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SUCCESSES FROM THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION

GET TO KNOW BOARD MEMBER

CELEBRATING 5 YEARS

SEAN LYNCH

IS S U E 2 2 | J U N E 2019 - A U G U S T 2 019

COMING TOGETHER:

BILLINGS’ BUSINESSES AND COMMUNITY UNITE AGAINST METH

1 |JUNE-AUGUST 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY


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table of contents

FEATURES

6.19 CONTENTS SUCCESSES FROM THE MONTANA LEGISLATIVE SESSION

p.16

COMING TOGETHER

p.24

Billings’ Businesses and Community Unite Against Meth

NEXTGEN CELEBRATES 5 years with Billings’ Emerging Leaders

LET’S GET TO WORK High School Job Fair

p.28

p.20 WELCOME 2019-2020 BOARD MEMBERS

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p.31


DEPARTMENTS

6.19 CONTENTS

PRESIDENT'S LETTER Things that really matter.

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

GROW Set your organization up for success with Billings Chamber leadership programs.

GET TO KNOW BILLINGS CHAMBER STAFF The entire team shares what their favorite attraction is in Billings.

MONTANA’S TRAILHEAD Billings Trail Guides: Telling our story.

TRIPS ON A TANKFUL Celebrate the anniversary of the  Little Bighorn Battle.

BUSINESS GROWTH

GET TO KNOW SEAN LYNCH

p.14

Creative approaches to employee retention. 

CONNECT Top 3 reasons to get to a Chamber event. 

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p.6 p.7 p.8 p.9 p.10 p.12 p.32 p.34


TOP INVESTORS

FROM THE PRESiDENT/CEO

BIG SKY LEVEL

THE THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER. In this issue of LiNK we explore the challenges of public safety in Billings specific to the meth epidemic. Abuse of this drug directly impacts our workforce, our community image, and the ability to bring customers to our downtown businesses.

Last week while in a meeting with former Chamber Board Chair David Irion, he shared his son’s considerations as to whether to move his family, and possibly his business, back to Billings. The required checklist was short and simple: confidence in public safety, availability of workforce, great public schools and public amenities such as parks and trails. As a community, if we can win in these arenas, we can climb our way to the top for workforce recruitment and ultimately be better than 46th in the nation for number of millennial aged residents.

“What Matters,” as it relates to the Chamber’s mission, is workforce, safety, education and amenities that retain our residents and recruit new families. How do we move the needle as a community to succeed in these areas? Each of these issues, and the resulting success or failure, is all of our responsibility. It’s our responsibility to become educated on the challenges, understand the opportunities for growth and advancement, and to make sure we elect the right people to the school board, City Council, County Commission and the state legislature. In this issue, you will find the Chamber’s wrap-up of the work done during the Montana Legislative Session and see the legislative report card showing how each state legislator voted on issues that matter to you our members. Ultimately, all issues of significance impacting our community’s health and future potential will require a vote by the people we elect. Elections do matter.

Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives

2015 Chamber of the Year

GRANITE PEAK LEVEL The Ashley Delp Team Holiday Station Stores NorthWestern Energy

BEARTOOTH LEVEL

Albertsons Altana Federal Credit Union Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Floberg Real Estate Company Big Sky Economic Development Big Sky Steel & Salvage BNSF Century 21 Hometown Brokers Computers Unlimited Crowley Fleck PLLP Denny Menholt Chevrolet DiA Events Diamond B Companies Dovetail Designs & Millwork Inc. ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Co. Gainan’s Flowers & Garden Center Kampgrounds of America Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. PayneWest Insurance Phillips 66 Red Lion Hotel Billings Rocky Mountain Bank Sanctuary LLC Spectrum Reach Stockman Bank The Western Sugar Cooperative Underriner Honda Vertex Consulting Group Walmart Walmart, Heights Western Security Bank

Published by: ®

MSU Billings U.S. Bank

The Billings Gazette

Project Management Dave Worstell Project Management Project Editor:

Kelly McCandless Marya Pennington

Creative Designer:

Nadine Bittner

Advertising Sales: Contact the Billings Gazette Advertising Department by calling 406-657-1370 Photo Contributors: Billings Gazette Staff Photographers, Billings Chamber, Visit Billings, Adobe Stock

www.billingschamber.com

PO Box 31177 Billings MT 59107-1177 406-245-4111 • 800-7112630

Fax 406-245-7333

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COMMUNITY STATISTICS

KEY ECONOMIC INDICATORS Hotel Occupancy

80.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 70.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 60.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 50.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 40.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0.0%____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2019

2018

2017

*2019 data reporting January through April 2019 only Billings Montana United States

Unemployment Rate Comparison

Yellowstone County Population

City Population

158,980 110,323

COUNTY

3.7%

Montana

3.7%

STATE

United

Percent change in county population 2010-2017

7.4%

STATES

3.6% Unemployment Rate as of April 2019 Yellowstone County

Median Household Income

Montana

United States

Airport Deboardings: City Comparison

$58,085

900,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 800,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ Average Home Price

$235,950

700,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 600,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 500,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Number of Employer Establishments

5,614

400,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 300,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 200,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________

School District #2 Enrollment (2018-2019 School Year):

16,968

100,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0_________________________________________________________________________________________________ *2019 2018 2017 2016

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..

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Billings

Bozeman

Missoula

*2019 Reporting January - March only


GROW

SET YOUR ORGANIZATION UP FOR SUCCESS WITH BILLINGS CHAMBER LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS BY JENNIFER REISER, IOM CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

LEADERS BUILD TRUST, SHOW COMPASSION, PROVIDE STABILITY AND CREATE HOPE, ALL CRITICAL TO ORGANIZATIONAL SUCCESS. Leaders build trust, show compassion, provide stability and create hope, all critical to organizational success. According to Gallup, “Leadership development has a new urgency, both in terms of helping current leaders meet the demands of the modern workplace and equipping next-in-line leaders to assume crucial responsibilities.” With increased regional competition for talent and low unemployment, it is even more important to better prepare our workforce for the future. To that end, the Billings Chamber has been helping local organizations develop leaders for the last 33 years. Our leadership development programming helps your team members understand and model the behaviors that create exceptional workplaces and provides an opportunity for deeper connections with Billings. We’ve found that leaders develop best when they can exchange with others, gain knowledge, identify their strengths, apply their skills and engage in the community. If you are looking to invest in developing your people, the Billings Chamber of Commerce provides multiple opportunities. Programs like Leadership Billings and the Trailhead Leadership Academy connect leaders to each

other, provide opportunities to learn about their current leadership skills and the leader they want to become, and explore opportunities to serve through community engagement, board service, and volunteerism.

LEADERSHIP BILLINGS Through this valuable eight-month course, participants gain a clearer understanding of our business climate and community perspectives. Keynote speakers, panel discussions, group exercises and site visits provide an opportunity for participants to explore the city’s history and economy; interact with and learn from business, government, and educational leaders; further develop interpersonal and leadership skills; gain insight into community issues; and learn about volunteer opportunities. Not only do participants learn more about the local business community and climate, but they also build relationships that, in the end, can create a stronger business voice for our city. The 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 opportunities to work together, benefiting community organizations and further enhancing relationships.

TRAILHEAD LEADERSHIP ACADEMY The Trailhead Leadership Academy is designed

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to meet the needs of Leadership Billings alumni by providing an immersive learning experience and building on the foundational knowledge of our community gained through Leadership Billings. This course dives deeper into the successes, challenges and opportunities facing the Billings community. The programming is interactive, includes special projects and problem solving, yields high level connections and puts leadership into action. An integral part of this program is the identification, exploration and implementation of using each individual’s strengths. This expanded leadership development offering includes individual and team assessments, group problem solving methodology and locally and nationally recognized speakers and authors. The goals are to expand knowledge of the identified issues, spend time exploring the contributing factors and ultimately determine how they, as community leaders, can insert themselves into addressing these issues and finding solutions.

APPLY FOR THE 2020 CLASSES Graduates from our leadership programs return to their organization with new connections, an enhanced leadership mindset, greater confidence and expanded skills to take on new challenges and move on promising opportunities. Registration is open for both Leadership programs, accepting applicants for the 2020 class. Learn more at BillingsChamber. com and click “Get Involved.”


GET TO KNOW THE CHAMBER STAFF: PHOTO COURTESY VA N D E S T U D I O

What is your favorite place in Billings to take an out of town guest?

