BUILDING FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
CHAMBER BREAKFAST 2018 PRESENTED BY KULR 8
GET TO KNOW
IS S U E 17 | M A R C H - M AY 2018
MARCH 14-20, 2018
Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark
On behalf of Visit Billings, we thank the Billings business community for your support of the 2018 Wells Fargo NAIA DI Women’s Basketball National Championship. This major citywide event could not happen without you.
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH:
For a full listing of all supporting sponsors and to buy tickets to the tournament, visit:
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table of contents
3.18 CONTENTS 2017 BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS
FEATURES 2018 CHAMBER BREAKFAST
M O T I VATE | CR E AT E | I N S P I R E BILLINGS CHAMBER BREAKFAST 2018
Employer of the Year:
MIDLAND CLAIMS SERVICE, INC.
ENGAGING WITH YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS
Business Person of the Year:
STEVE LOVELESS President and CEO of St. Vincent Healthcare – SCL Health Montana Customer Service Excellence:
MAKE YOUR NEXTGEN MEMBERSHIP WORK FOR YOU
Executive Director Wise Wonders Children’s Museum
Supervisor/ Manager of the Year:
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND REGIONAL ECONOMIC GROWTH
Hanser Salvage Company
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3.18 EVERY ISSUE
PRESIDENT'S LETTER Celebrating Greatness.
GROW Scandinavian Capitals International Awareness Tour.
HORIZONS Some of the latest statistics and economic data impacting businesses in Billings.
ADVOCATE Building Billings for future generations.
MONTANAâ€™S TRAILHEAD Tourism industry leaders come together May 6-12 to highlight the value of travel.
GET TO KNOW MARCELL BRUSKI Executive Support & Leadership Assistant.
TRIPS ON A TANKFUL The Huntley Project Museum of of Irrigated Agriculture.
GET TO KNOW MIKE NELSON
CONNECT Annual Chamber Open at The Briarwood Golf Course.
BUSINESS GROWTH Thirsty Street Enterprise.
p.10 p.13 p.14 p.28 p.32
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FROM THE PRESiDENT/CEO
BIG SKY LEVEL DELP TEAM
kwPREMIER BROKERS KELLERWILLIAMS®
GRANITE PEAK LEVEL
You’ll also read an interview with Councilman Mike Yakawich touting the importance of civic engagement. The Chamber is facilitating connections with our local policymakers now more than ever, and we’re seeing those impacts in some of the transformational projects we’re working on with many of you.
e see evidence of the greatness in our community every day, and we’re shining a light on some of that in this issue of LiNK. From tourism to business expansion, you’ll read many articles covering the outstanding growth and greatness happening right now in Montana’s Trailhead. As they do each year, the 2018 Business Excellence Award winners you see on our cover are astounding examples of the best of Billings. Their capacity to push the envelope and truly excel makes them standout and showcases the fabric of our community.
Also in this issue, we discuss the strategic and promising evolution of the One Big Sky Center project. Billings is poised for tremendous growth and this project is a catalytic opportunity to spur us into the greatness we’ve seen on the horizon for years. One of our board members recently shared this quote with me from Coretta Scott King, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” Our compassionate base is moving, and we’re eager to bring you all along for the ride.
DoubleTree by Hilton MSU Billings EBMS NorthWestern Energy Holiday Station Stores U.S. Bank
Albertsons District Office Altana Federal Credit Union Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Floberg Real Estate Big Sky Economic Development BNSF Century 21 Hometown Brokers CMG Construction, LLC Computers Unlimited Crowley Fleck, PLLP Denny Menholt Chevrolet Devfuzion DiA Events Enterprise Holdings ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Co. Gainan’s Flowers & Garden Center Kampgrounds of America Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. PayneWest Insurance Phillips 66 Radisson Hotel Rocky Mountain Bank Rocky Mountain College Spectrum Business Stockman Bank The Western Sugar Cooperative Underriner Honda Vertex Consulting Group Walmart Walmart, Heights Western Security Bank Sanctuary, LLC
LiNK is proudly distributed at these member businesses: • Barnett Opticians • Beartooth Vision Center • BioLife Plasma Services • Brewer Dental Center • Crowley Fleck PLLP • Doc Harpers • Double Tree by Hilton & Starbucks • EBMS • Fringe Salon & Boutique • Grand Avenue Dental Care • Heights Eye Care • Jiffy Lube • KTVQ
Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives
2015 Chamber of the Year
Published by: Project Management/ Editor: Creative Designer: Photo Contributors
• LP Anderson Point S Tire – both locations • Masterlube - all locations • MorningStar • Moulton Bellingham • Olsen Ortho Studio • PayneWest • Picture Perfect Ultrasound • RiverStone Health • Sanctuary Spa • St. Vincent Healthcare • Starbucks • Thomas Smile Designs • Western Heritage Center
The Billings Gazette Kelly McCandless Nadine Bittner Billings Gazette Staff Photographers, Billings Chamber, Visit Billings, Rhea Wolpoe Joe McGinnis 406-869-3724
www.billingschamber.com PO Box 31177 Billings MT 59107-1177 406-245-4111 • 800-711-2630
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TRAVEL TO SCANDINAVIA WITH THE BILLINGS CHAMBER BY JENNIFER REISER, IOM CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
he Billings Chamber offers an incredible opportunity to explore the international marketplace by visiting three remarkable countries with three one-of-a-kind capitals. We invite you to join us on our exploration of Scandinavia’s smart, modern cities and untamed natural beauty of the north. The journey starts in Copenhagen, a city offering a perfect mix of playful spirit and stunning architectural design, from the royal castles to the pretty canals and uniquely shaped brick buildings. The adventure continues to Oslo, a city that grew from sprawling country town into the sophisticated metropolis it is
