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Gold Wing Road Riders Association

Wing Ding 38



IS S U E 10 | J U N E - AU G U S T 2 0 16



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table of contents


6.16 CONTENTS FORGING A PATH: what billings can learn from oklahoma city





p. 16






PRESIDENTS LETTER Celebrating and continuing to pursue greatness.



Leadership Billings 2017.



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



Top priority issues for the Billings Chamber of Commerce.


MONTANA’S TRAILHEAD The power of tourism; welcome Wing Ding 38.

GET TO KNOW DANIEL J. BROOKS Government Affairs Manager.

Get to Know BRIAN D. BROWN

p. 26




Hidden Treasure: Carter County Museum.



Air service luncheon in August.


Top Investors


Big Sky level

Celebrating, and continuing to pursue, Greatness

As a resident, you should be proud. Proud that you live in such an incredible place between the Rims and the River.

Billings is the Best Town Ever! Last month, Outside Magazine named Billings as THE best place in the country after a national vote. To be nominated as one of the top 64 in April a community had to be a place “with great access to trails and public lands, thriving restaurants and neighborhoods, and, of course, a good beer scene.” Done! At the start of the contest pitting 64 cities against each other, Billings ranked…64th. We bypassed Seattle, Denver, Boise, New Orleans and many other wonderful communities to face off against Jackson Hole, WY for the championship: an impressive roster to say the least. As a resident, you should be proud. Proud that you live in such an incredible place between the Rims and the River. Proud that you took time to vote for a city on the move with over 40 miles of paved pathways along the Heritage Trail. Proud that your positive voice was able to over shadow, then completely quiet, those that always find something

Granite Peak level CenturyLink Crowne Plaza EBMS Holiday Station Stores Mr. C’s Chimney and Air Duct Cleaning MSU Billings 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 Devfuzion DiA Events Enterprise Holdings ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Co. Gainan’s Integra Kampgrounds of America Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. Olsen Ortho Studio PayneWest Insurance Phillips 66 Radisson Hotel Rocky Mountain College Spectrum Business Stockman Bank, Billings Underriner Honda Vertex Consulting Group Walmart Walmart, Heights Western Security Bank, Downtown The Western Sugar Cooperative

to complain about. Proud that we can now tell the world that Billings is the Best Town in America. We have a lot of good and great attributes to celebrate. Sustaining what we have and growing into the Best Billings we can become is an ongoing effort. In this issue of LiNK you will read about lessons learned from a recent Aspirational City Visit in which participant’s experienced first-hand best practices to improve our community in targeted areas. Part of that strategy will be to tackle a proactive legislative agenda to fund and promote our place-making initiatives. You will find a quick overview of our top three legislative priorities within these pages, along with important takeaways from the trip to Oklahoma City, information on Leadership Billings which grooms future community leaders, and much more. Good job Billings!

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Published by:

The Billings Gazette

Project Management/ Editor:

Kelly McCandless


Nadine Bittner

Photo Contributors:

Advertising Sales:

Billings Gazette Staff Photographers, Billings Chamber, Visit Billings, Rhea Wolpoe, Jennifer Reiser Kevin Cremer 406-245-4111

www.billingschamber.com PO Box 31177 Billings MT 59107-1177 406-245-4111 • 800-711-2630

Fax 406-245-7333


• Barnett Opticians • BioLife Plasma • Grand Avenue Dental • Moulton Bellingham • Prill Dental • Starbucks



Leadership Billings provided my classmates and me with a deeper understanding of the issues affecting our community

Registration is open for Leadership Billings 2017, one of the Chamber’s most demanded programs. Offering a reputable history, the program recognizes that Billings is a growing, changing community and keeping our city vibrant and healthy requires insightful leaders who have the ability to communicate and work effectively with a wide variety of groups and individuals. This program offers a venue for these individuals to develop and maintain strong community ties and relationships. LynAnn Henderson with EBMS recently completed the program and reflected on how it impacted her. “Leadership Billings provided my classmates and me with a deeper understanding of the issues affecting our community and how our government, schools, healthcare facilities, businesses and nonprofit organizations work in tandem to address those issues.” She went on to

express how the program fostered opportunities for individual growth and helped forge new personal and professional connections. “I also appreciated the thought and intention placed on the curriculum. Organizations extended the focus of their presentations far beyond the typical “here’s what we do” which, ultimately, fostered a dynamic, solutions-oriented conversation between participants and the presenters.” The eight-month program explores the subject areas of community and social services, government, education, agriculture and business, culture and tourism, and healthcare. It culminates with a Community Work Day which allows group members to explore opportunities to work together, benefiting community organizations and further developing relationships. Brandon Scala with

Valley Federal Credit Union recently reflected on his Leadership Billings experience, “Coming from what I consider a very “open eyed” life, I realized that there is much more to “see” than a person truly realizes. Being able to listen to all the different community leaders and hearing about their struggles and their successes has been great.” Leadership Billings kicks off with a retreat in October 2016 and continues monthly until May 2017. Two classes are offered, meaning a maximum of 80 leaders will be accepted in to the program. We recommend you reserve your spot as soon as possible as the program fills quickly. Email jennifer@billingschamber.com or visit BillingsChamber.com for more information or to register.

Chamber Statistics: What are we doing for you? As of May 1, 2016 the Billings Chamber represents 1,199 members with approximately 48,274 employees. Since the beginning of our fiscal year on July 1, 2015 through May 1, 2016: Number of Calls/Inquiries:...... 10,587 (average of 1,176/month) Visitors to the Visitor Information Center:..........................3,832 Visits to VisitBillings.com:................................................ 196,014 Visits to BillingsChamber.com:..........................................30,826 Relocation Packets Mailed:..................................................... 180

Connect for Lunch:................ 246 lunches served so far this FY. At an average cost of $12/lunch that is an impact of $2,928 to member restaurants.