The hidden gem of Dan Walt Gardens. Jennifer Reiser

I can’t possibly pick one thing! If it’s in our Billings Guidebook, it’s one of my favorites. Alyssa Voeltz

We like to “briskly venture” up to the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site or ride the Ferris Wheel at SCHEELS. Joe McGinnis

The Billings Chamber staff poses with Jesse Graff and Akbar Gbajabiamila before the Chamber Breakfast this spring. From left to right: (Back Row) Joe McGinnis, Megan Stevenson, Jennifer Reiser, Akbar Gbajabiamila, Aly Murnion, John Brewer, Alex Tyson. (Middle Row) Rene Beyl, Michele Flanagan, Kelly McCandless, Marya Pennington. (Front Row) Jessica Hart and Jessie Graff. Not pictured: Alyssa Voeltz, Brenda Maas, Dan Brooks, Stefan Cattarin, Luke Ashmore.

My sisters and I all have young children, so when we’re in Billings together we love to visit Wise Wonders Children’s Museum. Kelly McCandless

The 77-acres at Montana’s only Zoo…ZooMontana. John Brewer

Fieldhouse and The Annex. Jessica Hart ZooMontana. Marya Pennington

Downtown Billings or one of our trails. Alyson Murnion

I have yet to have a visitor who does not feel the “Wow factor” of standing at Swords Rimrock Park and looking over the city – daylight or nighttime hours alike. Brenda Maas

Pictograph Cave State Park, Pompeys Pillar National Monument, and Montana Audubon Center. Alex Tyson

I love taking my guests up on the rims, sharing the views from Swords Rimrock Park and Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site. Stefan Cattarin

Fieldhouse. Dan Brooks

The Walkable Brewery District if it’s adult based, and the Zoo if it’s kid based. Michele Flanagan

When I have friends visit Billings, I make it a point to visit a local coffee shop! Luke Ashmore

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Pictograph Caves State Park. In minutes you’re surrounded by our lovely views and feel out of town to hike and view historic hieroglyphics. Rene Beyl

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MONTANA’S TRAILHEAD

Telling

OUR STORY

Western Heritage Center PHOTO COURTESY VISIT BILLINGS

B Y A LY S S A V O E LT Z VISITOR SERVICES MANAGER

Pictograph Caves State Park PHOTO COURTESY VISIT BILLINGS

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H

ave you ever experienced exceptional customer service? As a consumer we can attest to the importance of outstanding service; it dictates whether we come back for another experience. This rings true in the tourism industry as well. How visitors interact with residents determines whether they make a return trip or check out early.

Every single resident is a partner in the tourism experience. Why is training so important? It serves as an exceptional reminder that we, hoteliers, retailers, restaurateurs, and residents, are the first impression for so many visitors to Billings. There are three phases in the travel process: Inspiration, Orientation, and Facilitation. The facilitation phase is where the traveler seeks experiences and information en route or during their stay. It’s during this phase residents and frontline staff have the most impact on visitors. In 2010, Visit Billings’ research findings reported frontline staff, when asked about experiences in Billings, would direct visitors out of town. This resulted in the illusion that there was nothing to do in Billings. In 2011, Visit Billings launched the Trailhead Tourism Ambassador Program (TTA). The mission of this program was to unite and motivate the Billings community in raising the bar and level of service to help increase visitation. Through a one-day familiarization tour, frontline staff were exposed to amenities such as Western Heritage Center, Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site, local eateries, and the Billings Brew Trail.

empowers locals to be brand ambassadors and champions of Billings. Businesses will have the Trail Guide logo available to them once training is complete to ensure visitors know where they can get quality, reliable destination information. Through in-person training, digital components, email correspondence, incentive programs and other available resources, this program will help frontline staff and residents navigate how to assist visitors from the history buff and road tripper, to the foodie and arts and culture aficionado. Visit Billings launches the Billings Trail Guide program in July of this year ahead of the Travel Blog Exchange North America (TBEX). With the Trail Guides mission to reach a broader range of residents, this will help ensure hoteliers, retailers, restaurateurs, and community members are ready to host all 600+ TBEX attendees and facilitate an exceptional and memorable experience. Not only does this elevate the perception of Billings while elevating civic pride, but it introduces attendees to genuine and authentic Montanan hospitality. Billings is the host destination for many events such as TBEX, NAIA Women’s DI National Basketball Championships, NCAA Cross Country, the Marine Core League National Convention, and so many more. As we’ve shared in previous articles, the impact of the visitor is significant to the local economy. Their spending infuses valuable outside dollars into our community. The Billings Trail Guide program emboldens a positive attitude of Billings where we can be at the forefront of these important positive visitor experiences and assure amazing memories to last a lifetime.

In 2018, another round of research proved how crucial training is to the visitor experience. Throughout the first part of 2019, Visit Billings has been evolving the TTA Program to rebrand. It’s now known as Billings Trail Guides. The Billings Trail Guides program

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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

BILLINGS TOURISM BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT BOARD Steve Wahrlich is the owner of the BestWestern PLUS ClockTower Inn and Suites in Billings. Wahrlich has served on the Billings Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) Board of Directors since 2007 and was a major player in establishing the legislation allowing communities across Montana to form TBIDs. Not only did Steve play a huge role in creating the Billings TBID, he guided more than 15 other Montana communities in their processes to begin TBID organizations like the one associated with Visit Billings and managed by the Chamber of Commerce. TBIDs have changed the face of tourism in Montana by allowing communities to enhance the marketing efforts growing visitation. Wahrlich, a long-time real estate and financial professional, is the current president of the Montana Lodging and Hospitality Association and a past chairman of Voices of Montana Tourism, an educationfocused organization stressing the importance of the tourism industry to state leadership. He is also an active member of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Wahrlich serves the community beyond tourism as the current vice chairman of the RiverStone Health Foundation Board. Wahrlich is an advocate for Billings, for tourism, and for people. His service to the community is greatly appreciated.

JUNE-AUGUST 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 11


TRiPS on a TANKFUL

CELEBRATE THE ANNIVERSARY

OF THE LITTLE BIGHORN BATTLE

WITH THESE EVENTS BY BRENDA MAAS, MARKETING MANAGER Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. PHOTO COURTESY NATHAN SATRAN

iving in Southeast Montana, you likely have heard of what was once called, “Custer’s Last Stand” or the “Battle of Greasy Grass.” This renowned fight is officially called the Battle of Little Bighorn and occurred about an hour away at what is now called the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument near Crow Agency.

Yet, an informal poll reveals that roughly half or fewer of Billings residents have been to the nearby site nor know the gist of the story. As a pivotal piece of American history – and a significant defeat of the U.S. military on its own soil – this event largely determined the fate of Plains Indians in the history of westward expansion.

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

Every year, over the third weekend in June, the Battle of Little Bighorn is memorialized with several celebrations. Plan to attend one or all of these events to honor the troopers and warriors who died and to further understand both sides of this cultural conflict.

LITTLE BIG HORN DAYS, HARDIN JUNE 20 – 23 With events that span a quilt show at Big Horn County Library, to a parade, to a car show and street dance, this celebration spans four days and multiple locations. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rodeo will draw strong competitors, while the Indian Relays – bareback riders race with multiple horses – will amp the adrenaline across the stands at Big Horn County Fairgrounds.

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Custer’s gravestone at the Battlefield. PHOTO COURTESY MONTANA OFFICE OF TOURISM AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT


Those who love history and weaponry should be sure to visit the Big Horn County Museum, which will host an 1870s Infantry Encampment with weapons demonstrations at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. June 21 and 22. With the largest museum campus in the state and 26 buildings – many moved to the site and restored – you can steep yourself in history for hours. For more information about Little Bighorn Days, call 406-679-6915. To learn more about the Big Horn County Museum’s event, see www.bighorncountymuseum.org.

CROW NATIVE DAYS, CROW AGENCY JUNE 21 – 23 Special events include Indian Finals Rodeo Tour and Ultimate Warrior Challenge, while the powwow will feature traditional, grass, fancy Crow style, chicken and jingle dance. For information see www.crow-nsn.gov.

LITTLE BIGHORN BATTLEFIELD NATIONAL MONUMENT JUNE 24 – 26 On the 143rd anniversary of

the battle, the National Park Service coordinates a plethora of activities spanning the actual fighting dates, including lectures from descendants of warriors, onsite interpretation with Friends of the Little Bighorn volunteers and honor ceremonies. Most significant include Wreath Laying at the Reno-Benteen Memorial and Last Stand Hill with Custer Battlefield Historical and Museum Association. The Northern Cheyenne Sunrise Ceremony at the Indian Memorial on June 25 remains an emotional and moving event, as is the World Day of Peace Ceremony on Last Stand Hill at 8 a.m. For a complete agenda and more details, see https://www.nps. gov/libi/index.htm or pick up a calendar at the Visitor’s Center.

