NATIONAL BLOGGING CONVENTION SPOTLIGHTS BILLINGS
ENTREPRENEUR AND BUSINESS GROWTH RESOURCES
GET TO KNOW BOARD MEMBER
IS S U E 2 0 | D E C E M B E R 2018 - F E B R U A RY 2 019
One Big Sky District is Good for Montana
1 |DECEMBER 2018-FEBRUARY 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
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2 |DECEMBER 2018-FEBRUARY 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
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hubinternational.com Business Insurance ∙ Personal Insurance ∙ Employee Benefits ∙ Bonds 3 |DECEMBER 2018-FEBRUARY 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
table of contents
12.18 CONTENTS GROWTH IS OPTIONAL– BUT CRITICAL
Why One Big Sky District is Good for Montana.
The Next Generation of Entrepreneur and Business Building Strategies
NEXTUP WITH NEXTGEN Access, Education and Connections for Billings’ Young Professionals
Pictured above and on the cover: Early renderings of Montana Station, the unconventional convention center proposed for downtown Billings as one of the first catalytic projects in One Big Sky District. COURTESY LANDMARK DEVELOPMENT.
EXPANSION AND REMODEL AT BILLINGS’ AIRPORT
Take Flight at Billings Logan International Airport
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12.18 EVERY ISSUE
PRESIDENT'S LETTER Montana Station: an economic engine for the region.
GROW Healthy Communities, Healthy Workforce.
2019 Legislative Session Outlook.
TRIPS ON A TANKFUL
Miles City: A Western Mecca.
GET TO KNOW JOHN BREWER President/CEO
HORIZONS Some of the latest statistics and economic data impacting businesses in Billings.
BUSINESS GROWTH Shop Billings!
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MONTANAâ€™S TRAILHEAD TBEX Shines National Spotlight on the Billings Region.
GET TO KNOW DAVE WORSTELL
p.24 p.26 p.32
FROM THE PRESiDENT/CEO
MONTANA STATION: AN ECONOMIC ENGINE FOR THE REGION convention sales, bringing in new money from out of state guests whose additional spending will help our business community. This campus would also build on our identity as a great place to live and work, continuing the growth of Billings into a vibrant community the next generation of workforce requires.
magine a year-round event campus in the heart of downtown Billings that spurs economic growth for the entire region. A facility with the capacity and flexibility to host large conventions (currently unattainable in Montana), local fundraising dinners, youth sports tournaments, or a Brawl of the Wild Tailgate in Billings. And what if that campus served as our community’s gathering place on a daily basis highlighting the flavors, sips and sounds of Billings? No need to imagine, just flip back to the cover of this issue of LiNK. One of the anchor projects in the One Big Sky District plan is Montana’s convention center and community gathering place, featuring Montana’s finest eateries, breweries and music. An “unconventional-convention center” would spur tens of millions of dollars in tourism and
In the upcoming weeks you will hear about state legislation being proposed to help fund civic infrastructure—IF, AND ONLY IF—significant private investment leads. That private investment would have to be proven to grow state revenue, providing benefits to ALL of Montana. And a small portion of that growth would be returned to the local community in which it was generated to offset the private sector’s cost of building public infrastructure. Your Billings Chamber of Commerce is working with the One Big Sky District Strategy Partners and our local legislators to ensure we have a “Made in Montana” bill to introduce to the legislature. The bill will be a win-win for Montana and Billings, generating new revenue at the state level while investing in the economic engine for the state— Billings—by enhancing our core to make it more attractive to the next generation of workforce. Let’s grow our workforce. Let’s utilize the private sector. Let’s generate increasing prosperity for our taxpayers. Let’s be Aspirational, Billings.
Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives
2015 Chamber of the Year
BIG SKY LEVEL THE DELP TEAM
GRANITE PEAK LEVEL
DoubleTree by Hilton MSU Billings EBMS NorthWestern Energy Holiday Station Stores U.S. Bank
BEARTOOTH LEVEL Albertsons Altana Federal Credit Union Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Floberg Real Estate Big Sky Economic Development BNSF Century 21 Hometown Brokers Computers Unlimited Crowley Fleck PLLP Denny Menholt Chevrolet DiA Events Diamond B Companies Enterprise Holdings ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Co. FirstMark Construction *Formerly CMG Gainan’s Flowers & Garden Center Kampgrounds of America Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. PayneWest Insurance Phillips 66 Red Lion Hotel Billings Rocky Mountain Bank Rocky Mountain College Sanctuary LLC Spectrum Business Stockman Bank The Western Sugar Cooperative Underriner Honda Vertex Consulting Group Walmart Walmart, Heights Western Security Bank
LiNK is proudly distributed at these member businesses: • Anytime Fitness locations • EBMS
• PayneWest Insurance
• Barnett Opticians
• First Interstate Bank
• Picture Perfect Ultrasound
• Beartooth Vision Center
• Grand Ave. Dental Care
• Rimrock Subaru
• Billings Vision Center
• Heights Eye Care
• RiverStone Health
• Black Dog Coffee
• Jiffy Lube
• Sanctuary Spa
• Bob Smith Motors
• Shiloh Automotive
• Brewer Dental Center
• LP Anderson Point S Tire • Spin Fresh Laundry
• Colleen Black CPA
• Masterlube locations
• St. Vincent Healthcare
• Crowley Fleck PLLP
• Starbucks locations
• Doc Harpers
• Moulton Bellingham
• Thomas Smile Designs
• Olsen Ortho Studio
• 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: Joe McGinnis 406-869-3724 www.billingschamber.com PO Box 31177 Billings MT 59107-1177 406-245-4111 • 800-711-2630
6 |DECEMBER 2018-FEBRUARY 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
HEALTHY COMMUNITIES, HEALTHY WORKFORCE BY JENNIFER REISER, IOM CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER In Yellowstone County…
he Billings Chamber of Commerce is one of ten Chambers selected by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) to participate in a national professional development program designed to boost innovative community health initiatives. The program is made possible with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and will help chambers of commerce and community partners strengthen quality of life and support equitable prosperity. Along with our community partner, Melissa Henderson with Healthy by Design, I will participate in this year long program that helps develop and implement a plan to tackle a specific community health challenge. We have been reviewing resources like the Community Health Needs Assessment, the Community Health Improvement Plan, State of the Workforce
7 in 10
1 in 3
children are active 1+ hours per day
adults are overweight
1 in 3 adults eat 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables per day
1 in 10 adults report ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ mental health
Source: 2017 Yellowstone County Community Health Needs Assessment
Reports, and County Health Rankings in an effort to determine potential outcome measures, key goals and objectives, core activities, and additional community stakeholders. Healthy by Design, a community coalition supported by Billings Clinic, RiverStone Health and St. Vincent Healthcare, has a mission to collaborate with partners across sectors of the community to promote and improve health, and a vision to create a community that is healthy by design. Healthy by Design is committed to collaborating with partners across the community to improve the quality of life for people who live, learn, work and play in Yellowstone County. The coalition works to make the healthy choice the easy choice with a goal to utilize policy, system, and environmental change to collectively impact Yellowstone County resident’s physical, behavioral, and social well-
being. Collective efforts are currently related to physical activity, nutrition, and healthy weight. Through this and other collaborative efforts, the Billings Chamber aims to make the business case for a healthy community and empower Billings area employers to address it. Our plan is in motion – two of our key goals thus far are: • to inform worksites about the concepts of creative placemaking and community health as a driver for workforce development as well as their natural positioning as activators for health; • use creative placemaking as a fun way to create welcoming places that promote physical activity and social connections among employees. Stay tuned as our work in this space takes shape so you can learn how, and why, to integrate key health initiatives into your business.
CHAMBER STATISTICS: What are we doing for you? As of November 15, 2018, the Billings Chamber represents 1,227 members with approximately 47,564 employees.
Since the beginning of our fiscal year on July 1, 2018 through November 15, 2018: Number of Calls/Inquiries:..........................9,792 calls (avg. 1,780/month)
Visitors to the Visitor Information Center:..........1,607 Visits to VisitBillings.com:.................................90,510 Visits to BillingsChamber.com:.......................... 17,601
Chamber Event Attendance:............................... 2,580 Convention and Meeting Tourism Bookings:....10,823 hotel room nights booked for $2,435,175 total economic impact on the city of Billings.