Convention and Meeting Tourism Bookings:.................... 27,604 hotel room nights booked for $6,210,900 total economic impact on the city of Billings.

Conventions and Meetings Serviced by Visit Billings:....... 9,127 convention delegate packets provided.

Visitor Information Packets Mailed:..................................26,331 Business Meeting Attendees at Chamber:.........................10,175 Chamber Event Attendance:................................................. 5,796

Is your info current? Make sure we’re sharing the correct information with potential clients! Check your listing at BillingsChamber.com and let us know if changes are needed. JUNE - AUGUST 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 April 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®, City of Billings, School District #2, U.S. Census Bureau and the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research.


2015 Billings


2014* Missoula

*2013 Billings deboardings were impacted by runway maintenance in July/August. **2016 data for January–March 2016 only.




BILLINGS CHAMBER TOP PRIORITY ISSUES BY BRUCE MACINTYRE, Director of Government Affairs and Business Advocacy

The Billings Chamber’s top three legislative priorities introduced below were recently approved by the Chamber Board of Directors.

In six months the Montana State Legislature will begin the 2017 session in Helena. The Billings Chamber’s top three legislative priorities introduced below were recently approved by the Chamber Board of Directors. These priorities came only after our membership weighed in via a legislative survey, thorough vetting by the Government Affairs and Executive Committees, and discussions with our legislative delegation. In addition to the three priorities below, the board approved a complete public policy document that includes additional positions on issues important to business and community-building. You will receive that document in the coming months.

Local Option Taxing Authority. The Chamber supports local option taxing authority as a mechanism for communities to invest in future placemaking initiatives. Not having additional funding sources for community investment other than property taxes continues to put Montana communities at a substantial disadvantage. Authority by the state is being requested allowing all communities in Montana (by a vote of local residents) to determine whether or not they want to implement this tax, and for what purposes. The tax would include a defined purpose, a sunset provision, and be used in the

community in which it is generated. A local option tax also identifies which items will be taxed at a rate of tax up to 4% and the percent of the local option revenue collected which is dedicated to property tax relief. Currently property taxes are one of few sources of revenue locally and we see more and more tax fatigue on behalf of property owners. Nearly $390 million is spent in Yellowstone County each year from visitors to our area. We need to collect a few pennies to invest in ourselves from those visitors. There seems to be a misconception that legislators are enacting a new tax. Legislators are NOT being asked to create a new tax. The legislation will simply create the authority for municipalities across Montana to enact a local option tax if the voters agree to the terms and conditions in the ballot language.

Tourism Funding. When visitors stay at a hotel in Billings they pay a 7% lodging tax which amounts to approximately $6 million annually. Billings retains around $400,000 while the remainder goes to the state. A portion of the state money is reinvested in tourism while a significant amount goes directly to the general fund. Tourism is the second largest industry statewide, surpassed only by agriculture, and 11 million visitors come to Montana each year,

often because of our messaging around the region, country and the world. The Chamber believes these funds should be returned to the community in which they were generated to be used for marketing or tourism infrastructure that will drive more non-resident visitation to that community.

Public Incapacitation. Most large communities deal with this problem, and as the largest city in Montana, Billings has to address this problem with increasing frequency. Serial inebriates can become a business deterrent to local merchants and the community as a whole, a health and welfare problem and a problem with few solutions available. Current law states that we may not adopt or enforce a local law that includes drinking or being found in an intoxicated condition. Communities need to have the ability to pass their own ordinances dealing with this localized issue. In 2015 a similar bill passed the Senate and was tabled in the House Law and Justice Committee on a tie vote. At present the Law and Justice Interim Committee has heard several presentations on the issue and will decide later this year if it should come forward as a Committee bill. If it does not, we will work with our local delegation to request a bill draft for the next session.





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In a recent team meeting we were going over the responses to the Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Membership Survey. In the midst of numerous positive comments listed from members regarding the impact of tourism on Yellowstone County, there was a remark about how the impact of tourism was exaggerated and that it was time to dull the focus on the industry. Travel and tourism is a cash-generating machine for communities, particularly for Billings and other Montana destinations due to the coveted bucket lists of people across the world. Big Sky Country, wide-open spaces, trailhead access to the top-rated Beartooth Highway, Yellowstone National Park, Pompeys Pillar, Bighorn Battlefield, and Bighorn Canyon, as well as all of the adventure that comes with Montana’s mystique like hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, etc. As the U.S. Travel Association points out in its Power of Travel Promotion Report, travel promotion represents one of the best investments a state or city can make. According to the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research (ITRR), in 2015, nonMontana resident visitors spent nearly $400 million in Yellowstone County. This doesn’t include a Glendive resident coming to enjoy the Carrie Underwood concert for the night or a Helena family spending two nights in town for the Big Sky Volleyfest. These are dollars from out of state visitors only. Tourism is big business for Billings’ economy. The top five nonMontana resident visitor expenditure categories according to ITRR are as follows: • Gasoline and Diesel • Restaurants and Bars • Retail Sales • Hotels, B&B, etc. • License and entry fees

