational success. Developing leaders now should be a central part of your come-back (or keep-going) strategy.
LEADERSHIP BILLINGS ALUMNI NETWORK The Billings Chamber remains committed to developing leaders and serving as your resource to help your team members Connect, Learn and Serve through programs like Leadership Billings and the new Leadership Billings Alumni Network. The Billings Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the formation of the Leadership Billings Alumni Network, which is committed to increasing Leadership Billings alumni engagement and enhancing opportunities for members to Connect, Learn, and Serve. Membership in the Alumni Network is available to anyone who has successfully completed the Leadership Billings program. Membership is valid July 1 – June 30 each year. $75 – Employer is a Chamber member $100 – Employer is not a Chamber member ½ priced from January 1- June 30 Membership allows complimentary access to four quarterly events designed especially with the focus to Connect to fellow alumni, Learn about hot topics, leadership development and community issues, and develop new ways to Serve as a leader.
We are pleased to announce the 2020-21 Leadership Billings Alumni Network Leadership Team: The Leadership Billings Alumni Network is sponsored by:
Connie Begger Marcell Bruski Kimberly Hilliard Heidi Knudson Acadia Madill David Mitchell Amy Riesinger Bandon Scala Colton Welhaven Genia Castro Waller
ENCORE – WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP NETWORK
Your BEST just keeps getting BETTER The Billings Chamber is seeking applicants for the 2020-21 cohort of ENCORE. ENCORE is a program of the Women’s Leadership Network and features diverse female leaders that come together to inspire women through Encouragement. Networking. Consulting. Opportunities. Resources. Empowerment. The definition of ENCORE is “a demand for repetition or reappearance made by an audience.” In this case, the audience is your peers and the demand is for female leaders to repeatedly come together and commit to self-reflection, development and mentoring. As we work together to share wisdom, solve problems and discuss complicated issues, we can reappear as better, stronger versions of ourselves. Through our unique programming, we focus on both personal and professional growth and explore current issues facing female leaders. At the same time, participants enhance their own leadership skills through a combination of structured workshops, small group discussions and opportunities for free-flowing conversation. Portions of our programming are designed specifically around our class members’ interests and needs. The ideal candidates are willing to take the risk of leaving their comfort zone with the intended reward of learning and tackling challenges. Our interactive yet personal sessions promise to be enjoyable, offer learning opportunities, and meet you where you are. We ask you to bring your authentic self, a willingness to learn and contribute, as well as an open mind. We will explore topics like work-life integration, personal health, leveraging your strengths as a female leader, uplifting yourself and others, accountability, gender bias, and even some topics that others hesitate to discuss. The Women’s Leadership Network will meet for eight learning sessions and two special events over 11 months, January – November 2021, for four hours of high-value interaction in each session. Learning sessions are typically held the fourth Thursday of each month from 2-6PM. Details and dates for special events will be announced at a later date. Locations will vary. Participants must be current members of the Billings Chamber of Commerce or Billings NextGEN to participate. Applications will open September 15, 2020. More information can be found at BillingsChamber. com/Womens-Leadership-Network. The Billings Chamber Women’s Leadership Network is sponsored by
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s t n e v E
SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY November 28th
Supporting local is more important than ever before. Be on the lookout for great ways to connect with our Billings businesses!
LEADERSHIP BILLINGS CLASS OF 2021 Programming begins October 2020
The ENCORE Women's Leadership Network engaging in programming for leadership development and self defense training.
Donâ€™t miss your chance to connect, learn and serve with professionals from across the Billings community.
Engineering Firm in U.S.
Every Wednesday at 10am
Engineering Firm in U.S.
Get your weekly does of business connection during Collaborate. Spend an hour learning from fellow members, building relationships and more. Contact Rene@BillingsChamber.com for details.
STAY UP TO DATE WITH ALL CHAMBER PROGRAMS AND EVENTS AT BILLINGSCHAMBER.COM.
With the addition of Territorial Landworks, Inc., IMEG is now proud to offer full-service engineering with Civil, Structural, and MEP team members across the state of Montana. Learn more at imegcorp.com.