Conventions and Meetings Serviced by Visit Billings:..................................... 1,518
Relocation Packets Mailed:.......................................95
convention delegate packets provided.
Visitor Information Packets Mailed:................. 35,300
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.
Business Meeting Attendees at Chamber:.......... 6,196
7 |DECEMBER 2018-FEBRUARY 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION OUTLOOK BY DANIEL J. BROOKS BUSINESS ADVOCACY MANAGER
nother legislative session is quickly approaching and your Billings Chamber of Commerce is ready to do our part to make Billings a better place for business. We recently established our public policies and published a Public Policy Guide, using input from our membership and approved by our board of directors. Our priorities include expanding our economic development tools in the state, supporting our tourism industry, and addressing public safety. And, since the economic benefits of One Big Sky District development will address many of the issues our community and businesses face (workforce, public safety, growing the tax base), our primary focus will be passing legislation related to One Big Sky District (for more on OBSD please see our cover story on pg. 16). The 2019 Legislative Session doesn’t officially kick off until January 7th, but that hasn’t slowed down our citizen legislature. With over 1,700 bill drafts requested so far, lawmakers are poised to get things done for Montana well before the session even starts. And for good reason. With a Constitutional mandate to conclude legislative business in 90 days or less, there is no time to waste. One of the most challenging jobs facing our legislative body is establishing the budget. Revenue estimates will be furiously debated. Spending will be scrutinized and prioritized. And, throughout the process, lawmakers will be expected to make very difficult decisions regarding the appropriation of limited taxpayer dollars. (For more on a tremendous opportunity to grow state revenue, please see our cover story.) Despite the alarm leading to the November 2017 Special Session, revenues have mostly returned to projected trend-lines. And thanks to the work of our legislators during the Special Session and a relatively inexpensive fire season, the ending
fund balance from 2018 was $185.8 million, $1.3 million higher than estimated. Revenue, which ended FY18 at $2.4 billion, was about $29 million below estimate, largely due to a decrease in income tax collections, our largest source of revenue in Montana. Because of our reliance on income tax collections, it is imperative we continue to attract working age citizens to our great state. Another factor significantly shaping the Legislative Session is the election. The 6-mill levy passed and will continue to provide approximately $20 million to education programs at Montana’s 8 universities. But Initiative 185, which would have increased tobacco taxes by $2 and paid for Medicaid Expansion and other costs, failed. Legislators are already working on proposals to ensure Medicaid Expansion continues, but with additional requirements such as asset tests and work requirements. Finally, if it had passed, Initiative 186 would have created more regulations for new mines, potentially freezing new private investment in mining activities throughout Montana. So, what will happen between January and April? My predecessor Bruce MacIntyre used to remark, “Ninety percent of what you will do is defeating bad bills.” I’m relatively certain Bruce’s sage advice will prove true in 2019. A few of the issues we’re prepared to defend are: 1) T ax Increment Finance Districts (TIF): As one of government’s few economic tools, we partner with other statewide organizations to ensure this essential funding mechanism is preserved. 2) Lodging Tax: While we agree that exporting our tax burden onto tourists and not just Montanans is generally a good idea, the Lodging Tax is consistently targeted without giving thoughtful consideration to the need for a broader sales tax that is not narrowly focused on one industry. 3) Gas Tax: Last session our legislature passed a six-cent increase to the gas tax, necessary to keep up with major infrastructure needs. To keep up with inflation, the gas tax is projected to require an increase again by
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2023, but for now we’ll defend the great infrastructure gains made last session. Besides preserving great tools and programs, we hope to support and pass a few bold bills. The first is an economic development bill authorizing a value capture of state tax growth to incentivize private investment (details in the cover story). As part of the Montana Infrastructure Coalition, which saw great success last year with the gas tax increase, the Billings Chamber will support a public private partnership, or P3 bill allowing innovative new solutions to infrastructure funding in Montana. The Billings Chamber will also support efforts to pass a bonding bill; legislation that contains much needed funding for our rural communities and other projects. The failure last session to pass a bonding bill marked three sessions in a row without funding for Montana’s needed infrastructure. We hope to support and pass a bonding bill to fund the critical infrastructure needs our state faces. To help address our public safety concerns, the Billings Chamber is working on a couple bills focused on the issue of serial inebriation. Hopefully our bills can bring awareness around the state to this issue and provide solutions for getting people the treatment they need. This session will also see a bill to provide funding for Career and Technical Education, helping students attain the critical skills necessary to enter the workforce. A small appropriation to CTE was made last session, however budget cuts preceding the November special session took that funding away. We hope to pass a bill returning and increasing that CTE funding. We also expect to see a bill addressing our state’s business equipment tax, which is a heavy burden to some of our businesses. Adjustments have been made in the past to tax rates or thresholds required for payment. The Billings Chamber will support those efforts to reduce the cost to businesses from the business equipment tax. Finally, we will support a local option authority
bill. Giving citizens the authority to choose for themselves has been a priority of our membership. Building off of the success from last session (two bills introduced and bipartisan support), we will support efforts to pass a local option with the growing number of Montana communities feeling the pinch of property taxes and recognizing the need to export some tax burden to the millions of tourists who come to our state. The Billings Chamber of Commerce is ready to support you, our membership, throughout the session. But we can’t do it without you. Your voice matters and it’s important to communicate with
your elected officials. In fact, they genuinely want to hear from you. And finding your legislators is easier than ever. Just go to our VoterVoice platform at www.billingschamber. com/action-center and input your address to find your officials. Click the checkboxes next to your State Senator and State Representative and compose your message. Everything is formatted, just type your message.
Our brightest days are upon us.
We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I’m confident that all of us working toward a better Billings will accomplish big things for our citizens.
The Billings Chamber of Commerce would like to thank Bruce McCandless for his many years of service to our great city. For the last 18 years Bruce has served our city as the Assistant City Administrator and over the last year stepped up to manage the city as our City Administrator while a replacement was found. His leadership is greatly appreciated and we wish him a wonderful retirement. As Bruce exits City Hall, we welcome Billings’ newest City Administrator, Chris Kukulski. Chris has worked as the Bruce McCandless city administrator for both Bozeman and Kalispell and brings a wealth of Montana knowledge to the table. We look forward to working with Chris well into the future, helping our city and citizens prosper. The Billings Chamber would also like to recognize and thank our City Council for their due diligence and thoughtful consideration throughout the hiring process. Selecting our next city administrator from a field of great candidates was not an easy task and we appreciate the wisdom in their selection.
From all of us at NorthWestern Energy, we wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season. Thank you for your support and partnership in 2018. We look forward to working with you in the new year and delivering a bright future.
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TRAVEL BLOG EXCHANGE SHINES NATIONAL
BY ALYSON MURNION
LEISURE MARKETING, SALES AND SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER; VISIT BILLINGS
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arketing strategies are always evolving and looking to the next trend. While influencer marketing is nothing new, it has taken the marketing world by storm. Business Insider predicts that by 2022, influencer marketing ad spends will be somewhere between $5 and $10 billion1. Why is influencer marketing so popular? Recent studies show that influencer marketing delivers 11 times higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing2, costs 62% less, earns eight times the engagement on social media3, and 49% of people say they rely on recommendations from influencers when making purchase decisions4.
Visit Billings and Billings as a tourism destination, were recently named the 2019 host of Travel Blog Exchange North America!