Looking at the Virtuous Cycle (pictured below), it models how marketing dollars, like those Visit Billings invests in travel promotion courtesy of State Lodging Tax and Tourism Business Improvement District funds, kicks off a domino effect which directly supports the list above: Increased traveler visits equates to greater traveler spending in local communities. Higher expenditures lead to faster job creation and revenues for a community that far surpass the initial investment. Events recruited by Visit Billings and its stakeholders (hoteliers) are invaluable and without the support of the lodging community, there would be a negative impact experienced. This summer, 10,000 Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) members will converge on Billings for Wing Ding 38. The Rally kicks off with a Welcome Party downtown on August 30 and wraps up with closing ceremonies at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark on September 3. The Rally, along with pre and post travel stopovers by GWRRA members leading up to and taking place after the event, will impact Yellowstone County’s economy by as much as $9 million. To help facilitate Billings’ Wing Ding guests, we hope you’ll take advantage of the Visit Billings Business Engagement Toolkit available at VisitBillings.com/wingding-toolkit. Like what was offered for BMW MOA’s Rally in 2015, this complimentary offering makes posters, window clings, FAQs, and logos available to arm businesses with the information and materials needed to positively engage riders and let them know how much we appreciate that they have made Billings part of their itineraries.

Like other valuable brands, Visit Billings, as a travel destination, requires engagement, support and investment. It’s important for elected officials, community leaders, and residents alike to realize that if we fail to continue to invest in tourism, we will quickly lose market share to competitors. Tourism offers a crucial return on investment, plus, having the opportunity as a resident to host and enjoy visitors, like this summer’s Wing Dingers, is a privilege.

The mission of Visit Billings is to generate room nights for lodging facilities in the city of Billings by effectively marketing our region as a preferred travel destination. VisitBillings.com

Source: (U.S. Travel Association)

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.



* each way




Wolf Point Sidney


Enjoy the ride.




*Including all taxes and fees. Fares are subject to availability and other conditions. Fares may change without notice, and are not guaranteed until ticketed.


Daniel J. BROOKS

What book is on your nightstand? The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros are Fixing our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley.



Government Affairs Manager

Years on Staff: 1 Year

Describe your position in 5 words. Representing the Billings business community.

The dish you’re known for cooking? Stovetop popcorn

Tell us about your photo:

Linda and I were married at The Depot. It’s the first root of many we’d like to put down in Billings.

If you could make one change in Billings today, what would it be?

Having a funding mechanism like local option that allows Billings residents to choose the projects necessary to foster growth and stimulate development and investment in our city.

The TV show you can’t miss:

What is one thing about the organization you think most people don’t know?

Game of Thrones

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

Definitely Neil deGrasse Tyson. His enthusiasm and ability to communicate a topic as complicated as astrophysics are inspiring. Listening to him describe what humanity has already accomplished through science assures me that our potential is limitless.

The Chamber/Visit Billings team has a monthlong staff Cornhole tournament. Each month’s winner receives office bragging rights and the traveling trophy, a WWE Champion Belt.

Words you live by: Do it before you don’t.



Hidden Treasure: Carter County Museum By NICK MANN, MARKETING MANAGER

SoutheastMontana.com The mission of Visit Southeast Montana is to increase tourism to Southeast Montana by increasing awareness of our region, showcasing our cultural heritage, developing memorable experiences and educating our residents about the economic benefits of tourism.

n the past several issues we covered many of the amazing tourism hot spots to be found in Southeast Montana, but one of the things we haven’t covered, and which is arguably Southeast Montana’s biggest claim to fame, is dinosaurs. Not many people realize it, but Eastern Montana is one of the best places on Earth to find dinosaur fossils. Paleontologists flock to our area from across the world in hopes of discovering some new species of dinosaur, or to learn a little bit more about one of the many dinosaur species frequently found in the Montana badlands. Even less known among Montanans is the fact that the Carter County


Museum, located in tiny Ekalaka, Montana, is recognized as one of the top paleontological museums in the state. In fact, the Carter County Museum is second only to the Museum of the Rockies when it comes to dinosaurs in Montana. The majority of Montana/Dakota dinosaur digs are conducted on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, and across the entire United States only 40 museums have been authorized to store fossils found on these federal lands. Carter County museum is among them, one of only two museums so authorized in Montana. Carter County Museum is far more than just fossils, however. In fact, it was the first county museum in Montana, founded in 1936. Today, the museum continues to be an important part of the Ekalaka community. Alongside its impressive

Baisch’s Dinosaur Digs

If you’ve already experienced your fill of dinosaur museums and are ready to get out there and find some bones yourself, there’s no better guide than Baisch’s Dinosaur Digs. Their experienced guides will show you what to look for, how to excavate fossils if you find any, and how to cast or prepare the fossils you find. They will supply the needed tools and supplies for collecting, and with a few exceptions, they will even allow you to keep the fossils that you find.


Baisch’s Dinosaur Digs is located just a few miles from the town of Glendive along I-94.

The dig site is on a private ranch, much of which is comprised of rugged Montana badlands, perfect for finding dinosaur fossils. Both full day and half day excursions are available and if you’re bringing your children under 12, they can dig for free! It’s one thing to see the bones of these prehistoric animals in a museum, but the experience of uncovering a dinosaur bone yourself is unforgettable. To learn more about Baisch’s Dinosaur Digs visit ww.dailydinosaurdigs.com

dinosaur displays are exhibits focusing on the Native American history of the area, the struggle of the pioneers who helped found Ekalaka, and an exhibit honoring the many members of the military from Carter County who sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom. The Carter County Museum is open year round, but the best time to visit is in July when they hold their Dino ShinDig event. This event is great for everyone from small children to serious dinosaur enthusiasts. Paleontologists from around the world come to give lectures and lead visitors on guided dinosaur digs in the badlands of Carter County Montana. For more information visit www.cartercountymuseum.org.