today. The main tour concludes in Stockholm. A city surrounded by vast archipelago, Stockholm is a true Nordic beauty, where modern city shines next to the historic old town. An optional three-day extension takes travelers to Helsinki, one of Europe’s most handsome and captivating cities, whose very shape and style was modeled on its powerful neighbor’s former capital, St. Petersburg. The main tour includes round trip air transportation from Billings, accommodations for six nights, ship passage from Copenhagen to Oslo and train passage from Oslo to Stockholm. Sightseeing tours include local guide and entrance fees for tours of all three cities. Optional tours include a cultural discovery series encompassing cultural connections, in-depth learning on the local economy, social systems and interaction with locals. Interactions include a visit to a school in Copenhagen to learn
about Denmark’s education system and a walk through a neighborhood in Stockholm while discovering Nordic food and culture. A professional tour director will assist the group for the entire length of the tour. All ground transportation provided in private deluxe motor coach. The optional tour to Helsinki includes hotel and ship accommodations for three nights, ship passage from Stockholm to Helsinki, superb cuisine, sightseeing with a professional tour director and more. The Scandinavian Capitals international awareness tour departs October 6, 2018. Go to https://www.billingschamber.com/ scandinavian-capitals-2018/ or email jennifer@billingschamber. com for more information and a full registration brochure. The Early Bird rate is available through March 30th!
CHAMBER STATISTICS: What are we doing for you? As of February 15, 2018, the Billings Chamber represents 1,301 members with approximately 49,265 employees.
Since the beginning of our fiscal year on July 1, 2017 through February 15, 2018: Number of Calls/Inquiries: ....................... 10,707 calls (avg. 1,427/month)
Visitors to the Visitor Information Center: .........1,882 Visits to VisitBillings.com: .............................. 131,272 Visits to BillingsChamber.com: ........................ 56,093
Chamber Event Attendance: ...............................4,960 Convention and Meeting Tourism Bookings: ...22,878 hotel room nights booked for $5,147,550 total economic impact on the city of Billings.
Conventions and Meetings Serviced by Visit Billings:....................................2,310
Relocation Packets Mailed:......................................99
convention delegate packets provided.
Visitor Information Packets Mailed: .................10,641
Is your info current? Make sure we’re sharing the correct information with potential clients! Check your listing at BillingsChamber.com and let us know if changes are needed
Business Meeting Attendees at Chamber: ......... 7,937
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KEY ECONOMIC INDICATORS Hotel Occupancy
80.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 70.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 60.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 50.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 40.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0.0% ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2014
Unemployment Rate Comparison County Population
Percent change in county population 2010-2013
4.1% Unemployment Rate as of January 2018 Yellowstone County
Median Household Income
Airport Deboardings: City Comparison
500,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 450,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Average Home Price
400,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 350,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 300,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Number of Business Licenses
250,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 200,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 150,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________
School District #2 Enrollment
100,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2014 2015 2016 2017
Sources: Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Billings Association of RealtorsÂ®, City of Billings, School District #2, U.S. Census Bureau and the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research..
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BUILDING BILLINGS FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS BY DANIEL J. BROOKS, BUSINESS ADVOCACY MANAGER
within our geographical region we compete with for attracting talented skilled workers—we are near the bottom of the list for in-migration of the 25-34 year old age group (see chart below).
recently had the opportunity to speak with a group of 44 Billings high school juniors participating in the Chamber’s Youth Leadership Billings program. These youths are some of our best and brightest as acceptance into the program is selective and competitive. As I discussed our impending workforce needs— finding 32,000 workers in the next 10 years—I queried the group: “Who wants to stay in Billings for their education or career after high school?” Two students cautiously raised their hands, barely above their table, glancing around to see how others would react to their confession. Granted, these students have another year in school before they need to firmly decide the path they will pursue. But, what struck me was not one student emphatically chose Billings, and the wariness of the two who did. This is a problem. Our best and brightest want to leave. And among our peer communities—those
of new revenue streams, it will be extremely difficult to fund the necessary key community investments that can transform Billings into a city where future generations of high school juniors emphatically raise their hand at the thought of staying in Billings for their education or career.
Before I’m accused of throwing shade at my own city, I should note that we’ve got some great amenities and a generous community poised to pitch in when possible. We’ve done great things like building a Heritage Trail system which has received national acclaim, constructing the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site with 91% paid by private donors, and transforming downtown into a vibrant area where business, entertainment, and culture are growing.
