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miracle on the hudson

2016 award winners



I S S U E 9 | M A R C H - MAY 2016



Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives

2015 Chamber of the Year 速


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table of contents


3.16 CONTENTS p.16







p. 22






PRESIDENTS LETTER Bold leadership and business excellence.




Connect with Billings’ lucrative tourism market.



Some of the latest statistics and economic data impacting businesses in Billings.



Issues to follow between legislative sessions.

MONTANA’S TRAILHEAD #DriveToBillings brings Visit Billings


on the road.



p. 28


Business Development Manager for the Billings Chamber.

TRIPS ON A TANKFUL State Parks of Southeast Montana.




Limitless Leadership: The Billings Chamber Breakfast 2016.


Top Investors


Bold Leadership & business excellence

On March 31st Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger will pilot the Billings Chamber Breakfast 2016 at MetraPark’s Rimrock Auto Arena.

Captain Sullenberger successfully landed a U.S. Airways Flight in the Hudson River, now known as the “Miracle on the Hudson,” following the aircraft being struck by geese in 2009, saving all 155 passengers and crew on board. This unique opportunity will provide us the chance to learn about courageous leadership from an individual who can be described as a true hero. We hope you can join the nearly 1,800 people we expect to attend the event again this year. Bold leadership, in crisis or in periods of calm, is needed now, and always. Acting fast to save lives—just as Captain Sullenberger did— requires confidence, integrity and respect, among other traits. So does leading your family, community or

business. This month, we celebrate four Billings leaders and organizations that exude Business Excellence. Take a few minutes to learn more about them--and from them--on page 27. Congratulations to each of the winners. You will also read about leaders who are moving Billings forward through some of the Chamber’s priority projects: connecting the Marathon Loop of the Heritage Trail system; the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site; and tourism. These individuals are wonderful examples of leaders who give back and support their employees and our community. Thank you for your bold leadership.

Big Sky level

Granite Peak level CenturyLink EBMS MSU Billings

Crowne Plaza Holiday Station Stores U.S. Bank

Beartooth level Albertsons District Office Bay, LTD Big Sky Economic Development BNSF Century 21 Hometown Brokers Computers Unlimited Crowley Fleck PLLP Denny Menholt Chevrolet Enterprise Holdings ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Co. Gainan’s Flowers & Garden Center Radisson Integra Kampgrounds Of America Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. Olsen Ortho Studio PayneWest Insurance Phillips 66 Rocky Mountain College Spectrum Business (Formerly Charter Business) Stockman Bank, Billings Underriner Honda Vertex Consulting Group Walmart, Heights Western Security Bank, Downtown The Western Sugar Cooperative

LiNK is proudly distributed at these member businesses:

Atlas Chiropractic of Billings Barnett Opticians Beartooth Vision Center Beyond The Box BioLife Plasma Services Brewer Dental Center Christian Brothers Automotive Commons 1882 Fringe Salon & Boutique Grand Avenue Dental Care Heights Eye Care Kennedy’s

Masterlube Moulton Bellingham Olsen Ortho Studio Picture Perfect Ultrasound Practical Taxes Prill Dental RiverStone Health Sanctuary Spa Shiloh Automotive St. Vincent Healthcare Starbucks Western Heritage Center

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 Advertising Sales: Kevin Cremer 406-245-4111 PO Box 31177 Billings MT 59107-1177 406-245-4111 • 800-711-2630

Fax 406-245-7333


Connect with Billings’ Lucrative Tourism Market



There are three phases of the travel decision process: Inspire, Orient, and Facilitate.

Visit Billings, the Chamber’s local tourism arm, addresses the three phases of the travel decision process in the following ways: While in the inspiration phase the traveler is made aware of the general product and develops a desire to visit the destination. Regional and national ad campaigns highlight what Billings has to offer travelers. In the orientation phase, a traveler begins researching the details of a trip. During this time the Billings Chamber and Visit Billings receive online and phone requests for additional information. The Billings Guidebook is available digitally via, and also mailed upon request. In 2015, we mailed nearly 15,000 guides to potential visitors to assist in planning their trip.

Once the visitor arrives in town, the Guidebook serves as a tool to facilitate them during their stay. As a Chamber member, you may be eligible to further assist in this final phase. During this time the traveler seeks things to see and do at the destination. As part of their member benefits, Chamber members in certain categories will begin receiving monthly emails with contact information for the potential travelers that request Billings Guidebooks. If you choose, this may be a way for you to reach out to prospects considering travel to Billings. Perhaps mailing out a brochure or coupon will encourage them to visit you or use your services during their visit. While this member benefit is available only to certain categories, all Chamber members should watch for information on how to prepare for and welcome major upcoming events and large conventions. For example, the Gold Wing Wing Ding will

Access our online

travel guide today:


/sunse t

bring approximately 10,000 people to Billings over Labor Day weekend this summer. Be on the lookout for ways your business can connect to this major event and economic driver. All Chamber members can also make use of the welcome services available through Visit Billings. With advance notice, convention bags including visitor guides and city maps can be prepared for you, whether it’s a group of 10 or 300. When hosting a meeting, training, or convention with out of town guests, please consider taking advantage of these complimentary services. Contact Alyssa Hall,, for more information.