CIVIL surveying Technology
SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY 25
FINE WINE BY MARYA PENNINGTON, PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER
othing can end a summer day like sipping a crisp, fresh chardonnay or a big and bold red blend on a beautiful patio. Add some great cheese and a bit of music and you have the perfect finish to a full day. Enjoying an alcoholic beverage with friends at a local pub, bar, brewery or winery seems to be a Montanan pastime, and with so many nationally award winning beers, wines and spirits it’s not hard to see why. In a recent poll, members were asked to respond with their favorite “unique to Billings” business, and Yellowstone Cellars & Winery was chosen as one of the best local hot spots.
The winery has a solid business plan and continues to grow, with a production of 3,800 cases of wine in 2019. Most of their wines (80%) are retail sales from their local tasting room. The other 15% of their wines are sold through various retail outlets—wine shops, bars/taverns, liquor stores, supermarkets, restaurants, steak houses—and mostly in the Yellowstone Valley region including Red Lodge, Absarokee, and Fishtail. They are able to self-distribute and sell directly to any retail establishments. The last 5% of their production is shipped to consumers around Montana and the U.S.
Yellowstone Cellars has been in Billings since November of 2010, when it was established by Clint Peck, an MSU agriculture graduate who spent 15 years in the ranching and beef production industry not only in Montana, but also in Brazil and Argentina. Peck became interested in wine production after visiting the Mendoza wine regions of Argentina, and later learned more about the business side of winemaking while helping family with their winery near Bellingham, WA. Peck, as the general contractor, built the 1335 Holiday Circle location of Yellowstone Cellars, and adapted the business and production model to best suit the Yellowstone Valley. Clint remarks, “It’s a family owned business, and my plans are to turn it over to my daughter and son-in-law, Sarah and Brandon Skarsten, in 2021.”
e feel so fortunate to be only W a day’s drive away from some of the highest quality wine grapes produced in the world.
Photos of wine making, from grape to glass, and winemaker Clint Peck. Photos courtesy Yellowstone Cellars & Winery.
Yellowstone Cellars is unique for a few reasons. All of the wines are produced at the local winery right here in Billings. This means that the grapes are crushed, fermented, and the wines are barrel-aged and bottled locally. Also, all of the wines are made from Old World grape varieties sourced from two family vineyards in the Yakima Valley of Washington. Each September and October, Yellowstone Cellars transports around 120,000 pounds of wine grapes to Billings representing 10-12 different
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varieties. Peck said, “We feel so fortunate to be only a day’s drive away from some of the highest quality wine grapes produced in the world.” Another interesting discovery can be found on an actual bottle of Yellowstone Cellars wine. On the label, the American Viticultural Area (AVA) designation (the wine grape-growing region in the U.S.) is “American” and not “Washington” or “Montana”. Because their wines are fermented in Montana using Washington grapes, federal law mandates that “Washington” cannot be labeled, nor can “Montana” because the grapes were not grown in Montana, therefore Yellowstone Valley’s wines are labeled “American”. As for how they decide on the varieties they make, it came down to research. Peck said, “We have researched consumer trends in wine and wine consumption, but we also know intuitively now what wines our customers prefer. That said, we offer a large variety of wines so we can match consumer demand across the board.” They have also had some releases harvested for 11 years, which adds to the consistency of their wines. “We work closely with the vineyard owners and collaborate with other Washington winemakers to know which grape varieties will grow the best at each vineyard and produce the best wines.” Peck not only knows how to pair his wines with food, but also with great entertainment. The winery’s patio venue is one of the more popular and comfortable patios in the area, offering live music every Saturday evening
featuring local musicians and singer/songwriters. Music paired with a knowledgeable and professional tasting room staff makes for a great evening out. The winery has been able to withstand some of the effects from the Covid pandemic by changing the way they do business. Like many, they offer curbside pickup, free delivery within 25 miles of the winery, and free in-state shipping. They also offer two free bottles of wine with every case of 12 bottles of wine purchased. And they did have to reduce their live music offerings from two nights a week down to just one. “We’ve lost some traction on events and other social gatherings, and enforcing social distancing and masking has been hard. It puts us in a tough position, but most of our customers have been very agreeable and understanding,” Peck said. Peck is proud of the winery’s accomplishments, consistently having been ranked among the top five "things to do" in Billings by Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor and Harvest Host websites. In 2019 they were chosen the "Best Winery" in Montana by House Beautiful Magazine, and this year were named one of the Top 7 wineries "outside of California" in the United States by TravelWaits.com. Peck takes it all in stride. “It’s the grapes that make our wine. We’re just here to steward the winemaking process by using some of the best wine grapes grown on the Earth.” And we heartily agree—those grapes taste mighty nice.