Fortunately, there’s an option available that can authorize community transformation—a local option to be precise. We are less than one year away from the start of the 2019 Legislative Session and well ahead of where we started our efforts for the 2017 Session. We have bill language, which was introduced last year and garnered bipartisan support. We have active engagement with legislators wanting to sponsor local option bills in 2019. And we have you, our Chamber members that overwhelmingly support our efforts to pass a local option bill! It’s time to start the conversation again. For more information, give me a call or visit ACTmt.org.
Unfortunately, federal funds that helped with trails and other projects are decreasingly available, and our business community and private donors are inevitably fatigued from generously supporting many of our community investments. Tax Increment Financing (TIF), a successful local funding tool we’ve used to invest in economic development, has recently come under attack in the Legislature. In the absence
IN-MIGRATION BY AGE, 2016
This data set reflects the number of people in the identified age groups who report having lived elsewhere in the previous year. This chart does not reflect total population or net population growth in these age groups, it solely looks at new people to our community. This chart demonstrates the value of a larger higher education presence - with communities like Missoula, Boise, Bozeman, and Fort Collins experiencing the greatest level of in-migration in the 18 - 24 year old age group. This will be an important benchmark for our community moving forward as we work to attract talent to our community.
8000 6000 4000 2000 0
CHART AND RESEARCH COURTESY BIG SKY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
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A family visits the Western Heritage Center, a Smithsonian affiliated attraction in Billings.
BY ALEX TYSON, IOM
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VISIT BILLINGS
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elebrate the beauty of the USA, the growth of travel, and its rising impact on Billings, Yellowstone County, Montana, and on America during National Travel and Tourism Week 2018. People travel for different reasons. Nostalgia, emotional fulfillment, adventure, relaxation, to decompress, to conduct business, to learn, to come together, and to explore. As the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) puts it, people want to discover. Discovering a sense of place is important to the soul whether it’s seeing the sights, living like the locals, riding the biggest rides, or enjoying the scenic drives. It’s about the experience. What travel gives a person is intangible. You may take your family now to an amazing place you visited then. This is the power of travel. From a business perspective, travel is essential to the local and regional economies delivering significant and tangible benefits to a destination like Billings. Non-Montana resident and resident visitation is vital to this local economy. Travel promotion is a wise strategic investment for Visit Billings. Marketing and sales efforts kick off a virtuous cycle of increased visitation, greater traveler spending in local businesses ($305 million annually county-wide), faster job creation and in a few cases for Montana, travel increases tax revenues that far surpass the initial investment of promotion.
As an important member of the business community, you are personally invested civically. For me, my decision to establish roots in Billings was made under the premise that the community would continue to develop and flourish. This growth can be due in part to travel and tourism as a top industry at Montana’s Trailhead. Visitors are important not only to your bottom line and that of Visit Billings’, but also to the thousands of employees whose jobs are supported by visitor spending in our 55 hotels/motels and hundreds of restaurants, retailers and attractions. According to the USTA, nearly 33,000 Montanans work in travel and tourism. On a national level, the travel industry supports more than 15 million jobs — that’s 1 in 9 American jobs. So this spring, during the U.S. Travel Association’s National Travel and Tourism Week, let’s reflect on local contributions and accomplishments of the tourism community such as legislation for Billings to create Montana’s first Tourism Business Improvement District (today there are 18 statewide), protecting the State Lodging Facility Use Tax, hosting Gold Wing Road Riders Association Wing Ding Rallies four times, winning the bid for the NAIA DI Women’s Basketball National Championships (2017-2019), and assisting existing events financially to help them grow year after year like the Montana Marathon and annual meetings/conventions. As we look back on successes of year’s past, let’s contemplate the future of tourism policies and infrastructure that promote future growth.
This includes protecting tourism funding, exploring convention and/or sports facilities, improving gateway aesthetics, fostering visitor services, stretching our local and state tourism marketing and sales efforts, and offering entertainment options to get people excited about traveling to Billings. When the travel industry thrives, the entire community benefits. The U.S. Travel Association and destination management organizations, like Visit Billings, across the nation will celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week May 6-12, 2018. Watch your inbox for more information in the coming weeks. In the meantime, think about how the tourism industry has evolved in the community – a list which illustrates the economic impact of travel, then and now. And, think about how you’re going to use those vacations days in 2018.
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
When the travel industry thrives, the entire community benefits. Driving the Beartooth Highway to Yellowstone National Park.
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TRiPS on a TANKFUL
WHAT’S BREWING IN SOUTHEAST MONTANA?
FIND OUT DURING A TASTING TOUR
Disclaimer: As required by common sense and courtesy, we strongly urge you to secure a designated driver before departing on a “tasting tour” of Southeast Montana.
BY BRENDA MAAS, 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. Visit Southeast Montana is managed by the Billings Chamber of Commerce.
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icrobreweries are not necessarily news. In fact, beer is nearly as old as mankind. (Dilly, dilly anyone?) However, the high plains of Southeast Montana are experiencing their own renaissance of sorts, as witnessed by the plethora of local breweries across the region.
We could consider this brewery as “the one that started it all.” Established in 2008, well ahead of the craft beer craze in Montana, Beaver Creek Brewery evolved into a self-proclaimed “regional destination for connoisseurs of beer, music and good times.” Co-owner Jim Devine joked that he and business partner Sandon Stinnett had been crafting home brews for about a dozen years and “we had too many pints so we decided to open a brewery.”