Influencers have made substantial impact on the travel industry already. Many of today’s travelers are turning to social media platforms and blogs to help inspire their vacation plans rather than travel magazines. According to a recent survey by Chase Card Services, 44% of millennial travelers engaged opinions on social media while researching their next trip5. Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO) like Visit Billings, have had to adapt to this trend and have incorporated influencers into their marketing plans. While DMO’s are targeting more than millennials, it is important to note that even potential travelers who don’t search social media for trip inspiration use a search engine to help plan their trip. Influencers and bloggers impact their decisions by providing more content to research. Visit Billing has made it a priority to keep up with this trend, hosting bloggers and influencers for the past few years. Hosting bloggers and influencers is time intensive as a staff person has to not only plan an itinerary for their time on the ground, but also joins them for pieces of their trip to ensure an authentic experience at the destination. Time spent, combined with potential creative fees, can add up quickly, and budget constraints limit the number of bloggers and influencers Visit Billings can host. However, we have good news! Visit Billings and Billings as a tourism destination, were recently named the 2019 host of Travel Blog Exchange North America! Travel Blog Exchange, or TBEX, is the largest conference and networking event for travel bloggers, online travel journalists, new media content creators, travel brands, and industry professionals. In September, we will see hundreds of attendees converge on Billings for two days of conference and networking. While the conference itself takes place September 11th through the 13th at the Billings Hotel
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and Convention Center, attendees spend an average of 10 days in the destination. They will participate in half day and full day familiarization tours of the Billings area two days prior to the event. The economic impact of this event is an example of how Visit Billings’ efforts play a major role in the $400 million tourism industry for Yellowstone County. It’s important to note though, that the impact of this event on our stakeholders and tourism partners will exceed a typical conference stay as most remain in the area for up to ten days. The attendees of Travel Blog Exchange range in experience levels. A little over half are early in their careers and eager to develop a resume, meaning they write more, post more, and engage with their audiences more, leaving an intimate impression on each of their followers. More than 34% have monetized their blog or social pages. This means they are getting paid creative fees to go to a destination and have clearly defined their audiences. These attendees can speak specifically to the experiences and have an impact on potential travelers. The remaining 6% have over a million followers boosting their creative fees to upwards of $75,000. For Visit Billings to bring the top 6% back to Billings would conservatively cost $2.7 million in creative fees alone. Montana’s Trailhead is a bucket list destination for many visitors. Urban amenities meet small town hospitality, history and culture surround us, and the views are unlike any other in the state of Montana. Travel Blog Exchange and the publicity the attendees will create while in Billings will affect visitor growth for years to come. Sources: 1 . https://www.businessinsider.com/the-influencer-marketing-report-2018-1 2. TapInfluence study with Nielsen Catalina Solutions, 2016 https://www. tapinfluence.com/tp_resource/nielsen-case-study/ 3. RhythmOne & Forester, 2015 https://www.forrester.com/report/The+Forrester+W ave+Social+Relationship+Platforms+Q2+2015/-/E-RES120645 4. Twitter and Annalect, 2016 https://www.adweek.com/digital/twitter-says-usersnow-trust-influencers-nearly-much-their-friends-171367/ 5. https://www.chase.com/news/072415-millenials-travel-experiences
The mission of Visit Billings is to generate room nights for lodging facilities in the city of Billings by effectively marketing our region as a preferred travel destination. Visit Billings is managed by the Billings Chamber of Commerce. VisitBillings.com
TRiPS on a TANKFUL
MILES CITY: A WESTERN MECCA BY BRENDA MAAS, MARKETING MANAGER
OUT HERE, WE HAVE A STORY TO TELL.
The days, weeks and months leading up to, and immediately following, the renowned Battle of Litt political maneuvering and emotional intensity – for both sides. Despite their resounding victory, th drastically, immediately and forever changed. Although the tribes continued to resist, the U.S. milit and funds – persisted and eventually dominated the landscape for Western expansion. Stories of great heroism and reticent defeat continue to reverberate through the generations. Yet the mystique remains today. We invite you to follow the Trail to The Little Bighorn, to stand where the warriors and the soldiers stood, to feel the prairie sun on your face and to hear their stories in the wind.
PHOTO COURTESY MILES CITY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE 87
Visit Southeast Montana is managed by the Billings Chamber of Commerce.
SOUTHEASTMONTANA.COM | 1.800.346.1876 | #OutHereMT | #SoutheastMontana
12Some |DECEMBER 2018-FEBRUARY 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY roads are gravel but not paved. Indian Reservations are private property outside of roadways. Printed in Montana for free distribution. 14A
The mission of Visit Southeast Joliet Montana is to increase tourism CHIEF to PLENTY Southeast Montana by increasing COUPS Pryor awareness Roberts of our region, showcasing 212 our cultural heritage, Bridger developing memorable experiences Red and educating our residents about 310 Lodge the economic benefits of tourism. Belfry
447 90 8 Forsyth and Rosebud. Download 384 an easy-to-follow PICTOGRAPH map from www.southeastmontana.com/files/littleHardin CAVES 20 Little Bighorn Battlefield 447 Monument When you need a Ashland shot of caffeine or a quick bite, bighorn-trail-map.pdf and takeNational the scenic route. Crow Olive Lame Deer wander across the street212 to Main Street WGrind ARRIO Agency R T RA IL H 212 Once you reach town, start with the Range Riders 313 IGH Busby or a few blocks farther to Spoon Full for some W CROW INDIAN CUSTER Saint homemade pastries and espresso. ThereBroadus are several AY Museum. Part historical museum, part heritage RESERVATION NORTHERN CHEYENNE Xavier other choices including GALLATIN the 600 Café, depending on center, this attraction highlights the area’s manyINDIAN RESERVATION 41 E NATIONAL G I 314 your budget and the size of your stomach. R ranching homestead families. LodgeThe extensive B E 566 FOREST WD ROSEBUD Fort Smith PO museum includes severalGrass frontier buildings, an BATTLEFIELD If you are in the mood for a bit of shopping, eclectic assortment of exhibits including Fort TONGUE BIGHORN downtown Miles City offers a plethora of choices. Keogh, the predecessor to Miles City, a premier RIVER CANYON RESERVOIR NATIONAL collection and an entire building From local artisans at Girl Ran Away With the arrowhead 90 MONTANA RECREATIONAL Spoon, to Montana-based goods at BuyMT.com to dedicated AREA to one donor’s weaponry collection. antiquesWYOMING and collectables at Vintage & Rustics in 26.4 Miles to Sheridan, Montana, you are bound to find a treasure – and Next, head to Main Street whereWYyou’ll find the likely more. Miles City Saddlery. Local craftsmen have been Sheridan 14A making original Coggshall Saddles here since Fans of all things retro will love the former 1909. Peruse cowboy and cowgirl merchandise –
LEARN THE STORY
ay the words “Miles visitors every spring. The Sale undeniably stands as a City” and most pillar of the community’s identity. But, this small ranchMontanans will ing burg has much to offer beyond the iconic event. Ingomar think of the 94 Melstone automatically PIROGUE ISLAND “World-famous Bucking Located just a two-hour drive from Billings, Miles City 12 Horse Sale.” This event, is an easy day-trip; however, with so much to offer, 1 Miles City– plus which started in 1950,12 an overnight stay will enhance the experience 59 swells the town to double its 12 10 allow for4 a bit of nightlife. Hysham 13 11 9 3 2 14 size with approximately 10,000 94 Rosebud Forsyth 332 15 447 16 including walls of boots and hats – on the main E R 39 floor or5head upstairs for a glimpse into the past. RIV With roots deep of Eastern Montana, N E in the range STO Custer 17 N W O Two rooms T O and other tack, plus L 94 L E Y 6 full of saddles history-buffs will love Miles City’s offerings. Along 59 related items like a “2000 Army Horses Wanted!” the way, be sure to stop at some of the roadside 332 18 7 poster, underscore the importance of working markers along the Trail to the Little Bighorn. Colstrip 19 horses in frontier life. Huntley There are 19 total signs, with several quick stops in
Woolworth’s-turned-Ben-Franklin’s soda fountain and countertop diner preserved inside Vintage & Rustics. The formica and vinyl are as authentic as the malt machine. Another vintage establishment, the Montana Theatre, features a neon marquee that will make movie-lovers envious and eager for showtime.
RELAXATION TIME For those who want a bit of nostalgia with their beer, try Tiltwürks Brewhouse, the Montana Bar or the Bison Bar. At Tiltwürks, peruse the collection of pinball machine paraphernalia. The Montana Bar includes an authentic stand-up bar that was brought by steamboat in 1912 and you can still see the bullet hole from when a patron’s gun went off accidently while checking it at the door. Established in 1900 and highlighted with another iconic neon sign, the Bison Bar has been serving patrons for more than a century.
