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table of contents
9.16 CONTENTS AUTHORIZE COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION
BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT WYNDSTONE
YELLOWSTONE KELLY THANK YOU The Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site Thanks Donors.
Outlook 2016: A Look at Chamber Priorities
BUSINESS GROWTH: MEMBER FEATURE ON THE BILLINGS DEPOT
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9.16 EVERY ISSUE
PRESIDENTS LETTER It's time to act.
Making your membership work for you.
Some of the latest statistics and economic data impacting businesses in Billings.
Adding to the Government affairs arsenal.
MONTANAâ€™S TRAILHEAD Site inspections provide on the ground opportunities to sell Billings.
GET TO KNOW ALYSSA HALL Visitor Services Specialist for Visit Billings.
TRIPS ON A TANKFUL
GET TO KNOW GINNY HART
Cruisin' Baker and talkin' cars and the new face of SEMT.
Limitless Opportunities: Act Now! 2016 Annual meeting.
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FROM THE PRESiDENT/CEO
BIG SKY LEVEL
IT’S TIME TO ACT.
GRANITE PEAK LEVEL
Last month I attended a conference of Chambers from across the United States.
The common thread of discussions from these cities centered on workforce, young professional retention and recruitment, downtown development, growth issues and education. It all sounded very familiar. Many of these cities have developed revenue tools to advance their appeal to residents along with businesses and individuals looking to relocate. Billings is Montana’s first city. And, we're also America's Best Town 2016 thanks to Outside Magazine's recognition. Carrying such a significant banner is accompanied by a learning curve not only for community decision makers and residents but also for leaders across the state. Our limitless opportunities—and challenges—are uniquely Billings. However, every community across the state is stretched to address their individual shortcomings and dream big projects.
CenturyLink EBMS MSU Billings
BEARTOOTH LEVEL Albertsons District Office Big Sky Economic Development BNSF Century 21 Hometown Brokers Computers Unlimited Crowley Fleck PLLP Denny Menholt Chevrolet Devfuzion DiA Events Enterprise Holdings ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Co. Gainan’s Flowers & Garden Center Integra Kampgrounds of America Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. Olsen Ortho Studio PayneWest Insurance Phillips 66 Radisson Hotel Rocky Mountain College Spectrum Business Stockman Bank, Billings The Western Sugar Cooperative Underriner Honda Vertex Consulting Group Walmart Walmart Heights Western Security Bank
As we head toward the 2017 legislative session we all must be prepared to tell our compelling story and share our vision which is tied to our economic future and the quality of place we all enjoy. Competition from communities throughout the region and across the country is fierce—and in many cases we are years, if not decades, behind. In this issue we share a few of those opportunities for growth. We also offer suggestions to achieve those objectives through funding channels currently available only to a limited number of small communities who compete for much of the same business we do in Billings. The end goal is progress, living up to our recognition as Best Town 2016.
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LiNK is proudly distributed at these member businesses: • Beyond the Box • Barnett Opticians • BioLife Plasma Services • Christian Brothers Automotive • Commons 1882 • Crowley Fleck PLLP • Doc Harpers • EBMS • Fringe Salon & Boutique • Heights Eye Care • Jiffy Lube
Published by: The Billings Gazette Project Management/ Editor: Kelly McCandless Creative Designer: Nadine Bittner Photo Contributors Billings Gazette Staff Photographers, Billings Chamber, Visit Billings, Rhea Wolpoe, Paul Aspen Advertising Sales:
Kevin Cremer 406-245-4111
www.billingschamber.com PO Box 31177 Billings MT 59107-1177 406-245-4111 • 800-711-2630
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• LP Anderson • MasterLube (all locations) • Morningstar • PayneWest • Picture Perfect Ultrasound • Practical Taxes • Sanctuary Spa • Shiloh Automotive • Thomas Smile Designs • Western Heritage Center
MAKING YOUR MEMBERSHIP WORK FOR YOU BY JENNIFER REISER, IOM — CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
The Billings Chamber of Commerce offers an extensive array of membership benefits, including everything from advertising and marketing to events and networking.
Through these offerings, we help you grow your bottom line by connecting you to opportunities and advocating for your business and our community. People make the decision to join Chambers based on a variety of factors. Some join with the specific intent to get involved and get something for their business. These are typically individuals who are building their business and commit the time, energy and effort to be physically present at networking meetings and events. Others are community investors, joining with the intent of getting something done through our organization, building and
investing in the community as a whole. No matter where you find yourself on the membership spectrum, our team will work to customize your membership experience and align your benefits with the reasons you joined. We strive to understand your perspective, have a pulse on the diverse needs of businesses and to develop strategies to align with your expectations. Your Chamber offers access, resources and solutions. It also offers credibility and respect. A study conducted by the Schapiro Group, Inc. indicates that being active in the local chamber
is a good strategy for business. “Statistically it is an effective way to convey to consumers that a company uses good business practices, is involved in the community, cares about customers, and is reputable. In fact, when consumers know that a small business is a member of the chamber of commerce, they are 44% more likely to think favorably of it and 63% more likely to purchase goods and services from the company in the future.” We appreciate your continued investment and hope you see your desired results from your membership and involvement. Please contact us for a benefits review at any time.