REAL BIRD REENACTMENT JUNE 21 – 23 AT 1 P.M. Held annually on the Real Bird family’s property, adjacent to the Little Bighorn Battlefield, the hosts of this event tell the story of the struggle for control of the West. You will sit where the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapahoe

tribes camped and watch Native reenactors clash with 7th Cavalry troopers from the U.S. Cavalry School as the story is narrated. Afterward, meet up with the reenactors to ask questions or take photos. For more information, see www. littlebighornreenactment.com.

U.S. CAVALRY SCHOOL For all-senses immersion into Western history and military training, attend the U.S. Cavalry School’s Custer’s Last Ride Adventure, held on the banks on the Little Bighorn River in the week preceding the anniversary celebration. Attendees live the life of an 1876 frontier cavalry trooper, living in tents, rising to the bugle and studying military tactics. School attendees then ride as the 7th Cavalry troopers in the Real Bird’s annual reenactment and are open to visits and photos with the audience – the atmosphere is open and casual. For an intriguing look at the ins and outs of the school, watch the segment on Today’s Wild West with journalist Mark Bedor at www. todayswildwest.com or see www. uscavalryschool.com.

MEET AN SEMT BOARD MEMBER

JESSICA MALONE Jessica Malone, representing Powder River County, joined the Visit Southeast Montana Board of Directors in 2018. A tax accountant by profession, Jessica has traveled the globe, visiting three continents and at least 20 countries including stints at the Jameson Irish Whiskey Distillery and the National Museum of Ireland. Jessica also serves as treasurer for Powder River Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture and is a director with the Powder River Historical Society. “The combination of travel and history has always been a big part of my life,” she said. Despite traveling the globe, Jessica prefers small town life in Broadus where she enjoys reading, horseback riding and playing with her dogs.

Cemetery at Little Bighorn Battlefield. PHOTO COURTESY NATHAN SATRAN

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GET TO KNOW THE BOARD:

Sean LYNCH

PHOTO COURTESY RHEA WOLPOE

Business:

What was your first job? Sweeping/cleaning up around truck docks where my Dad worked.

As a board member, you have the inside scoop. What would you share about the Chamber that other members may not know? Billings has genuine opportunity. It’s just a relationship away. The access you have to other local businesses is unsurpassed at the chamber.

The Pub Station / 11:11 Presents

Years as a Chamber Member: 4

Words you live by: A prominent Billings business owner said it to me years ago, and it has stuck with me: “Give the customer what they want, not what they should want.”

You get to make one change for the Billings community today – what would you do? If I could, as one person, pass a public safety levy, I would do that before anything else.

The snack always found in your desk/office:

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

Flavored seltzer water.

In 2014, when we were just starting out with our new venue, it was important to connect and network with other local businesses. We had been doing events in other venues for over a decade prior to that, but wanted to build awareness about our specific brand.

Tell us about your photo: My photo is in front of the main bar in the Pub Station. I chose this location because in 2014, after years of doing events in other businesses, we were finally in a position to present them in our own venue. It was a long road, full of twists and turns, but it is the achievement I’m the most proud of. We were told by many that it would never work. For me, it’s testament that hard work pays off, as long as you never stop pushing forward and have a vision for your future.

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One adjective that describes you: Motivated.

Favorite movie and why. Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back… because it’s the best movie ever made.


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SUCCESSES FROM THE 2019

MONTANA LEGISLATIVE SESSION BY DANIEL J. BROOKS

PHOTO COURTESY MONTANA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

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T

Lobbying - Engagement - Awareness

he 66th Legislative Session concluded on Thursday, April 25, 2019 after 87 legislative working days that saw Montana lawmakers engaging in the thoughtful act of amending and crafting Montana law. In that time, 1,309 bills were introduced, 270,131 floor votes were taken, and innumerable hours were spent by legislators reading bills, discussing impacts, and debating Montana’s future. While we might not always see eye-to-eye on certain issues or a vision for our future, the Billings Chamber of Commerce is grateful for the sacrifice of our legislators. The 2019 Legislative Session was a success for chamber members as numerous businesssupportive bills moved through the Capitol while anti-business legislation was stymied. Lobbying - Engagement - Awareness Significant pieces of legislation succeeded because of the bipartisan work of Republicans and Democrats who were willing to reach across the aisle and work together for the betterment of Montanans. In particular, a group of about 30 Republicans, known as the “Solutions Caucus,” were integral to passing a bonding bill with $80 million for critical infrastructure and economic development, increasing the lodging tax for construction S U PofPthe O Montana R T / Historical P A S SCenter ED/ O PMontana P O S Etourism promotion, DIED and funding and reauthorizing Medicaid expansion which covers almost 10% of Montana’s population.

Lobbying - Engagement - Awareness

passed the Legislature. Of those we opposed, POLICY TOPIC DISTRIBUTION POLICY  TOPIC DISTRIBUTION 4% made it through the Legislature. Altogether, Lobbying - Engagement - Awareness Business Climate Issues 1 5 Business Issues we were successful on 75% of the bills lobbied. Economic Development 14 Tools Climate Economic Development Tools 9 Energy Industry Despite an increase on last session’s 61% success Energy Industry 8 Public Safety rate, there is always room for improvement. Infrastructure 8Public Safety

BILLINGS CHAMBER ADVOCACY EFFORTS

Healthcare

S U P P O RT/ OPPOSE

PA S S E D / DIED

67%

55 BILLINGS CHAMBER24

55 24

67% 4%

The Billings Chamber worked on a host of issues, including business climate, economic development, public safety, tourism, and numerous others to support our chamber membership. In total we supported 55 bills and opposed 24. Of those bills we supported, 67%

9 8 8 8 5 4 4 4

COMMUNICATION VIDEO REACH CONFERENCES

12

SIX

Weekly email/blogs

Videoconferences 700

Avg Billings Attendance

4%

Democratic caucus600 was in alignment. We are encouraged to see 574 that many legislators from both sides of the aisle value legislation that is Avg Legislator Attendance 500 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1..1..1.. beneficial to our businesses.

T E N

406 IMPACT DISTRICTS COMMUNICATION VIDEO REACH CONFERENCES

12

SIX

Weekly email/blogs

Videoconferences

THIRTY

700

T E N

600

Avg Billings Attendance

Avg Legislator Attendance

574 500

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1..1..1..

Lobbying - Engagement - Awareness

BILLINGS CHAMBER ADVOCACY EFFORTS A quick examination of the topic areas of COMMUNICATION S U P P O RT/ PA S S E D / VIDEO REACH ourO Pefforts for business P O S E shows D I EaDpreference CONFERENCES climate issues, followed closely by our 12 priority SIXeconomic 67% of maintaining and expanding 55 THIRTY development tools. We also weighed in on a 24 of energy, number public safety, 4% T E Nand tourism bills, along with a handful of agriculture, workforce, education, and healthcare bills. For a full listing of the bills we supported or opposed, please visit: billingschamber.com/media/ Billings-Chamber-Action-List.pdf. Weekly email/blogs

Videoconferences

700

Avg Billings Attendance

600

574

Avg Legislator Attendance

BILLINGS CHAMBER ADVOCACY EFFORTS

14

opposition of bills largely favored Republican THIRTY sponsorship, a sizeable portion of the

ADVOCACY EFFORTS

In his 2019 State of Business Address, Thomas J. Donohue, President/CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business organization, said, “Lawmakers should be rewarded for reaching across the aisle—not punished.” We agree, and the Solutions Caucus was an excellent step in the right direction. Discussing the group, Representative Eric Moore, a Republican from Miles City noted, “Our caucus is more about methodology than it is ideology.” Llew Jones, a veteran legislator and Republican representative from Conrad described the intention of the caucus, “What we found was that we had a passion for actually solving problems.” We applaud the efforts of legislators who worked toward bipartisan solutions.

8 Tourism Infrastructure Agriculture 5 Tourism Workforce 4 Agriculture Education 4 Workforce Healthcare 4 Education

15

500

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1..1..1..