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NEXT UP WITH
CREATING EXPERIENCES FOR GROWTH
NEXTGEN IS SPONSORED BY
BY CATHY GRIDER, BILLINGS FEDERAL CREDIT UNION CO-CHAIR, NEXTGEN LEADERSHIP TEAM
his spring was like no other, and none of us are really sure what fall will bring. One thing we do know, is that as NextGEN, we continue forging an enviable path. We have been bending our brains to quickly adapt to new ways of connecting and collaborating with our peers. Readjustment seems to be the universal experience in this unprecedented time.
As NextGENers, we have been given the opportunity to continue defining benchmarks for what we want to see for generations to come. The last year has helped us raise the bar, giving each other a safe space to express what we want to see for Billings. One of my favorite benefits to NextGEN is the behind the scenes access to people and places, we may not have been given access to otherwise. Over the last few years, our generation has become a respected voice at the table for many key initiatives in our community. Seasoned leaders are interested in how they open the dialogue and gain exposure to young professionals. These passionate individuals are willing and eager to be mentors for the future of our community.
here is beauty in slowing down T and dreaming of all the possibilities. In moments we are pushed out of our comfort zone, as we have been over the last few months, some of our best ideas are born, and our greatest work is done. Brian and I are excited for the sense of purpose and excitement that has rippled through the NextGEN leadership team.
OVER THE COMING YEAR WE PLAN TO: •D IVERSIFY NEXTGEN, continuing our efforts both in terms of demographics and in industries represented. • I NCREASE NEXTGEN INVOLVEMENT WITH ADVOCACY, building a better understanding of why elections matter and encouraging young professionals to vote. •B UILD SYNERGY with the Billings Chamber’s top priority initiatives: ◆ COVID-19 Small Business Support ◆ Equality of Opportunity ◆ People and Polices Matter ◆ Public Safety •C ONTINUE CREATING NEXTGEN EXPERIENCES that deliver an elite space people desire to be a part of and opportunities for professional development and education.
NextGEN members enjoy NextHour at Opportunity Bank ealier this year.
There is beauty in slowing down and dreaming of all the possibilities. In moments we are pushed out of our comfort zone, as we have been over the last few months. Some of our best ideas are born, and our greatest work is done. NextGEN exists to build Billings’ emerging leaders. While the ways we do this in the coming year are evolving, we are working toward some of our best work yet. Young professionals working together toward a common goal promises to yield major results! Stay connected with NextGEN through Facebook or BillingsNextGEN.com.
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A night out with NextGEN for Ax Throwing!
Making the Homeownership Dream a Reality.
406.237.0104 3127 Central Ave. â€¢ Ste. 4 Billings, MT 59102 Company NMLS# 3274 NMLS ID# 250504 Branch NMLS# 140408
DeDe Stoner Branch Manager/Loan Officer guildmortgage.com/dedestoner
SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY 29
DR. BOB WILMOUTH WITH THE 2020 LEGACY AWARD BY KELLY MCCANDLESS, DIRECTOR; COMMUNICATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
r. Robert J. Wilmouth is the President of Rocky Mountain College (RMC), a position he’s held since January 2013. Previously, Dr. Wilmouth served as the Program Director for the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program at RMC. Prior to his career in higher education, Dr. Wilmouth held numerous leadership positions at Billings Clinic including Chief of Cardiac Services and Medical Director. Due to illness, he retired from practicing medicine in 2004, but his career in healthcare certainly shaped the leader he is today.