BRING YOUR GROUP B y S t e fa n C at ta r i n




A souvenir for your soul! That’s what I like to think every visitor has the opportunity to receive when traveling to Montana’s Trailhead. The allure of that ‘Montana Moment’ beckons us all, and as Montana’s Trailhead, the adventure begins here in our city. This is why the work of Visit Billings is so important: Yellowstone County has the 3rd largest non-resident expenditure in the state, netting nearly $400 million in 2014 (Institute for Tourism & Recreation Research). As a gateway city to Yellowstone National Park via the scenic Beartooth Highway, regionally positioned closely to rich history and culture throughout southeast Montana, and as the largest city in the state with a vibrant community and lots to offer, Billings is the trailhead to Montana adventures.

summer, August 31st – September 3rd, as we anticipate 10,000 attendees to ride into Billings on their Gold Wings. The value of this event far exceeds even the financial impact to local businesses, estimated to be around $9 million. The experiential impact on every visitor as they are embraced by a thriving and welcoming community will inevitably lead to future visits from those in attendance, bringing their families back for a “Montana Moment.” This impact through Wing Ding is one of countless events that take place in Billing year after year as a result of local leads and referrals. As a Destination Management Organization, we are experts of our city and region. Once you bring us a lead, we take over from there. We navigate event planners to a full and rewarding event experience, guiding them to explore all that is surrounding our fabulous city and all that is hidden within it. We provide an authentic experience showcasing the conveniences, modern amenities, and practical tools available to any planner considering our community. We display our position as a regional hub and convenient host city with easy interstate access and direct air service from nine major cities. Add to that our offering of more than 5,000 hotel rooms, over 300,000 square feet of flexible convention space, multiple sports facilities, MetraPark and Rimrock Auto Arena, and Billings is an ideal fit for any size event.

The allure of


MONTANA’S CITY As the largest city in the state, Billings is a vibrant urban destination on the edge of Montana’s wild frontier with truly local flavor, diverse shopping, award-winning cuisine, arts and culture.

GATEWAY TO YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK 129 miles/208 km from Billings America's first national park is home to a large variety of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk with a collection of the world's most extraordinary geysers and hot springs.

RIMROCKS Sandstone bluffs surrounding the city are known as the Rimrocks and estimated to be at least 70 million years old. They are part of the Eagle sandstone formation and were originally the delta of an ancient sea.

BEARTOOTH HIGHWAY 65 miles/106 km from Billings This legendary pass, just west of Red Lodge, Montana is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, weather permitting, and is the most scenic entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

AUTHENTIC WEST Embrace the western culture from the rodeo stands or take the reins yourself in a rustic horseback riding experience. Cap off the adventure with a chuckwagon barbecue to remember.

LITTLE BIGHORN BATTLEFIELD NATIONAL MONUMENT 60 miles/97 km from Billings Take in history on the grounds where it originally took place; where the Sioux and Cheyenne battled Custer and the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry in one of the last efforts to preserve the native way of life.

WALKABLE BREWERY DISTRICT Billings is home to Montana’s only walkable brewery district. Indulge in award–winning beer and spirits with six breweries and two distilleries, all within an easy 1.5 mile loop in historic downtown.

BIGHORN CANYON REC. AREA 85 miles/137 km from Billings Revel in a truly diversified landscape of forest, mountains, upland prairie, deep canyons, broad valleys, high desert, lake and wetlands. Bighorn Lake extends approximately 71 miles through Wyoming and Montana. The Bighorn River below the Afterbay Dam offers world class trout fishing.

CULTURE Immerse yourself in Native American history at the Yellowstone County Museum or visit the Chief Plenty Coup State Park. For a modern art experience take in the latest exhibit at the Yellowstone Art Musuem.

YELLOWSTONE RIVER Runs through Billings The Yellowstone River is the longest free flowing river in the lower 48 states and a beautiful place to enjoy. Take a leisurely walk or cast in a line - either way the river cannot be missed. VisitBillings.com/tour

that ‘Montana

As a Destination Management Organization (DMO), Visit Billings’ mission is “to generate room nights for the lodging facilities in the city of Billings by effectively marketing Billings and our region as a preferred travel destination.” We work to fulfill this mission by recruiting meetings, conventions, tradeshows, sporting events, national rallies and more. Vital to our success is the Bring it to Billings campaign enlisting support from our community and business leaders. The reach and relationships of our community far exceed what Visit Billings could do alone. We are dependent on our community to Bring it to Billings: to bring that company’s state, regional or national conference here, to make that introduction to the next ‘big’ event or that company sales meeting.

Moment’ beckons us all, and as Montana’s

Trailhead, the

adventure begins here in our city.

The reality of community support to attract potential conferences or events is incredible. Just four years ago, a local community member associated with an organization known as the Gold Wing Road Riders Association, or GWRRA, contacted the Visit Billings office with the idea of bringing the national Wing Ding rally back to Billings. The initial effort and contact of this local member will come to fruition this

We encourage you to help our efforts positioning Billings as a preferred travel destination by considering what event you might be able to bring to Billings. Help us continue to impact our community and the bottom lines of businesses throughout the region while enjoying the convenience of a locally held event and the glory of bringing something important to town. Contact me at stefan@visitbillings.com or 406-245-4111 to learn more. SAMPLE RECRUITMENT tools used by visit billings.