Chamber Statistics: What are we doing for you? As of February 1, 2016 the Billings Chamber represents 1,181 members with approximately 49,641 employees. Since the beginning of our fiscal year on July 1, 2015 through February 1, 2016: Number of Calls/Inquiries:........ 7,256 (average of 1,037/month) Visitors to the Visitor Information Center:.......................... 7,382 Visits to,171 Visits to 20,770 Relocation Packets Mailed:..................................................... 121

Connect for Lunch:.................165 lunches served so far this FY. At an average cost of $12/lunch that is an impact of $1,980 to member restaurants.

Convention and Meeting Tourism Bookings:....................26,656 hotel room nights booked for $5,997,600 total economic impact on the city of Billings.

Conventions and Meetings Serviced by Visit Billings:....... 7,382 convention delegate packets provided.

Visitor Information Packets Mailed:.................................... 4,776 Business Meeting Attendees at Chamber:..........................6,080 Chamber Event Attendance:................................................. 3,351

Is your info current? Make sure we’re sharing the correct information with potential clients! Check your listing at and let us know if changes are needed. MARCH - MAY 2016 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 7

Community Statistics


80.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 70.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 60.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 50.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 40.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0.0%____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2016

2015 Billings

2014 Montana


United States

Unemployment Rate Comparison

Yellowstone County Population

City Population

154,200 106,954







Percent change in county population 2010-2013




Unemployment Rate as of February 2016 Yellowstone County

Median Household Income



United States

Airport Deboardings: City Comparison 600,000_______________________________________________________________________________________


Average Home Price



300,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ Number of Business Licenses




School District #2 Enrollment

0 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________


Sources: Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Billings Association of Realtors速, City of Billings, School District #2, U.S. Census Bureau and the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research.


2014 Billings


*2013 Billings deboardings were impacted by runway maintenance in July/August.


2013* Missoula



Issues to Follow between Legislative Sessions BY BRUCE MACINTYRE, Director of Government Affairs and Business Advocacy

The role of the legislature doesn’t end with the conclusion of the session. Interim committees meet on a regular basis to study potential issues facing the next session. In many cases, these interim committees will request bill drafts for the upcoming legislative session to review and discuss, and we pay attention to this activity. The following issues are important to the Chamber, and we’re following them during this interim session, too: Closure of Colstrip 1 and 2. The states of Washington and Oregon each have potential legislation to decommission Colstrip 1 and 2 and fund remediation and economic impact because they want only “clean energy” in their portfolio. The Billings Chamber is following this issue and is concerned about states making decisions which will negatively impact thousands of Montanans. Sage Grouse Strategy. Much of eastern Montana is designated Sage Grouse habitat and at issue is how to protect Sage Grouse populations without impacting agriculture, energy and transportation. Initially there was concern that the Greater Sage Grouse could be designated a “protected species” and the impact would have been severe. Since the Sage Grouse was not listed as an endangered species, Montana now must devise its own plan and a study group has developed suggestions for

implementation. Now it needs legislative review and input and the Environmental Quality Interim Committee is studying this issue. Public Incapacitation. Currently, Montana law does not allow adoption and enforcement of an ordinance or resolution that prohibits public intoxication. The Law and Justice Interim Committee has taken testimony on the need for this provision of law to be reversed and will make a decision on further action later this spring. This is an important issue for Billings, particularly our downtown business community. Tax Increment Financing. The Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee is studying the enabling legislation as well as asking for input on the value of TIF districts. Billings uses this mechanism very effectively and we currently have three TIF districts which provide valuable resources to areas defined as blighted. TIF districts are an effective tool for Billings and we encourage leaving the legislation intact. For more information on the interim session, or to get involved with the Chamber’s work on these issues and others, you can contact me at Bruce@



#DriveToBillings Visit Billings Marketing Hits the Road by alex tyson EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VISIT BILLINGS

Visit Billings is hitting the road. Literally. We are proud to announce a major partnership with Diversified Transfer & Storage (DTS) for a two year mobile marketing campaign complete with super-graphics that help lift the Billings brand and get people excited about visiting Montana’s Trailhead. Impactful and fun? At least. The initial test response has been very positive with this campaign. Visit Billings worked with local partners DTS, TransMar, and AD Creative Group to customize creative artwork boasting Billings on both sides of five tractor-trailers. Semi-trucks will haul the trailers along the same five weekly routes until early 2018 allowing Visit Billings to take its leisure show on the road.

Where are we heading? Two trucks will route east toward Chicago every week. Chicago is a major feeder market for regional leisure tourism with an established seasonal flight to and from

as well as previous investments made by Montana’s tourism office, Southeast Montana and Visit Billings in campaigns advertising throughout the Chicago transit system. We look forward to giving Midwesterners a peek at what they’re missing and motivating them to make a stop in Billings as part of their Montana bucket-list itineraries. Three other trucks, housed out of Denver, will make separate weekly routes. One truck will loop into the southwest, one will head westward and a third into the northwest. You can see the routes and learn more at

Why semi-trucks? Typically, Visit Billings buys print and digital placements for national campaigns. You may have seen Visit Billings’ national advertisements in Better Homes and Gardens, Sunset Magazine, Outside, USA Today Travel, AAA, the Wall Street Journal’s Horizon Travel Guides, Yellowstone National Park guides, or on your favorite