When we looked to see which legislators were in alignment with all the bills we weighed in on, we made an interesting discovery—nearly half of our 150 legislators fell between 80-100% alignment. And although our support and

17 |JUNE-AUGUST 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

One bill that failed to pass this session was a Billings priority, the 406 Impact District bill. Related to the ONE Big Sky District project in Billings and aimed at incentivizing significant private investment in communities across the state, the bill died in committee on a tie vote, 6-6. Despite a late introduction, the bill generated a good showing of statewide proponents for the hearing in the Senate Tax Committee. Included in that list of supporters was: Montana League of Cities and Towns (representing 127 Montana municipalities), Montana Restaurants and Retail Associations (businesses across the state), Montana AFL-CIO (unions), Montana Contractors Association (from asphalt pavers to welders, and everything in between), and the Montana Lodging and Hospitality Association (tourism partners around Montana). We were encouraged to see the concept of rethinking economic development catch on with a number of legislators from around the state. Shortly after the bill was tabled in committee a Republican Senator from Great Falls, Brian Hoven, called for a blast motion on the Senate Floor, potentially bringing the bill out of committee and onto the floor for consideration, bypassing the early tabling of the bill. While the blast motion was ultimately unsuccessful, the 24-25 vote showed how much statewide support had been generated in such a short amount of time after the bill was introduced. A bipartisan group of legislators from Anaconda, Billings, Bozeman, Butte,


Colstrip, Dillon, Ethridge, Helena, Great Falls, Kalispell, Missoula, Poplar, and Stevensville voted in favor of the blast motion, indicating their concurrence that the idea should continue through the legislative process. Unfortunately, two Billings-area legislators voted against the motion, delaying further legislative discussion on the 406 Impact Districts concept until 2021.

our Billings-area legislators who worked on the bill and supported it in the halls of the Capitol. We appreciate the courage they showed in taking on a new idea with the potential to bring massive benefits to our state.

Although there is an observable party preference in bill sponsorship—far more Republicansponsored bills were selected—we made an effort to ensure each had bipartisan support. The result of which was a nearly equal number of Republicans and Democrats scoring in the 90-100% range.

LEGISLATIVE VOTING REVIEW

Armed with the knowledge that legislators and communities around the state are interested in the 406 Impact Districts concept, the Billings Strategy Partners (the group of local organizations working together on this effort) will work over the interim to find partnerships and generate additional support in preparation for 2021. We have a great plan in our ONE Big Sky District to move Billings forward, and the legislative component—406 Impact Districts—is a successful concept used in other states and tailored to be a Made in Montana bill. Strategy Partners will return to Helena in 2021 with support for this bill, and, in the meantime, we will work to implement the ONE Big Sky District plan with the massive community support we have. The Billings Chamber would like to thank all of

only two bills used on the scorecard the Billings Chamber opposed.

This session, the Billings Chamber of Commerce produced its first-ever Legislative Voting Review. The Review includes a Scorecard (pictured below and on pg. 19) with each of the Billings-area legislators listed and a section giving a brief explanation of the bills selected for vote counting. In deciding which bills to include, we wanted a broad representation of our Billings Chamber policies and to favor bills which garnered floor votes in both the House and Senate. This helps members to see which legislators are supportive of our business community and compare them to each other.

Review the Legislative Scorecard in its entirety by going to: https://www.billingschamber.com/ media/Final-2019-Legislative-Voting-Review. pdf.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2021 The 2019 Legislative Session produced numerous successes for our business community, but our work is not over. The Billings Chamber of Commerce is always advocating for our members. It is our mission to lead the community in local, state, and federal issues impacting business and our quality of life. We will build off the progress made and continue in our mission for you.

A couple committee votes were selected as well. Because these issues are important to our business community we chose to include them. You will find them under the Business Climate and Natural Resource sections, and are the

LEGISLATOR SCORECARD Strategic Priorities Economic Development Tools

Tourism Industry Support

Public Safety

Economic Prosperity Business Climate

Education

Natural Resources

Health Care

VOTIN G SCORE

SB 152: 6-mill SuDick Barrett (D) nset Rep eal HB 351: Transfor W. McKamey mationa (R l Learni ) ng SB 189: Establis Dick Barrett (D) h Carbo n Tax HB 286: Revise Alan Redfiel Water Right Lad (R) ws HB 403: Revise Barry Usher Coal Ta (R x Laws ) HB 658: Ed B uttrey Medicai (R) d Expans ion

SB 147: Human M. MacDonal Traffick d (D) ing HB 190: Speed Li Bruce Grubb s mit Aut hority (R) HB 749: D . Zoln Human Traffick ikov (R) ing HB 345: Increase Mary Dunw Minimum ell (D) Wage SB 266: Busines Mark Blasdel s Tax C redits (R) HB 581: C Require asey Knuds Timely en Licensur (R) e HB 218: Career Sue Vinton (R)  & Tech nical Ed

HB 52: Econ D Jim Keane (D ev Progr ) ams HB 293: Film Ta Wylie Galt (R x Credi ) ts SB 24: Opt-outTerry Gauthie r (R Increase for Trai) ls SB 338: Te rr yG Constru cting M authier (R) HC

SB 340* 406 Im : Roger Web pact Dis b tricts (R) HB 652: Bonding Mike Hopki ns (R) Bill

S E N AT E

Bill #: Sp Descrip onsor (Party tion )

Chamber Position

// Duane Ankney

|      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |

94%

// Jason Small

|      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |

100%

// Doug Kary

|      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |

69%

// Roger Webb

|      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |      |      |      |

53%

// Mary McNally

|      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |

94%

// Jen Gross

|      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |

94%

// Margie MacDonald

|      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |

94%

// Cary Smith

|      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |

63%

// Tom Richmond

|      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |      |      |      |

94%

// David Howard

AB |      |      |      |      |     EX |      |      |      |     NV |      |     AB |     NV |      |     AB |     NV |      |      |      |

42%

Vo t e Key

Business Positive

Business Negative

NV No Vote

Taken

18 |JUNE-AUGUST 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

EX Excused

AB Absent

* - Blast Motion


LEGISLATOR SCORECARD Strategic Priorities Economic Development Tools

Tourism Industry Support

Public Safety

Economic Prosperity Business Climate

Education

Natural Resources

Health Care

VOTIN G SCORE

HB 581: Require Casey Knuds Timely en Licensur (R) e HB 218: Career Sue Vinton (R)  & Tech nical Ed SB 152: 6-mill SuDick Barrett (D) nset Rep eal HB 351: Transfor W. McKamey mationa (R l Learni ) ng SB 189: Establis Dick Barrett (D) h Carbo n Tax HB 286: Revise Alan Redfiel Water Right Lad (R) ws HB 403: Revise Barry Usher Coal Ta (R x Laws ) HB 658: Ed B uttrey Medicai (R) d Expans ion

SB 147: Human M. MacDonal Traffick d (D) ing HB 190: Speed Li Bruce Grubb s mit Aut hority (R) HB 749: D . Zoln Human Traffick ikov (R) ing HB 345: Increase Mary Dunw Minimum ell (D) Wage SB 266: Busines Mark Blasdel s Tax C redits (R)

SB 24: Opt-outTerry Gauthie r (R Increase for Trai) ls SB 338: Te rr y Constru G cting M authier (R) HC

HB 52: Econ D Jim Keane (D ev Progr ) ams HB 293: Film Ta Wylie Galt (R x Credi ) ts

SB 340* 406 Im : Roger Web pact Dis b tricts (R) HB 652: Bonding Mike Hopki ns (R) Bill

HOUSE

Bill #: Sp Descrip onsor (Party tion )

Chamber Position

// Jeri Custer NV |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      |

100%

// Barry Usher NV |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      |

53%

// Rae Peppers NV |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      |

93%

// S. Stewart Peregoy NV |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      |

75%

// Peggy Webb NV |      |      |      |      |      |     EX |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      |

57%

|     EX |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |     EX |     EX |     NV |     EX |     NV |      |      |      | // Dale Mortensen NV

64%

|      |     AB |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |    EX  | // Daniel Zolnikov NV

79%

|      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      | // Bill Mercer NV

67%

|      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      | // Kathy Kelker NV

93%

|      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      | // Jessica Karjala NV

