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IT’S JUST PENNIES BY BRUCE MACINTYRE
YELLOWSTONE KELLY PROJECT MOVES FORWARD
I S S U E 4 | D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 4 - F E B R U A RY 2 015
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table of contents GET TO KNOW CHAMBER BOARD MEMBER
IT’S JUST PENNIES
YELLOWSTONE KELLY PROJECT MOVES FORWARD
BY BRUCE MACINTYRE
12.14 CONTENTS BILLINGS’ SMALL BUSINESSES
Small Business fuels the economic fires of Billings.
A FEW PENNIES MAKE A BIG CHANGE Local Option Tax Authority Explained.
A New Face Brings Futuristic Thinking to Familiar Chamber Events.
I S S U E 4 | D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 4 - F E B R U A RY 2 015
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4 | DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
DON’T MISS DEPARTMENTS
12.14 EVERY ISSUE
Local support equals economic strength.
Affecting the bottom line with connections, campaigns and referrals.
YOUR CHANCE TO ADVERTISE in the March issue of
Some of the latest statistics and economic data impacting businesses in Billings.
Issues to follow for the upcoming 2015 Legislative Session.
GET TO KNOW CHAMBER BOARD MEMBER
IT’S JUST PENNIES BY BRUCE MACINTYRE
Does Billings need a convention center to grow tourism?
GET TO KNOW BRUCE MACINTYRE Billings Chamber Director of Business Advocacy.
TRIPS ON A TANKFUL
YELLOWSTONE KELLY PROJECT MOVES FORWARD
ISSUE 4 | DEC EMBER 2014-FE B R U A RY
BILLINGS’ 2 015
SMALL BUSINESSES OFFER SMALLTOWN FEEL WITH PERSONAL APPEAL
Three great museums in southeast Montana that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
GET TO KNOW KRIS CARPENTER
Did we see you at recent Chamber events? Look for yourself and your friends in LiNKED!
CONTACT YOUR AD REP TODAY... KAREN ANDERSON .......657-1492 MICHELLE MAKI .......... 657-1332
FROM THE PRESiDENT/CEO
BIG SKY LEVEL
LOCAL SUPPORT EQUALS ECONOMIC STRENGTH This month, we’re in the midst of our third annual Shop Billings initiative.
GRANITE PEAK LEVEL CenturyLink Holiday Station Stores U.S. Bank
Crowne Plaza MSU Billings
BEARTOOTH LEVEL Bay, LTD
Small Business Saturday on November 29th, a partnership with American Express, kicked off the movement, and we continue to celebrate our friends and neighbors who work for and run these businesses throughout the holiday season. Owners of these businesses often invest time not only in keeping their doors open, employing locals and
Big Sky Economic Development
boosting our economy, but they are often the civic fuel serving on community boards, investing in our quality of life, and are committed to the long-term sustainability of our community. This holiday season, and year-round, we invite you to join us in the movement: Shop Billings.
BNSF Century 21 Hometown Brokers Charter Business Computers Unlimited Costco Wholesale Crowley Fleck PLLP ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Co. Holiday Inn Grand Montana Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. Montana Rail Link, Inc.
Follow the movement with us on Facebook and Instagram: @BillingsChamber and #ShopBillings
PayneWest Insurance Phillips 66 PPL Montana, LLC Rocky Mountain College Sam’s Club Stockman Bank, Billings Underriner Honda Vertex Consulting Group Western Security Bank, Downtown
The Billings Gazette
Dave Worstell, Allyn Hulteng
Karen Anderson, Michelle Maki
Billings Gazette Staff Photographers, Billings Chamber, Visit Billings, ThinkStock/Jupiter Images Photography
www.billingschamber.com PO Box 31177 Billings MT 59107-1177 406-245-4111 • 800-711-2630
6 | DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
AFFECTING YOUR BOTTOM LINE THROUGH CONNECTIONS, REFERRALS & MORE
Our online and print directories provide contact information, and through programs such as Connect For Lunch, Small Business Saturday and direct referrals we impact bottom lines of member businesses.
BUILDING FACE-TO-FACE CONNECTIONS As a business person, you know that connecting with other business people is the lifeblood of business. Yet, without a personal connection, a business card is just a business card. The Chamber provides you with the opportunity to meet other business people in a way that’s different from any other opportunity you may have experienced. It’s called Connect For Lunch, and it’s about connecting and building business relationships face-to-face over the lunch hour.
When you enroll in the Chamber’s Connect For Lunch program, you will be invited each week to have lunch with two or three other members. You choose how often to attend, and follow up is up to you. (If you want to learn more about this program, contact Rene’ Beyl, Business Engagement Specialist, rene@billingschamber. com for more information).
SHOP BILLINGS We’re proud to be a major supporter of local businesses and our community. This holiday season, and throughout the year, the Billings Chamber encourages everyone to Shop Billings, sending more customers through your doors. When you shop locally, you contribute directly to community growth, and more of the dollars
c al | Billin g MT
The Billings Chamber of Commerce encourages traffic through the doors of our small business members and affects the bottom line in a number of ways.
BY JENNIFER REISER, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
you spend stay right here in Billings. Support your friends and neighbors and Shop Billings!
DIRECT REFERRALS Your Chamber receives an average of 798 phone calls and 438 visitors to our Visitor Information Center each month. Many of these people request information on where to stay, eat, shop, relax, and do business, and we ALWAYS recommend member businesses first. Whether it is programs like Connect For Lunch, events and daily referrals, or a shop local promotion, the Billings Chamber of Commerce works hard to connect people to your business and grow your bottom line.