320 EAST ALLARD,
Just down the road from Wibaux, Cross Country Brewing opened in March of 2017. A two-generation family operation, this small tap room claims a renovated oil service building on Glendive’s south side as home. With seats for 33 inside and additional 24 on the patio, Cross Country Brewing is intimate – by design.
115 EAST MONTANA AVENUE,
“We wanted it that way,” noted dad, Justin Cross, “because conversation is key to the type of operation we want. We talk about the weather, watch sporting events, play cards – there’s lots of happy chatter.”
That was nearly 10 years ago. In fact, Beaver Creek Brewery will celebrate its 10-year anniversary on Sept. 15, 2018. Over the past decade the taproom, which originally hosted about three concerts per year, gained a business neighbor. In 2013, Devine and Stinnett refurbished the adjoining theater and opened the Historic GEM Theatre and Pub, complete with a stage for expanded concert options. Now, between the two businesses, 142 folks can enjoy craft beer, homemade specialties and authentic music – not bad for a town of 649 people. While the atmosphere is clean and always entertaining, in a Southeast Montana sort of way, Beaver Creek Brewery serves locals and tourists alike. Devine notes that between permanent signs along I-94, sites like TripAdvisor, specialty apps like Untapped and Google, those who want a good beer find their way to Wibaux – as either the first stop on the way into Montana, or the last stop on the way out. “Beer geeks like me will find breweries wherever they are,” he said. With patrons from across the state, the nation and the globe, there’s one that stands out in Devine’s mind. “We had a descendant of Pierre Wibaux in here – that was really pretty neat,” he said, from France to Southeast Montana.
The Cross family named the brewery with their surname, and the beers themselves attest to the family’s sense of humor. Try a glass of Einstein’s Beerd IPA. Or, note the recent Facebook post about their new bock beer: “The Well-Tempered Bock! Don’t worry if you don’t think you can Handle this Back, you can Teleman your preference. With our prices, you won’t leave Baroque.” The laughs are served for free.
The blatant misspelling of this brewery’s name gives blatant clues about the establishment’s vibe. Located in Baker’s renovated 1925-era Washington School, the recently-opened brewery plus pub operates on the motto of “Good People – Good Beer – Good Life” as is demonstrated by events and activities hosted at Old Skool. Guests can enjoy beer-yoga, beer bingo, game night and coffeehouse-style local music during open mic sessions. Some events include a local caterer or food truck but the hip, let’s-have-fun attitude always permeates. According to co-owner Josh Cuppy, Old Skool’s mission is to brew and distribute beer plus “blend the old with the new” in Baker. Cuppy, who has a strong science background, joined forces with his wife plus Dave and Sue Stevens to open the brewery and pub in April of 2017. “We wanted to bring things to Baker that you might not otherwise find here,” he said. But, while the locals may become regulars, Old Skool owners welcome tourists. Cuppy noted that he has an “old school” (pun intended) pushpin map on the wall for visitors to stake their hometown. The map has dots from coastto-coast and several international locations, including The Netherlands, Italy and South America. With beer names like Rigid Kilt and Buzzed Principal, who would miss it?
What a trip.
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BILLINGS WALKABLE BREWERY TOUR www.visitbillings.com No conversation about craft beer in Southeast Montana would be complete without a look at the two distilleries and six breweries within a 1.5 miles distance in downtown Billings. That’s enough for several days of tasting.
To that, and all craft brewers, we say: Skål! 113 MAIN STREET, 420 PACIFIC AVENUE,
As the home to several iconic bars, Miles City is no stranger to beer – so, why not add a microbrew to the mix? Larger than the traditional tap room and opened in August of 2016, Tilt Würks serves craft beer, gastro-pub food plus includes a casino.
Co-owner Denis Leidholt explained that his personal collection of pinball machines and equipment inspired the vintage pinball machine theme. “It was my wife’s idea, but you’ll find a lot of pinballs names and terms in here,” he said. The bar top is crafted from shadowboxes with machine parts inside and there are about 35 pieces of pinball machine backglass – that’s the pop culture piece that gives each machine its theme, like Star Wars or Indiana Jones – displayed. But it is the beer that sets this one apart. With names like Bang-back Blueberry Wheat and High Score Hefeweizen, plus flavors like Peanut Butter & Chocolate Stout, patrons are continually “tilt-alated” with their options.
Here’s a toast to the new kid on the block. Brent Nice, owner of White City Brewing, has yet to pour a pint. He’s eyeing May 2018, as he goes through the comprehensive state licensing process while renovating his location in Lavina. According to Nice, starting a business in the tiny town of Lavina is an intentional step in revitalizing the community. The brewery plans to direct a portion of proceeds to charitable giving. “Small towns with breweries flourish and attract people to the town as well as more business,” he said of the business’ mission. “You’re never just buying a beer, you’re investing in the future of a community.”
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GET TO KNOW CHAMBER STAFF:
PHOTO COURTESY RHEA WOLPOE
If you could make one change in Billings today, what would it be? Increase public awareness of the benefits that a local option tax can provide to a community.
Executive Support & Leadership Assistant
Years on Staff:
What book is on your nightstand? Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win By Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
1 year & 9 months
If you could have lunch with one famous person, who would it be and why?