87%

Business Positive

Vo t e Key

Business Negative

NV No Vote

Taken

EX Excused

AB Absent

* - Blast Motion

LEGISLATOR SCORECARD Strategic Priorities Economic Development Tools

Tourism Industry Support

Public Safety

Economic Prosperity Business Climate

Education

Natural Resources

Health Care

VOTIN G SCORE

HB 581: Require Casey Knuds Timely en Licensur (R) e HB 218: Career Sue Vinton (R)  & Tech nical Ed SB 152: 6-mill SuDick Barrett (D) nset Rep eal HB 351: Transfor W. McKamey mationa (R l Learni ) ng SB 189: Establis Dick Barrett (D) h Carbo n Tax HB 286: Revise Alan Redfiel Water Right Lad (R) ws HB 403: Revise Barry Usher Coal Ta (R x Laws ) HB 658: Ed B uttrey Medicai (R) d Expans ion

SB 147: Human M. MacDonal Traffick d (D) ing HB 190: Speed Li Bruce Grubb s mit Aut hority (R) HB 749: D . Zoln Human Traffick ikov (R) ing HB 345: Increase Mary Dunw Minimum ell (D) Wage SB 266: Busines Mark Blasdel s Tax C redits (R)

HB 52: Econ D Jim Keane (D ev Progr ) ams HB 293: Film Ta Wylie Galt (R x Credi ) ts SB 24: Opt-outTerry Gauthie r (R Increase for Trai) ls SB 338: Te rr y Constru G cting M authier (R) HC

SB 340* 406 Im : Roger Web pact Dis b tricts (R) HB 652: Bonding Mike Hopki ns (R) Bill

HOUSE

Bill #: Sp Descrip onsor (Party tion )

Chamber Position

// E. Kerr-Carpenter

|      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      | NV

88%

// Jade Bahr

|      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      | NV

73%

// Frank Fleming

NV |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      |

60%

// Rodney Garcia

NV |      |     EX |      |     EX |      |      |      |      |     NV |     EX |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |    EX  |

82%

// Dennis Lenz

NV |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      |

53%

// Terry Moore

NV |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      |

60%

// Vince Ricci

NV |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      |

56%

// Sue Vinton

NV |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      |

69%

// Forrest Mandeville

NV |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |      |

60%

NV |      |     EX |      |      |      |      |      |      |     NV |      |      |      |     NV |      |     NV |      |      |    EX  |

69%

// Seth Berglee Vo t e Key

Business Positive

Business Negative

NV No Vote

Taken

19 |JUNE-AUGUST 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

EX Excused

AB Absent

* - Blast Motion


LET’S GET TO WORK

JOB FAIR

FOR SENIORS IN HIGH SCHOOL BY KELLY MCCANDLESS

T

oday’s job market is changing rapidly. Low unemployment combined with high rates of retirement means the talent pool is shallow and employers need skilled employees – now. Combine that need with the trend of preparing students primarily for college instead of careers and the problem becomes more complex. As a society we now must address immediate workforce shortages and activate a paradigm shift within our school districts encouraging students to pursue both career pathways and college or post-secondary training. The landscape outlined above applies at the national level, and is a very real and current problem in Yellowstone County. According to the 2018 BillingsWorks State of the Workforce Report, there were 2,745 individuals completing their education and ready to enter the workforce (any workforce – not just Yellowstone County’s) following the 2016-2017 school year. The report also details 4,966 anticipated job openings resulting from retirements and economic growth. When you combine that data, the bottom line is that even if we kept every individual completing his/ her education in Yellowstone County (which we won’t), we would still have a gap of 2,221 positions remaining open simply due to talent shortage.

Businesses can’t grow if they can’t hire, meaning employers are getting creative in how they recruit. Thus, the Let’s Get to Work Job Fair was born. A group of area employers acutely aware of these issues partnered with School District 2, Billings Catholic Schools, Job Service and others to create the first job fair directly targeting high school seniors throughout Yellowstone County. The purpose was to connect students with summer jobs, internships, job shadows and general career information while also bringing the employers out to directly recruit, educate and connect with students nearing the end of their high school careers. The results are pretty telling. In its inaugural year, the event hosted more than 100 local, regional and national employers, entertaining an active waiting list and interest for the next time the event is hosted. Additionally, more than 700 high school seniors from throughout Yellowstone County attended. Employers handed out applications, scheduled job shadows, offered internships, and more.

GABRIELLA AND COMMUNITY 7 Our first success story is about Gabriella, a senior at Senior High who job shadowed with Kayla at Community 7. Gabriella is planning to attend the University of Hawaii to major in creative media – a career she believed did not

20 |JUNE-AUGUST 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

exist in Billings. At the career fair, she saw the Community 7 booth and became interested in the possibilities. Gabriella went home and researched Community 7, then took the initiative and contacted Kayla about a possible job shadow. Gabriella completed her second job shadow recently and has had an opportunity to work on the technical and creative aspects of media. She shared this has helped her know she is on the right path and she feels even more confident in going into creative media now. What’s more, Gabriella is part of the University Connections program, meaning she has just one required class at Senior this semester and is earning college credit for her other courses at MSU Billings. It also means she had time and support to do the job shadows. Kayla also reported success from the Let’s Get to Work Job Fair. They had 40 students sign up as interested in learning more about volunteering or other opportunities at Community 7. She was impressed by Gabriella’s initiative and has enjoyed the job shadow experience.

SYSCO CONNECTS WITH STUDENTS Christopher Gomez, the HR Business Partner for Sysco Montana, was a key driver on the Let’s Get to Work Job Fair committee. And,


based on their results, his initiative will pay off for the organization. Following the event, Sysco interviewed 20 students and has hired 10 of them. These students will be starting at $18.38 per hour and will work part-time in warehouse order/ selector positions. This allows the students to go through a training period in which they might work 5 to 6 hours a few nights a week after school. The part-time work offers a competitive wage and a terrific opportunity to work through the summer earning money as well as to prepare them for the busy summer at Sysco. If the relationship and student performance turn out to be a positive experience for both, Chris envisions students coming back the following summer to work. For students who find working for Sysco a good fit for them, they can move into full time positions. For those, Sysco provides career progression and will

4,966

OPEN POSITIONS

{

sponsor employees to attend Sage Trucking School and will pay for an employee to get their Class A driving license once they turn 21. Prior to that, these students will work in the warehouse at the competitive wage and continue learning the organization.

RIVERSTONE HEALTH AND CURRICULUM ALIGNMENT Our final success story comes from Nikole Bakko from RiverStone Health. Nikole hired one PRN/CNA at their Hospice House as a result of the Let’s Get to Work Job Fair. The reason this student got their attention relates directly to the curriculum she’s had access to through the Career Center. According to Nikole, the students’ work in MedCareers with Katie Meier, her network exploration through Inspire Billings and the contacts made during the Job Fair yielded the results. She was encouraged to apply, received an interview and was successfully hired – all before

737 Job Growth

4,229 Exits

21 |JUNE-AUGUST 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

2,745 Grads

graduating high school.

THE FUTURE OF LET’S GET TO WORK The committee behind the Let’s Get to Work Job Fair is continuing to hear about successes from the event. Student and employer surveys were conducted immediately following the event, and will be repeated in a few months to determine long-term impacts. What’s more, the Career and Technical Education office with School District 2 calls every 2019 graduate in the fall to survey their next steps – a process which will further inform the results of this event. As the feedback trickles in, workforce demands continue throughout the community. The Let’s Get to Work committee will begin planning for the second annual Job Fair in the coming months. More information will be shared soon.

{

GAP of

2,221 POSITIONS

Data courtesy BillingsWorks


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COMING TOGETHER: BILLINGS’ BUSINESSES AND COMMUNITY UNITE AGAINST METH

Growth in a community comes with a natural uptick in crime,

but Billings is on BY KELLY MCCANDLESS AND MARYA PENNINGTON 24 |JUNE-AUGUST 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

top of it.


M

ontana residents are all too familiar with the meth epidemic. From the reality compounding Montana Meth Project campaigns to the frequent news reports on meth-related crimes, the far-reaching impacts of this drug are inescapable in this region. But awareness of the issues doesn’t equal ownership or even concern over addressing the problems. If a business is not directly connected to addiction issues in some form or fashion, the problem can be perceived as distant and irrelevant. The bottom line, however, is that the meth epidemic is growing and causing expansive problems across the state. In Yellowstone County, that means economic issues and impacts to you, your business and our community.