CHAMBER STATISTICS: What are we doing for you?
As of June 30, 2016, the end of our fiscal year, the Billings Chamber represents 1,199 members with approximately 48,274 employees. Since the beginning of our fiscal year on July 1, 2015 through it's end on June 30, 2016: Number of Calls/Inquiries:...... 10,587 (average of 1,176/month) Visitors to the Visitor Information Center:..........................5,042 Visits to VisitBillings.com:................................................ 241,457 Visits to BillingsChamber.com:.......................................... 37,371 Relocation Packets Mailed:.................................................... 180
Connect for Lunch:................ 246 lunches served so far this FY. At an average cost of $12/lunch that is an impact of $2,928 to member restaurants.
Convention and Meeting Tourism Bookings:....................$2,928 hotel room nights booked for $ 6,613,650 total economic impact on the city of Billings.
Conventions and Meetings Serviced by Visit Billings:.......9,207 convention delegate packets provided.
Visitor Information Packets Mailed:.................................. 27,296 Business Meeting Attendees at Chamber:.........................10,175 Chamber Event Attendance:................................................. 5,796
Is your info current? Make sure we’re sharing the correct information with potential clients! Check your listing at BillingsChamber.com and let us know if changes are needed.
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KEY ECONOMIC INDICATORS Hotel Occupancy
80.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 70.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 60.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 50.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 40.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0.0%____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2016
Unemployment Rate Comparison
Yellowstone County Population
Percent change in county population 2010-2013
Unemployment Rate as of July 2016 Yellowstone County
Median Household Income
Airport Deboardings: City Comparison 600,000_______________________________________________________________________________________
Average Home Price
300,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ Number of Business Licenses
School District #2 Enrollment
Sources: Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Billings Association of Realtors®, City of Billings, School District #2, U.S. Census Bureau and the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research.
*2013 Billings deboardings were impacted by runway maintenance in July/August. **2016 data for January–May 2016 only.
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ADDING TO THE GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS ARSENAL BY DANIEL J. BROOKS, GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS MANAGER
Most people involved in the Chamber know me from various functions and events around Billings. Perhaps you even saw my picture in the past issue of LiNK and took time to read the little nuggets of information about me— surprisingly nobody has called with orders for my self-proclaimed world’s best stovetop popcorn. But if you come into the Chamber looking for me, you’ll have to wander back to the office where Bruce MacIntyre spent the last decade spearheading his government advocacy efforts for Billings’ businesses. Since July 1st I have been working as the Chamber’s Government Affairs Manager, taking a share of the government advocacy
duties. For those fretting they will not see Bruce on the regular, fear not, because he has not made his exodus just yet. Bruce is continuing on in a part-time role, moving toward retirement after the next legislative session. Accordingly, you can expect to see him often as he champions a number of issues throughout the upcoming legislative session in 2017. While Bruce continues to address numerous legislative matters as he has year after year, I am focusing my time and attention on the biggest priority for the Billings Chamber: local option authority, the cover feature for this issue of LiNK.
My goal in this position is to affect positive change for Billings. I intend to help connect our membership with issues of local importance, and help to move our city forward as an economic leader in the region. With an educational background fitting squarely into government affairs work, leadership experience as a Marine running combat operations in Iraq, and the immense wealth of knowledge wielded by Bruce MacIntyre as a resource, I look forward to the crucial work we can accomplish serving our Chamber membership and the Billings business community.
CHAMBER’S TOP 3 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES: LOCAL OPTION TAXING AUTHORITY TOURISM FUNDING
• The Chamber supports local option taxing authority as a mechanism for funding economic development, allowing all Montana communities to determine whether or not they want to implement this tax, and for what purposes.
• Current law states that municipalities may not adopt or enforce a local law pertaining to drinking or a person in an incapacitated status. Limiting law enforcement to issuing citations and imposing jail time are not solutions to this problem.
• The tax should have local voted authorization and include a defined purpose, a limited duration, and should be used in the community in which it is generated.
• The Billings Chamber believes that the three percent of the lodging tax presently going to the general fund should be reallocated to tourism, tourism regions, and specific tourism bureaus. • We will strongly support any legislation that allows tourism to restore its buying power.
• Communities need to have the ability to pass their own ordinances to give law enforcement additional tools to get help and treatment for people who are incapacitated, and the Billings Chamber will continue to support legislation to modify the existing law.