CHAMBER STATISTICS: What are we doing for you? As of September 30, 2014, the Billings Chamber represents 1,146 members with approximately 46,388 employees. Last fiscal year, July 1, 2014 – October 23, 2014, the Chamber reports: Number of Calls/Inquiries: ......... 2,397 (average of 798/month) Visitors to the Visitor Information Center: .........................2,459 Visits to VisitBillings.com:.................................................52,949 Visits to BillingsChamber.com: .........................................12,438 Relocation Packets Mailed: ...................................................... 59
Number of Conventions/Meeting Attendees Booked by Visit Billings: ...................................................... 5,310 Direct Spending from Tourism Bookings: ............ $1.194 million Conventions & Meeting Delegates Serviced by Visit Billings ..................................................................... 3,780
Visitor Information Packets Mailed: ................................... 4,747 Business Meeting Attendees at Chamber: .........................2,244 Chamber Event Attendance: ................................................ 1,356
Is your business information current? Make sure we’re sharing the correct details with potential clients! Check your listing at BillingsChamber.com and let us know if changes are needed.
DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 7
KEY ECONOMIC INDICATORS Hotel Occupancy
80.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 70.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 60.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 50.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 40.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0.0% ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2013
2012 United States
Unemployment Rate Comparison County Population
Percent change in county population 2010-2013
5.9% Unemployment Rate as of September 2014 Yellowstone County
Median Household Income
Airport Deboardings: City Comparison 500,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 450,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________
Average Home Price
350,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 300,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Number of Business Licenses
250,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 200,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 150,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________
School District #2 Enrollment
Sources: Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Billings Association of Realtors速, City of Billings, School District #2, U.S. Census Bureau.
100,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 50,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2013 2012 2014 0
Airport Deboarding Data Source: Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research. *2013 Billings deboardings were impacted by runway maintenance in July/August **2014 deboarding data for January - September only
8 | DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
BILLINGS CHAMBER PRIORITY ISSUES BY BRUCE MACINTYRE, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS AND BUSINESS ADVOCACY
Every two years we develop a set of priority issues based on input from our Chamber members.
These issues determine our legislative lobbying plans for the upcoming 2015 Legislative Session.
FUNDING FOR 19 YEAR OLD K-12 STUDENTS We support changing the funding formula at the state level to include 19 year old students and raising the dropout age to 18.
SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS The Billings Chamber supports legislation to allow a return to city-wide elections rather than single-member districts.
ENERGY DEVELOPMENT IN THE REGION We specifically support legislation for energy development infrastructure in eastern Montana.
EXPANSION OF MEDICAID The Billings Chamber supports the expansion of Medicaid provided that it is administered privately and Federal funding remains at the same level.
LOCAL OPTION TAXING AUTHORITY The Chamber supports local option taxing authority as a mechanism for augmenting current revenues for any local jurisdictions.
BUSINESS EQUIPMENT TAXES We support elimination of the business equipment tax as a key measure to maintain our regional competitiveness as we work to support business expansion and new business recruitment.
TAX INCREMENT FINANCE AND BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS The Chamber supports the ability of Local Governments to establish tax increment finance and business districts that seek to promote economic development, infrastructure expansion and development, and taxable growth.
PUBLIC INTOXICATION The Billings Chamber supports modification of current statute to allow our police to deal with public intoxication and/or vagrancy which has become a substantial problem in downtown Billings.
ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR MENTAL HEALTH CENTERS The Billings Chamber is aware that the demand for mental health services is growing rapidly in Billings while the funding for centers has remained at current levels for a number of years. Funding must be increased substantially to allow communities to deal adequately with this rising problem.
SATELLITE CRIME LAB The Billings Chamber encourages the Montana Department of Justice to consider setting up a satellite crime lab in Billings rather than expanding its current lab in Missoula.
For additional information on these priorities and other issues weâ€™re following, log on to PublicPolicy.BillingsChamber.com. Our Public Policy document on this site explains each of these topics in greater detail.