Forging a Path


At 9:01 a.m. on April 19, 1995 an act of unthinkable proportions shook Oklahoma City, and the world. If Oklahoma City’s story began at the sound of a shotgun-start to claim land in 1889, the blast from a domestic terrorist attack could have been the end of the story. Instead, it started a new chapter: one of unity, vision and the “Oklahoma Standard.” The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was ripped apart, ending 168 lives and devastating a community and a nation. Rather than running from the incomprehensible disaster, the community ran toward their fallen neighbors and, at great risk, served with kindness and great honor. “This was the place our second Aspirational City Visit and Leadership Exchange began,” explains Chamber President and CEO John Brewer. On April 19, 2016 a group of Billings Chamber members attended the 21st anniversary service and placed a wreath on the grounds of the Oklahoma City National Memorial. “Oklahoma City Mayor Cornett was introduced at the service as a man who ‘dares the world to pull us apart,’ and their Governor told us of the ‘Oklahoma Standard:’ an attitude of not giving up and getting through any challenge that lies ahead. Their entire electorate spoke the same message, which immediately set the tone for our visit,” continued Brewer.

Aspiration: Learning from those that came before Thirty Billings business and civic leaders took three days to examine best-practices in Oklahoma City with the goal of learning tools for making Billings the best it can be. Brewer elaborated, “We went in there intending to dream big and to build a more dynamic community. While exploring OKC’s vibrant

downtown, their strategies to grow young talent, develop stronger government relations, creative placemaking and funding alternatives, our eyes were opened to just how big we should be dreaming.”

 ercentage of Current P Population in MT over 65 yrs old: 16.62% (6th oldest on the nation)

“These visits are called “aspirational” not because we aspire to be Sioux Falls or Oklahoma City,” explains Jeff Walters, the Chamber’s board chair and the Chief Operating Officer for Vertex Consulting Group. “We simply aspire to be the best, greatest Billings we can be, and examining other communities allows us to see real-life examples of what can work and work well.”

 ercentage of Population in P MT over 65 yrs by 2020: 20.7% (5th oldest in the nation)  y 2030 there will be more B people over 65 years old than under 18 in Montana

Swimming in the fountain of youth Billings’ population, and that of Montana as a whole, is aging. Oklahoma City has found a fountain of youth through the investment in their community via the Metro Area Projects (MAPs) initiative. This is a voter-approved one cent local option sales tax that is governed by a citizen’s advisory board. Specific projects, with a sunset provision and accountability measures, are placed before the voters. “Over the past 20 years, OKC residents approved $1.5 billion in one cent sales tax-driven projects. It’s working!” Brewer remarked. “There are 130,000 college students in the Oklahoma City area and nearly 85% of Oklahomans who graduate stay in OKC. The retention is remarkable.” Oklahoma City’s transformation was in part spurred by tragedy and self-reflection. Just prior to the bombing, they lost a significant bid to be the home of a large manufacturing operation. When City-leaders asked “why,” the corporate decision-makers said simply “we couldn’t see our workforce living in Oklahoma City.” Things had to change. The city took its destiny in its own hands and developed the MAPs program.

F rom 2020-2050, US average percentage of people age 65+ grows 4.1%, while Yellowstone County grows 6.9% *Source: WorldAtlas.com, Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, Montana Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, and the Census and Economic Information Center

“With a struggling downtown, a fleeing workforce, and decaying buildings, the community of Oklahoma City voted to invest in themselves in the form of a one penny, timelimited sales tax,” shared Walters. As a result, nine projects were subsequently completed through the original MAPs initiative. These included a convention center; a performing arts center; a new ballpark; a mile-long canal that created an entire entertainment district; and others. “To date, a nearly $5 billon economic impact can be directly attributed to the original MAPs program. This represents a nearly tenfold return on the city’s original investment. The collaborated leadership community of Oklahoma City is now on MAPs III.”



Billings Chamber of Commerce

TOM DAY Wells Fargo


Boothill Inn & Suites


Vertex Consulting Group

The delegation visiting Oklahoma City in April. PHOTO COURTESY OF: Billings chamber

Shelli Mann, Vice-Chair for the Billings Tourism Business Improvement District and general manager of the Boothill Inn & Suites, agrees. “This is a city that reinvented itself after a horrible tragedy and tough economic times. Tourism was non-existent for Oklahoma City until a 1% local option sales tax was enacted. Before the tax there was one tired and worn out hotel downtown. Today there are over 2,300 sleeping rooms in a dynamic downtown area boasting over a 75% occupancy rate.”

Moving the Needle Brewer asks the key question, “What will spur Billings to move forward? We are a good community, but we have the capability of being great. We need to act with a sense of urgency so that we are not falling behind our competitive markets across the country and around the state. To that end, the Chamber is talking to our membership, business leaders, elected officials, and numerous partners to launch a community vision and a plan to strategically move forward.” Tom Day, President of Wells Fargo and one of

the title sponsors of the Chamber’s NextGEN program, went in to this trip opposing local option authority, but quickly changed his position. As a millennial, he believes tough decisions need to be made, investing in more places to recreate, future economic growth and educating the labor force. “There are many ideas on how to approach this, but they all have one limiting factor – funding,” he explained. “Young talent is a key factor of more than just entrepreneurial vitality. It is one of the best predictors of whether the Billings economy is prosperous now and in the future. When young professionals can find inspiration in a community that also offers great parks, safe streets and cultural opportunities, it becomes a destination.” Mann elaborated on the need in Billings. “We have a great baseball field, but it is underutilized. We don’t need to build a river, we have the Yellowstone River flowing right through the heart of our city, but it’s underutilized.” She celebrated the wonderful museums, restaurants, and parks, but shared her major