METH IMPACTS BUSINESSES With record low unemployment and a lack of trained talent for businesses to hire, growth has become an obstacle for many in the Billings area. Businesses recruiting talent must find ways to highlight their community - which is challenging when the headlines work against us. When the identity of our community is mired by its issues, other economic drivers, like tourism, are impacted. Headlines perpetuate fears and can hurt areas of town or businesses perceived to be unsafe. According to data from the office of United States Attorney Kurt Alme, Montana ranks second for the highest violent crime rate in the northwest, behind South Dakota. “How do we compare to our regional competition? Not well. The significant increase in violent crime is alarming,” explains Alme. There has been a 35% increase in violent crimes between 2013 and 2017. “Of the seven largest communities in the state Billings’ rate specifically is the second highest (behind Helena),” he continues. “Those number can’t be ignored.”

KURT ALME

The data is definitely alarming – and sheds light on the need to shift focus to this issue now. “There is a bright side,” shares Alme. “The community is coming together to figure out solutions, and we’re seeing some of these solutions already beginning to make a difference. We can impact this epidemic, and the collaboration in motion is promising.”

THE NUMBERS The collaboration referenced by Alme in part means the data coming in is vast and important for the community as a whole to understand. According to Rimrock, the leading addiction treatment facility in the region, meth is the most abused drug by patients after alcohol. (Prescription painkillers remain a significant threat, and Heroin and Fentanyl use is increasing, but meth remains Montana’s #1 threat). Statewide, meth offenses are up 313% from 20122016 and make up about 95% of federal drug prosecutions. Statewide, violent crime is up 35% 2013 – 2017. In Billings, that rate is a 75% increase from 2010-2017 (over double the state average). Violent crimes include aggravated assault, murder, rape and robbery. Billings has also seen a 23% increase in property crimes from 2014-2017 and a 50% increase in armed robbery charges from 2013-2018. Data also shows that one in 10 Yellowstone County adults is dependent on or abusing alcohol or illicit drugs and that one in 4 young adults in our county used illicit drugs in the last month. And, DUI offenses are sharply up in Yellowstone County, seeing a 217% increase 2010-2017. With all these statistics in mind, it’s important to quantify that meth is the most common drug

SCOTT TWITO

25 |JUNE-AUGUST 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

seized by the drug task force with the Billings Police Department. They’ve seen a 206% increase in meth seized from 2016-2018 and note that the street value of the meth seized in 2018 is $1.9 million. Meth is largely responsible for each of these increases.

WHY METH? Large quantities of pure, cheap meth come from Mexican drug cartels to Montana. With a growing market for the drug in Canada, this increases even more. Additionally, meth is sold in Montana at a significantly higher cost than elsewhere. One pound of meth can be purchased in Los Angeles for about $2,000 and sold in Yellowstone County for between $10,000 and $12,000. While high profits seem like a concern, County Attorney Scott Twito has an optimistic take on the causation of high prices. “This is a positive because is means law enforcement is doing a good job interrupting the meth supply coming into Billings.” Substance use itself is a childhood onset disease with an etiology rooted in trauma. Meth is fairly easy to access and, despite the mark-up cited previously, relatively affordable compared to other drugs. In one focus group held by Loveland Consulting with individuals in treatment in Billings, all participants except one indicated their first use was between 10-12 years old. One participant noted, “Individuals grow up seeing their parents, siblings and family members utilize drugs. It is just normal for them and easy to access.”

COMMUNITY IMPACTS Unfortunately, the research shows that the meth epidemic is largely at fault for many of the major issues impacting our community. Meth is responsible for: • Overwhelming the foster care system: Children in foster care statewide

CORALEE SCHMITZ


increased 66% from 2014-2018. Close to home, Yellowstone County’s abuse/neglect cases increased 177% from 2014-2018 and, in almost 65% of those cases, at least one primary caregiver abused meth. • Filling treatment facilities: Meth related treatment admissions increased 13% from 2013-2016, facilities are at capacity and the waiting lists are long, especially for Medicaid beds. • Burdening health and mental health care facilities: Billings Clinic had over 12,000 visits for Substance Use in 2018, up 130% from 2016. St. Vincent Healthcare had more than 3,400 visits for the same last year, a 28% increase from 2016. • Causing overdose deaths: Drug overdose is the 10th leading cause of death in Yellowstone County. • Significantly increasing violent crime: There are 1.5 aggravated assaults per day in Yellowstone County alone. • Overcrowded jails: Montana has seen major increases in the jail population, and the public cost for one person in prison is $30,000/ year. And, the burden continues to grow as indicated by District Court filings which have more than doubled since 2010. Despite the over crowding of jails and overloading of our courts, Twito notes that he is still charging meth residue cases. “Many prosecutors are not charging these crimes due to capacity issues, but ultimately that just kicks the can down the road.” The statistics paint a bleak picture, but the solutions provide a promising silver-lining. Twito himself remarked, “Billings is still a very safe community. My kid still rides his bike to school. Growth in a community comes with a natural uptick in crime, but Billings is on top of it.”

THE SCIENCE OF METH ADDICTION Many question why Methamphetamine addiction is more of a problem than other substances, such as heroin, cocaine or even opioids. Meth has many distinct features that make it more desirable as well as highly effective. Not only is meth easy to find and relatively inexpensive to buy, it is also highly addictive. Methamphetamines are stimulants that are structurally similar to dopamine, the neurotransmitter in the brain that is often dubbed the pleasure center. While this is similar to what other drugs do, it is far more addictive.

For instance, meth and cocaine have similar psychological effects, but cocaine is quickly removed and completely metabolized by the body (within 1 hour) while meth remains in the system for much longer (up to 12 hours), and a larger percentage of the drug stays unchanged in the body leading to longer stimulation. While both drugs block the re-uptake of dopamine in the brain, meth goes one step further in increasing the release of dopamine as well, leading to higher concentrations in the brain. The dopamine that is released from meth is far higher than the release from everyday pleasurable activities. Over time, the brain becomes acclimated to this higher level and expects continued similar stimuli for pleasure released. Imagine going through each day, often for as long as a year, never feeling pleasure from anything in life. This is the crux of the methamphetamine addiction issue; the brain forgets how to create its own dopamine and users continually use because they cannot face life without pleasure. “Coming down from meth is depressing and lonely,” explains Rimrock Chief Operating Office Coralee Schmitz. “Patients become so desperate to feel pleasure, even a mild sense of joy. But it takes a long time for the brain to re-learn how to regulate and create dopamine, and it takes an incredible amount of patience during the recovery process – thus why it’s so difficult to get off of meth.” Along with dopamine release, methamphetamines stimulate a false sense of confidence that consequently leads to violent behaviors in people. Users get a rush of pleasure, but then paranoia sets in, they stop sleeping and others seem out to get them, all of which triggers spontaneous violent behaviors and is a main contributor to the violent crime happening in Yellowstone County.

WHAT ARE BUSINESSES DOING? The business community is being proactive in their efforts to address the methamphetamine abuse in Yellowstone County. The Yellowstone Substance Abuse Connect Coalition was established last May to spur action and focus on a holistic view of substance abuse issues; one that includes prevention, treatment and enforcement. The Coalition is made up of members from 65 non-profit organizations, local businesses, and government and service agencies that work to secure resources for programs already in place, and to ultimately reduce drug-related crime and addiction in Yellowstone County. In addition, the Coalition has used a federal drug prevention grant to draft

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a community assessment of substance abuse resources and the gaps needing to be addressed. A community planning conference will be held on July 16-17, with the goal of completing the plan by December. There are also many businesses that have committed to hiring recovering addicts in an attempt to be part of the solution and to help increase the success of rehabilitation for users. Schmitz mentioned three businesses that are specifically hiring individuals in recovery: The Sassy Biscuit, Perkins, and Stella’s Kitchen, but many others do as well. These businesses work around a recovering addict’s treatment schedule as well as encourage an honest and forthright relationship with their employees about addiction, treatment, and people who are struggling with meth use. “Knowing your employer cares enough to help you get into treatment can make all the difference in a recovering addict’s life,” says Schmitz. She also stated that many businesses prefer those employees that are in treatment because they are accountable to such a large number of people – judges, peer mentors, and treatment counselors - and can be far more reliable than other candidates. Schmitz said, “There is so much that goes into the whole person treatment for a user, and it can really affect the entire community.”