We look forward to giving Midwesterners a peek at what they’re missing and motivating them to make a stop in Billings as part of their Montana bucket-list itineraries.

websites. But this type of mobile marketing is an exciting and fresh way to build brand loyalty and make someone smile along the way. Part of the campaign includes a call to action to #DriveToBillings, but all in all we look forward to getting people to think of Billings as a potential vacation destination. The lure of our Rimrocks, vistas, culture, events and connectivity to Yellowstone National Park, the top-rated Beartooth Highway, Pompeys Pillar and the Little Big Horn Battlefield, are sure to get people excited about a trip to Big Sky Country. Visit Billings and the Billings Chamber of Commerce would like to thank DTS for their partnership and generosity in helping this campaign come to fruition. Also, special thanks to TransMar – Transitional Marketing, AD Creative and The Komposition.

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.


Easier there. Easier back. Travel faster for business with easy, affordable flights between Billings and northeast Montana. And enjoy the ride.



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Business Development Manager

The dish you’re known for cooking? BBQ Shrimp

What is one thing about the Chamber/Visit Billings you think most people don’t know?

The Billings Chamber does not exist to sell memberships, services, and seats. We exist to move Billings forward and help your business grow.

Years on Staff: 1.5 Years

Describe your position in 5 words. Connecting, Partnerships, Rewarding, Intense, Fun

If you could have lunch with one famous person, who would it be and why?

Mike Trout, the center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels have always been my favorite baseball team, and I believe that Mike Trout will be the best Major League Baseball player to play the game.

One adjective that describes you:

What book is on your nightstand?

"What to Expect in the First Year " by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel

Words you live by: Happy wife, happy life!


The TV show you can’t miss: Sons of Anarchy is my all-time favorite TV show.

Tell us about your photo:

Being born and raised in Billings, I remember my parents taking me to Mustangs games as a small child and have attended them ever since. My wife and I are huge sports fans and look forward to taking our son, Campbell, to his first game later this year.



State Parks of Southeast Montana

Cap Rock Makoshika – Photo COURTESY OF Andy Austin

By NICK MANN, SOUTHEAST MONTANA MARKETING MANAGER 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.

pring is almost here, which means it’s time to start planning your summer trips before the weekends fill up. As always, Southeast Montana has you covered with great day trip and weekend getaway ideas, including a few of our State Parks.

Southeast Montana Tourism is managed by the Billings Chamber of Commerce.


If you like hiking:

If you like history:

Makoshika State Park Descend into the heart of the badlands and roam where the dinosaurs used to call home on Cap Rock Trail. This trail is an easy one-mile loop with unlimited possibilities for all day offtrail exploration of the unique sandstone rills, pinnacles, caprocks and even a natural bridge. Camping is available in the park itself. There are also plenty of hotels in Glendive, just minutes from the park.

Distance from Billings: 218 miles

If you like fishing:

Tongue River Reservoir State Park Tongue River Reservoir is a fisherman’s paradise just 2 hours from Billings. Load up the boat and head toward this state park to find prime bass, crappie, walleye, and northern pike fishing. Two state record fish have been pulled from its waters, so you never know what you’ll reel in. Camping is available at the park, including 40 paved sites with electrical hookups.

Rosebud Battlefield State Park If there is one historic site in Southeast Montana that doesn’t get its fair share of attention it is Rosebud Battlefield State Park. The Battle of the Rosebud, which was arguably the largest battle ever fought between U.S. Soldiers and Native American warriors, took place just a few days before Custer’s famous last stand. 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne ambushed 1,000 US Cavalrymen, eventually forcing them to withdraw and keeping them from reinforcing Custer at the Little Bighorn. The State Park is mostly undeveloped, but it’s easy to imagine what it was like that day as you walk the hills of the battlefield.

Distance from Billings: 108 miles

These ideas are just a small sample of all our area has to offer. For more weekend trip ideas, visit, or stop by our visitor center at the Billings Chamber of Commerce.

Distance from Billings: 146 miles

tombstone of general custer located in Custer Battlefield cemetary – Photo COURTESY OF Montana Office of Tourism Bighorn Canyon – Photo COURTESY OF Dennis Coello

On August 25, 2016, the National Park Service will celebrate a century of managing and protecting the most spectacular areas our country has to offer. Southeast Montana has had an intimate relationship with our National Parks since the very beginning. Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first, is just a few hours away. Just seven years after Yellowstone was established, the site of Custer’s Last Stand was named a National Cemetery, and would later become Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Bighorn Canyon, an hour and a half south of Billings, was among the nation’s first National Recreation Areas. Even

the Lewis and Clark Trail, which follows Clark’s path along the Yellowstone, was the first of its kind, being one of the inaugural National Trails. All of these sites were chosen because they are national treasures, and this year the National Park Service is going to celebrate its birthday with a bang. From Gardiner to Fort Smith, communities are working with their nearest parks to prepare special Centennial events. Be sure to keep an eye out for information regarding these events in our area, and if you haven’t visited all of Montana’s spectacular National Parks, this once in a lifetime celebration gives you the perfect excuse.