PHOTO COURTESY VANDÉ STUDIOS
MEET SEMT BOARD MEMBER
Those who want a more family-focused option should try Trails Inn Tap Haus & Mama Stella’s Pizza. The bar offers 40 beers on tap with a focus on Montana craft beer and plenty of room for the kids to spread Jeff Ewelt, known to many as “Jeff out to play traditional games like pool and foosball. the Nature Guy,” has been executive If you are more of a wine enthusiast, take a quick trek to Tongue River Winery. With a focus on fruit grown exclusively on the northern plains, this familyrun boutique winery emphasizes hybrid crosses of European and wild native American grapes, frequently melding common prairie fruits like apples, plums, cherries, raspberries, currants, rosehips and edible honeysuckle for variety. Because the family typically spends days in the vineyard, call in advance to arrange an intimate tasting session.
Jeff Ewelt with Sydney the Kookaburra
A trip to Miles City is not complete without a stop at WaterWorks Art Museum. Housed in the concrete basins that once held Miles City’s water supply, this unique venue is home to original photographs from both L.A. Huffman and Evelyn Cameron— photographers known for technically accurate photos that document the late 1800s and early 1900s. Permanent, rotating exhibits and a gift shop focus on regional, emerging and Western artists. While summer season is a great time to visit Miles City, these attractions are all open during winter months. You are sure to make several new friends and come home with a better understanding of this authentic Western town.
If you are a fan of pop culture, try lunch at Vintage and Rustics in Montana to enjoy the original Woolworth’s diner-style experience.
The Montana Bar, a mainstay of Main Street in Miles City, showcases many original features including a wooden bar that was brought up the Yellowstone River on a steamboat.
Main Street Grind offers specialty coffee, breakfast and lunch plus homemade bread, pastries and desserts. PHOTOS COURTESY VISIT SOUTHEAST MONTANA
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director and entertaining face of ZooMontana since 2011. Under Ewelt’s leadership, ZooMontana enhanced its offerings with bear and bison exhibits, expanded community events and revitalized Montana’s only zoo into a true destination. Setting record numbers in both visitation and event attendance in 2018, ZooMontana continues its upward growth. Ewelt currently serves as Vice Chair of Visit Southeast Montana and was appointed to serve on the Tourism Advisory Council by Governor Bullock in 2017. “By far, my favorite thing about Southeast Montana is the solitude,” he said of the region. “You can drive 10 minutes in any direction and be alone, with deafening silence, in a landscape that hasn’t changed in thousands of years. We are so fortunate that we have the ability to ‘get away’ anytime, and for us, that’s right out the front door.” Outside of his professional roles, Ewelt likes to hike, ATV or hang out at the family cabin with his wife, Sarah, and son, Harry.
GET TO KNOW THE BOARD:
What is the number one thing in Billings you’d take a visiting friend to see/do?
There are so many good choices but I find that taking a visiting friend to our downtown area is always a positive experience. Fantastic shopping, fun events, great food and a wide selection of culture are just a few of the things that make it a memorable place to visit.
WORSTELL PHOTO COURTESY THE BILLINGS GAZETTE
Business: Publisher; Billings Gazette Communications
If you had a super power, what would it be? Cure Diabetes. More than 30 million Americans have diabetes and I’ve seen how frustrating this disease has been for people close to me. We have fantastic doctors and medical staff in Billings who help those that are afflicted, but it is a very challenging disease.
What was your first job? Delivering newspapers for the Havre Daily News in Havre, Montana. Delivering newspapers in Havre in the winter was a good way to toughen a 10-year-old kid!
Favorite movie and why. “Shawshank Redemption” is my favorite movie. Great storyline and the power of hope resonates through the entire movie.
Tell us about your photo:
The snack always found in your desk/office: Cinnamon Jolly Rancher candy is a must have.
Words you live by: I read a quote from Calvin Coolidge while I was in college and it has helped guide me through many years of challenges and opportunities: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful (people) with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press on!” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” –Calvin Coolidge
Why did you initially choose to get involved with the Chamber? Both The Billings Gazette Communications and the Billings Chamber of Commerce have been committed to making Billings a better place to work, play and raise a family for years. Really, our missions are very similar – to inform, promote and improve the area. My involvement in the Chamber is a natural fit.
One adjective that describes you: Competitive.
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This photo is taken next to our 1968 Goss Metro offset printing press. It continues to run like a champ while we embrace delivery of the news via digital platforms. Fun fact – Between our print and digital products, The Billings Gazette is read by 86 percent of all adults in our market area.
BluePrint is happy to provide an exceptional phone system and local service to Willard’s Garage.
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Pictured above and on the cover: Early renderings of Montana Station, the unconventional convention center proposed for downtown Billings as one of the first catalytic projects in One Big Sky District.
Why Choosing One Big Sky District is Good for Montana BY DAN BROOKS
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COURTESY LANDMARK DEVELOPMENT.
ompetition is central to our capitalist economy. That hasn’t changed in as many years as the economic system has brought us ever-increasing prosperity. What have shifted are the inputs and means of production. With gains in productivity and technology, along with automation, the critical driver is decreasingly physical capital, and increasingly human capital—skilled workforce. The competition for the precious resource of human capital is fierce across Montana and the entire United States. The greatest assets we have are the bright young minds entering, or set to enter, the workforce. If Billings and Montana hope to have a strong economy in the increasingly globalized marketplace of jobs, we have to create a community that retains our best and brightest, and attracts the next generation of workforce to foster business growth.
REGIONAL ISSUES, REGIONAL COMPETITION If you were able to attend Big Sky Economic Development’s Annual Meeting, you heard from Wyoming’s Republican Governor Matt Mead, who discussed shepherding passage of the state’s Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW) initiative, an example of a bold solution to address their state’s economic issues. ENDOW’s preliminary findings report identified the three barriers of economic growth as: (1) skilled workforce; (2) community amenities; and (3) infrastructure. Guided by the mantra of “Change is inevitable, growth is optional,” Wyoming state leaders took an active role to address the economic uncertainty their state faces. By appropriating over $40 million to expand broadband access, improve air service, and advance workforce training, Wyoming hopes to stanch the over 40% of college students who currently choose to leave the state after graduation, according to Governor Mead. Montana currently faces a situation similar to Wyoming. Though not as pronounced, our workforce issues and projections need to be addressed soon, or we face significant economic downfalls. The University of Montana’s Bryce Ward wrote in a 2016 Bureau of Business and Economic Research article “Montana’s net migration rate for college graduates under age 35 ranks 48th—topping only Alaska and Idaho.” And unfortunately, our population problem extends beyond just the college educated. The most recent demographic growth projections from Montana’s Legislative Fiscal Division show 0% growth in the 25-64 age demographic for 2019, 2020, and 2021. You read that right: zero.
For the next three years our state is projected to have zero growth among the age range critical for business growth. (See chart on page 19).
PROOF OF PROMISE Yet, we needn’t lose heart. This problem is solvable. The proof is in the economic development and revitalization of other communities who have banded together with bold solutions to address their issues. Beyond the Wyoming example, we’ve seen success in Allentown, PA. A city with little hope of revitalization until a comprehensive district development plan sparked private investment and ignited redevelopment, resulting in a downtown economy on track to secure massively prosperous growth for its community. In Rochester, MN, home of the Mayo Clinic, a forecast of economic decline due to an inability to attract the best and brightest healthcare minds in the country, necessitated action to build a community the next generation is seeking. After creating a new economic development tool in the Minnesota Legislature, Mayo Clinic was able to unleash the private investment and build public infrastructure necessary to make the Destination Medical Center project a reality, putting their campus back on the map for workforce recruitment.
A CHOICE TO MAKE The only unsolvable problem we could face is resigning ourselves to an attitude of economic sufficiency: “Billings’ 1% growth is adequate.” Or worse, subscribing to an outlook of economic fatalism: “We can’t compete with other cities, so why try?” Those sentiments ensure our peer cities outpace our own, intensify the negative issues impacting our businesses, and are a disservice to our Montana can-do attitude. Not only is that an imprudent course of action, it overlooks the fact that we already have a bold plan for development: One Big Sky District. Fortunately, Billings has already banded together to find a solution to our economic sluggishness. It’s a long-term plan for growth and development that capitalizes on the strengths of our economy and is centered on a lifestyle that today's, and tomorrow's, workforce requires. It will attract skilled workforce, create community amenities and result in major infrastructure development, while also growing statewide revenue. With a well-thought plan in hand and nearly shovel-ready projects, the private sector just needs a way to offset the costs of public
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infrastructure without continuing to burden the taxpayer. Unfortunately our economic development tools are outdated—some would say antiquated—and we need a new mindset for looking at how our state incentivizes private investment and infrastructure development. Ask Montanans and they’ll tell you we should run government more like a business. In a state that overwhelming supported Donald Trump, in part because of his business background, voters would appreciate elected officials fusing the principles of business into government decisions. The economic development tool our legislators are working on does just that, reducing risk to the state, incentivizing private investment, and generating massive revenue increases to the state.