concern: collaboration. “What became evident to me is Billings lacks elected officials and city government that recognize the importance of quality of life for all of us. A city councilman was recently heard to say he felt Billings needed to regress. That scares me. As a tourism professional I do want better facilities for conferences, I want a beautiful sports center and I believe we can have those someday. But I also want to live in a city where my children will want to raise their children.” “Much like our visit to Sioux Falls, a common theme quickly emerged in OKC – a spirit of collaboration,” agreed Walters. “We consistently heard from a variety of civic leaders that the key to executing their MAPs planning was a public/private collaboration, and the delivery of projects that brought new human and economic resources to their community.” While Billings is obviously much smaller than Oklahoma City, the same issues impact this community. Walters posed some challenging questions: “How do we grow and retain our

workforce? How do we grow our infrastructure to keep pace with population growth while planning for the future? How do we create economic opportunities by developing the things that make this city amazing? The answers for Billings, like the answers for Sioux Falls and Oklahoma City, lie in collaboration.” Day was struck by the refreshing results of these hard decisions. “They enacted a “Penny Tax” not to address their needs, but their desires. There was a desire to make sure that Oklahoma City is a destination for future generations. It was clear that cultural factors and aspects of the community were top influencers attracting young professionals. Friendly people, beauty and aesthetics, community character and sense of pride were important as well. They addressed this by creating gathering places, event centers, green spaces, countless activities and recreation opportunities. Like Oklahoma City, Billings has an opportunity now to secure a better future for generations to come. Take my penny!”

PHOTO COURTESY OF: Billings chamber

“Billings, Montana Remembers” wreath presented at the National Memorial site on the 21st anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing.

The Billings contingent wrapped up the trip identifying three key imperatives and barriers to moving forward that will be addressed immediately. To begin with there must be stronger relationships between and among government at all levels and the business community. Secondly, there is a need for a shared community vision and strategic direction. Lastly, this transformational movement toward accomplishing the strategic vision must be creatively funded using such tools as a local option taxing authority. Walters summarized the Aspirational Visit well: “I think we can all agree that we’re reaching a point in which property taxes can no longer be a singular source of funding for community development. Additional resources need to be openly discussed, planned and executed. But to be successful, it is imperative that we have all of our community resources, public and private, working together to create a Billings that is viable and attractive for generations to come.” Special thanks go to Eide Bailly, Sanctuary Spa & Salon, The Joy of Living, Karell Dyre Haney, Rocky Mountain College, Big Sky Economic Development, and Employee Benefit Management Services (EBMS) for sponsoring the 2016 Aspirational City Visit.

PHOTO COURTESY OF: Billings chamber

The OKC Boathouse District attracts world caliber water sport competitions along the Oklahoma River. The boathouse and damning of the river was funded largely by a one cent sales tax called MAPs (Metro Area Projects).

2 0 16 A s p i r at i o n a l c i t y v i s i t s p o n s o r s

PHOTO COURTESY OF: Billings chamber

Billings attendees are welcomed at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Center prior to a presentation from Oklahoma City’s Adventure District.




6/15,16,17: Word 2013 (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced), 8:30am-4:30pm. Three-part series helps navigate the 2013 version of Microsoft Word. Session is $150/person/day if you mention you read this in the Chamber’s LiNK publication. 406-2565700, lvonlaven@entremt.com.

7/6,7,8: Excel 2013 (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced), from 8:30am-4:30pm. Three-part series helps navigate the 2013 version of Microsoft Excel. Session is $150/person/day if you mention you read this in the Chamber’s LiNK publication. 406-2565700, lvonlaven@entremt.com.

6/21: Engaging a Multi-Generational Workforce, 8am-10am. From Boomers to Gen X’s to Millennials, employees come from many backgrounds. Learn how to leverage the challenges and rewards that come from working with such a diverse group of people. Session is $95. Enrollment is limited, register at http://www.elation.com/short-courses, 406.294.2400.

7/14: Managing Conflict, from 8:30am-4:30pm. Learn how to manage conflict while avoiding many of the common mistakes that increase tension and delay resolution. Session is $140 (includes $17 TKI Instrument Fee); register at pdc.mt.gov/register, using Course Title PD1017 Managing Conflict. Send questions to pdc01@mt.gov.

6/21: Communication Skills for Customer Service, 8:30am-4:30pm. Effective communication is key for anyone involved in customer service. Session is $123; register at pdc.mt.gov/register, using the Course Title PD5123 Communication Skills for Customer Service – Billings. Send questions to pdc01@mt.gov.

Does your business offer webinars, trainings or workshops that may be beneficial for other Chamber members? Let us know:


6/22: Employee Accountability, from 8:30am4:30pm. Learn how to more effectively manage your employees’ efforts. Session is $123; register at pdc. mt.gov/register, using the Course Title PD5093 Employee Accountability - Billings. Send questions to pdc01@mt.gov.

You may be included in the next issue!

7/26: The Neuroscience of Leadership, from 8am10am. The past decade has delivered more advances in neurological research than all previous years in neuroscience research combined. Grab some of that energy and dive into how the brain behaves in a modern business climate and how your brain’s patterns of thinking influence how you lead. Session is $95. Enrollment is limited, register at http://www. elation.com/short-courses, 406.294.2400. 8/2: Writing Clearly and Concisely, from 8:30am12:00pm. Harnessing the power of good writing is not strictly the business of students or journalists. Session is $95; register at pdc.mt.gov/register, using Course Title PD5098 Writing Clearly and Concisely. Send questions to pdc01@mt.gov.