SOLUTIONS

Project Safe Neighborhoods The Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Montana are attacking the meth epidemic by reducing the supply of the drug through law enforcement and decreasing demand for the drug through prevention, treatment and drug court diversion. These efforts combined to create Project Safe Neighborhoods, a reinvigorated U.S. Department of Justice initiative to fight violent crime in communities through law enforcement partnerships. In Yellowstone County, those partnerships include the US Attorney’s Office, the Montana Attorney General, the County Attorney, federal, state and local law enforcement and state probation and parole. Together, these offices targeted meth traffickers, armed robbers and violent felons with illegal fire arms. Launched in April of 2018, the one-year results are telling:

• 170 federal prosecutions (does not include Yellowstone County prosecutions)

• 245 pounds of meth seized, equaling 887,880 doses of meth with a street value of $11 million


• 212 firearms seized including 57 semi-automatic rifles

• 615 U.S. Marshal’s Service Violent Offender Task Force warrants served

• Billings’ violent crime rate shrunk for the first time in years

Twito quantified the success of the program, “Billings’ violent crime rate dropped 4.5% over the last year. The program is making a dent in the problem.” Alme agrees. “In the twelve months prior to Project Safe Neighborhoods beginning, murder, robbery and aggravated assaults had increased almost 26% and in the year before that, almost 16%. In the twelve months since PSN began, the growth in those crimes has almost stopped, increasing just 1.3%” Alme continues, “Not only did we see the growth in the rate of murders, robberies and aggravated assaults flatten out, but through the work of the Billings Police Department we’re learning about where and when violent crimes are committed, and who is committing them. We will use this information for predictive modeling; ultimately, we learn how – and where – we can do better.” Yellowstone Substance Abuse Connect Yellowstone Substance Abuse Connect is a group of area nonprofits, government entities and businesses collaborating to address substance abuse in the Billings region. The group, made up of 150200 people from 65 organizations, identified three goals:

1. Form an effective, visiondriven, action-oriented substance abuse coalition, inclusive of prevention, treatment, and enforcement.

2. Through the coalition plan and membership, position our community to secure additional resources (for example: Partnership

for Success, Drug Free Communities).

3. Substantially reduce drugrelated crime and addiction. This group is actively working through major data collection (much of which is included in this article) and compiling their plan to achieve the goals outlined above. Their method, known as Sequential Intercept Mapping, will result in a comprehensive plan for prevention, behavioral health and criminal justice collaboration to reduce drug-related crime and addiction. They are scheduled to complete their plan by December 2019.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED Getting involved in the solutions to the meth epidemic doesn’t have to require a significant amount of time or resources. Simple steps you can take as an employer and citizen include: • Educate – share the statistics and reality of meth addiction with your employees. • Support – if addiction is suspected, be supportive in securing help and treatment. • Report – is you see suspicious activity or crimes, call the Billings Police Department (if it’s not an emergency, call them at 406657-8200). If you are interested in getting engaged further, learn more about Yellowstone Substance Abuse Connect by calling the United Way at 406-252-3839.

Shining a light on the future. Making smarter decisions about renewable energy requires knowledge. NorthWestern Energy’s solar projects throughout the state of Montana provide clean energy to the power grid – and they’re shaping the future of renewable energy, too. We’re working with local universities to better understand where solar energy belongs alongside a balanced energy mix.

The data contained in this article is the result of hard work and research from the United States County Attorney’s Office, the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office, and Loveland Consulting Group working on behalf of Yellowstone Substance Abuse Connect. Our sincere thanks for their assistance, interviews and contributions to this article.

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And that research is helping us build a brighter future for the next generation of Montanans.

View more of the story at NorthWesternEnergy.com/BrightFuture


BILLINGS’

CELEBRATES YEARS

5

WITH BILLINGS’ EMERGING LEADERS

By Kelly McCandless

A

s of July 2019, NextGEN will officially be five years old – a milestone we’re excited to celebrate! With the first half of a decade under our belt, the Billings Chamber (the managing organization for NextGEN) is proud of the stable, supportive and expanding program we’ve built alongside our membership. When we consider the future of the Billings community, we’re eager and confident about the outstanding leadership emerging. Our future is bright thanks to these exceptional people.

Join us in celebrating five years of NextGEN with the NextGEN Anniversary Party and Awards Show, August 15th at Pub Station. Learn more at BillingsNextGEN.com. For now, we thought the best way to celebrate this milestone was through the words of our members themselves. When asked what they love about NextGEN, here is what they had to say:

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NextGEN is an amazing group of welcoming and diverse young professionals. The friends and connections you make within this group are lifelong. – Kayla Vokral, AAA Being able to connect with other young leaders, to learn from each other and grow with each other is an invaluable opportunity NextGEN provides. – Lisa McDaniel, United Way of Yellowstone County


I appreciate the ability to talk and discuss issues or items that we as young professionals are going through.

Meeting and collaborating with the amazing and talented young professionals in Billings.

– Jeff McGough NextGEN motivates me to get out into the community and be involved. I see so many young and successful people that I get excited about the future of our city.

– Brian Hafner, Universal Lending

I love hearing other perspectives about businesses in a variety of sectors other than manufacturing. Also, it’s nice to meet other young professionals with similar goals. – Kelcie Lohof, Woods Powr-Grip, Co. Inc. I love being a part of NextGEN for so many reasons – the learning opportunities, networking, and being involved in the local professional community. – Katie Whitmoyer, Woods Powr-Grip and Flex Family Health Direct Primary Care

– Whitney Griffin Jensen, Wipfli The professional development series have been extremely valuable in helping me in my personal life and relationships to grow professionally. – Dylana E. Brooks, Komatsu The connections you make are invaluable. The mentorship I have received from successful professionals in Billings has helped me in my career and set me on a great path to success. – Colton Welhaven, Buchanan Capital It’s a plethora of opportunities.

 onnections – I’ve met friends, C colleagues and collaborators. Brings to fruition the old adage that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and not just who you know, but how you know them.” - McCall Linke, Montana Outlaw BBQ The opportunity to get to know some pretty awesome people while building priceless relationships. – Cathy Grider, Billings Federal Credit Union I t’s so encouraging seeing all the young professionals in Billings doing great things and learning/ sharing ideas with everyone! – Jami Shanks The people! It’s full of so many great young entrepreneurs who have also become great friends!

– Andrew Zimmerman

AUGUST 15 / 6-8PM / PUB STATION

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– D’Vaughn Hayes


WELCOME 2019-2020 BOARD OF DIRECTORS CHAMBER BOARD OFFICERS

Brian Brown

FIRST INTERSTATE BANK CHAIR

Mike Nelson

NORTHERN HOTEL CHAIR ELECT

Nichole Miles

ST. VINCENT HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION TREASURER

AT LARGE

Julie Seedhouse

CENTURY 21 HOMETOWN BROKERS

Patrice Elliott

John Brewer

STOCKMAN BANK PAST CHAIR

PRESIDENT, CEO

NEW DIRECTORS

Doug Miles

Deborah Potter

KULR

EIDE BAILLY

Jess Peterson

WESTERN SKIES STRATEGIES

DIRECTORS

Chris Dimock ELATION

Ginny Hart

RESIDENCE INN BY MARRIOTT

Lenette Kosovich RIMROCK

David Mitchell

COLDWELL BANKER COMMERCIAL CBS

Lisa Perry

NORTHWESTERN ENERGY

N O I T A T S B U P / M P 8 - 6 / 5 1 T S U G U A Thank you to our outgoing Dave Worstell BILLINGS GAZETTE

Sean Lynch

1111 PRESENTS

Jeremy Vannatta PAYNEWEST INSURANCE

Kolten Knatterud TERRITORIAL LANDWORKS

board members. We appreciate your dedication and service to our organization:

Wayne Nelson

STOCKMAN BANK

EX-OFFICIO MEMBERS

Steve Arveschoug BIG SKY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Denis Pitman YELLOWSTONE COUNTY COMMISSION

Chris Kukulski

CITY OF BILLINGS

Kevin Kooistra

BILLINGS CULTURAL PARTNERS

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Dan Edelman MSU BILLINGS

Greg Upham

SCHOOL DISTRICT 2

Kris Carpenter

SANCTUARY SPA/ JOY OF LIVING/ BLACK DOG COFFEE

Casey McGowan

TRAILHEAD SPIRITS


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BUSINESS GROWTH:

CREATIVE APPROACHES TO EMPLOYEE RETENTION BY RENÉ BEYL

BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST implemented in the hiring process, reviews, decision making and care of clients.

T

o overcome the challenges local businesses face retaining employees, the general offering of benefits such as healthcare, retirement, and bonuses are not always enough to keep staff content in today’s workplace. Staffing retention strategies have evolved and these Chamber members have become very inventive in what they offer to keep talent. As a group they all agreed these efforts directly reflect on the quality of customer care at their organizations.