FOLLOW MORE CHAMBER WORK ON LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL ISSUES. VISIT OUR POLICY WEBSITE:
PUBLICPOLICY.BILLINGSCHAMBER.COM DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 9
CONVENTION CENTER RESEARCH OFFICIALLY BEGINS IN BILLINGS BY ALEX TYSON
• EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VISIT BILLINGS
UTAH CONVENTION CENTER – PHOTO COURTESY OF: UTAH CONVENTION CENTER
10 | DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
Bigger. Faster. Stronger. It’s a motto many people, businesses and destinations live by. In an ever changing world, in order to remain viable, keeping those three words top of mind can be the difference between growth and relevancy or being surpassed by the competition. Conversely, getting too caught up in what the competition is doing, instead of paying attention to your customers, can be equally detrimental. The tourism industry is no different. It’s about experiences and how one city’s experiences compare to another. Will you choose a beach in California versus Florida or Mexico? Hold a meeting in Bozeman or Billings? Go to Yellowstone National Park or Mount Rushmore National Memorial for the family vacation? What sets a destination apart from the rest? The Visit Billings team focuses on leisure, sport, and convention recruitment on state, regional and national levels. The meetings and convention segment makes up approximately 25% of the local tourism industry’s $250 million annual economic impact. Being able to book meetings and convention business correlates directly to a community’s accessibility and facilities. All over the world today, tourism bureau teams, like Visit Billings’ staff, are working with meeting planners who represent associations, corporations, companies, and/or groups who
are looking for cities to hold their client’s next meeting. Perhaps it’s a smaller regional meeting or it’s a large annual convention. Today’s planners demand the “bigger, faster and stronger” of destinations: convention centers with state of the art technologies, cushy chairs, beautiful interiors, numerous restrooms and also room to host attendees in a general session and then head to numerous breakout rooms for educational sessions. How does Billings stack up against the competition? Right now, if a planner comes to us with a group of 200 people, most of the convention hotels can successfully accommodate them. However, if a planner comes to us with a group of 750 and needs the typical general session space plus, perhaps, twelve breakout rooms, the planner won’t give us a second look unless they will consider splitting between properties. In most cases, our team finds planners want everything under one roof for reasons that vary from safety to sheer ease. So we are limited in how we can grow this travel segment for Billings. Cities in our competitive set, like Bozeman, Cheyenne, Casper, Missoula, Rapid City, Madison, and Boise, to name a few, have had to come to terms with their true capacity as well. Some have chosen to build convention centers, some have chosen to get out of the business altogether and others are in the process of solidifying the funding to get back in the game. As in every community, strengths and weaknesses dictate
our ability to book meetings, conventions and other events. Billings is fortunate to have six hotels that offer meeting space options for conventions: Holiday Inn Grand Montana, Crowne Plaza, Northern Hotel, Big Horn Resort, Billings Hotel and Convention Center and Hilton Garden Inn. At the same time, MetraPark is a strong venue and an asset to the community and region for rallies, concerts, agricultural events and specific sport tournaments. However, again, the meeting space in the city limits booking availability to conventions of only certain sizes. In addition to attention to facilities, meeting planners book conventions in cities that are genuinely appealing to potential attendees. A planner prefers to choose a destination and property that people will enjoy. They need attendees to want to attend, so having amenities like great eateries, the walkable Brewery District downtown, ZooMontana, museums and other cultural attractions, strong retail options, the trail system, access to the Beartooth Highway, Little Bighorn Battlefield and Yellowstone National Park, help finalize the deal. In a culture where online meetings and telecommuting are real competition, mediocrity isn’t cutting it anymore. From a strong agenda, to top notch facilities and customer service, people don’t want to travel unless it’s going to be worth their while to leave home. This means easy communities to travel to, state of the art meeting space to promote
DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 11
a good convention environment and experiences to enjoy outside the convention. In 2010, Judy Randall from Randall Travel Marketing released a research report on Billings as a destination. In her report, a top concern was Billings’ future in the meetings and convention sales segment and opportunities for Billings to grow in this market beyond small market meetings. Citing dated facilities and limited current capacity, she predicted the very dilemma we are experiencing now. Does Billings need a convention center to grow this tourism segment? Does the community want
to grow this segment? Could Billings sustain such a facility? Is there air capacity and ground transportation to accommodate a large volume of attendees ahead of a large convention? Is the workforce in place to support it? Would the community want this type of venue? If yes, how would it be funded? Local tourism partners have been part of this conversation for a few years now. What’s the next step? It’s time for research to make way for intelligent conversations. The Billings Chamber of Commerce and other community partners are leading the charge to arm our destination with the information. The Chamber recently hosted HVS Global Hospitality Services,
and their team is looking at the true feasibility of a Billings Convention Center. We look forward to the final report from HVS in early 2015 and any contemplation that may follow.
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
PHOENIX CONVENTION CENTER – PHOTO COURTESY OF: PHOENIX CONVENTION CENTER
12 | DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
GET TO KNOW CHAMBER STAFF:
PHOTO COURTESY THE KOMPOSITION
If you could make one change in Billings today, what would it be?
Director of Business Advocacy
Years on Staff:
The dish you’re known for cooking?
Steak on the grill.
What is one thing about the Chamber you think most people don’t know? We work hard and make sure we have time for a little fun as well.
Tell us about your photo: After seeing it, I have decided that I want Jack Nicholson to play me in the movie about my life!
Describe your position in 5 words: Director of all things political.
One adjective that describes you: Tenacious.
Words you live by:
What book is on your nightstand? Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett.
If you could have lunch with one famous person, who would it be and why? Benjamin Franklin. He had a curious mind, great wit about him and dared to fly a kite in a lightning storm!
Life is short…enjoy it!
DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 13
TRiPS on a TANKFUL
SOUTHEAST MONTANA MUSEUMS By Nick Mann, Visit Southeast Montana 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.
As winter approaches and the cool weather begins to limit some of the outdoor activities we enjoy in Southeast Montana, it gives us the opportunity to visit some of the indoor attractions that may be less of a priority when the weather is warm and images of hiking, fishing, and boating fill our heads. Here are three great museums in Southeast Montana that should be on everyoneâ€™s bucket list:
Big Horn County Museum in Hardin, Montana recently completed a new, state of the art exhibit building which tells the story of Fort Custer. Colorful, immersive displays and artifacts help bring the story of the famous fort to life. After visiting the Fort Custer exhibit, head outside and take a stroll through the many historic buildings on the museum grounds. BigHornCountyMuseum.org The Carter County Museum in Ekalaka was the first county museum in Montana, and continues to innovate and reinvent itself. Each summer, the
Three great museums in Southeast Montana that should be on everyoneâ€™s bucket list.