Heritage Trail


in your




When it comes to urban amenities, Montana’s Trailhead is chockfull of notable draws – especially our fast-growing system of trails. Each day, thousands of men, women and kids walk, run, bike and even commute to work using the Billings Heritage Trail system. Covering more than 40 miles of terrain, the trails circle the city, loop over the Rims, run adjacent to the Yellowstone River, bisect our urban center and continue out to Billings Heights. But that wasn’t always the case. Just a few years earlier, the city had no bike and pedestrian plan, and little momentum to build trails. Yet having a robust trail system is a key ingredient in measuring a community’s quality of life. Trails also have a positive economic impact on a community – and Billings was losing ground. The Billings Chamber of Commerce understood what was at stake. What began as a community conversation nearly 10 years ago became a priority project for the Billings Chamber. Knowing the critical role trails play in enhancing the quality of a community, President/CEO John Brewer organized the Chamber Trails Committee to respond to the issue. Chaired by Karen Sanford Gall and Bill Cole, this committee

and its cadre of volunteer members have worked tirelessly for more than 9 years to advocate for new trails and connectors. “This committee has made tremendous progress on our goal of completing all links in the trail, but particularly the 26 mile long “Marathon Loop,” Brewer said. “It’s a credit to the Chamber Trails Committee, TrailNet and the City that the number of trail miles in Billings has doubled in the past decade.” Quality communities attract talented people. And in Montana, one of the key benchmarks is a connection to nature.

Build and they will come The allure of western lifestyle and connection to the great outdoors was what attracted Jared LeFevre to Billings. A native of Idaho, LeFevre grew up surrounded by opportunities for outdoor recreation. After graduating in 2001 from law school at the University, LeFevre knew he wanted those same kinds of opportunities for his growing family.

Jared LeFevre

“Enjoying the outdoors together is a way of life,” he said.

Enhancing quality of life In an era when employers face stiff competition for hiring the best and brightest, a community’s quality of life becomes a hot button. LeFevre has experienced this firsthand.

“Billings was the perfect size city for us – not huge, but substantial enough to offer a variety of amenities,” LeFevre said. An attorney and partner with Crowley Fleck, LeFevre is also an ardent runner and cyclist. He enjoys taking his five kids – ranging in age from nine to 16 – running or biking along the many segments of the city’s Heritage Trail System. For the LeFevre family, trails are more than an amenity.

“We compete for talent with firms in Bozeman and Missoula. Recruits see those places as mountain towns with sophisticated trail systems that connect to the outdoors,” LeFevre said. But not having a mountain backdrop doesn’t mean Billings isn’t competitive. “We’re the center of business, industry and



medical care in Montana. If we can bolster some of the recreational opportunities – including a top-notch trail system – that would put us over the top as the place to be,” LeFevre said.

Gaining ground While the Billings trail system has grown exponentially since LeFevre first moved here, several key segments remain disconnected. One of those segments is from the top of the Rims to the floor of the Yellowstone Valley. Currently, there are only two ways to descend to the valley. The first is a narrow dirt path that parallels Airport Road along the west side; the second is to travel down Zimmerman Trail, which can be extremely dangerous due to the high volume of traffic and narrow driving lanes. LeFevre serves on the City’s Rimrocks to Valley subcommittee representing the Billings Chamber’s Trails Committee, which is dedicated to establishing a safe connection from the top

of the rims to the valley below. In conjunction with that effort, Billings-based engineering firm Sanderson Stewart has been working on a feasibility study to evaluate four potential routes. Two of the proposed connections involve making improvements to the existing routes along North 27th St. and Zimmerman Trail. The other two are located in between N. 27th St. and Zimmerman Trail where the city owns parkland and rights-of-way, and where trails existed in the past. The feasibility study is expected to undergo the review and approval process later this spring. While public safety and trail connectivity remain top concerns, LeFevre and others are also motivated by a grand vision.

Masterminding the Marathon Loop Scott Walker, transportation planning

M a r at h o n l o o p



coordinator for the city-county planning department, has been working on the city’s trail system plan since 1994. “At the time, we realized there were no guiding documents to refer to for building a trail system in Billings or Yellowstone County,” Walker said. The first bike and pedestrian plan was released in 1995. The plan identified a system of safe transportation corridors and paths around the urbanized area of Billings. “We noted multiple points of interest in the community, including the Rims, the Yellowstone River, ZooMontana, abandoned railroad right-of-ways, drainage areas and green space,” Walker said. “When we linked them together on a plan, it became obvious the city had a big circle of paths with big gaps in between.” In 2004, the plan was updated and renamed the Heritage Trail Plan. As infrastructure improvements were made,


trails began being incorporated. In a relatively short amount of time, the city’s trail system expanded to include the Shiloh Road Corridor, the Swords Rimrock Park Path, the Aronson Connection, Alkali Creek, Main Street Underpass, the Arrowhead Path, Poly Drive Sidewalk and Ponderosa School path among other connections. “The large loop of trails started taking on the appearance of a big wheel with spokes connecting within the city of Billings proper,” said Walker. “That’s when the “Marathon Loop” name was adopted.” The uniqueness of a 26 mile long trail encircling the City was not lost on the Chamber’s Trail Committee, which decided to name it the “Marathon Loop.” While the 26 mile trail is not entirely connected, great strides have been made with much of the work done by citizen volunteers.