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

116 North Broadway 406-200-7177 docharpers.com


Open: Mon - Sat, 4pm - Midnight

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Candi’s Art & Party Studio is a fun and unique studio where you can let your imagination and creativity run wild. We feature kid’s project nights, weekly painting classes, melted glass art, mosaics, kid’s themed costume parties, and of course ceramics. Look no further for a family fun night, girl’s night out, date night, birthday party or just a place to getaway and create your own special piece of art. The studio was formerly known as “In Good Glazes.” Come meet the new owners at 2010 Grand Avenue!

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Kids’ Project Nights




• Innovative Personal Training • Dynamic Small Group Classes • Healthy Cooking Classes • CPR/First Aid Classes



Personal Training & Class Packages* *

Q360 Health Suzie Eades Owner


Exclusive for Chamber Members.

Ask about QFitness Connection For your company/employees.

50 27th St, West, Suite A Q360health.com | 406-208-1167

Weekly Painting Classes Melted Glass Art

Kids’ Theme/ Costume Party Destination Mosaics

and of course Ceramics!



Air Service Luncheon in August BY jessica hart, EVENTS MANAGER

The Air Service Lunch and Learn is the best way to learn more about what is store for Billings.


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.


Auto Trim Design July 13th 2951 King Ave W

Crowne Plaza August 10th 27 N. 27th Street


September 14th 1260 Sierra Granda Blvd Dates for the Air Service Lunch and Learn and the 2016 Annual Meeting coming soon.

The Billings Chamber, in partnership with Big Sky Economic Development, will host a Lunch and Learn covering air service and what the future can hold for Billings in late August. As summer travel is coming to an end, key players in air service will come together to bring you an update on the three part plan to increase and improve air service in Billings. The three parts include: 1. Increase Service to Billings 2. I mprove the airport facility experience 3. Increase passengers To increase air services for Billings residents the plan is to increase provided direct and one stop flights to desired destinations, greatly improving business travel and productivity by getting passengers to their destination faster. Noting an impressive average of 1,069.4 daily business travelers, the Chamber’s Air Service Committee is working diligently to entice providers to our community. Based off of passenger need, Billings has expressed a significant interest in bringing in American Airlines for a direct flight to Dallas, TX. This flight would greatly improve accessibility, with 44 additional one stop destinations and an improved reach to southeastern states as well as Mexico and South America.

Service with a smile. Or a wave. Or maybe a little fist bump.

• Life on the road feels a little more lively at TownePlace Suites. • Our spacious suites with full kitchens and flexible work spaces put you in charge of your routine. • Plus our staff knows every nook and cranny in the neighborhood, so look to them for tips on food, fun and other local gems.

2480 Grant Road | Billings 406-652-7106 www.marriott.com/bilts

The effort to improve the airport facility experience is making strides through a proposal to update and expand the building. The focus of the proposal is to enhance the traveler experience with aesthetics and usability of all areas of the airport. With improvements starting at check-in all the way to baggage claim and the rental car process, the travel experience in Billings will see great revitalization. Increasing passengers through marketing and awareness efforts has been taken on by Visit Billings, which launched seasonal print and electronic marketing campaigns. The “Fly Billings” messages have been spread in highly targeted communities with choices between airports. The campaign will continue in an effort to increase the number of travelers that choose to Fly Billings. The Air Service Lunch and Learn will help attendees to learn more about what is in store for Billings. Local leaders will present on the progress and momentum surrounding each of these key methods. Event details are coming soon. Check our e-communications and BillingsChamber.com for updates. Please contact Jessica@billingschamber.com with questions about the Air Service Lunch and Learn.



Tell us about your photo:

Brian D. BROWN

I grew up in Columbus, MT, however, my wife and I graduated from the University of Wyoming where I played football for the Cowboys. Although that was a fun and great experience I didn’t realize the life lessons that I was learning at the time…the number one being teamwork. Teamwork is essential to success both personally and professionally. On a team everyone has a job to do and each job is essential and equally important to the success of the entire “team”…on and off the field.

p h o t o C O U R T E S Y R H E A W O L PO E


First Interstate Bank

Board Position:

Liaison, Government Affairs and Business Advocacy

Why did you initially choose to get involved with the Chamber? As an employee of First Interstate Bank, I am actively involved in the community…as is the Chamber. The Chamber is very proactive and progressive to help further our community and I wanted to be a part of that from the Chamber side of things.

One adjective that describes you: Determined.

As a board member, you have the inside scoop. What would you share about the Chamber that other members may not know? It is not “just a membership.” There are many things that the Chamber Board and staff are working on to be progressive and continually working to move Billings forward.

Words you live by:

Attitude and effort are two things that you control in your life… so it’s your choice.

If you had a super power, what would it be? Read minds…that could be helpful in numerous aspects of life.

What was your first job? Mowing lawns.

Favorite movie and why.

Shawshank Redemption; back to the adjective that describes me…“determined.” The character in that movie/ short story was very determined, but furthermore I believe things happen for a reason and karma does exist. That movie displays both determination and karma.


You get to make one change for the Billings community today – what would you do?

Give Billings Local Option Authority. This could open up so many doors (literally and figuratively) for not only Billings but the Yellowstone Valley Region.

History Matters at the Legendary

Custer Battlefield Museum


Brian Brown!

Named First Interstate Bank’s new Downtown Branch President, Brian Brown has strong roots to the region and ties within the community. Active on several local boards including the Billings Chamber of Commerce, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Rimrock Foundation, Brian understands that for a community to flourish, its members must be dynamic participants. A graduate of Columbus High School, the University of Wyoming, and Pacific Coast Bank School, Brian said he enjoys being a banker at First Interstate because the local market is strong, steady, and diversified. Whether enjoying the outdoors with his family or consulting with clients at the bank, Brian said the quality of life in Billings is second to none. On behalf of the First Interstate family, we offer our heartfelt congratulations on your new achievement.