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BOOKING THE BUSINESS: ON THE
GROUND OPPORTUNITIES TO
BILLINGS BY ALEX TYSON EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VISIT BILLINGS
One of the most important offerings in the Visit Billings recruitment toolbox is a site inspection. Often times referred to as a site visit, this service is an opportunity for our team to host a meeting planner(s) who is interested in choosing Billings for a meeting, convention or sporting event but isn’t quite convinced the city can accommodate all needs and meet all expectations of the attendees for a successful program. We are here to demonstrate and reassure them. For a meeting, sports or event planner, booking a destination site
– PHOTO COURTESY OF: VISIT BILLINGS PHOTO AT RIGHT:
Staff showing a planner the Beartooth Highway. – PHOTO COURTESY OF: VISIT BILLINGS
unseen is risky. However, there are some tourism destinations that have strong enough brands and track records that a decision is easy without a visit. Those destinations are our competitive cities. A first tier meeting destination fits the bill here. For instance, Austin, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Orlando, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Washington D.C., or Chicago are likely guaranteed to offer a planner a strong turn out with easy access to the convention which means the meeting will be lucrative for the association, organization or
company in charge of the event. Second tier destinations are somewhat safe choices. Boise, Spokane, Reno, and Albuquerque are examples. Billings is considered a third tier destination, but our potential to become a viable second tier destination is real and that is what our team strives toward. Our ability, thanks to Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) funding and our partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, allows us to host organizers who are interested in Montana as a bucket
list destination for their attendees, but need easy accessibility for travelers, state of the art meeting space, strong destination support, and opportunities to get attendees excited outside of the conference agenda.
Billings meets all of these needs, but our tourism brand is fresh and new to a majority of planners. The community is evolving and people aren’t sure if Billings fits the bill. The site inspection allows us to prove ourselves as a meeting, touring and sports destination. Whether it’s a day trip or an itinerary with a few nights stay, the site visit is a crucial service in our efforts to change the perception of us as an eastern Montana city in the middle of nowhere. Because as you and I know, there’s nowhere you’d rather be, so we appreciate the opportunity to take people to the Rimrocks and show them Montana’s Trailhead. Once we vet the business and ensure it’s a viable option and we can meet their needs successfully, we get to work. Itineraries are built to showcase facilities, attractions, dining, shopping – anything and everything that will entice the
planner and show our ability to cater to their guests. The results of this service speak for themselves: very few planners we have hosted have not gone on to choose Billings after genuinely experiencing our town. In fact, more than 75% of site visits go on to result in realized room nights and economic impact for Montana’s Trailhead. Often business we lose is due to logistical challenges and not a lack of desire for our destination. Remember, if you attend a meeting or conference and you think it could be held successfully in Billings, we’d like to hear from you! Stefan Cattarin is the Visit Billings Sales Manager: Stefan@VisitBillings.com.
Our ability, thanks to Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) funding and our partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, allows us to host organizers who are interested in Montana as a bucket list destination for their attendees, but need: • easy accessibility for travelers • state of the art meeting space • strong destination support • opportunities to get attendees excited outside of the conference agenda.
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. VisitBillings.com Visit Billings is managed by the Billings Chamber of Commerce.
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GET TO KNOW CHAMBER STAFF:
Tell us about your photo:
PHOTO COURTESY PA U L A S P E N
Konner is not only my fiancé but my best friend. We will be getting married on October 1st and I couldn’t be more excited to do life with him.
Visitor Services Specialist
Years on Staff: 1.5 Years
Describe your position in 5 words: Challenging, Rewarding, Fulfilling, Growing, Exciting
Favorite Chamber/Visit Billings event or program?
My favorite Visit Billings program is the Trailhead Tourism Ambassador program. I love being able to educate Billings’ frontline staff on what there is to experience in our beautiful city.
One adjective that describes you: Determined
The TV show you can’t miss: The Voice.
What is one thing about the organization you think most people don’t know? What book is on your nightstand? My Bible and The 5 Levels of Leadership
The dish you’re known for cooking? Chicken Parmesan
I don’t think people realize how much the Chamber and Visit Billings team truly cares about this community. I have never met a more passionate group of people and I am honored to be part of a team that is focused on bettering our community.
Words you live by:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
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TRiPS on a TANKFUL
CRUISIN’ BAKER & TALKIN’ CARS BY BRENDA MAAS, MARKETING MANAGER
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.
ometimes, it just feels good to “get out of Dodge.”
First opened in 2006, the private museum is owned by long-time Baker residents and business owners Ken and Karen Griffith.
Or, perhaps you are partial to Fords? Since the advent of the automobile, day-trips have connected man (or woman) to vehicle, and vehicles have connected mankind to place. This fall, you are invited to hop into your favorite ride and explore generations of vehicles at the Prairie Rose Classics car museum in Baker, Mont.