The TV show you can’t miss:
Audrey Hepburn: She was strikingly unique for actresses of that 50s and 60s, she broke the wall of how women’s roles were played in film. Audrey had a successful career and was a true humanitarian icon that saw the beauty in things that we should see beauty in; kindness, happiness, and charm. This drove her success in the acting world. She has always been a role model for me as her legacy demonstrates the importance of giving back.
The dish you’re known for cooking? Bread Pudding
What is one thing about the Chamber/Visit Billings you think most people don’t know? The Youth Leadership Billings Program. The development of young leadership greatly contributes to positive development in communities.
Favorite Chamber/Visit Billings event or program? NextGEN. It’s an amazing program that connects young professionals with one another and with the community. It is a valuable tool for YP’s that provides great opportunities for professional development.
Tell us about your photo: Words you live by: “Follow your passion; it will lead you to your purpose.” – Oprah
When I was a high school student looking at colleges to attend, I fell in love with the campus and culture at Rocky Mountain College. It drew me to Billings. I value the education I received and the experiences and opportunities I was allotted during my four years at RMC.
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MOTIVATE, CREATE AND INSPIRE:
The Chamber Breakfast is a great way to shake off the winter doldrums and really motivate yourself, your team, or your entire company. The event is presented this year by KULR for the second year running, a sponsorship they are incredibly proud of. “This March KULR celebrates 60 years serving Billings and south-central Montana with local news and community involvement,” explains KULR General Manager Doug Miles. “Sponsoring the annual Chamber Breakfast is a part of that commitment to our community. The Billings Chamber of Commerce promotes a healthy and thriving business community and KULR is very proud to support that work through our involvement and sponsorship.”
CHAMBER BREAKFAST 2018 BY JESSICA HART, EVENTS MANAGER
The Chamber Breakfast is in its 54th year and evolved tremendously over the five and a half decades of its existence. However, that core of promoting healthy, thriving businesses stays the same with this event offering a great morning providing a space to celebrate, grow, and inspire ourselves and others. Bruce MacIntyre, retired Chamber Government Affairs Manager, was at the very first Chamber Breakfast event and has been coming ever since. “It has always been a program to bring business professionals together in the same room with a speaker that provides a wealth of knowledge.” MacIntyre remembers the first speakers as local business people. With the popularity of the program, the draw for keynote speakers has expanded into where we are today offering nationally recognized speakers with highly sought messaging. Over the past years we have had some incredibly talented people don the Chamber Breakfast stage and this year will be no different. John Ondrasik, of the popular music moniker Five for Fighting, will take the stage March 29th and promises to dazzle us with his chart-topping songs and inspiration sure to leave us motivated and ready to take our work to the next level. We have a new spin on the morning this year with comedian Emcee James Cunningham to wake us up and provide some lighthearted entertainment to start the day.
Thank you to our sponsors
• Avitus Group • Blueprint Managed Business Solutions • BNSF • DiA Events • MetraPark • Paynewest Insurance • Stockman Bank • St. Vincent Healthcare
The MetraPark doors open and breakfast is served at 6:00 a.m. with the Chamber program starting at 7:00 a.m. For more information on the Chamber Breakfast and Five for Fighting, check out BillingsChamber.com.
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One degree can make all the difference. BY BRENDA MAAS
ake a moment to think about one question: What makes a business leader “great?” What makes one rise above the other? What is the difference between one business striving and another thriving?
According to Sam Parker, author of 212 ° the Extra Effort, that difference is minute – just one degree. Just one degree makes the difference between regular water and boiling water. Boiling water can make steam, and steam can power an engine. The 2018 Billings Chamber of Commerce Awards for Business Excellence exemplify that same one degree of difference – that same inspiration that embraces the value of extra care, effort and attention that goes into creating results. This year’s recipients have all, in one manner or another, bridged that one degree that makes all the difference. They personify persistence and selflessness; dedication to a better program; and a laser focus on how to accomplish their goals. Read on and be amazed at the difference that one degree can truly make.
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Customer Service Excellence: KELLI TOOHILL
growing membership, increased donor base and solid reputation as a community asset. According to one nominator, Kelli takes service to another level. Past board president and executive director of Billings Community Foundation, Lauren Wright, concurs and noted that Kelli is truly authentic. “You can just feel her enthusiasm about the museum and its growth,” Lauren said. “The museum is her passion.” Kelli is described as the driving force behind the museum’s success, covering everything from cleaning the museum, training staff, giving presentations, serving as the public relations department and then sitting down on the floor and playing with the children.