HOW IT WORKS Simply put, the private sector pays for economic development, both private capitol and public infrastructure, for anchor projects within One Big Sky District. With private investment comes growth to city and state revenues. When that growth is realized, a portion of the earned tax base is used to repay the private sector for public infrastructure costs. It seems like a no-brainer, right? Build public infrastructure with private dollars. Put the investment risk on the private sector, rather than taxpayer. Should be an easy sell. But before we can make it a reality, we must demonstrate One Big Sky District will be a benefit to all of Montana. After all, why would Miles City or Bozeman support giving this tool to Billings? Because One Big Sky District is projected to add more than $2.5 billion in new taxes to the state of Montana. Yep, you read that right, and I didn’t mistype. Two and a half billion dollars added to state revenues is more than enough to pay for everything included in last session’s failed bonding bill, and have much more left over to benefit the residents of our state. State revenue growth from One Big Sky District could pay for the water line and campground improvements at Makoshika State Park, fire system upgrades to Miles City’s elementary school, boiler replacement at Polson elementary and Roundup high school, and the water intake project in Laurel. You could even include the $22 million requested for Romney Hall, and have plenty left over to put into a state and local infrastructure account.
“One Big One Big Sky District means more money for statewide infrastructure, essential services for our citizens, and it puts Montana back on the map for businesses and people deciding where to locate. For our rural counties and gateway communities in need of essential infrastructure, added revenue from One Big Sky District could help to pay for those improvements. And, Montana’s other large cities could implement a similar district concept to incentivize meaningful private investment to fund anchor projects in their communities.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR BILLINGS Billings stands to gain substantially as well. New properties will add to the property tax base, increasing funding for public safety. Building a community where our youth want to live in and the next generation of workforce wants to move to will help our businesses grow. And it will help to make our housing more affordable. But that’s not just the prediction of the One Big Sky District Strategy Partners. It’s what our Billings businesses project will happen. I had the opportunity to sit down with a few of our chamber members to get their feedback about the One Big Sky District project. We discussed their industries, One Big Sky District, and how new growth can benefit their b ottom line. Andrew Newman, who owns NewANDREW NEWMAN, man Restoration Newman Restoration & Cleaning and Cleaning, a locally-owned business specializing in disaster restoration and professional cleaning services, is excited at the prospect of growth. “Growth is success,” Andrew remarked as we discussed the business community and the economy. Newman Restoration and Cleaning has grown
Sky District is projected to add more than $2.5 billion in new taxes to the state of Montana.”
significantly in the last year, and Andrew attributes that growth to their diverse offering of services, a quality product, and effective social media use. One Big Sky District offers even more growth for Newman Restoration and Cleaning. “This is a huge opportunity to get our foot in the door of new business coming into town. New buildings will need to be maintained and cleaned.” Ultimately, Andrew sees the greater benefit to Billings from One Big Sky District. “This is not just going to help my business and family, but the whole community,” Andrew concluded. I also spent time discussing the impact of One Big Sky District with Kolten Knatterud, a Professional Engineer and TerritorialLandworks’ Billings Branch Manager. When
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I asked if his company would consider relocating into the district, he responded with a question of his own, “Can you imagine us trying to park our equipment KOLTEN KNATTERUD, in a downtown Territorial Landworks parking garage, holding up traffic, taking up multiple spaces?” It’s probably best they stay where they are… And while he didn’t think Territorial-Landworks would move their office into One Big Sky District, Kolten sees the benefit downtown development could produce. “If it brings additional people to Billings due to its high-profile nature and people wanting to be part of a city which has projects like this, it will help with staffing and trigger numerous infrastructure projects outside of the district as well.” The issue of staffing is also Kolten’s biggest concern at the moment, which isn’t unique to their business. We know attracting and retaining a skilled workforce is getting more difficult, and a majority of our businesses would expand and grow but for a lack of available workers. Fortunately, One Big Sky District will help make our community more attractive for the next generation of workforce. And for the residents of Billings? Kolten concludes, “I’m really excited about the strong support I see in our city to get things done and improve our community. There may be differences in opinion about exactly what these improvements look like, but you don’t hear any arguments against creating a stronger and better Billings.” Another important consideration with workforce issues and One Big Sky District relates to housing. Brittani Hunter is Residential Sales Manager with Coldwell Banker and is familiar with our housing market trends. She sat down
with me to help outline how One Big Sky may impact housing. “There is a bit of an unevenness at the moment. Good supply at high price points, but low supply at lower price points,” she BRITTANI HUNTER, Residential Sales Manager, offered. For the Coldwell Banker industry “it means the people who would usually be moving into newer, bigger houses aren’t. And without that movement, inventory on the lower end isn’t freed up for those people who would like to own
their first home, making housing affordability problematic.” To explain how One Big Sky District could help with the housing market, Brittani used the example of the Bakken Boom to illustrate, “We saw the benefits of an influx of families moving to Billings, bringing new jobs, increasing salaries, moving people into newer homes, and ensuring inventory was available, which helped with affordability.” We both agreed that One Big Sky District could provide the quality of life and employment draw required to attract and retain the next generation of homeowners our community needs, and keep the housing market moving.
Workforce shortages and the ability to recruit and retain trained talent are key pain points for a majority of businesses in the Billings MICHAEL SANDERSON, area. Our Sanderson Stewart community is facing a major challenge in filling 50,000 jobs over the next 10 years (42,683 retirements, 7,600 new jobs due to growth). Billings must innovate and become a city where our current and upcoming workforce want to live and work. Michael Sanderson, President and CEO of Sanderson Stewart, a community design services firm with offices in Montana and Colorado, shared his thoughts on how One Big Sky District may help address these workforce issues. “To the extent One Big Sky can put Billings on the map as a dynamic, hip, vibrant city with lots of amenities and culture that a young workforce is looking for, then I think One Big Sky can help us attract the workforce we need.”
GROWTH BY AGE GROUP BY CALENDAR YEAR 5% 4% 3% 2% 1% 0% -1% -2% -3%
Data Source: Montana’s Legislative Fiscal Division
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
2.4% 2.6% 2.9% 3.0% 2.2% 2.5% 4.2% 3.8% 3.8% 3.9% 4.0% 4.0% 3.6% 3.2% 2.9% 2.7%
1.7% 1.8% 1.3% 1.0% 0.7% 0.2% -0.2 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.4% 0.6% 0.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
0.2% -0.2 0.2% -0.4 0.0% 0.4% 0.4% 0.6% 0.4% 0.3% 0.3% 0.3% 0.5% 0.3% 0.2% 0.2%
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GROWTH IS OPTIONAL – BUT CRITICAL It is important to keep in mind the benefits outlined above, to Billings and the state, are forfeited if the decision is made to not support One Big Sky District. It means foregoing hundreds of millions in private investment and returning to the status quo of trivial workforce growth. It means we lose to our peer cities in the workforce attraction competition. It means our taxpayers pay more as our workforce ages out and people leave the job market. It means our population gets older as our youth leave to seek opportunity and quality of life elsewhere.
HOW CAN YOU HELP BRING ONE BIG SKY DISTRICT INTO REALITY? … Write a letter to the editor in the Billings Gazette.
… Testify during the legislative hearings in Helena.
When he discussed the difficulty of finding new solutions and creating change in Wyoming, Governor Mead shared a story about an elderly constituent complaining that her children had moved away. She implored the Governor to figure out how to get her family to move back. “But,” she added, “please don’t change Wyoming.”
… Write your elected officials. … Donate to the legislative work being done. … Connect with One Big Sky District on Facebook.
Let’s avoid that contradictory thinking. Change is inevitable. Growth is optional. Billings, our region, and the state of Montana will all be better off if we choose to support the positive change and meaningful growth One Big Sky District has to offer.