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“We’ve been married 50 years, and we’ve driven all these types of cars at one time or another,” Karen said of the couple’s extensive collection. When the museum first opened its doors, Ken and Karen had only one classic car – the rest of the space was filled with vehicles from other members of Baker’s Classic Cruisers car club. Over time the Griffiths
expanded their collection and now share it with all – along with the stories of these vintage beauties. Classic Cruisers car club volunteers, along with Karen and Ken themselves, give personal tours and share their own recollections. The Griffiths have traveled in all of the lower 48 states in a car, sometimes even driving – or purchasing another – classic car as part of their journey. Visitors will see, on average, 15 pristine
late-model cars and trucks, all within an expansive building at 108 S. Main St. From a 1920 Dodge Brothers Touring Car, to a ’54 Chevy Impala, to a ’69 Toronado, the beauty – and the stories – of these great American classics continues to shine. Prairie Rose Classics car museum is open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays during the summer and Thursdays and Fridays during the winter, or by an advance appointment. For more information or to make a reservation, call Ken or Karen Griffith at 406-978-3195.
THE NEW FACE OF VISIT SOUTHEAST MONTANA
Brenda Maas brings more than 20 years of communications experience to the position of Marketing Manager for Southeast Montana. She earned her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and freelanced in multiple industries including travel. Most recently Brenda worked as managing editor with the Billings Gazette’s niche publications department producing the award-winning Magic magazine plus Big Sky Bride and other specialty publications. When she is not traveling for work Brenda tends to travel for fun with her husband, Brett. They are often found following the activities of one of their three teen-aged sons. Brenda also claims gardening, bicycling, reading and camping as favored activities but admits that new adventures are what make her heart skip. Brenda is available to give presentations to business and civic organizations, sharing insight of what makes Southeast Montana an ideal travel destination. Contact her at 294-5270 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEVER STOP EXPLORING Brenda Maas believes that travel opens one’s mind to possibilities. The exterior of Prairie Rose Classics in Baker gives visitors a small taste of what they will see inside. The Griffiths commissioned an artist to create this mural, which depicts the vehicles owned by members of the Baker Classic Car club. – PHOTO COURTESY OF: VISIT SOUTHEAST MONTANA
As the new Marketing Manager for Visit Southeast Montana, she challenges Chamber members to open their minds right here at “home.” Whether you are new to town or have lived here for a lifetime, take a new look at the region’s treasures by exploring our corner of this amazing state. Here are just of few of her suggestions: 1. Browse the treasures at Prairie Unique or marvel at the artistic insight of Evelyn Cameron in Terry. 2. Go underground (almost literally) in the WaterWorks Art Museum or entrench yourself in western culture at the Range Riders Museum in Miles City. 3. Drive along the Musselshell River and revel the glorious gold tones of a crisp autumn day – be sure to stop for eats along the way. 4. Float the Bighorn River and cast for a prize rainbow or brown trout, because every day on a river in Montana is a good day. 5. Go back in time at Makoshika State Park by hiking Montana’s badlands or getting up-close-and-personal with a Triceratops skull in the interpretive center. These are just a few ideas. For more tips, contact Brenda at (406) 294-5270 or email@example.com, or check out #SoutheastMontana.
Karen Griffith looked for a long time before she purchased this 1957 Metropolitan – often referred to as a “Metro.” –
PHOTO COURTESY OF: VISIT SOUTHEAST MONTANA
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AUTHORIZE COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION (ACT)
Seeking Local Option Authority to Address Local Issues B Y DA N I E L J. B R O O K S
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Montana is one of the best places to live. Our scenery, outdoor adventure, and opportunity to foster a great work-life balance are key considerations when people are deciding where to settle down. However, in the era of information availability and low travel costs, communities are in constant competition to attract and retain the talented workforce and business required to generate economic prosperity for their citizens. Montana was dealt a fantastic hand with its natural beauty, but attracting Millennials—presently the largest demographic in the U.S. workforce—requires more than reliance on the status quo. In order for Montana to attract the talented workforce necessary for economic growth in an increasingly competitive environment, a concerted economic development effort must be made to provide the quality-of-life resources people seek. Unfortunately for Montana communities, funding placemaking and economic development projects is difficult due to a lack of funding mechanisms. Simply put: the property owner is overburdened by continuous requests for levy increases and bonding against property taxes. Without more options, cities face increased unwillingness to pay for necessary economic development and quality-of-life necessities.
ENTER, LOCAL OPTION AUTHORITY Local option authority is an enabling legislation at the state level that permits residents in cities the opportunity to enact a temporary sales tax on themselves. Although many people view the word “tax” with contempt, the local option possesses some key characteristics that mitigate these negative connotations. First, in order for a community to enact a local option tax, registered voters in the community must vote to approve the tax and the projects the money will be spent on. This ensures that tax revenue collected is spent on projects that are focused on addressing each community’s economic development needs. Why wait on Helena or DC to award grants or pass legislation unevenly appropriating economic development funds? Community empowerment derived from the local option gives cities greater autonomy to forge the pathway of their future. Second, tax revenue cannot go into a government’s general fund. Instead, the money is placed in a segregated account, overseen by a citizen advisory panel, where it stays until it is used to pay for the voter-approved project or projects. Providing cities flexible payment options allows unique solutions that address the economic development challenges they face. For instance, a community may need vital infrastructure immediately and can bond against local option proceeds, while simultaneously accruing local option revenue to pay for placemaking projects with cash when the tax ends. Utilizing local option allows innovative, communitytailored solutions to transform cities without needing to burden the property owner further. Third, local option contains a provision limiting its duration. This means that registered voters are also voting to approve the duration of the tax. In the case of local option, the duration can last no longer than 10 years, but may be shorter depending on the community’s needs. If a subsequent local option tax were to be enacted, it would have to pass another vote from the community.