14 | DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
museum hosts an event called the Dino ShinDig, which brings paleontologists from across the nation to the small town for various lectures, events, and fossil hunting in the Montana badlands. Visit the museum to see the fossils and dinosaur skeletons on display, many of which were found near the town. The St. Labre Indian Mission was founded in 1884 to help ease the suffering of the Cheyenne people. Since then, it continues to build upon those roots and now provides schooling to children from both Reservations. The Mission, which is located in Ashland, MT, also houses an impressive collection of Native American artifacts in its Cheyenne Indian
Museum. The main chapel was designed to represent a Cheyenne Tepee, and many cultural symbols of the early Cheyenne way of life have been incorporated. Tours are available. StLabre.org Cold weather is no reason to stay cooped up inside. It does provide a great opportunity to get out and learn more about this wonderful state we live in. Grab your favorite pumpkin or peppermint flavored holiday drink and get out of Billings for a day or two. Visit Southeast Montana is managed by the Billings Chamber of Commerce.
ST. LABRE INDIAN MISSION – PHOTO COURTESY OF:
SLEEP INN, MILES CITY, MT
One of the great, newer hotels in Southeast Montana is the Sleep Inn in Miles City. Since opening, the Miles City Sleep Inn has been ranked fourth in the nation on Tripadvisor’s Green Leaders program and was ranked eighth in the nation on TripAdvisor for exceptional guest services. Chad Ridenour, General Manager, recognizes the ties between his business and Billings. Because Chad knows that many of the folks who stay at his hotel are passing through heading to Billings, he keeps his front desk staff informed of some of the things to see and do once they get there. Attractions in Billings that people find particularly interesting are often ZooMontana and the Oasis Waterpark in the Heights.
VISIT SOUTHEAST MONTANA
The Sleep Inn also utilizes Billings businesses to purchase supplies for their guest services, often working with Sysco Products and HD Supplies to meet their needs. It is one of many great options for anyone looking for a place to stay historic Miles City.
CARTER COUNTY MUSEUM-EKALAKA: ANATOTITAN-COPEI – PHOTO COURTESY OF: VISIT SOUTHEAST MONTANA
SLEEP INN, MILES CITY, MT –
PHOTO COURTESY OF: VISIT SOUTHEAST MONTANA
DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 15
A FEW PENNIES MAKE BIG CHANGE BY BRUCE MACINTYRE
We are not asking the legislature to enact a tax, we are asking for local authority for citizens in each community in Montana to determine if they would like to enact. 16 | DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
There are times in life when you have an “aha” moment. For me, that moment was during a recent visit to Sioux Falls with Billings Chamber board members, partners and our management team. We spent most of three days immersed in everything Sioux Falls had accomplished - things we’ve only dreamed of doing. Many of the completed projects were funded by a local option tax commonly known in Sioux Falls as the “two penny” tax. One “penny” funds operations and the other “penny” funds infrastructure. Each percent, or penny, represented approximately fiftyseven million dollars annually. Our Billings delegation left Sioux Falls with a burning desire to pass our own version of their two penny tax. To do so, we need authorization by the Montana legislature and approval from the governor. My “aha” moment was realizing that we need to keep our message simple and not clutter it up with “stuff.” Every presentation we heard in Sioux Falls contained a common theme: “we did this with our two pennies.”
LOCAL OPTION TAX AUTHORITY EXPLAINED Simply put, Local Option Authority is the ability of a community to make its own decisions on an additional form of revenue enhancement. Traditionally, tax revenues are based on income, purchases and property. You pay a tax on the income you earn annually, on many of the purchases you make and on the value of any property you own. This is commonly referred to as the “three legged stool.” Montana has only two legs on its stool: income and property taxes.
A PROJECT YEARS IN THE MAKING This is not the first time the Billings Chamber supported Local Option Authority legislation. In
2009, we co-sponsored a bill to remove the limits currently in the Resort Tax. In 2011, we were the lead organization in an attempt to obtain Local Option Authority. In each case, the proposed legislation was too complex. Any time “tax” appears in a title of a bill, it draws suspicion since many legislators are not in favor of adding to the tax burden. This is the largest challenge facing the Billings Chamber if local option is going to be approved by the legislature and signed by the governor. We are not asking the legislature to enact a tax, we are asking for local authority for citizens in each community in Montana to determine if they would like to enact. Billings has two options for raising revenue: levies and fees. We do not have any other options available to us at this time; however, if we convince the legislature to give us the authority to enact a penny tax, we will no longer have to rely solely on property tax or fees to fund city government.
LEGISLATIVE STRATEGY For the 2015 session, the Chamber’s plan is to keep everything as simple as Sioux Falls’ “two pennies.” Currently, property tax is the only mechanism the city of Billings has to generate additional revenue and residential and commercial property owners are suffering from taxpayer fatigue. Local option authority is a reasonable alternative. Consider that two million visitors receive a variety of services in Billings annually, enjoying our hospitality and paying virtually no tax during their time here. These visitors could help relieve some of the burden and alleviate the fatigue.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU Local Option Authority gives communities the ability to set their own revenue enhancements.
DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 17
In our case, “the pennies” would allow Billings to determine the tax rate, identify what will be taxed, specify the use of the money, and send the proposal to the voters for approval or disapproval. The purpose of this tax is to enhance funding based on spending by the general public. The Chamber’s goal would be to derive a portion of this income source from the traveling public, not just Billings’ residents. However, these conversations cannot even begin until Montana’s legislation is revised and each community is given the ability to make this decision individually.