Over the past seven years, Kelli Toohill’s name has become synonymous with Wise Wonders Children’s Museum. As a founding member and current executive director, Kelli translates exemplary customer service skills into a
Supervisor/Manager of the Year: SCOTT HANSER
Longevity and business acumen runs in the Hanser family. Ralph Hanser began offering automotive services in a two-bay service station more than 50 years ago. Today Hanser’s Family of Automotive Services has grown into three entities: Hanser’s Wrecker Company operated by Ralph Hanser; Hanser Salvage Company, operated by Scott Hanser; and, Hanser Transmission Company, which Shawn Hanser
“Whether you are a major donor, a new parent experiencing the museum for the first time, or a three-year-old kid walking through the doors, she bends over backward to deliver kindness and an encounter that will leave a lasting, positive impact,” the nominee concluded. Those encounters can be small and simple. For example, the Wise Wonders team noticed that
runs. One family member operates each entity and the three businesses work collaboratively yet separately. Last year Shawn Hanser suffered a massive stroke; he is rehabilitating but unable to work. Since that time, Scott has run the transmission service in addition to his own salvage business. Although Scott doubled his already demanding work load, he stepped up not just to ensure that the work gets done but as a rock-solid leader of the family-owned organizations. According to nominator, Coralene Corbridge, Scott does not draw attention to himself. Rather, he focuses on positivity in each employee and implements strategic steps for success. The program is based on Pivot, a book by Dr. Alan Zimmerman, who proposes that you can change everything in your life by adjusting your attitude, thinking positively and appreciating yourself and others. Scott specifically implemented strategic steps for success by buying a copy of the book for every employee (more than 100) and holding weekly meetings with each department to discuss the nine steps outlined in the book. As the program developed, Scott added his own ideas and
children are often upset, angry or sad when it is time to leave the museum – no one wants to stop playing. So, they added a “take a book, leave a book” basket to the exit area. That way, Kelli, explained, parents can redirect the child and leave on a positive note – perhaps to bring a book back to the shared library. Customer service is not limited to those visiting the museum – at least not in Kelli’s book. She broadens that term to include the children’s extended families, similar businesses and organizations, Wise Wonders’ employees and volunteers, and the Billings community as a whole. Kelli utilizes the Chamber’s many services as methods to invite the business community into the museum to experience it for themselves by hosting events like Leadership Billings and Business After Hours. She also realizes the advantages to education, sending Wise Wonders personnel to the Chamber/NextGEN/ MSU-Billings combined New Manager Training course. Dennis Wizeman, board treasurer and CEO of Montana Health Federal Credit Union, noted, “One of the reasons Kelli has been such a driving force behind the museum – from its inception – is that she truly believes this is a resource that will make our community better.”
opened the dialogue with employees. “He is dedicated to excellent customer service, but he is also committed to being the best employer that he can be,” she wrote. “He does so by encouraging everyone around him to find their best self, first, and then use that person to be the best they can be at everything they do.” Scott’s way of melding personal development into the work environment demonstrates his concern for people, not just employees. Coralene also noted that Scott sees to the physical wellbeing of his team, too, by providing lunch and snacks at work. If he notices an employee who doesn’t have the right outdoor gear (gloves, a jacket or insulated pants), he quietly asks Coralene to pick up the necessary items and pays for them out of his own pocket without embarrassing the individual. “Scott is a busy man,” noted Coralene, “the kind of person who tells you to walk with him if you have something to talk about because he doesn’t always have time to sit down, but that means so much to all of us that he cares about us as individuals.”
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Employer of Year:
MIDLAND CLAIMS SERVICE, INC.
second-generation owner of MSCi. The workman’s compensation industry is not an easy environment. Claims often involve permanent, debilitating injury or even death. That is a fact that Mike comprehends and intentionally manages with humor, professionalism and transparency. In 2001, Mike implemented a purposeful approach to “humanize” the workers’ comp process in which MCSi employees sit down with clients in a face-to-face, open discussion. Rather than being part of a bigger system or just a cog in the wheel, this helps employees feel like they are part of something different, something special, Mike noted.
Midland Claims Service, Inc. (MCSi) and its subsidiary, Industrial Injury Claim Service, has served as third-party administrator for workers’ compensation for more than a decade. In an industry that consists mainly of large, national corporations, the ten-person organization is definitely an underdog in terms of size. Yet MSCi serves as a testament that a small business can compete in a large market. “It all starts at the top,” noted Mike Marsh,
Business Person of the Year: STEVE LOVELESS
There’s a certain irony in the surname of the 2018 Business Person of the Year. Steve Loveless, President and CEO of St. Vincent Healthcare – SCL Health Montana, should really be called “Steve Selfless.” While the perception of a successful leader is often cited as toughminded, tenacious or ambitious, Steve optimizes the opposite. In fact, he employs the old adage,
“We approach the process as a team, working side-by-side, hand-in-hand, fingers linked together,” he said of the business philosophy. “With his witty humor, Mr. Marsh creates a positive work environment in a serious profession,” noted nominator and MCSi executive assistant, Melissa Allen. “He keeps the atmosphere very positive, very light, and there are no secrets.”