WHY DO WE NEED LOCAL OPTION? As a Montanan, enjoying all our great state has to offer, it is easy to recognize our competitive advantage in natural amenities. Our mountains, rivers, and outdoors are important assets that attract people and business to Montana. However, competition from denser metropolitan areas pulls people out of our state. Thicker labor markets lead to higher salaries, and combined with quality-of-life benefits, attract talented workers and the businesses that want to hire them. In order to retain a competitive advantage, Montana and her cities must constantly improve,
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upgrade, and evolve to provide the necessities and amenities the increasingly Millennial workforce desires. Billings’ own Millennials attest to the necessity of continual placemaking and quality-oflife upgrades. Emily Petroff, a Billings-born entrepreneur recognizes, “Settling for the ‘status quo’ or resisting change will ensure that the next generation, including my own children, look to relocate. They will seek out cities and towns where there are more opportunities, positive vibes, beautiful places to live and grow, and fun things to do.” Jeff Ewelt, one of Petroff’s colleagues in the Billings Chamber’s young professionals group, NextGEN, echoes her sentiments, “We need to provide the quality-of-life amenities that recruit and retain talent. I want a city my son will be proud to call home, a place where he can stay and raise his family.” Providing the placemaking necessities that attract a talented workforce leads to an increase in businesses seeking that labor, and ultimately, thicker labor markets and higher salaries as an economy grows. This is crucial not only for attracting Millennials seeking good jobs, but small businesses, too. Kris Carpenter, a small business owner in Billings, notes, “Quality of life is essential to the people I want to hire. It’s not simply my need for good workers, I also need them to want to live and stay in Billings.” Asked what she had in mind, Carpenter responded, “Big ideas. Bold place-making initiatives like developing the Yellowstone River for recreation, entertainment, and restaurants would attract more of the workforce my small businesses need in the future.” Whether that is a project the Billings community wants to pursue is yet to be decided. What is certain is that without local option as a funding mechanism, it is difficult for the community to even engage in that discussion. Beyond the imperative of addressing economic development and workforce issues in the coming decades, local option, once authorized at the state level, avoids reliance on federal and state funding, and the increasingly toxic partisanship
that leads to gridlock. Montana communities cannot afford to languish as political parties bicker. And while local communities are not immune to polarization, the effects are less pronounced when voting for local option projects because registered voters, unlike politicians, need not fret reelection. Finally, from a pragmatic standpoint, Montana is missing out on potential tax revenue from 11.7 million tourists that use the state’s roads, facilities, and services as they visit. While Montanans appreciate the business—tourism is Montana’s second largest industry, bringing $3.6 billion to our state—local communities need help to fund the necessities and amenities that help attract tourists in the first place. For Billings the potential revenue from a local option sales tax is substantial. The Billings Chamber very conservatively estimates revenue from local option at $10 million annually for every 1% taxed. Given 10 years to accumulate would yield $100 million for the economic development Billings voters want.
governments the authority to implement a local option tax. In order to ensure your community has the right to implement local option, refuse to be a member of the silent majority. Start the conversation with your community, your workplace, and your family. What does your community need? What does your community want? Will your children want to live there 20 years from now? After identifying your community’s placemaking wants and needs, consider how your community will pay for them without local option. If you discover that your community needs another funding tool, and decides it is time to authorize community transformation (ACT), contact the Billings Chamber and we will help you make a difference!
WHAT IS LOCAL OPTION? L ocal option is locally focused: citizens choose and approve.
WHY DON’T WE HAVE LOCAL OPTION? Despite the benefits and necessity of empowering communities with the ability to pass local option, enabling legislation required at the state level has never passed into law. While there are many Montanans unaware of local option, legislators in Helena have dealt with it often throughout the previous two decades. Each of the Montana legislative sessions in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2009 voted down or tabled bills that would have authorized local option. Why would such a transformative, fiscally prudent, economic development tool not pass the state legislature? The problem partly stems from a misunderstanding of how the local option works and mitigates some of the negative byproducts of taxation. Vocal constituents perennially opposed to taxation can influence the decisions of their representatives. Ironically, the majority of Montanans—69% according to a 2015 Montana Chamber of Commerce and Moore Information survey—favored allowing local
L ocal option is community empowerment: don’t wait on Helena or DC. L ocal option is fiscal flexibility: communitytailored solutions.
TWO STEPS TO COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION 1. L ocal option authorized by state legislature.