NEXT STEPS The 2015 legislative session begins in a few weeks and, in preparation, we have been reaching out to other communities, organizations and chambers of commerce to solicit support. We are pleased by the encouragement we have received and look forward to a spirited debate in the legislature. We cannot accomplish this alone. We ask that you encourage your legislators to support local option legislation when presented in committee and on the floor of the Montana House and Senate. It’s just “a few pennies!” I don’t know what you do with your pennies, but I put mine in a big jar and am always pleasantly surprised by what I’ve saved.
FOLLOW THIS ISSUE & THE REST OF THE 2015 LEGISLATIVE SESSION. PUBLICPOLICY.BILLINGSCHAMBER.COM
18 | DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
CORNER BUSINESS RELATED TRAINING & WEBINAR OPPORTUNITIES OFFERED BY FELLOW MEMBERS
Your Workplace Safety & Occupational Medicine Specialists. Our occupational medicine specialists understand the health and safety needs of your employees and your business. We offer a comprehensive range of services to meet the special needs of your company. • Physicals (DOT) • Injury Care • Fitness for Duty • Return to Work
• Health Screenings • Drug Screening • OSHA Surveillance Programs
Contact Shari Moran at 406-238-8865 to learn more about our services and how we can partner for your workplace wellness and occupational medicine needs.
1027 North 27th Street, Billings, MT 59101 406-237-8855 MSU Billings Extended Campus is offering open enrollment online courses, such as: Leadership Skills for women: 80 hour course designed to provide women with the professional and leadership skills they need to advance their careers.
ScottSdale/Phoenix Real eState
Leadership and Goal Attainment: 135 hour course for creating a more effective work environment and on becoming a more motivational leader. Green Management: 100 hour course to help create more “green-minded” work places. Learn more about these classes by calling: (406) 896-5890 1/8: Free Lunch and Learn from noon to 1:00pm, provided by Entre. For more information, call (406) 256-5700. 1/21-23: Develop proficiency with Microsoft Excel 2010, provided by Entre. Learn more by calling (406) 256-5700.
Does your business offer webinars, trainings or workshops that may be beneficial for other Chamber members? Let us know:
Selling ScottSdale/Phoenix Real eState foR 20 YeaRS call anYtime! John Cordes AssociAte Broker 480-205-0044 cell johncordes.com
email@example.com. You may be included in the next issue!
“Specialized service is a hit with owner Tanya Weinres’ customers at Sweet Café, with locations in the Billings library and in the Heights. Her customers express, ‘Sweet Café is a place you walk in as a customer and return as a friend.’”
Billings’ Small Businesses Offer small-town feel with personal appeal B Y S H E L L E Y VA N AT TA
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O’Neill loved the phrase “All politics is local” because it best reflected the truth that no politician could be successful unless the hearts of local constituents were captured, which was accomplished only by meeting their tangible, community needs. The banner headlines of national, intangible, issues ranked second to those that benefitted local citizens directly. This principle encapsulates the basis behind why local businesses spark the engine that generates a community’s economic success.
visit and delivery like this from the big chain stores,” he emphasized, describing how friends have told him how excited they get when they see a Gainan’s van pull into their driveway.
“That van represents flowers and gifts that are unique and extraordinary, so when the van pulls up, they know they are being given something special, with that extra panache.”
“IT’S ALL LOCAL” “I got a call a few days ago from a guy who had just purchased his first big house,” said Jim Gainan, president of Gainan’s Flowers and Garden Center, a family owned-and-operated business, founded in 1951. “They needed everything, so he asked me to come over to their new house to help them, which I did. You’re not going to get a personal
JIM GAINAN INSIDE DOWNTOWN GAINAN’S FLOWERS – PHOTO COURTESY OF: BILLINGS GAZETTE
A CREW MAKES SWEETS AT PAULA’S EDIBLES – PHOTO COURTESY OF: BILLINGS GAZETTE
KEVIN WOODS IS THE OWNER OF BRICKS AND MINIFIGS PHOTO COURTESY OF: BILLINGS GAZETTE
We support our community and we appreciate it when the community gives back by shopping with us.” 22 | DECEMBER 2014-FEBRUARY 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
Exceptional customer service is the vanguard of local business owners, and a lasting impression significant to their success. “Because we are members of this community, we know virtually everyone who comes into the store,” noted Gainan. “We have long-standing friends and we have new friends. Nobody who shops here is a number. We partner with our customers through all the seasons of their lives: from births to deaths, from birthdays to retirement, and everything in between. Developer Steve Corning agrees. Corning is launching the new Shops at Shiloh Crossing on Billings’ West End, which covers 45,000 square feet that comprise “some of the finest local merchants, people who have a proven track record and who have done a great job in their particular line of retailing.” Although Corning’s developments at Shiloh Crossing and elsewhere have attracted worldclass national retailers, because of the large scale on which they operate, he says, they cannot offer the “human resources equation” that factors into local businesses: “Nobody cares as much about a business as the owner/ operator; and, because of this, you find a higher level of concern about their customers.” Corning adds that “because we are not a highly-dense urban market with a high-income popu-lation, our local merchants are our finest merchants, offering things you don’t find in chain and box stores. The local merchandise is curated with an individual eye toward the needs of the local market, with knowledge about, and heightened care for, their customer base.” Kevin Woods, owner of Bricks & MiniFigs, in Billings, offers Montana’s largest selection of new and used Lego products. “We pride ourselves on welcoming every customer, providing each with a positive experience; and, because we have a thorough knowledge of our products, our customers learn more about what they’re buying,” Woods said. “Here, customers can pick up the toys, examine them, and we can explain how they work and the different things you can do with them that they might not have thought of. You know how kids can change their minds 20 times? We expect that, and find that one special accessory for their Lego toy that will bring a smile to their face.” Woods and his staff have unique offerings, such as birthday parties in an atmosphere unlike anywhere else. Woods also points to his excellent customer service. “At our store, people go home knowing how everything
works, and they know they can come in anytime they want for additional ideas and advice.” Karen Kennedy-Senn, owner of Paula’s Edibles in Billings, said her ability to customize orders is what sets her business apart: “We make all kinds of gift baskets for any reason or any season, whether it’s for a special corporate gift or for those special people in your life. We are able to offer ideas to design gifts that fit a customer’s needs and budget. It’s this ability to customize that customers appreciate.”