A community initiative Kasey Austin is one of those Chamber

volunteers. Like LeFevre, Austin serves on a subcommittee of the Chamber’s Trails Committee for the Yellowstone River Connector and Clark’s Crossing, working to connect Mystic Park with Riverfront Park. That effort includes working with leaders at the Western Sugar Cooperative to acquire an easement across the property for a bike trail. “They’ve been very supportive,” Austin said, adding that the committee is about ready to resubmit a revised agreement for consideration. Austin, who works for Austin Adventures, a tourism-based business, emphasized the importance of the trail system for tourists and the economy. “Trails are a huge draw, not just for our guests but for anyone coming to Billings,” she said. “Trails connect visitors with local businesses, and allow for a different kind of community experience.”

Kasey Austin Walker shares that sentiment. “Our trail system makes Billings more livable and connected. Much more than an amenity, they’re part of a healthy lifestyle. And a healthy community makes a happy community.”


A dvocates for Active Transportation Kristi Drake smiles when she talks about her daily commute. Drake had been biking to work for years in a small town in Nevada. When she moved to Billings, she was struck by the enthusiasm for biking and walking in the community. “I thought, ‘this is awesome,’” Drake said. Drake joined Billings TrailNet (formerly known as BikeNet) in 2008 and began volunteering. When the Executive Director position opened in 2012, Drake immediately applied. “I wanted to dedicate my time and energy to working in this arena,” she said. A non-profit entity, the organization raises money to contribute toward building multi-use trails and bike Kristi Drake lanes. Drake and a cadre of members and volunteers also network with governmental and health organizations to advocate for and promote the building of trails and active transportation. “We’re a very active organization,” Drake noted. Drake backs that claim with an astonishing statistic. In 2013 the organization had 12 members. “Today we have 492 members,” she said. Members serve the organization through fundraising and as advocates for growing the city’s trail system. Since 2004, the Heritage Trail System has grown to include 44 miles of trails. But trails are not inexpensive to construct. “The average cost is $350,000 per mile,” Drake said. While acknowledging the size of the investment, Drake is also quick to point out the return on that investment. “Trails contribute to a healthy community, and add greatly to the economic vitality,” she said. “Promoting and building a city around a walkable, bikeable infrastructure makes great sense.”

You Can Help Each fall, Billings TrailNet hosts Ales For Trails, the organization’s signature fundraising event. Last year, the event raised more than $70,000 to donate toward trail construction. Mark your calendar and plan now to attend the 2016 Ales for Trails Event.

When: September 23, 2016 Where: Dehler Park For more information or to purchase tickets, log on to bIKING ATOP THE RIMS – Photo COURTESY OF VISIT BILLINGS



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Luther Sage

Yellowstone Kelly Honoring a veteran gets closer to reality, but we need your help. By Kelly McCandless A veteran of three wars, a frontiersman, a warrior, a scout, a national hero. A man who had pride in our state and all it has to offer. A welltraveled man who chose Montana as his resting place because he felt his “body would rest better here.” How would you picture the gravesite of a man described like this? Perhaps something stately, respectable and valued. Something that lends itself to showcasing what he saw in our state and why he chose Big Sky Country as his final resting place. Regrettably, the reality is a neglected, abused, vandalized, forgotten slab of concrete atop the Rims. Yellowstone Kelly deserves better. “Yellowstone Kelly was an authentic character of the American West – whose story makes

that era come alive,” explains chair of the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site Project and resident Kelly expert Bill Cole. “His real-life adventures inspired articles, books and even a Hollywood movie. He was a scholar and author, veteran, exceptional hunter and trader, and a key player in scouting and taming the Wild West. His friends and confidants included the likes of Col. Nelson A. Miles, “Buffalo Bill” Cody, and President Teddy Roosevelt. His travels and military assignments took him from New York to the Dakotas and Montana, and from Alaska to the Philippines before retiring to a quieter life in California.” And yet he chose Montana to be laid to rest. Kelly could have been buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but, in his own words, “I feel my body will rest better in Montana, the scene of my earlier activities, than it would in the vastness of Arlington...” “The gravesite, in its current state, is embarrassing,” admits John Brewer, President and CEO of the Billings

Yellowstone Kelly Grave site in 1929 – PHOTO COURTESY Montana Historical Society

Chamber. “Though his gravesite demands respect, currently it is less than dignified. But, with the help of donors big and small, it will be so much more.” The site, once completed, fulfills a promise made by the State of Montana, The City of Billings and the Billings Chamber of Commerce nearly 90 years ago. Brewer emphasizes that even though Luther Sage “Yellowstone” Kelly could have been buried in Arlington National Cemetery, “he chose his final resting place to be among the rivers, trees, land and people he loved most. Resting atop Kelly Mountain in Swords Rimrock Park, the area and views are second to none. But the gravesite simply doesn’t deliver on our promise.” “We owe Kelly this investment. We owe our residents and visitors this investment,” asserts Chris Dimock, head of the Kelly fundraising effort. “The value is far reaching – restoring a historical site and honoring a figure who is

Yellowstone Kelly Grave site today.