Displays extensive original Cavalry and Indian artifacts from the Battle of the Little Bighorn and the Plains Indian War period. Don’t miss visiting this historical site where Sitting Bull’s camp was located the day this most famous battle began in 1876. Trading post, Gas, Picnic Area

Historical Collectibles

Stop by and pay your respects to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the only Tomb of an unknown U.S. soldier outside of Arlington, VA.

Battle of the Little Bighorn Over 20 Years of Preserving History AT THE HISTORIC TOWN OF GARRYOWEN, MT 59031 I-90 Exit 514 THIS INSTITUTION ACCEPTS NO FEDERAL FUNDING


Beartooth Design Co. By RENÉ BEYL

BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Patrick Parker, owner/principal of Beartooth Design Co. During a tasty lunch on the patio at Grains of Montana we had a pleasant conversation about his business, adoration of his family and Montana’s Trailhead.

Q. W  hat is the scope of services offered by Beartooth Design Co.? A: The number one goal is to create memorable and meaningful

designs. My services include landscape architecture, land planning, graphic design, videography, photography and customization to suit the residential or commercial client. I have a passion for design that emphasizes the user experience and identity of a space and I use textures, colors, and various materials to hopefully make that impact positive and enjoyable.

Q. Outdoor spaces create beautiful aesthetics and increase property value. What more can you share about the impact of improving these spaces? A: There is an underlying health benefit to the user. The interaction with the outdoor environment can reduce stress levels, improve mental and physical health, and offer a sense of scale to gain some perspective. A well designed space becomes an outlet for improved productivity.

Q. Y our business helps create lasting impressions. Could you share some of the projects you are particularly proud to play a role in? A: That’s difficult as every project has its own unique challenge.

Some of my favorite local projects have been the Alberta Bair Hope Garden at St. John’s Lutheran Ministries and the Billings Clinic Healing Garden. Gateway Canyons Resort in Colorado was a blast, too. The budget allowed our design team to be incredibly imaginative.

Q. The Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site will become a major asset to Billings. You are very involved in this effort and also manage the Yellowstone Kelly Facebook page. What drew you to this project? A: I started by working on the concept design and my role

evolved. I like to seek out opportunities that focus on a collaboration of a variety of talented people. When creative minds come together, the discussion snowballs and the conversations lead to enhanced ideas and results. It is exciting that this project will finally fulfill a promise made long ago and shed light on the life of a great man. Plus, the space will bring more people to experience the great outdoors here in Billings.

Q. W  hy did you become a Billings Chamber member? A: Th  e Chamber has a good pulse on all things Billings and the unique ability to define and enhance the culture here.

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

Heights Eye Care

celebrated their remodel and expansion on Feb. 4.

Thirsty Street Brewing held their grand opening on Feb. 18.


announced the opening of the miCare Health Center on Feb. 23.

Divide Bar & Grill

opened their doors with a ribbon cutting on Feb. 24.

Anytime Fitness Downtown celebrated their new location on March 3.


showcased their remodel on Grand Avenue on March 4.

Family Promise

opened their new location on March 4.


held a grand reopening on March 11 showcasing a new store layout.

Rainbow Play Systems of Montana held a grand opening on March 23.

The Art of Play

celebrated their grand opening on April 8.

Nail Institute

announced new ownership with an open house on April 22.

Wise Wonders Children’s Museum celebrated their One Year Anniversary with an Open House on April 26.

Potager’s, formerly Jim’s Jungle announced their new name and location on May 3.


showcased their new building with a ribbon cutting on May 17.

Code Red Tactical

held their grand opening on May 20.

WWC Engineering

celebrated their membership with a ribbon cutting on May 20.

9 Round

announced new ownership on May 25.

Fortis Leadership Academy

celebrated Family Night at the new school on May 27.

Keystone Mortgage

opened their new location on June 2.

Velum Skin and Laser Center held their grand opening on June 7.

Dick Anderson Construction

hosted and open house to celebrate their new location on June 9.

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.

Samples of Patrick’s work through Beartooth Design Co.

EEC Ribbon Cutting.



Fine Art & Antiques FLORIDA AND MONTANA 954-336-5458 dorothy@dilappraisals.com www.dilappraisals.com

Ac c r e d i t e d M e m b e r

Accredited Member of the International Society of Appraisers since 2002, providing personal property USPAP compliant appraisals to ISA standards for Fine Art, Antiques and Residential Contents for Insurance, Estate, Equitable Distribution, Liquidation, and Consultation for Sale. Qualified to provide appraisals for IRS Tax and Donation.

Remarkable Retirement Living in the Heights! Call 655-7700.

Opening Late Summer 2016 Follow our construction progress! facebook.com/WyndStoneLiving 30 | JUNE-AUGUST 2016 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

Ho s Bu s i n e t i n g ss Ho u r s A f t e r Se p t e m i n ber!

ALWAYS GOT EACH OTHER’S BACKS. Adam was about to lift a stack of heavy boxes, when Diane called an audible — providing Adam a hand truck to move the load. The job safely completed, an epic celebration of back-saving safety ensued. Be a champion for safety. Get tips, tools and assistance at safemt.com.

It’s more than

community support. It’s decades of commitment to the place we call home. It’s you and together. Thank you, Keith Cook, for your 32 years of dedicated service to First Interstate Bank, the Billings Chamber of Commerce, and our community. You have been a champion for nonprofit organizations, local volunteer efforts, and economic development in the Magic City. We wish you well in your retirement. firstinterstate.com


Profile for Billings Gazette

LiNK - June 2016  

LiNK - June 2016  

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