SHOP BILLINGS Setting such a high bar for customer service aids more than just the consumer; local businesses also come more readily to the aid of the community by providing approximately half of all private-sector jobs, bringing growth and innovation to the community, contributing strongly to the tax base that supports schools and the local economy, and by being the largest source of funding for community projects, donations and fundraisers. “Our donation level goes over $100,000 a year in gifts and in-kind merchandise,” said Gainan. “Unlike the corporate owners of the large national stores, our families live in this community and have a vested interest in its people and economy. When we talk about being a family business, our extended family includes all of our employees and their families, who also donate to the community through their resources of time, talent, and money.” Woods, too, cites his small business’ commitment to the community as being important to the local economy. He received citywide praise for his event sponsorships, such as Movies in the Park, a popular family summer attraction. “Local stores tend to be more involved in community events and giving. We support our community and we appreciate it when the community gives back by shopping with us.”
CHAMBER SUPPORTS BILLINGS’ BUSINESSES With 88% of its membership based in small business, the Billings Chamber supports an on-going, pro-business agenda. “Every aspect of our organization is geared in some way toward the support and advocacy of businesses,” explains Chamber President and CEO John Brewer. “We support all businesses through a combination of advocacy, facilitated business connections and opportunities
ALL SHOPS AT SHILOH CROSSING OPENED BLACK FRIDAY • BALANCED DIET • BOTEGA • COUNTRY COTTAGE • MERIDIAN • NEECE’S • PARTY AMERICA • SIMPLY WINE for growth. From the benefits received by members to the projects and policies that affect our community, the Chamber strives for positive economic growth and development. Small Business Saturday and our Shop Billings movement exemplify these efforts.” “When we choose to shop in Billings and support our friends and neighbors, we are choosing to spend our dollars in places that reinvest in our own community,” explains Kate Hagenbuch, Chamber Events Manager and Small Business Saturday/Shop Billings organizer. “The local business owner often buys local goods and services, supports local causes and pays local residents. Those residents, in turn, spend their hard-earned money in other local establishments, perpetuating a cycle that results in our healthy economy.” Thanksgiving weekend saw Billings’ participation in Small Business Saturday for the third year in a row. The event, which had 44 small businesses involved, kicks off the Chamber’s Shop Billings promotion. These events send a message to the community that small businesses are the champions of our local economy and when it comes to firing the engines that drive our entrepreneurial and economic success, the banner headline reads: “All business is local,” with a solid byline owed to our local merchants.
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WHAT’S ON BILLINGSCHAMBER.COM COMPILED BY MORGAN JESTES
By clicking Connect With Us you can sign up to receive Chamber e-communications. This is a great way to stay updated with local information regarding tourism, legislative, and business issues. E-communications are convenient and relevant!
Under News Room, click Chamber Media Releases; Releases this is an excellent way for members to read up on Chamber news and updates. Additionally, the Chamber Member News provides upto-date information on other members’ events throughout the Billings community.
The Community Calendar provides a month-to-month, day-by-day listing of Billings’ events throughout the year. This is a great way to learn about what is upcoming and also an excellent means to help support local Billings businesses and events.
Clicking Business Advocacy sends viewers to the page on public policy and updates on the critical issues that businesses face. On the homepage, key issues are displayed so that up-to-date information is easily accessible and digestible.
The Membership Directory is a great tool to help businesses and individuals connect with the businesses they need. You can search alphabetically or by category, making sure searchers find what they need and member businesses gain exposure.
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A NEW FACE BRINGS FUTURISTIC THINKING TO FAMILIAR EVENTS BY KATE HAGENBUCH, EVENTS MANAGER
“Around here, however, we don’t look backward for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” –Walt Disney
As the new Events Manager for the Billings Chamber of Commerce, I am excited to bring my futuristic thinking to a team that is heading in the same, progressive direction. It’s clear that this is a Chamber that is committed to strategically evaluating and planning where Billings can, and will, go next. My professional career has focused on philanthropy driven event management in the healthcare and the non-profit sector of Billings, working both for a local healthcare foundation and local health advocacy non-profits. Using this experience, I plan to intentionally evaluate each event over the next year and explore ways that we can take these already successful events to the next level.