“I grew up, so to speak, in teaching hospitals,” explains Wilmouth. “Hospital hierarchy requires you to teach the people coming up behind you, so it really becomes part of who you are as a professional.” He continued, noting that as a practicing physician at Billings Clinic, he worked with students, then joined the Institute for Healthcare Improvement where he traveled the country teaching. Ultimately, that led him to the Physician Assistant program at Rocky, where he refers to his experience as “extremely gratifying and one of the most enjoyable times in my career.”
moved to Billings in 1991 and joined Billings Clinic as a cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon and became an adjunct professor for the RMC Physician Assistant Studies program. Dr. Wilmouth holds certifications from the American College of Surgeons, the National Board of Medical Examiners, the American Heart Association, the American Board of Surgery, and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He has also devoted time to numerous organizations and committees, including Mountain-Pacific Quality Health Foundation, Cambridge Health Resources, American Medical Director Association, Montana Medical Association, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons. In his time at RMC, Wiltgen recognizes Dr. Wilmouth’s efforts in establishing the College as a true community partner, through his service on the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, Riverstone Health Foundation, Billings Symphony, and Big Sky Economic Development Boards. According to Wiltgen, “Dr. Wilmouth’s unofficial personal motto is that ‘we show up to everything,’ and he truly believes that Rocky must be integrated in the community to be successful.”
I was trained all my life to stay educated and curious, and I’ve learned that 90% of life is showing up. I truly believe that if we’re all in this together, we’re going to be ok.
According to one of his nominators, Tyler Wiltgen (Vice President of Advancement at Rocky), Dr. Wilmouth “has taken RMC to the next level through his tireless pursuit of ‘getting better at everything we do.’” Wiltgen credits Dr. Wilmouth with leading the charge to raise funds and construct the brand new Dr. Charles Morledge Science Center, outfitting Herb Klindt Field with lights and artificial turf, and as the champion of providing RMC students with the best possible educational experience. “His leadership helped the College open its first ever doctorate program, in Occupational Therapy,” Wiltgen continued. “He has laid the groundwork for expansion of the College’s Physician Assistant Masters program as well.”
Dr. Wilmouth earned his Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame in psychology and pre-professional studies. Following college, he worked as a marketing representative for the IBM Corporation in the financial branch in Chicago, Illinois. During this time, he also served as a commissioned officer in the Army Reserves Medical Corps. After receiving his doctor of medicine degree from the University of Illinois, he was a surgical resident at the University of Colorado and finished with a two-year fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at New York University (where his love for the New York Jets and the Yankees was solidified). He
As an active community partner, Dr. Wilmouth is a well-respected team player, always inviting others to the table and eager to combine efforts toward favorable outcomes and progress. Despite this, he is quick to admit that leadership does not come easily to him. “I do find leadership exceptionally difficult, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. More difficult than heart surgery,” he concedes. “But when you have the honor of representing an institution like Rocky Mountain College, you have to show up. You have to want the best community possible.”
Dr. Wilmouth’s leadership approach is to put tireless effort into thinking critically; to work as if you’re getting everything ready for the next person to lead; to bring his curiosity, his drive and his empathy and to focus on the big picture. “I was trained all my life to stay educated and curious, and I’ve learned that 90% of life is showing up. I truly believe that if we’re all in this together, we’re going to be ok,” he says. Dr. Wilmouth is married to Liz, who has a master’s of science in nursing and has recently retired from the position of Senior Development Director at the Billings Clinic Foundation. They have two daughters, Katie and Maggie and their first grandchild, Kennedy. “I have a wonderful family,” Wilmouth explained. “They really are the best part.” When asked what advice he would offer to fellow leaders, Dr. Wilmouth is humble. “What I do is basic. I am committed to trying every day to get better at what I do, and am never complacent enough to think I’ve got it all figured out. And I remember that really none of this is about me, it’s about the bigger picture. We’re all in this together.”