… Share your support for the project with friends, neighbors, colleagues and more.
Wishing Merry Christmas Happy New Year you a
We are grateful for our Clients & associates in the Billings community & look forward to our continued partnerships.
j j 1820 1 Ave. N. st
CIVIL ENGINEERING • SURVEYING • LAND USE CONSULTING
8 BLOCKS WEST OF THE METRA
Serving the West since
406/248.9000 | 3333 2nd Ave N, Suite 230, Billings
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21 |DECEMBER 2018-FEBRUARY 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
THE NEXT GENERATION OF
Entrepreneur Business is Here
BY KELLY MCCANDLESS
Starting a business, or growing one you’re currently operating, is no small feat. Oftentimes, a person has a really amazing idea and they see the potential – but the necessary steps involving finances, legal needs, marketing, scaling, etc. can make monetization feel impossible. And, in an economic climate poised to embrace new businesses and business growth, the last thing we want is for amazing ideas to be stymied. Enter Rock31. Rock31 is a hybrid solution to entrepreneurial development where incubation services, acceleration programming, and coworking space all meetup to serve companies ready to connect with experts, build their concept and grow. Simply put, it’s a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and business owners to access resources and mentors to help them make their ideas a reality.
ADDRESSING A NEED
Dena Johnson, Regional Director for the SBDC and Entrepreneurial Development with Big Sky Economic Development, is a true master in helping people with great ideas figure out how to turn them into business.
“About two years ago, we started to look for the gaps in our entrepreneurship development ecosystem,” she explained. One gap stood out clearly: the need to offer services and programming in a physical space. “We saw that offering a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs to access resources and mentors would significantly impact their ability to take a concept to commercialization.”
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Johnson and her team examined similar models operating successfully across the country, using their proofs of concept to inform the needs here. Then they went to work seeking partners to bring Rock31 into reality. “There are 23 funding partners and 6 main founding partners,” Johnson said. “The main partners are Big Sky Economic Development, MSU Billings, Rocky Mountain College, the Billings Chamber, Zoot Enterprises and Elation.”
BUILDING MOMENTUM Program support continues to grow, demonstrating the demand for Rock31 and all it will offer. The program, which officially launched July 1, 2018, is building momentum with a dynamic community of entrepreneurs. They’ve hired a program manager who begins in early January, have held several entrepreneur meet up events, and have 32 mentors ready to serve Rock31 clients.
“The meet ups are helping to build our community and establish a pipeline of potential clients, service providers, mentors, instructors and more,” noted Johnson. “And, in terms of current clients, we have several companies from the Early Stage Montana competition (Cardsetter, Elation, and Web Buy) as well as a group of confidential clients already using the Rock31 services.”
CO N N E C T
PERKS FOR CHAMBER MEMBERS Rock31 is not just for new business, and, since the Billings Chamber is a founding partner in Rock31, there are major perks for our members. Existing businesses will find Rock31 useful for determining how to scale your programming, build and grow your services or simply to seek mentorship through your growth. And, Rock31
will offer a community space, meaning if you need meeting space, places to teach classes or a space to train/learn, you will have access through this space. Members of the Billings Chamber have access to free or discounted Rock31 services. There’s more to come as this takes shape, but the resources available today are at no or low-cost to our members.
Meetup | Planned informal encounters where innovators, inventors, small-business owners and entrepreneurs collaborate to make things happen
Co-work | Programmed virtual and physical space co-located with technical assistance, resources, technology and equipment
Intentional Collaborative Events | Entrepreneurs bring a problem, an electronic vote is taken, and they work on solving the chosen problem over the next two hours
B U I L D
Mentor-Up | Successful entrepreneurs and professional experts provide specialized oneon-one mentorship and guidance
Concept to Commercialization Consulting | Guided by a Rock31 Program Manager and team of experts
Specialized Education & Training | Includes Profit Mastery, NxLevel, and FastTrac – a nationally accredited curricula from Kauffman Foundation
As a Founder | Understand your strengths and value propositions As a Leader | Develop your team
If you’d like to connect with Rock31, the team is ready and waiting to help. Currently, the program is housed at Big Sky Economic Development, but it’s on track to have its own physical space open in summer of 2019. Until then, call 406.254.6014 and ask for Rock31. Or, you can find Rock31 on Facebook and, soon, at Rock31.org. And, Rock31 meetups will continue all over Billings until the doors are open.
As a Business | Scale up to expand in a proportional and profitable way with access to capital and markets
Making the Homeownership Dream a Reality.
3127 Central Ave. • Ste. 4 Billings, MT 59102 Company NMLS# 3274 NMLS ID# 250504 Branch NMLS# 140408
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DeDe Stoner 406.237.0104 guildmortgage.com/dedestoner
GET TO KNOW CHAMBER STAFF:
Favorite Chamber/ Visit Billings event or program?
Annual Billings Breakfast. This event always offers a motivating message with tools to use for personal growth and business success.
BREWER PHOTO COURTESY RHEA WOLPOE
Years on Staff: 13
Describe your position in 5 words: Puzzle builder, focused on edges.
Words you live by:
If you could make one change in Billings today, what would it be?
Family is everything!
The dish you’re known for cooking? Peanut Butter Popcorn.
An “un-conventional” convention center unlike any that currently exists in the U.S. that would welcome tens of thousands of guests each year pumping millions into our economy.
The movie you can watch over and over: Stepbrothers.
What was you first job?
What do you think most people don’t know about the Chamber? • T he Chamber was incorporated with the State of Montana 100 years ago. • There is a “Chamber Ghost.” • T he 2nd floor of the building contains a wrap-around outdoor patio. • In 1928 the Chamber accepted Yellowstone Kelly’s body from Paradise, CA and kept it in a mausoleum (on ice) for 6 months until his burial at Swords Rimrock Park.
Washing dishes at the 600 Café in Miles City .
What book is on your nightstand? On my ipad—“The Escape Artist” (Brad Meltzer) and anything John Grisham At the office—“Traction: get a grip on your business” by Gino Wickman
The snack always found in your desk/office: Peanuts, mixed nuts or trailmix.
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Tell us about your photo: My favorite people (my amazing wife Carrie and sons Elijah and Micah—missing Braden, Danielle, Mitch and baby Bennett). At my favorite place: ZooMontana
GETTING TO KNOW CHAMBER PRESIDENT AND CEO JOHN BREWER BY KELLY MCCANDLESS
he Chamber recently celebrated 100 years of business – quite a milestone by any standard. The organization has weathered many changes over the last century, and successfully innovated to remain relevant. John Brewer has been at the helm for the last 13 years – and arguably steered the ship through some of its most impactful changes to date. LiNK Magazine began under the guidance of our fearless leader twenty issues ago and we finally get to spotlight our President and CEO. He is a true leader, one you will certainly learn from if given the opportunity. “John leads by example,” shares Visit Billings Executive Director, Alex Tyson. “He is a community and family-minded individual who empowers people.” The Chamber’s Chief Operating Officer, Jennifer Reiser, notes Johns dedication to the team and our membership. “John routinely measures our organizational progress, compares it with national best practices, and pushes us to continuously improve. He is committed to stable values and takes ownership and responsibility, enhancing our commitment to our members.” “I have watched him pull the right people together into a project and then step back and let them do what they do best,” Brenda Maas, Visit Southeast Montana’s Marketing Manager says. In the years I’ve worked for John, I’ve learned much more than I could summarize here. One of the traits I most appreciate, though, is his ability to consider the individual, determine true strengths and passions, and then figure out how to combine those things to further the organization. Alex summarizes it best: “As they say, many leaders are competent, but few are remarkable. John is remarkable.” John started his career in advertising and marketing. Though he went to college in Florida, he says he knew he would return to Montana. His advertising and marketing career connected him to the Billings Convention & Visitor’s Bureau (CVB - today’s Visit Billings) as a client. When a change of leadership took place, John became the CVB director in Billings for the next four years. That career move eventually took him to Spokane, WA where he led their CVB, and then brought him back to Billings to lead the Chamber. Read on to learn a bit more about one of Billings’ most impactful leaders.