2. L ocal voters approve projects, tax rate, and duration.
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A Look at Chamber Priorities and Welcome to the New Board of Directors
BY BILL COLE
COLE LAW FIRM, BILLINGS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE 2016 BOARD CHAIR
The Chamber works to improve our vibrant community, and priorities like these help to connect our residents to our amazing amenities, like the Yellowstone River seen here. PHOTO BY ANDY AUSTIN/COURTESY VISIT BILLINGS
Welcome to another year of progress, leadership, and growth with your Billings Chamber of Commerce. I am proud to be chair of your Board of Directors and confident this year will be another for the record books. In case you do not know me, I am a native of Bozeman and have practiced law in Billings for 25 years. I have been active with various committees of the Chamber for almost that long and have served on the boards for a number of community organizations. The Chamber has set its sights on six strategic priorities this year. Some of these can be accomplished soon; others are long-term goals that will require a multi-year effort. In the short-term, the Chamber and the City of Billings are on track to soon complete the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site in Swords Rimrock Park. The site will attract visitors and local residents interested in Montana history and fulfill a promise made to the famous frontiersman in 1928. With fundraising almost complete, focus has shifted to constructing the site and promoting the “Yellowstone Kelly brand” as a defining community element. The legislative season is coming up soon. We need local tools for local governments to solve local problems. Billings and other Montana cities can no longer look to empty federal and state coffers to fund local infrastructure and capital improvements needed to retain young people, attract skilled workers, and vie with regional competitors. Read more about this effort on page 16. Billings business depends on quality air service. The Chamber remains focused on increasing the number of flights serving Billings and improving the airport facility experience. Work
is being done to secure direct service to American Airline’s hub in Dallas, providing onestop service to 44 cities for the first time. The airport is also undergoing major updates to offer visitors a more functional and aesthetically-pleasing experience. With just over 3 percent unemployment in Billings, businesses struggle to find qualified workers. The Chamber is committed to supporting BillingsWorks, a consortium of community groups charged with growing and improving the pool of potential employees. Explore the new talent-attraction website at BillingsWorks.org. Billings is a magnet for state and regional conferences bringing millions of dollars to our community, but we risk losing much of that business if we do not upgrade and expand our meeting facilities. The Chamber will work over the long-term to investigate all possible options and develop public-private partnerships that can fund and implement those improvements. Our trail system is one of Billings’ greatest assets. The Chamber’s final strategic objective is the completion of the Marathon Loop around Billings and the construction of more internal connections. Great progress has been made, and with negotiations and studies underway, the future looks positive. The Billings Chamber represents you, our 1,199 members who employ 48,000 people. Our aim is to help you grow your bottom line by connecting you to opportunities and advocating for your business and our community. We appreciate your support as we look toward continued growth and success.
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2016-2017 BOARD OF DIRECTORS The Billings Chamber of Commerce welcomes and thanks its 2016-2017 Board of Directors. The Executive Board is comprised of: Bill Cole, Cole Law Firm – Chair; Kris Carpenter Sanctuary/Joy of Living/Joy of Kids – Chair Elect; Patrice Elliott, EBMS – Secretary/Treasurer; Jeff Walters, Vertex Consulting Group – Past Chair. We would also like to welcome three new Directors to our board: Mike Nelson with Northern Hotel, Julie Seedhouse with Century 21 and Lynette Kosovich with Rimrock. The additional directors that make up the Chamber board are: Brian Brown – First Interstate Bank; Chris Dimock – Elation, Inc.; Dr. Randy Gibb – Billings Clinic; Ginny Hart – Residence Inn by Marriott; Casey McGowan – Trailhead Spirits; Nichole Mehling-Miles – St. Vincent Healthcare; Dr. Mark Nook – MSU Billings; Lisa Perry – NorthWestern Energy; Ray Rigdon – Phillips 66; Dave Worstell Billings Gazette Communications. Ex-Officio Members: Steve Arveschoug - Big Sky Economic Development; Terry Bouck - Billings School District #2; Lisa Harmon – Downtown Billings Association; Tina Volek - City of Billings The Billings Chamber of Commerce also thanks outgoing board members Ron Yates with Eide Bailly, LLP, and Greg Kohn with Vistage Billings for their years of dedicated service to the Board of Directors.
COLE LAW FIRM CHAIR
SANCTUARY/JOY OF LIVING/ EBMS JOY OF KIDS SECRETARY/TREASURER CHAIR ELECT
VERTEX CONSULTING GROUP PAST CHAIR
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Dr. Randy Gibb
Dr. Mark Nook
FIRST INTERSTATE BANK
ST. VINCENT HEALTHCARE
BILLINGS GAZETTE COMMUNICATIONS
RESIDENCE INN BY MARRIOTT
Lynette Kosovich RIMROCK.