THE FOUNDATION OF ANY GREAT EVENT IS STEWARDSHIP To do this I would like to start at the beginning and build upon the existing relationships we
EVENTS BUSINESS AFTER HOURS ST. VINCENT HOSPITAL December 10, 2014 1233 N. 30th Street 5pm to 7pm, $8/person
already have with our members. I plan to take the time before events to work with Rene Beyl, our Business Engagement Specialist, to identify current members who may have interest in an event or whose business values and mission may align with the type of event we are hosting. I also plan on working closely with Kevin Cremer, our Business Development Manager, to discover businesses that are not yet involved with the Chamber, and whom I think would benefit from events that the Chamber hosts. Bottom line: The events will continue to evolve and improve in ways that work better and harder for you, our members.
CURIOSITY LEADS TO INNOVATION I believe that in order to stay relevant, and in order to have events that people want to continue to attend, you must continually analyze and question where your event can and
should go next. One of my favorite quotes from Walt Disney speaks so well to this: “Around here, however, we don’t look backward for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious... and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” When planning an event, the first thing I evaluate is, “what will the attendee think when they leave?” As the event manager, I’ll always strive for that feedback to be, “they thought of everything.” I enjoy the challenge of taking an already successful event and intentionally finding ways to maximize the best parts, providing surprise and delight beyond what we achieved previously. I look forward to my new role connecting with you. I invite you to share your ideas for the future of the Chamber’s events and ask questions about how you can get involved. Contact me at kate@billingschamber. com or directly at 406-869-3721.
SAVE THE DATE!
BUSINESS AFTER HOURS UNDERRINER HONDA
January 16, 2015 Holiday Inn Grand Montana
February 11, 2015 3643 Pierce Parkway 5pm to 7pm, $8/person
ANNUAL AG APPRECIATION BANQUET
BUSINESS AFTER HOURS METRAPARK January 14, 2015 Montana Pavilion 5pm to 7pm, $8/person
BUSINESS AFTER HOURS FIELDHOUSE CAFÉ March 11, 2015 2601 Minnesota Ave #3 5pm to 7pm, $8/person
GET TO KNOW THE BOARD:
CARPENTER PHOTO COURTESY RHEA WOLPOE
One adjective that describes you:
Business: Owner - Sanctuary Spa and Salon, The Joy of Living & The Joy of Kids
Board Position: Board Member
Years as a Chamber Member: Since 1998 when I opened my first business
Words you live by:
The snack always found in your desk/ office: Almonds or trail mix!
Love what you do, love who you do it with and love who you do it for.
What is the number one thing in Billings you’d take a visiting friend to see/do? I’d take them to go see an exhibition at the Yellowstone Art Museum. It’s incredible to have an art museum of this caliber in Montana and I’m so proud to show it off to visitors!
Tell us about your photo: My favorite way to spend my time is catch and release fly fishing. I started about 5 years ago and am addicted. Nothing better than to be in nature on the water; no phone, no work, meditative and sometimes you even catch a beautiful fish…that’s a perfect day!
If you had a super power, what would it be? To be able to give people the vision to see what they could create if only they worked together.
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What was your first job: In high school, I worked at Butler’s Kitchens on Grand Avenue. I loved waiting tables!
Why did you initially choose to get involved with the Chamber? I joined when I opened Sanctuary Spa & Salon because I wanted to get involved with the community. Over the years, I have learned what a powerful tool Chamber Membership has been for my businesses. From education to networking, the Chamber has connected me with people and businesses that have helped me grow my businesses.
As a board member, you have the inside scoop. What would you share about the Chamber that other members may not know? I’d share how willing the Chamber staff is to help you in any way they can. I rarely see a group of people work with such passion and focus as they do. Just reach out…nothing is too small for them to help guide you on.
Did we see you out and about at Chamber events? Look for yourself and your friends here! If we missed you, snap a picture at the mext meeting or event you attend and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Katie Cline Ellis, owner of Bottega, signs up for her Chamber membership with staff Kevin and Kate.
Leadership Billings tackles teamwork.
Chamber and Visit Billings staff Rene Beyl, Alex Tyson, Vicki-Lynn Terpstra, Jennifer Reiser and Kate Hagenbuch at the Billings Clinic Believe in Pink event. Chamber Chat with NewsTalk 95.5 and Livinâ€™ Large Larry in August.
Anytime Fitness staff during Business After Hours in October.
Sioux Falls mayor Mike Huether and First Lady Cindy with Steve Arveschoug during EDC annual meeting festivities. Business After Hours at Altana Federal Credit Union in September. Bill cole shares thoughts on critical issues that must be addressed with SD2 leaders as they conduct their community strategic planning process.
Billings Chamber Ag Committee serves up a Pancake Breakfast during NILE.
Chamber Ag Committee serving Breakfast for 4-H Day at MontanaFair in August.
30 trails committee attendees connecting the marathon loop and strategizing Swords Rimrock Park and Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site revitalization.