don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk’ when it comes to his leadership style. In today’s world, Steve Loveless has quietly navigated the tumultuous landscape of healthcare, guiding St. Vincent Healthcare with Holy Rosary Healthcare and St. James Healthcare to operate as a system of hospitals serving the Montana region. Yet, with nearly three decades of healthcare administration experience, Steve remains focused on the patient’s experience with the network of physicians. He believes no one is more important than the patient. Debbie Dobson, Regional Director of Performance Improvement for SCL Health Montana, gives this personal experience as an example: “…walking in the hospital with Steve when a patient’s family member approached him. The family member shared with them both that his father was passing away and, though he didn’t know Steve personally, asked if Steve would come into the room and pray at the bedside of his dying father. Without pause, Steve handed Debbie the
That transparency leads to employee focus and dedication. Mike demonstrates how much he values his employees by offering incredibly generous benefits and continuing education – a situation that can often backfire with employees taking advantage of those benefits and then moving on to different organizations. Yet, MSCi employees are dedicated to the business – employee retention rates are a true barometer of an organization’s health. Three of MCSi’s 10 employees have been with the organization for 10 years or more. A fourth, with an 18-year tenure, recently retired. That sort of retention is not a fluke – rather a testament to practices that work. The entire staff of MCSi contributed to the nomination but one in particular noted how Mike Marsh’s entire persona embodies Midland Claim Service, Inc. and inspires workers and claimants alike, noting, “He not only cares about the business but each of his employees and their families. He has a resolve to help those who are in need.”
folder he’d been carrying, and she watched as he entered the room and offered a prayer for the family gathered there.” Steve stresses the importance of communication and relationships to his leadership team, implementing a process of “rounding” on patients with the physicians. “This was not an easy or comfortable process for me,” he confessed, “but it was a hurdle that I had to overcome. It is now one of my greatest joys.” Michael Skeehan, COO for SCL Health Montana, shares that Steve lives his life of service that inspires and empowers others. He cites Steve’s investment in a strong team and relationships. “He leads the healthiest senior leadership team I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked across the country,” said Michael. “I’ll look at my calendar and see I spent 80 percent of my day just communicating with people and he’ll remind me that’s what we are supposed to be doing as leaders. You can’t do that through emails. You have to get out and interact with people.”
All four of these outstanding individuals will be honored with their awards during the Chamber Breakfast 2018. The event will be held at the Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark on March 29th. Learn more at BillingsChamber.com.
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MARCH-MAY 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 21
ENGAGING WITH YOUR
ELECTED OFFICIALS B Y DA N I E L J. B R O O K S
t should come as no surprise that our Billings Chamber members are well informed about what is happening in Billings. As a business or non-profit organization it is critical to stay engaged and knowledgeable about what is going on in our city. The electronic communications we send out, events like our Tax Reform Breakfast, and this quarterly publication, LiNK, are a benefit we provide to you, our members, with the intent to help you be better-informed. And along with local media and social media, the Chamber
community is armed with the information members need. But we would ask that you take it one step further: increase engagement with your elected representatives and local government. The Chamber’s website provides a couple resources to make engagement easier:
FIND YOUR WARD & LOCAL REPRESENTATIVE • Go to billingschamber.com/public-policy
• Scroll down to Billings City Ward Map and click on the image • Zoom in or input your address to find your ward and representatives
EMAIL FEDERAL, STATE, OR LOCAL REPRESENTATIVES • Go to billingschamber.com/action-center • Input your zip code and address in the “Find Officials” box • Select individuals to email and click “Compose Message”
Members of the Billings Chamber connect with area elected officials during hosted coffee roundtables. Above, members are pictured during these meetings.
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Another good way to learn more about the community and get involved in local government is to apply for an open board or commission seat. When the mayor announced last November the need to fill 39 openings, a few of the seats remained vacant due to a lack of applicants. I strongly encourage you to apply when the board/commission seats open again in May. We need your business community perspectives and experiences to help move Billings forward. But don’t just take it from me. Ward 1 Councilman Mike Yakawich would also like to see increased engagement. I had the opportunity to ask Councilman Yakawich a few questions about citizen involvement—check out our discussion on the following pages.
Dan: How did you first get involved in local government?
Councilman Yakawich: I began by volunteering and supporting local nonprofits. Part of this work was joining the local neighborhood task forces. A few of those members ran for office and asked me to campaign for them. I was happy to help and did a lot of door-to-door campaigning for them, which was a good experience. Later, I became an officer for the Southside Neighborhood Task Force and learned more about running a meeting and how our city functions. I also joined the Neighborhood Adjacent Committee as an ad hoc committee for the city. After Ward 1 Councilman Steve Bradley passed unexpectedly, I was asked to place my name in to replace him. Although I was not appointed, I learned more about the city and it gave me more courage, confidence, and understanding about public office. Then I ran for mayor. Obviously I did not win, but again gained more confidence and understanding of city government as well as myself. The candidate I lost to was Tom Hanel, who, four years later encouraged me to run for council. It was an honor to be asked and with much consideration I filed, campaigned, and won. From my early involvement and political growth to winning election, I learned a few things I’d like to share: (1) I realized getting involved does not always mean running for office. You can also serve on boards, commissions, and community groups, making the effort one step at a time. At some point you may take the plunge into a campaign, but volunteer involvement is
important as well. (2) Learn as much as you can from others. Their experience and insight will help you better understand our community, the process of government, and probably reinforce your own confidence and motivation for involvement or running for office. (3) Keep it clean. Even though I lost the mayor’s race, it was a fantastic experience that I was very grateful for. And in the end my opponent would give me the nudge I needed to run for City Council four years later.
Dan: Only a handful of Council seats open up every two years. How else can people interested in serving their community get involved with local government?