Steve Arveschoug BIG SKY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
BILLINGS SCHOOL DISTRICT #2
OUTGOING BOARD MEMBERS
EIDE BAILLY, LLP
DOWNTOWN BILLINGS ASSOCIATION
CITY OF BILLINGS
Upcoming Events at the Studio Sept. 17th Paint til you Faint from 7pm-11pm Sept. 24th Back to School Ice Cream Party with Cherry Berry from 1pm-3pm th Oct.15 Kaboom for Breast Cancer is an All Day event and 25% of proceeds will go towards mammograms for women in Billings
Paint til you Faint from 7pm-11pm Oct. 29th Children’s Halloween Costume Party from 4-6pm Nov. 19h Paint til you Faint from 7pm-11pm Dec.4th, 11th, & 18th Photos with Santa Claus and Ornament Decorating from 12-4pm Dec. 17th Paint til you Faint from 7pm-11pm
Av e .
2 78 4 94
20 1 0
Kids Project Nights – Weekly Painting Classes – Melted Glass Art – Mosaics – Ceramics
L L A ss M S sine t Bu igh
Remarkable Retirement Living in the Heights!
Opening Fall 2016 Call 655-7700
l t o Sp
Live life your way at WyndStone, a remarkable retirement community in Billings’ Heights! From engaging social events to stimulating dinner onversations with friends, you can find a fulfilling lifestyle here.
Kids’ Project Nights
WyndStone’s twelve styles of maintenance free one and two-bedroom apartments feature great-room style floor plans, full kitchens, and a Weekly Painting personal washer/dryer. The community areas include: Classes • Aquatic Center with hot tub • Gracious dining room • Fitness Center • Heated garage • Little White Church • Woodshop, game/billiards room,Melted and more! Glass Art Peace of mind is priceless when planning for your future, so WyndStone also offers independent living with supportive services at Meadowlark Landing and assisted living with memory support at Novak Cottage.
Kids’ Theme/ Costume Party Destination Mosaics
and of course Ceramics!
In partnership with St. Vincent Healthcare and St. John’s Lutheran Ministries.
Follow our construction progress! facebook.com/WyndStoneLiving SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2016 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 23
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LIMITLESS OPPORTUNITIES: ACT NOW! BY JESSICA HART, EVENTS MANAGER
The recent win of Best Town 2016 awarded to Billings by Outside Magazine gave many residents time to think and reflect on all of the amazing qualities Billings has to offer.
In times of reflection it is common to look past the good and fixate on things we deem less than desirable. Rather than dwelling on the negative, the Chamber, along with many of our local leaders, have made the decision to ACT now. The 2016 Chamber Annual Meeting will prove that Billings’ potential has no bounds. Our yearly luncheon will be held at the Red Lion Hotel and Convention Center (formerly the Billings Hotel and Convention Center) on Tuesday, September 27th at 11:30am.
Where do we see Billings in 3 years? 5 years? 10 years? Or even 20 years? How can we improve our quality of life? What can we do to keep our college students here and beyond that, what can we do to bring college graduates to Billings? Along with exploring potential answers to these questions, this event will focus on Billings’ current situation as a community and what the future may have in store for the place we call home. Local leaders will speak on creative ways to take Billings to the next level. Our hope is to engage our membership and the
EVENTS BUSINESS AFTER HOURS
Business After Hours is the premiere networking event for business professionals in the Billings’ area. It is held on the second Wednesday of each month from 5 – 7 p.m and the cost to attend is just $8.
BILLINGS CLINIC OCTOBER 12TH 2800 10th Ave. N.
UBERBREW NOVEMBER 9TH 2305 Montana Ave.
community to start taking action for what you want in Billings. The time is now to show pride for the place where we work, play and live. It is an exciting place to be, but what’s next? We are limitless. Tickets for the event are $35.00. Accompanying the luncheon is the Business Expo featuring fellow members showcasing their products and services from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Attend to enjoy both events and become an active member of the Billings community and our progress toward the next level.
SAVE THE DATE! SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY
NOVEMBER 26TH Shop Billings! Participate in the fun and excitement of shopping our local merchants.
RED LION HOTEL AND CONVENTION CENTER DECEMBER 14TH 1223 Mullowney Ln.
2017 AG APPRECIATION BANQUET Presented by Yellowstone Valley Electric Co-Op JANUARY 20, 2017 Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark
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Yellowstone Kelly thanks INTERPRETIVE SITE
Thank you to the 52 businesses and individuals who contributed to the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site to date. Learn more or make a tax deductible contribution to this community heritage site! Contact Chris Dimock at 294-2403 or visit YellowstoneKelly.org.
B IG S K
U N T RY
S TA R O F
Bill & Anne Cole
Beth & Scott Stephenson
SCOUT CONTRIBUTORS Joseph Sample
Jim & Lin Roscoe
GIFT CARDS ARE GREAT FOR
New Yearâ€™s Eve
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404 N. 30th St.
GET TO KNOW THE BOARD:
What is the number one thing in Billings youâ€™d take a visiting friend to see/do?
I would take them to see my family homestead where a lot of the large landscaping rock comes from around the city. My son delivered much of the rock for the MetraPark and Alkali Creek landscaping.
PHOTO COURTESY RHEA WOLPOE
Business: Residence Inn by Marriott
One adjective that describes you:
As a board member, you have the inside scoop. What would you share about the Chamber that other members may not know?