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HOW OUTSOURCING YOUR ACCOUNTING CAN SAVE YOU IN THE LONG TERM BY EIDE BAILLY’S TRANSACTION SERVICES TEAM
he effects of COVID-19 have had substantial impacts on organizations and their bottom lines. For many, this environment has resulted in personnel cuts and lean business models for the foreseeable future.
As your organization looks for ways to contain costs, a critical factor to consider is the importance of financial statements and accounting information. Without up-to-date, accurate accounting records, you cannot make informed decisions about your operation. Financial records will be key when it comes to most tax and economic relief provisions. As guidance continues to be issued, compliance with the provisions within many of the relief legislation measures will be crucial, especially as it pertains to potential forgiveness of loan proceeds. Having a trained financial professional review these will be a necessity.
THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR FINANCIAL RECORDS Preparation has always been critical for organizations. Now it's crucial. Your finances influence most factors in your organization, from supply chain to inventory to new business models. Monthly you should be doing reconciliations for the following common accounts: • Bank accounts – this helps verify all revenue and expenditure activity is captured in your records on a monthly basis. • Accounts receivable – this helps ensure your customers are paying in a timely manner and will also help your collection procedures. • Accounts payable – this helps verify the amounts shown due are true payables and allows you to pay your vendors in a timely fashion. This may also help you take advantage of discounts given by your vendors for early payment. • Capital asset inventory – this establishes that any capital outlays are added to your software and/or external schedule. This list is an audit necessity.
• Payroll accounts (accruals and expenses) – this verifies that payroll is being accounted for properly in the correct accounts. Further, because the downturn could have a longer duration, you will need to pay attention to liquidity and make it a top priority. To do this, you'll need to:
• Conduct financial modeling to understand how various scenarios and situations will impact cash flow. • Manage the assets on the balance sheet. • Focus on inventory and accounts receivable.
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THE BENEFIT OF OUTSOURCING FINANCIAL POSITIONS With tight budgets and limited resources, many organizations have instigated hiring freezes. Yet filling the role of your accounting staff is critical. That’s why many organizations are turning to outsourcing to gain the information they need without having to bear the burden of hiring someone full-time.
In addition to data entry and monthly reconciliations, financial staff can help you craft a plan to move forward, even during times of crisis and uncertainty.
The Eide Bailly team can answer your questions and provide you with expert business outsourcing services.
Outsourced accounting staff with a high level of financial knowledge can:
CONTACT THE EIDE BAILLY BILLINGS OFFICE
• Ensure the accuracy and timeliness of your financial data • Help you manage cash flow. • Present your financial data in a useful and meaningful manner to you. • Analyze market trends and help you define key performance metrics and benchmarking data. • Understand business strengths and weaknesses and identify opportunities.
SAVE COSTS AND GAIN EXPERTISE WITH OUTSOURCED ACCOUNTING Outsourcing through a trusted advisor can give you the answers you need to your pressing financial needs at a substantially lower cost. The economic climate may be uncertain, but your financial records should not be.
RON YATES, CPA Eide Bailly Billings Partner-in-Charge 406.896.2423 RYates@EideBailly.com DEBBIE POTTER, CPA Eide Bailly Billings Partner and Tax Department Head 406.896.2498 DPotter@EideBailly.com
Originally published on EideBailly.com.
The economic climate may be uncertain, but your financial records don’t have to be. Outsourcing your bookkeeping, payroll and other accounting services can give you critical insight at a substantially lower cost.
What inspires you, inspires us.