Kelly: You’ve been steering the Chamber ship for 13 years. What have been some of the biggest successes and proudest moments for you? John: Without a doubt I am most proud of the wonderful, hardworking staff at the Chamber. This job allows us to find people who are just so passionate about the community and want to do extraordinary things for the town they live in. Every banner moment involves those people. What a blessing to be able to put those people in the right place to make transformational changes to Billings. A lot of great things, led by the chamber, have happened over the past several years (Dehler Park, Yes for Kids, Tourism Business Improvement District, partnership with Visit Southeast Montana, etc.) but the thing I am looking forward to most is when the ribbon is cut for the grand opening of our convention center in One Big Sky District. Kelly: What is the key to the Chamber’s success? John: People: our staff, board and member volunteers. We don’t sell a tangible product. So, our people become our product. The vison they paint, the work they produce and their integrity define our organizational DNA and ultimately lead Billings and the Chamber to a place of strength and growth. Kelly: What do you enjoy most about the job? John: Working with incredibly creative minds to vision the future of Billings. The best payoff, of course, is when the vision becomes reality. I want Billings to be the best it can be, and being a competitive person, I want to win the battles for positive growth: success in securing local option, improved air service, growing our amenities like trails and sports facilities, a vibrant business climate and so on. Kelly: What do you not like to do? John: Meetings. Of course, this is an important part of our success – convening great minds. But I am very impatient and prefer action. Kelly: Tell me about a time you almost gave up and what you did instead. John: I never contemplated giving up, but there are two projects I really believe in that have both been challenging. Billings needs a convention center; and the ability to ask residents if they would support a local option tax if it were dedicated to the improvement
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of Billings’ infrastructure and quality of life amenities. In both cases, it’s an uphill fight, and it’s a very complex message with strong passions on both sides of the issues. Both projects have experienced peaks and valleys, but heavy lifts such as these take time and are definitely worth the effort. It seems as though every time forward progress is about to stall; an unexpected opportunity presents itself through fresh ideas or new voices who push the momentum. If something of transformational significance is worth doing, you have to realize it takes an army of advocates, time, and patience. Kelly: Do you have a role model or someone who has been a valuable mentor to you? John: My wife, Carrie. She is my sounding board, my inspiration and the most intelligent person I know. Kelly: What do you like to do outside of work? John: I spend time enjoying my kids and precious time with Carrie. It’s hard to beat a new grandbaby. Baby Bennett is in Portland, so I don’t get to see him as much as I want, but what a blessing. It’s a whole new feeling of love and awareness of what’s important. Carrie and I Baby Bennett enjoy staying active – running Spartan Races, half marathons, and working out together. Most of our dates are at 6AM at the gym. Kelly: What’s your favorite quote? John: I keep a small reminder on my desk reminding me that new ideas take work and strong leadership. “Be strong and of good courage” Joshua 1:9. Kelly: What advice or resource would you offer someone looking to grow as a leader? John: Have patience – one thing I need more of. When you clearly see an end-goal it’s natural to want to sprint for the finish line. Pause. Have patience and make sure you have the right people on the bus. Tell a compelling story and bring the vision into clarity for others.
KEY ECONOMIC INDICATORS Hotel Occupancy
80.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 70.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 60.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 50.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 40.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0.0%____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2018
Unemployment Rate Comparison County Population
Percent change in county population 2010-2014
3.7% Unemployment Rate as of October 2018 Yellowstone County
Median Household Income
Airport Deboardings: City Comparison 500,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 450,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________
Average Home Price
400,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 350,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 300,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________
Number of Employer Establishments
250,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 200,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 150,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________
School District #2 Enrollment
Sources: Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Billings Association of RealtorsÂŽ, City of Billings, School District #2, U.S. Census Bureau and the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research..
100,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2015 2016 2017 2018* Billings
*2018 Deboardings reporting for January-September only.
Soar through winter. Why brave icy roads when you can hop on an easy Cape Air flight? Save time, save money, and get there a whole lot faster.
Enjoy the ride.
27 |DECEMBER 2018-FEBRUARY 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY *Including all taxes and fees. Fares are subject to availability and other conditions. Fares may change without notice, and are not guaranteed until ticketed.
BILLINGS NEXTGEN OFFERS ITS MEMBERS ACCESS, EDUCATION AND CONNECTIONS BY JENNIFER REISER, IOM;
ACCESS This year’s Leadership Team is utilizing their access to community leaders to make connections and provide education and teambuilding along the way. Leadership CoChairs David Mitchell and Karen Baumgart have been inviting community and business leaders to their monthly meetings to share insights on leadership and enhance the community’s connection to NextGEN. So far Todd Buchanan (Buchanan Capital) Patrice Elliott (EBMS), Kevin Ploehn (Billings Logan Airport) and Susan Shald (Gallup) have connected with the Leadership Team. All NextGEN members have the opportunity to connect with Mayor Bill Cole at our Snackin’ ‘n Yackin’ with the Mayor events. This monthly event is held the fourth Tuesday of each month over the lunch hour. The location varies and lunch is no-host. Mayor Cole has graciously accepted the invitation to interact with NextGEN members, listen to concerns
P APV AI NV GI
and answer questions, and share city-related updates. Check out the NextGEN Facebook page for upcoming dates and locations.
EDUCATION The NextGEN Learn Action Team will hold the 2019 Professional Development Series. This year’s focus will be on Paving Your Path to Success. NextGEN members recognize that success is no longer a game of chance. Sessions will include personal brand development, working creatively and collaboratively, and learning from others. Cost to participate is $25/session or $100 for all five. Locations will be announced soon, but you can register now at BillingsNextGen.com. (See side bar “Paving Your Path to Success”).
CONNECTIONS Not only are NextGEN members connecting with community leaders through Leadership Team meetings and Snackin’ ‘n Yackin’ with the Mayor, but also through the Learn Action Team’s NextGEN Exchange Mentorship Program. This
year, 24 NextGEN members have been matched with community leaders to explore community engagement, discover opportunities to grow their networks and develop new skills. This program kicked off in September 2018 and will continue through May 2019. At the kickoff session participants shared in speed networking, appreciative interviews and goal setting. Mentors are involved to pay it forward and to serve as trusted advisors and accountability coaches. NextGEN members know they will get out of this program what they put into it and are considering what they want to achieve, how they can add value to this relationship and be open and receptive to their new connections. These specific mentions just scratch the surface of what you can get from your NextGEN membership. If you’d like to build on the investment you’ve made in membership, connect your NextGEN employees or simply learn more about NextGEN, let us know. You can email me at Jennifer@BillingsChamber.com.
NY G O UY R OP U A TR H PT AO T H
• January 17; 3-5 pm: Laying the Foundation – using your strengths to maximize your potential at work and everywhere else. • February 26; 10 am – 12 pm: Driving Your Personal Brand
NEXTGEN’S 2019 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SERIES
The NextGEN Learn Action Team announces the 2019 Professional Development Series: Paving Your Path to Success. NextGEN members recognize success is no longer a game of chance – this series will include sessions on
personal brand development, working creatively and collaboratively, and learning from others. Cost to participate is $25/session or $100 for all five. Locations will be announced soon, but you can register now at BillingsNextGEN.com. Then, mark your calendars for the session dates/ times:
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• March 21; 3-5 pm: Guiding Courageous Collaboration with Gracious Space • April 23; 10 am – 12 pm: The Journey Continues – Gracious Space Part 2 • May 21; 3-5 pm: A View from the Top – CEO Panel – Explore what it takes to successfully lead businesses and organizations
See you tomorrow. I’m headed home.
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EXPANSION AND REMODEL TAKE FLIGHT AT BILLINGS LOGAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT BY KELLY MCCANDLESS
ith growing demand for added efficient, quality air service in Billings, the airport has officially begun its remodel and expansion. The result of this major effort will be: • 4 additional gates, bringing Billings’ total to 9 gates by 2022 • Added quality food and beverage options • Greatly enhanced cultural presence and design highlighting the impressive landscape
The project is in the early planning stages, with a sample of the first renderings shown here. There is still time to weigh in and share your thoughts on what we can do to create an outstanding Billings Airport – share your thoughts through the survey. Just go to https://www.flybillings. com/1899/Terminal-Expansion-Project and click on the survey link. You’ll also find additional renderings and updated information on the project.