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A SMALL BUSINESS IN A BIG INDUSTRY BY REN RENÉ BEYL
When George and Karen Yost started Nutra-Lix, they had a few goals in mind: the first was to help ranchers make money. The second was to create a family business. Now, with their daughters Kelly and Katie involved, they are solidly established with ranchers as the source for performance feed supplement products. “What we sell is like a protein shake for livestock,” Kelly explains with a big smile. The process is more complex than she makes it sound. By incorporating the latest university and private research technologies, as well as on-ranch testing, Nutra-Lix developed the finest feed supplement products for beef cattle and equine needs. The manufacturing process takes place right here in Billings with the help of eleven dynamic staff members, and the outcome is integral to Montana’s number one industry – the feed results in the healthiest, most productive animals possible. The operation doesn’t stop here. They ship the products on tanker trucks to a network of dealers from Canada to Nebraska. As with many small businesses, the products are customizable to fit the needs of their customers. Nutra-Lix offers testing so the feed can be adjusted to specifically meet the needs of the animal. Supporting awareness for the agriculture community, Nutra-Lix partnered with MontanaFair for the last three years to connect children to small animals and allow them to experience a little bit of the “farm life.” Katie explained, “We organized a stick horse rodeo and offered corn boxes, instead of sand, to play in. The kids really seemed to enjoy it.” A long-time member of the Billings Chamber, Nutra-Lix joined in 1988 in an effort to grow the business. Their involvement includes being active on the Ag Committee and supporting ag related events, and both Kelly and Katie are Leadership Billings alumnae. “We’ve continued to support the Billings Chamber all these years because we value the relationships,” Kelly said. “The Chamber is a good partner for us, and the entire ag community benefits from the work being done.”
“What we sell is like a protein shake for livestock,” Kelly explains with a big smile.
Ribbon Cuttings The following Chamber member businesses recently celebrated grand openings, anniversaries, rebranding, relocation, and ground breakings. Congratulations to each of them!
BIG FROG CUSTOM T-SHIRTS celebrated their grand opening at 820 Shiloh Crossing Blvd Ste 5 on August 22nd.
HAIR BECAUSE WE CARE celebrated their grand opening at 1216 16th St West Ste 30 on September 5th.
GRIZZLY GOLD & SILVER celebrated their grand opening at 2450 King Ave W #C on September 12th.
LA QUINTA INN & SUITES celebrated their grand opening at 5620 S Frontage Rd on October 2nd.
THE CITY OF BILLINGS celebrated the completion of the Shiloh Conservation Area on October 16th. 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.
NUTRALIX TEAM – PHOTO COURTESY OF: NUTRALIX
Trailblazers at Big Frog T-Shirts.
PHOTO COURTESY OF: BILLINGS CHAMBER
YELLOWSTONE KELLY PROJECT MOVES FORWARD BY BILL COLE
A LOOK AT TRADESHOWS & THE TIPS TO
BY KELLY MCCANDLESS
Tradeshows and exhibiting are a great way to create new business, but standing out from the crowd has never been more challenging. Crammed into an exhibit hall with hundreds of your competitors, it’s simply not effective to stand behind your table and wait for people to talk to you. Try these three tips for making your exhibit more interesting:
Instant Gratification. We all want something right away. What can you offer your potential client on-the-spot? A keychain with your logo won’t leave the lasting impression you’re looking for, so dig deep and think of what you would want if you were on the receiving end. Can you offer an instant consultation? A special code to access relevant web content?
Engage. Social media culture infiltrates beyond the screens – it’s become an expectation for service and interaction. Customers want you to bring them in, interest them and interact. “Enter to win” deals or freebies usually don’t cut it. Consider offering a game, photo booth or activity to bring some fun – and something memorable- into the mix.
Show Off. Your booth needs to make a statement. Remember the old adage about first impressions? Your booth is just that, meaning it’s worthwhile to find ways to make it count. Bold colors, large images, lighting, and sensory experiences speak to consumers and may help you stand out from the crowd.
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Kelly could have been interred in the manicured grounds of Arlington Cemetery, but instead he chose to be buried in Montana where he was a soldier, explorer, and chief scout for General Nelson Miles after the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Ironically, his tomb in Swords Rimrock Park has fallen into terrible disrepair, and man-made eyesores distract from the natural beauty of the area. Now, the Billings Chamber hopes to raise more than $350,000 to rebuild Kelly’s tomb, re-landscape the area, and install interpretive signage, making the site a “must see” for residents and visitors. The City of Billings recently committed $50,000 to the project. Help keep the momentum going! If you would like to help, please contact John Brewer at John@BillingsChamber.com or Bill Cole at email@example.com.
later the predecessor of the Billings Chamber of Commerce buried Luther “Yellowstone” Kelly, then a famous veteran of three wars, on “Kelly Mountain,” the highest point of the Rims overlooking our city. Kelly’s life became the subject of biographies, novels, and a full-length Hollywood movie.
In 1865 a lanky kid with handsome features walked into an army recruiting office in Rochester, New York and signed up to fight in the Civil War. He was 15. Sixty-four years
show media ENGAGE
Essentials SHOW OFF
book nook Quiet:
The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
REVIEWED BY KELLY MCCANDLESS
establishing the definition of an introvert, emphasizing that introverts are not necessarily shy, but have a preference for environments that are not over stimulating. She speaks to the societally held belief that one must be loud, outgoing and inherently extroverted to become a successful leader, and highlights the weaknesses such a belief extends. Quiet grabbed my attention instantly with Cain’s “Manifesto for Introverts.” When #7 on the list assured me that it’s ok to cross the street just to avoid making small talk, I knew this book was for me. Susan Cain’s book is an in-depth study of introversion and extroversion and the societal roles and cultural norms related to them. She spends time
This book is an excellent read for any personality type. Cain shares methods for building on the strengths of introverted people and suggests adjustments in leadership and work environments to bring more quiet into play organizationally. It really is surprising what we hear when we turn off the noise.
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