SEPTEMBER 2020 - NOVEMBER 2020 | LiNK|BUSINESS QUARTERLY 33 406.896.2400 eidebailly.com
O pen for All: EQUALITY OF OPPORUNITY A CHAMBER PRIORITY PRiORiTY SPOTLiGHT PRiORiTY SPOTLiGHT
BY JULIE SEEDHOUSE, CENTURY21 HOMETOWN BROKERS CHAMBER BOARD TREASURER; CHAIR, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION NETWORK
n June, the Billings Chamber Board of Directors unanimously voted to adopt “Diversity and Inclusion” as one of the Chamber’s top priorities. This is a statement to our commitment to become a stronger and better organization and help our community to do the same. But what does this mean for our membership and community? There are many paths we could take forward, and many are being considered. But, most importantly, we’ve committed to start. This is a large, passionate issue touching healthcare, housing, morals, social services and hundreds of years of history. We are bound to stumble, make a misstep, and correct our path as we move forward. But we must start somewhere. Now! So, we have partnered with 500 other Chambers of Commerce and Business Associations across the country to support the U.S. Chamber’s Equality of Opportunity initiative. This partnership began our discussion around concrete actions that can be taken by government and the private sector to address inequality through education, employment, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice reform.
on the Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee). Diversity, inclusion, and being a welcoming community to all people is a topic of utmost importance, and it is critical as our community listens, learns and evolves. Our community’s quality of life for all, the ability to find good employees, and our safety depend on us being better. Collectively, we must do more to be a welcoming and inclusive community. Recently, 248 of you responded to a Billings Chamber survey about Billings being a welcoming community for diverse populations. 72% of our membership agreed “Billings must do more to allow people of color, differing religions and races and LGBTQ+ populations to feel welcome and safe.” We are grateful to everyone who thoughtfully responded to our survey by providing specific actions that we can accomplish to become better. And, we’re not done listening and learning. If you proudly belong to an under-represented minority population in Billings (race, sexual orientation, cultural diversity, etc), and/or if you’re passionate about playing a positive role in this movement, please let us know at BillingsChamber.com/ EqualityOfOpportunity.
72% of our membership agreed
“Billings must do more to allow people of color, differing religions and races and LGBTQ+ populations to feel welcome and safe.”
As a partner on this important national initiative, the Billings Chamber will host local dialogues to further the discussion. We’re fortunate that an incredible group of individuals has volunteered to serve on a Steering Committee to help guide us as we determine actions to take that are appropriate for the Billings community. The people guiding us are passionate, intelligent and committed, and we’re grateful for their support, service and guidance. (See below for the list of individuals serving
Accepting all people is an issue of human decency. It’s also an economic imperative. We are working toward a post-pandemic community where businesses thrive; its resident-workforce is healthy, happy and successful; and a place where families and individuals want to relocate. Many across the country may be looking to relocate to communities that are healthy, safe, accepting and less crowded destinations. Being under the Big Sky can be a motivating factor, but it’s not enough. To become nationally competitive for talent and entrepreneurship, Billings must be “Open for All.” The path forward requires our community to do better by seeking to listen, learn and improve, and securing equality in all areas of work.
THANK YOU TO OUR STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
JOHN BREWER (not pictured)
HEATHER MCDOWELL (not pictured)
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KODY JOHNNIE CHRISTENSEN MCCLUSKY LINTON JULIE SEEDHOUSE (pictured above)
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Five Stars. Two Years in a Row.
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Quality Matters. St. Vincent Healthcare is proud to be among the 6% ofHealthcare U.S. hospitals for overall quality. St. TOP Vincent is proud to be among the The five-star rating from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is due to TOP 6% of U.S. hospitals for overall quality.
the countless hours of work and unmatched commitment by our doctors, advanced The five-star rating from Centers Medicare Servicesjob (CMS) is due to care professionals, nurses, and for staff. Together,and theyMedicaid do an exceptional in meeting the countless hours of work andofunmatched commitment doctors, advanced the health and wellness needs families across our region. by Weour extend our thanks to for all they nurses, do as well as to ourTogether, communitythey for the you show care them professionals, and staff. doconfidence an exceptional job in in us. meeting
the health wellness our region. We extend our thanks to Qualityand Matters. Andneeds qualityof is families found atacross St. Vincent Healthcare. them for all they do as well as to our community for the confidence you show in us. Quality Matters. And quality is found at St. Vincent Healthcare.
Learn more today at svh.org/5star