key to our region’s history. Once complete, the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site will be a regional icon, an attraction valued and visited by many as it tells the story of Kelly and the historic West. Preserving Yellowstone Kelly’s legacy while providing context and interpretation to everyone who visits lets us share the marvels

and mystique of the history made here in the Yellowstone River Valley. This is a project worth investing in.” The end goal of this project is to create a place of respect and honor for Yellowstone Kelly and to link the site with great trails and views in

beautiful Swords Rimrock Park. To date, dozens of individuals, small businesses and major corporations have invested in this project to return the site to a place of honor. With half of the funds raised, the project is close to becoming a reality. Help keep the momentum going, preserve history and give Kelly the resting place he deserves. To donate and learn more, visit


Limitless Leadership:

The Billings Chamber Breakfast 2016 BY JESSICA HART

Ex·cel·lence ('eks(ə)ləns/): Noun - the quality of being outstanding or extremely good. Excellence is a quality every professional strives toward in his or her career. Human nature drives us to seek the next step, opportunities for growth. This year’s keynote speaker for the Chamber Breakfast exudes excellence in leadership and will provide you and your team the opportunity to learn from one of the nation’s greatest heroes in recent history. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger will speak on "Preparing for Excellence: Leading Your Team to Success" during this year’s event, presented by the Billings Gazette, on the morning of March 31st at the MetraPark Rimrock Auto Arena. Captain Sullenberger is best known for skillfully landing Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in January 2009. The landing, dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson” defined excellence for Captain Sullenberger and

his team that day. Excellence is not something that simply happens; excellence is achieved by diligently fine tuning each step of each process. Sullenberger will speak on what it took and how he and his team prepared for excellence in a way that allowed them to deliver that fateful morning. As we approach the Chamber Breakfast, we want to empower your team to get the most from it. Now is an opportune time to take an introspective look at yourself, your team, and your business. Before the event, consider these questions: • What are you doing that is excellent? • Where can you improve on excellence, personally or in your business?


• Who are community members that exude excellence and what can you learn from them? • What makes a leader? • Who do you follow and why? The process of self-examination can be challenging, but as Captain Sully demonstrated, it can help create a landing plan that may be nothing short of a miracle. Get your tickets to the Chamber Breakfast at Thanks to our sponsors: Billings Gazette Communication, Denny Menholt Chevrolet, First Interstate Bank, Sanderson Stewart, Avitus Group, Spectrum Reach, Edwards Jet Center, Stockman Bank, BNSF, Singh Contracting, MetraPark, DiA Events and Townsquare Media.


Affinity at Billings

Business After Hours

Limitless Leadership: Billings Chamber Breakfast 2016

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 5-7p.m. and cost to attend is $8.

Presented by Billings Gazette March 31 • Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark Tickets at


April 13 • 4215 Montana Sapphire Dr.

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Why did you initially choose to get involved with the Chamber?

Nichole MEHLING-MILES p h oto C O U R T E S Y R H E A W O L P O E

When I first moved to Billings, my boss suggested that I apply for Leadership Billings to acquaint myself with the city and network with local professionals.

Business: St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation

Years as a Chamber Member: 8

If you had a super power, what would it be? The power of medical healing.`

One adjective that describes you:

Tell us about your photo:


As a board member, you have the inside scoop. What would you share about the Chamber that other members may not know? Words you live by: Always believe in yourself.

Favorite movie and why.

Good Will Hunting because I am reminded of, or learn a new lesson every time I watch it. Plus, there is no such thing as perfect, and imperfections make us human. This movie just does it for me!


We are very visionary, and every other city in Montana keeps a close eye on our chamber and CVB. I am thankful to have talented, dedicated staff working for our business community.

What was your first job?

Working on our family farm; I distinctly remember putting out Leafcutter bee boxes in the alfalfa fields with my dad and brother.

The St. Vincent Healthcare Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has been caring for our tiniest patients since 1972. The NICU is a place of amazement for me, and I often visit for perspective, hope, and reflection. I’m constantly in awe of the talented and caring providers, the dedicated families, and the tiniest of fighters. We are truly blessed to have the only Level III NICU in this region, combining medical expertise, the best technologies and compassionate care from professionals committed to patients and their families.

The snack always found in your desk/office: Jerky

Billings Chamber Honors Outstanding Professionals By Kelly McCandless

Damian Forrester, Keller Williams

Customer Service Excellence Billings is a community with many remarkable attributes: Incredible landscapes, strong and diverse economy, rich history and deep roots. Add our incredible people to that list, and we are a force to be reckoned with. Without strong people and businesses, Billings certainly would not be where it is today. To that end, the Billings Chamber honors the outstanding individuals and businesses who enhance Montana’s Trailhead on a daily basis. This year, the 2016 Awards for Business Excellence go to:

Jeff Ewelt, ZooMontana Business Person of the Year

Most everyone in Billings knows Jeff the Nature Guy. His fun antics on local news programs, and far-reaching community involvement have made him a household name regionally. The impressive rebound ZooMontana made under his leadership is seen in the numbers: 180% increase in admissions, 264% increase in contributions, 86% increase in memberships, and more. As his nominator put it, “There is no better example of creating momentum, vision and results than the transformation the Zoo has been through under Jeff’s leadership!” Jeff has been involved with animals for eighteen years. He graduated from Ohio State University and has since worked for zoo’s around the country. Jeff has appeared on several national broadcasts including Late Night with Conan O’ Brien, Nat Geo Wild, PBS and more. Jeff strongly believes that he can use his knowledge and training expertise to educate audiences worldwide about the importance these animals play in our everyday world.