Please keep in mind the airport is City controlled, but no local or state tax dollars support it or will be used for the expansion and remodel. The City’s Aviation & Transit Department is a self-supporting enterprise fund. The costs of the operation are recaptured through user/tenant rates and charges. No City General Fund (i.e., tax fund) support has been received since 1975.
The photo shown here is a very early rendering of what the remodeled and expanded Billings Airport could look like. More information and updated renderings will be posted as they are finalized at www.FlyBillings.com.
Be on the lookout!
As you’re traveling through airports around the world, we want to see what aesthetics stand out and matter to you! Send photos of things you see along with a sentence or two about why you took notice to Kelly@BillingsChamber.com or post them to the Chamber Facebook page.
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Your Trusted Local Lenders! Whether your clients are buying their first home, moving across town, or refinancing their current mortgage, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation is here to help. At Fairway, customer service is a way of life. Not only are we dedicated to finding great rates for our customers, but we also offer some of the fastest turn times in the industry. Our main priority is ensuring that the trust we are given is backed by accurate, on-time paperwork delivered with the best technology available. We strive to streamline the mortgage process for our clients and make it stress-free for all parties involved.
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Branch Manager • NMLS #523512 12 Avanta Way, Suite 2, Billings, MT 59102 Direct: 406-272-8841 email@example.com
Branch Manager • NMLS #220142 12 Avanta Way, Suite 2, Billings, MT 59102 Cell: 406-670-6968 firstname.lastname@example.org
Audrey S. Kimmet
Loan Officer • NMLS #473277 12 Avanta Way, Suite 2, Billings, MT 59102 Office: 406-794-1057 email@example.com
W W W . F A I R W A Y M T . C O M Copyright©2018 Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation. NMLS#2289. 4750 S. Biltmore Lane, Madison, WI 53718, 1-877-699-0353. Distribution to general public is prohibited. This is not considered an advertisement as defined by 12 CFR 226.2(a)(2). All rights reserved.
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SHOP BILLINGS! BY RENÉ BEYL
BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST From one end of Billings to the other, you’re sure to find a wide variety of products and remarkable service – even when you’re looking for those last-minute gifts. For this issue, I spoke with six locally-owned businesses about how they set themselves apart to earn your business – now and throughout the rest of the year. As we head in to the tail end of the holiday season, they’ll be well stocked and focused on making your experience in the store joyful so you can take home the perfect gift, whether you seek a classic item or a highly unique purchase.
SHIPTON’S BIG R (Heights, Downtown, and West End)
“Not only are we a great stop for everyday practical items, but there is lots of fine holiday shopping to be found here too. There are gifts for those that have a passion for hunting, the outdoor lover in your family and even your pets. If you are looking for a western touch, we have something special from toys to jewelry.” Jay Carroll
LIBERTY & VINE (Downtown)
“Great gifts can be found from fun-loving greetings and nostalgic toys to Made in Montana items for the state pride lover on your list. (Isn’t that all of us here in Billings?) And remember, you’re supporting more than one business by buying a Made in Montana item from a local brick and mortar store – you’re also supporting the company who made that product.” Amy Pawlowski
REAL DEALS (Downtown)
“Shop with us for last-minute quick-grab gifts. Items of a wide range starting at a low cost be found in our store. Our staff can also help you with a last-minute silk floral arrangement for the final touch to your holiday table or as a hostess gift for any occasion.” Lisa Pugrud
JOY OF LIVING (24th St, North of Grand or Downtown)
“Last minute shoppers -we love you! We pride ourselves on helping our customers put together fun gifts for anyone on their list. We realize some customers have to shop on a budget & we have a wide variety of price ranges to make it easy to get the perfect gift! And, so you don’t have to worry about it when you get home, we gift wrap purchases for free.” Kris Carpenter
LESLIE’S HALLMARK (Rimrock Mall)
“Our store is so much more than cards and wrapping paper, although we do have the best selection of these. We have a great assortment of gift items from Montana Made to the popular name brand collectibles. Let us know what you are looking for and we will help you find it, or if that isn’t possible, we will find a great alternative for you!” Mary Lave
CANDY TOWN USA (Shiloh Crossing)
“We offer a remarkable selection of in-house made chocolates along with thousands of types of candies for kids of all ages. We can help create a themed gift basket or help to select a specialty home good product. Our old-fashioned soda fountain is a great place to find a boost to your energy and continue your shopping adventures.” Maria Purcell
libert y &vine
The following Chamber member businesses recently celebrated grand openings, anniversaries, rebranding, relocation, and ground breakings. Congratulations to each of them!
launched their long-arm sewing dealership on August 3rd with an open house and demonstrations.
HIGHGATE SENIOR LIVING
A Parking Lot Celebration was held to celebrate 15 years in business on August 3rd.
ALBERTSON’S ON CENTRAL
The store remodel was commemorated on August 8th and funds were donated to ZooMontana and School District 2.
SUNNY DAY CLEANING SERVICES
On September 14th, four generations celebrated the official launch.
A Happy 5th Birthday ribbon cutting was held on September 17th with their students and staff.
City of Billings held a ribbon cutting to unveil the incredible mural on September 22nd.
On September 26th moved a bit further west and invited everyone to check out their new home base.
STRATEGIC RETIREMENT PLANS
celebrated their new location on September 26th in classic open house style.
ONE SOURCE LIGHTING
hosted an event on October 3rd to showcase the opening of OSL Lighting Design in downtown Billings.
NORPAC SHEET METAL
With 30 years of growth they shared plans to expand the building on October 5th by breaking ground.
MIDLAND WEST MANUFACTURING
used a grinder to cut a metal ribbon on October 19th during their celebration for 40 years of business success.
October 22nd was the announcement for a new name for a company with a long standing history in our city.
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.
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AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR’S JESSIE GRAFF & HOST AKBAR GBAJA-BIAMILA – CHAMBER BREAKFAST IN APRIL
Chamber Breakfast presented by
BY JESSICA HART
019 is the year to focus on our health and the health of our community. We know that good health is good for business. We hope to empower Billings’ area worksites to become activators of health to attract and retain talented employees to our community. Using creative placemaking tools as a fun way to create welcoming places that promote physical activity and social connections among employees is a key goal for the Billings Chamber as a part of ACCE’s Healthy Communities program. To truly engage our community in a conversation about the benefits of a healthy workforce, we wanted the 2019 Chamber Breakfast to speak to the importance of overall health and how it impacts business on so many levels. This year we are excited to bring you not one,
Warrior,” and NFL Networks’ “NFL Fantasy Live.” Akbar will also share his experiences in the NFL and beyond. Jessie and Akbar will make a public appearance as a part of our Healthy Communities event on April 3rd to promote Billings being a healthy community and how to focus our efforts to increase physical activity and social connectedness. but two incredible people who have used their health and love for physical activity to build their careers. Jessie Graff, a well-known competitor on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” and Action Icon Award recipient of “Stuntwoman of the Year,” for her roles in Wonder Woman, Bright, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Die Hard, and The Dark Knight will be on the stage at Rimrock Auto Arena on April 4th to speak on her life and how health has played a major role in becoming who she is today. Jessie will share the stage with Akbar Gbajabiamila, host of NBC’s “American Ninja
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.
RIMROCK MALL JANUARY 9 • 300 S 24TH ST W
RIVERSTONE HEALTH FEBRUARY 13 • 123 S 27TH ST.
VISIT BILLINGS MARCH 13 • AT METRAPARK
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The Chamber Breakfast presented by KULR8 will be held April 4, 2019 at 7:00 am with doors opening at 6:00 am. Tables of 10 on the floor are $675 and General Admission Tickets are $40, and all tickets come with breakfast. For tickets or more information please contact Jessica Hart at Jessica@billingschamber.com. If you’d like to sponsor the 2019 Chamber Breakfast contact Joe McGinnis at Joe@ billingschamber.com. American Ninja Warrior returns to KULR in May.
SAVE THE DATE:
CHAMBER AG CELEBRATION (Formerly The Ag Banquet) JANUARY 18 • METRAPARK 5:30-9:30PM TABLES $675 • TICKETS $67.50
CONCERT EXPERIENCE $35
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Billings Chamber of Commerce 815 S. 27th St. Billings, MT 59101
Billings community business news and events.