MCCALL HOMES

Along with a vast packet of benefits, McCall homes supports a variety of work styles and shifts, offering flexible choices for working. Family is important and the team supports employees having flexibility for important school happenings to athletic events. A testament to the loyalty of their team? More than half of the staff live in a McCall Home because they believe in the business and aren’t afraid to be the neighbor of their clients.

KAMPGROUNDS OF AMERICA Founded in 1962, KOA is a business submerged in adventure. One of the fun and unique benefits offered to the KOA employees is the Healthy Employee Lifestyle Program. Nicole Kreiger, HR and Legal Director with KOA, shared, “The benefit reimburses employees up to $500 annually for participation in physical activities including athletic events such as races, fitness programs like yoga or martial arts, gym memberships and weight loss programs.”

helps encourage them to go the extra mile and support one another. Simply put by Matt himself, “It is an investment I cannot afford to not do.”

ENTRE TECHNOLOGY SERVICES Entre Technology Services offers flexible work schedules and provides opportunities for advancement that align with the employees’ specific strengths and passions. Debra Fisk, Director of HR, said “We’re a dog-friendly company, we allow our employees to hang out with their best friends all week long.” Furthermore, Entre does not believe in micromanagement, trusting the adults they employ to do the work they’re hired to do. “We trust that our employees have the client and company’s best interest in mind at all times.” Additionally, Entre regularly plans things like Taco bar Tuesdays, training lunch-in’s, casual Fridays, or Wednesday donut days. Especially when you can have your pup by your side, these perks help create a positive, fun work culture at Entre.

A benefit serving both the employees and the organization, KOA reimburses employees for camping in one of their campgrounds. Employees enjoy quality time with family and friends while the organization receives valuable insight into their business. The McCall siblings pictured in Josephine Crossing. PHOTO COURTESY MCCALL HOMES

Kelly Smith, Marketing and Sales Director of McCall Homes, explained that implementing the Great Game of Business by Jack Stack taught McCall Homes that engaging all employees in seeing the numbers behind the company empowers everyone to share in the success. Kelly commented, “Every week at team meetings, we engage a new team member to oversee the meeting to gain a leadership perspective.” They take time to recognize their core values at these meetings: caring about people, doing the right thing, owning it like a boss, being visionary and remembering they are family. These are

MATT THE PAINTER “Investing in your team is the best decision any business owner can make,” stated Matt Jensen, owner of Matt the Painter. “You can’t bond a group during meetings, so each quarter we do something like having a BBQ, going on a boat float or other outing that employee’s families can attend. It really hits home when family is involved.” Matt invests in his team by hiring a coach to work on teamwork – building them up not only as employees but in ways that translate personally as well. These opportunities build a solid connection throughout the team, which

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A perk at Entré? Bringing your pup to the office! PHOTO COURTESY ENTRÉ TECHNOLOGY SERVICES


See you tomorrow. I’m headed home.

A good day at work always ends the same way. You’re efficient. You’re productive. And you go home safe. At Montana State Fund, we have the programs to help you make every day at work that kind of good day. Learn more at safemt.com.

855 Front Street, Helena, MT 59601

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

BODYROC On February 11th, treated our staff to a work out session and celebrated their grand opening.

TOUCHSTONE MEDICAL IMAGING launched their business with an open house on February 12th.

CERESET hosted an open house on February 20th, showing how their technology can aid with sleep, anxiety and stress.

DEE-O-GEE is a retail store with grooming and doggy daycare and promoted their grand opening February 22nd with a great group of dogs and human supporters.

THE MASTERLUBE LOCATION IN BILLINGS HEIGHTS was beautifully remodeled and we celebrated this on February 25th.

BETTER TO GATHER has a new location which was a fantastic reason for throwing a party on February 28th.

LIMBER TREE YOGA STUDIO now has two

BERKMAN JEWELERS opened their incredible

locations to serve their clients and we celebrated the new Shiloh Common’s location on March 1st.

store with a grand opening on May 17th.

EXCHANGE CLUBS On March 7th the local clubs

AE2S, SHORT FOR ADVANCED ENGINEERING AND ENVIRONMENTAL

celebrated with an open house for the public to learn about their memberships.

Congratulations were shared on May 14th as a new engineering firm.

DEANNA YOUNG, LMT On April 11th she opened

NORTH 40 PHYSICAL THERAPY is new to the

a lovely new location for her massage studio.

Billings market and celebrated their opening on May 16th.

PURE INFUSION SUITES held a VIP event on April 17th to showcase their luxurious new treatment suites.

FLEX FAMILY HEALTH

had a grand opening on April 25th which showcased their new model for direct primary care.

CAMERON RECORDS had a grand opening May 4th. They sell new and used vinyl and more.

AT&T launched a new storefront on May 17th with vendors, specials and prizes.

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ASPINWALL’S May 17th marked the 5th anniversary for retail clothing and the launch of Hogan’s Designs for screen printing your item on the spot.

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.


CONNECT

3

TOP

BY JESSICA HART

EVENTS MANAGER

T

hroughout the year your Billings Chamber offers a wide array of events. Some celebrate a specific industry, some are meant to motivate your teams, still others are meant to inform or educate while all offer the opportunity to network and build relationships. Regardless of which event you choose, here are the top 3 reasons it is worth your time to work a few of our events into your busy schedule. Networking: We have an incredible membership, with incredible people doing incredible things. If you’re a numbers person, consider this: we average more than 1,200 business members

who represent more than 48,000 employees – you’re bound to find quality relationships with numbers like that on your side. Attending a chamber event will help you build your sphere, expand your influence, and improve your business. All you have to do is show up! Knowledge: The old adage “knowledge is power” really rings true. All of the events we provide aim to offer knowledge on something for the attendees. A stop at Business After Hours builds your awareness of a business or operation you may know little about. The Legislative Wrap up Luncheon brings the action of Helena directly to you broken down

REASONS TO GET TO A CHAMBER EVENT

to the issues our membership is most interested in. And, the motivating Chamber Breakfast sheds light on ways to dig deeper, push harder and be better. No matter which event you attend, our goal is to provide you with a takeaway increasing your power as an informed business person and community member. Visibility: Visibility is not just a logo or how many ads you can place on marketing mediums, but being present at events that appeal to you and your company’s interests furthers the image of your overall brand. Other professionals – people who may do business with you or send business your way – will

UPCOMING

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.

JULY: PIERCE RV AUGUST: TBD

SEPTEMBER: HDR OCTOBER: FISHER TECHNOLOGY

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keep you top of mind. Be visible, be accessible and be approachable by attending Chamber events. The Billings Chamber hosts four major events each year: Agriculture Celebration in January, Chamber Breakfast in March or April, Chamber Open Golf Tournament in June, and Chamber Annual Meeting in September. Along with the major events we host the annual Ag tour, monthly Business After Hours, Small Business Saturday, NextGEN events, Leadership programming, Legislative events and so much more. Check out BillingsChamber. com to stay up to date on what’s going on. We hope to see you soon!

CHAMBER OPEN

PRESENTED BY VERTEX CONSULTING GROUP JUNE 21ST • BRIARWOOD 7:30AM & 1:30PM FLIGHTS $600 PER TEAM REGISTER AT BILLINGSCHAMBER.COM

STATE OF THE CITY AND COUNTY JUNE 26TH • 11:30AM DOUBLETREE BY HILTON $20 REGISTER AT BILLINGSCHAMBER.COM


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815 S. 27th St. Billings, MT 59101

It matters to our patients. It matters to our community. It matters to us.

TRIM 8.375” w x 8.3475”

TRIM 8.375” w x 8.3475”

Quality Matters.

SAFE ZONE 7.625” w x 7.8475”

That’s why St. Vincent Healthcare is proud to have received 21 Quality and Safety Awards from Healthgrades, Leapfrog and CMS. These awards represent countless hours of work and unmatched commitment by our doctors, advanced care professionals, nurses, and staff. Together, they do an exceptional job in meeting the health and wellness needs of families across our region. We extend our thanks to them for all they do as well as to our community for the confidence you show in us.

FIVE STAR RATED

Quality Matters. And quality is found at St. Vincent Healthcare.

svh.org/Awards

Profile for Billings Gazette

LiNK June - August 2019  

Information about Business in the Billings Community. Billings Chamber Events.

LiNK June - August 2019  

Information about Business in the Billings Community. Billings Chamber Events.