Damian Forrester is a dedicated entrepreneur with a respected reputation in Billings. His work ethic and noteworthy service is exemplified by his business: he began Keller Williams Realty just three years ago and currently boasts 50 agents and is in the top five for market share in Billings. Through his work at Keller Williams, Damian not only serves his personal clients, but also serves the agents in his office. His nominator shared that, “Damian’s commitment to others is his most valuable personal quality. He has personally taken calls from me at midnight to help with client issues.” Damian is a Broker and Co-Owner at Keller Williams Realty Premier Brokers in Billings. In addition to a BS in Human Services and a Masters in Information Technology, he holds many industry specific certifications. Damian’s strong interpersonal communication skills are a benefit to clients and friends.


Employer of the Year

Rimrock, the largest treatment center in the region, has over 40 years of experience in treating addictive diseases, compulsive behaviors and mental health disorders. Their staff of 150+ includes Counselors, Physicians, Nurses, and support staff who assure the individualized care they provide meets the needs of the adults and adolescents they serve. Rimrock’s investment in the future concentrates on creating opportunities for

their employees to enjoy and believe in the value of the work they do. Overall the true winners are the patients served by this highly engaged workforce. As their nominator put it, “Their excellence comes from within their walls, and ripples through Billings by means of saved lives and restored families.” Rimrock leaders inspire their teams by first modeling high standards and sound core values.

Jan Peterson, Western Security Bank

Supervisor/Manager of the Year The adjectives used to describe Jan are “leader,” “supportive,” “patient,” “inspiring,” “selfless,” “devoted,” “reliable,” “sincere,” “trustworthy,” “compassionate,” and more. Jan was nominated by over ten members of her staff who all touted her drive to exceed expectations, to support her staff and to lead by example. One nominator shared that, “As a fellow manager, colleague and friend, Jan models for me what it is to lead with humility and class, inspiring me to be better tomorrow than I was yesterday.” Jan Peterson is Senior Vice President of Western Security Bank. She has been with the bank for 30 years holding a variety of positions, currently serving as Branch Administrator providing leadership and support to the branches of Western Security Bank.  Jan’s responsibilities also include directly managing the Downtown Broadway Branch. Jan has a passion for leadership and makes it a goal to help others recognize their own strengths and passions.   Join us in honoring these Business Excellence Award winners on Thursday March 31st during Limitless Leadership: the Billings Chamber Breakfast 2016. More details at




BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST Last week I had the pleasure of talking with Harvey Singh, owner of Singh Contracting, along with his son Taj and his business partner Levi Adams. His quiet demeanor and positive attitude make him one of Billings’ most intriguing business owners.

RENE: Tell us about what brought you to Billings, Montana? HARVEY: I traveled here from southern California to work. I

discovered the quality of life I wanted could be found here. The clean air, open spaces, and opportunity made this a great place to launch a business and raise a family.

R: A s a Big Sky level member, you are making a direct impact to the Chambers’ priorities and mission. Why did you join at this level? H: Th  ere is more value for my company at this level; it gives us recognition, keeps us involved though events, and opens many doors. I strive to live up to this level and not just have my name on the list.

R: W  hat makes you stand apart from other contractors? H: W  e create our own estimates; some use the insurance

estimate. There is direct contact with the owner as we walk them through the entire process. Our services include roofing, both shingles and metal, siding, and gutters.

R: W  hat do you wish to share with our readers about your business model? H: W  orking with other local companies makes for better

partnering and growth. After years of watching greedy business owners mistreating employees, I wanted to do the opposite with my company. I can now help create the type of business and community of which I can be proud. It feels good to pass that along. I have had the chance to support organizations like Big Sky Comedy, St. Vincent’s Call for Kids and many sports teams.

R: How many people Do you have on staff? H: T wo. R: W  ith most of our major investors employing several hundred people, Harvey breaks the mold!

R: You have branched out into some other areas, can you share what’s new? H: O  utward Media Group was recently launched in partnership with Levi Adams. OMG is an in-house production and marketing company offering video, web, print and radio ad services. We have modern equipment that other companies do not. Also, a new restaurant will open later this year that will be different from what currently exists in Billings.

HARVEY SINGH - owner, Singh Contracting

–PHOTO COURTESY OF Jesse Blake Photography

Ribbon Cuttings

The following Chamber member businesses recently celebrated grand openings, anniversaries, rebranding, relocation, and ground breakings. Congratulations to each of them!


held a grand opening for the new location in Rimrock Mall 300 S 24th St. W. on November 5.

Bumps and Bundles

celebrated their new store located at 219 N Broadway Ste. B on November 6.

Creative World Modeling and Talent

promoted an upcoming talent event with a few of their models on November 18.

Yellowstone Family Dental

celebrated their new building on November 18.

MacKenzie River Pizza

showed off their remodel at 405 Main Street on December 1.

Yellowstone Coffee and Canvas

hosted a grand opening at 2860 Old Hardin Road Ste. E. on December 3.

Carmike Cinemas

gave us the first look at the completed IMAX theater at Shiloh 14 on December 4.

TimeSquare Furniture

promoted their business in Shiloh Crossing on December 10.