The chamber is a positive group wanting to move our community forward.
Tell us about your photo:
After my children were grown we purchased our first toy just for ourselves and I look forward every year to getting my jet skis out and riding on the water. Wind, water and the site of the Beartooths soothes away all my stress!
The snack always found in your desk/office: Popcorn, apples.
Words you live by: God is not finished yet.
If you had a super power, what would it be?
A magic wand to make things beautiful, all our homes would look great and all the unsightly areas would be stunning.
What was your first job? I was on the
opening crew of the first Burger King in the city on Grand Ave.
You get to make one change for the Billings community today â€“ what would you do? I would join everyone together to make our city the jewel of the region.
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BUSINESS GROWTH: A LOOK AT THE HISTORIC
BILLINGS DEPOT BY RENÉ BEYL
BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST
The Historic Billings Depot has been the host of the Billings Chamber’s Collaborate meetings for the past 4 years. With many events and activities happening, I wanted to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes. After a pleasant conversation with Jennifer Mercer, the driven Executive Director running the show, I’ve got the inside scoop.
R: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TYPE OF EVENT TO HOST AND WHY? J: The fun part about an event venue is the diversity of events,
but one of our very favorites lately was the "Hoedown" community thank-you event that we put on to thank the Billings community for all the support over the last couple of decades. We LOVED having all the children's laughter filling our space, and it was so fun to welcome families that had never been to the Historic Depot before!
R: TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE WILD WOMEN OF THE WEST. J: The Wild Women of the West is a group of ladies that gathers
once a month for the purpose of laughing, enjoying a fun activity together, and having an excuse to get to know other fabulous women. Each woman donates $100 a year to support the historic Depot, and in exchange the Depot organizes and plans monthly events, including 4 free "Wild Women" socials each year.
R: YOU HAVE A LOT IN THE WORKS - WHAT CHANGES OR ADDITIONS ARE ON THE HORIZON FOR THE BILLINGS DEPOT? J: We are currently working on three major transformative
projects that would each benefit the Billings community. First, we are working with the Downtown Billings Association on the "Montana Avenue Magic" project to light up all the trees on Montana Avenue. Second, we are raising funds to purchase a 15-Passenger "Bike Bus" for downtown that could be rented out for team building events, brewery tours, progressive dinners, and fun nights out. We are also planning a "Community Hops Harvest Fence" that would run 5 blocks down Montana Avenue and provide a useful crop for all our area breweries. As part of that project we would also incorporate a walking historical signage tour. We are currently seeking community funding partners for all three of those projects.
The Depot hosts approx year, ranging from weddin non-profit meetings, trade s
R: WHY ARE YOU A BILLINGS CHAMBER MEMBER? J: We love being a part of an organization dedicated to promoting and helping our community prosper!
PHOTO COURTESY OF: JOHNNA MELTON
Ribbon Cuttings The following Chamber member businesses recently celebrated grand openings, anniversaries, rebranding, relocation, and ground breakings. Congratulations to each of them!
celebrated their new business on June 17th
CANDI’S ART & PARTY STUDIO showed off the new look, signs and owners on June 23rd
held a grand opening for this new aspect to the business on June 30th
MONTANA DRESS COMPANY celebrated their business with a grand opening on July 27th
relocated to new offices and hosted an open house on July 28th
SALON AVALON PHOTO COURTESY OF: DENNIS ROGERS
has a new owner and celebrated the remodeled salon on August 4th
held a grand opening for their new College on August 11th
ximately 125-140 events each ngs to fundraisers, corporate and shows, and Christmas parties!
SAS SPURILLA’S CLOSET promoted their grand opening on August 19th
Does your business have a momentous change in the future? Schedule a ribbon cutting celebration! This complimentary member benefit is available to all members – simply contact us to schedule yours by calling 406-245-4111.
Enterprise Rent-A-Truck Rental Ribbon Cutting. PHOTO COURTESY OF: JENNIFER MERCER
PHOTO COURTESY OF: BILLINGS CHAMBER
Service with a smile. Or a wave. Or maybe a little fist bump.
We are proud to live and work in America’s Best Town of 2016 as voted on by
• Life on the road feels a little more lively at TownePlace Suites. • Our spacious suites with full kitchens and flexible work spaces put you in charge of your routine.
Magazine. Congratulations Billings!
406-248-9000 • www.TerritorialLandworks.com
• Plus our staff knows every nook and cranny in the neighborhood, so look to them for tips on food, fun and other local gems.
2480 Grant Road | Billings 406-652-7106 www.marriott.com/bilts
NOT JUST A
Doctor’ e h s In. T .. Happy Hour Mon - Sat 4-6pm
116 North Broadway 406-200-7177 docharpers.com
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Open: Mon - Sat, 4pm - Midnight
than banking. Itâ€™s neighbors helping neighbors and giving back to the place we call home. You love it here and so do we, which is why we gave over $2.8 million to our incredible community organizations and their causes last year. Itâ€™s you and together.