Jefferson Lines’

new terminal is at 1830 4th Ave N. and hosted a community open house on December 11.


–PHOTO COURTESY OF Jesse Blake Photography

Fringe Salon & Boutique

celebrated their new business at 3127 Central Ave. on December 11.

Practical Taxes

promoted their new location at 2201 Grand on January 20.

I discovered the quality of life I wanted could be found here. The clean air, open spaces, and opportunity made this a great place to launch a business and raise a family.

Total Nutrition

located at 1601 Grand Ave. #200 held a ribbon cutting on January 28.

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.


L L A ss M S sine t Bu igh

l t o Sp

Thirsty Street Brewing Company is Billings' newest brewery located downtown at 3008 1st Ave. N. and offers 6 diverse beers on tap, starting out with... • Rimrock'd Amber Ale • Goud Times Belgian Blonde • Winterization Pale Ale • Staycation IPA • Dubbel Trubbel Belgian Dubbel • Big Bison American Stout. There is a pool table, shuffleboard, 2 dartboards, and 2 TV's to keep patrons entertained. Thirsty Street serves hotdogs and sausages from Pioneer Meats out of Big Timber on top of Grains of Montana buns for $5, chips included. The atmosphere is hip and inviting and owners Shea and Jill Dawson look forward to serving up happy times to the community.

book nook

Contagious by Jonah Berger

Reviewed by Kris Carpenter Why do some products & ideas succeed while others fail? Jonah Berger, author of Contagious, was obsessed with finding out why. After earning his PhD from The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania, he went on to spend a decade researching, testing and finding every possible way to answer this question. What he discovered is contained in the acronym STEPP. He humorously shares how and why Social currency, Triggers, Emotions, Public, Practical value and Stories, his six principles, drive ideas, stories, news and products to spread and to become contagious. While “word-of-mouth” is the premier driver of anything becoming contagious, Berger


discovered only 7% of ideas, products or stories are shared on social media. Face to face is still the force behind how they spread. Berger says, “Every day, the average American engages in more that sixteen word-of-mouth episodes, separate conversations where they say something positive or negative about an organization, brand, product, or service. This kind of social talk is almost like breathing. It’s so basic and frequent that we don’t even realize we’re doing it.” You only need to use a few, or all six principles to find out if your product or idea has what it takes to make an idea truly Contagious!


MARTINI BAR! Doctor’ e h s In. T .. Happy Hour Mon - Sat 4-6pm

116 North Broadway 406-200-7177




Open: Mon - Sat, 4pm - Midnight

3/17: Excel 2010 Advanced, from 9am-3pm. Take a more in-depth look at Microsoft Excel 2010. Whether you are a basic user looking to enhance your Excel skillset, or an advanced user needing a refresher, make sure to register quickly to ensure your seat is reserved. Session is $120 (includes lab fee). Register for PD5067 Excel 2010 – Advanced at

This three-part series (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) will help you navigate and effectively utilize the 2013 version of Microsoft Word. Come for one session, or all, depending on your training needs. The session is $150/person/day if you mention you read this in the Chamber’s LiNK publication. To register, call Entre at 406-256-5700.

3/23: Tech for Recruitment & Retention, from 10am-noon. Part three of the five-part Tech for Business series. Seminar covers how to use technology to make your business or organization more effective. The seminar, presented by NextGEN, is open to ALL Chamber members for $25. Register at

4/27: Ins and Outs of Websites and How Businesses Can Utilize Them Better, from 11am-1pm. Part four of the five-part Tech for Business series. Seminar covers how to use technology to make your business or organization more effective. The seminar is presented by NextGEN and is open to ALL Chamber members for $25. Register at

4/1, 8: PowerPoint 2013, 8:30am-4:30pm. Need help with the new Microsoft PowerPoint? This two-part series (Beginner, Advanced) will help you navigate and effectively utilize the 2013 version of Microsoft PowerPoint. Come for one session, or all, depending on your training needs. The session is $150/person/day if you mention you read this in the Chamber’s LiNK publication. To register, call Entre at 406-256-5700.

Does your business offer webinars, trainings or workshops that may be beneficial for other Chamber members? Let us know: You may be included in the next issue!

4/5: Strategic Planning, from 8:30am-noon. Help grow your organization and effectively direct your future with this course on strategic planning. Session is $123. Register for PD5049 Strategic Planning at 4/18, 19, 20: Microsoft Word 2013, 8:30am4:30pm. Need help with the new Microsoft Word?

5/12,13: Microsoft Outlook 2013, 8:30am-4:30pm. Need help with the new Outlook? This two-part series (Beginner, Advanced) will help you navigate and effectively utilize the 2013 version of Microsoft Outlook. Come for one session, or both, depending on your training needs. The session is $150/ person/day if you mention you read this in the Chamber’s LiNK publication. To register, call Entre at 406-256-5700. 5/25: Tech to Balance Life, from 5:30pm-7:30pm. Part five of the five-part Tech for Business series. Seminar covers how to use technology to make your business or organization more effective. The seminar is presented by NextGEN and is open to ALL Chamber members for $25. Register at

Billings' #1 ChoiCe for roofing! Call us for a Free Estimate Today, and we'll see You Tomorrow!

Billings, MT 406-245-2222


LiNK - March 2016  
LiNK - March 2016