Whether in office or not, serving your community is commendable. Volunteering is a key avenue to political leadership and there are many city boards and committees open for the public to join, as well as involvement in local neighborhood task forces. You can also attend public meetings like City Council and learn how the city functions. And please don’t hesitate to talk with your local representative and learn from them. Perhaps you can campaign for someone you support and learn about our community by speaking with citizens at their doorsteps. Ask questions and get involved at the level you feel comfortable.
Dan: Voter turnout in the recent Billings municipal election was 53%, which is approximately the national turnout for presidential elections. Why is it important to stress local elections equally, if not more-so, than federal elections?
Decisions made locally by those you elect can and will have a big impact on your neighborhood. The status of your parks, services like snowplowing, and your property taxes, water fees, etc. are all affected by decisions made locally. You may wish your elected official to focus on key issues areas, like public safety, or increasing park funding. Who you elect will have ramifications in your ward and in your city. You want good local leadership and you want good services. Our local elections allow you to provide your voice through your vote. Your vote
really matters at the local level. Even if your candidate doesn’t win, local officials are much more accessible and open to communication. And it is hard to be critical of decisions made if one has not even voted. For some, registering to vote is a big step. Others may be registered but aren’t comfortable voting because they don’t know about the candidates. It’s important to know who you’re voting for, so make sure to attend candidate forums and seek to understand the candidates.
Dan: We’ve got a great community that understands the value of partnering together to get things accomplished. On the horizon is the One Big Sky Center project, a task that will require the city and numerous community organizations to work together toward its completion. Along with the Billings Chamber, Tourism Business Improvement District, Downtown Billings Partnership, and Big Sky Economic Development, which other community partners should be engaged in the discussions?
Councilman Yakawich: It is good to engage with the neighborhoods, local task forces, churches and small businesses. Building coalitions and support also comes from grassroots. Informing people about what is developing is hard but important. Outreach is key—getting information out to the community through fliers and mailings to social media, advertising, as well as word of mouth, is vital. Letters of support from the grassroots can be as influential as from partner organizations. If our partners and citizens are engaged and feel included, you can have a powerful support network.
Dan: Our Chamber NextGEN group of
commission. Run for office if you are willing to take the time and make a substantial commitment. And whether you win or lose, stay connected to your community and keep being involved. Your actions are communicated louder than any words you can speak. Be engaged. Vote. Know who your elected officials are, invite them to your business, or have coffee with them. Be forgiving. Be patient. You may not always have your elected official vote the same way you wish. We want our leadership to have a bigger, more comprehensive view, and we need to be willing to drill down and understand why a council member voted a certain way.
Billings’ emerging leaders is growing each year. Any words of wisdom to spur them into increased engagement with local government?
Dan: So, can Chamber members grab a
Councilman Yakawich: If you are thinking of running for an office, start out with volunteering or joining a board, committee, or
647-6391 is my cell number.
coffee with you?
Councilman Yakawich: Absolutely,
Chamber members connect with Penny Ronning, Ward 4 council person, during a coffee roundtable the Chamber held at the Moss Mansion in December.
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GET TO KNOW THE BOARD:
PHOTO COURTESY RHEA WOLPOE
Business: The fabulous Northern Hotel, in beautiful downtown Billings, Montana.
Board Position: Director at Large, Executive Committee
Why did you initially choose to get involved with the Chamber? I just wanted to be a good neighbor – and if this was a way to do that – to make life in Billings a little more successful for my friends and neighbors, then – why not?
Words you live by:
What is the number one thing in Billings you’d take a visiting friend to see/do?
Do what you say you’re going to do.
First – I’d introduce my friend to as many Billings-folk as possible – who wouldn’t want to share that infectious courtesy and realism? Then to the roof of the Northern. I’d show them the beautiful vistas (and you can see quite a few): the rims, the river, sacrifice cliff, the hills south of town, all our mountain ranges. And of course the other cool stuff – like our commerce to impress them with our incredible future.
Favorite movie or television show and why. Anything Star Trek – and do you really have to ask? After all, we have a meeting room named after Captain Kirk’s ship…
If you had a super power, what would it be? I’d rather not, I’d probably be pretty hard to live with if I had one.
You get to make one change for the Billings community today – what would you do? Get the One Big Sky Billings project underway. I’ve had the honor of watching and working around a number of large projects, and they are transformational to a community. This one just feels right for Billings. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to plan our future, and then set it on course in a positive and proactive way. I say go!
The snack always found in your desk/office: What was your first job? Delivering and installing kitchens for Franz TV & Appliance in Billings.
No food. But you’ll always find a cigar or two in my desk.
Tell us about your photo: We haven’t taken it yet, but pretty sure I’m going to have a bad hair day…
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S S E ACC
Make Your NextGEN Membership Work for You By Jennifer Reiser, IOM; Chief Operating Officer
s s the final quarter of the 2017-18 NextGEN year approaches, we urge members to consider growing their engagement by attending one new thing before June 30th. The NextGEN leadership team strives to provide a variety of offerings to meet your needs, interests and availability. With so many amazing choices, we’ve broken it down to help you decide:
ARE YOU WORKING TO IMPROVE YOUR PROFESSIONAL SKILLS? The Art of Professionalism professional development series would be a great fit. This series offers a variety of topics in short, 2-hour time periods, all designed to enhance your leadership and professional abilities.
WANT TO GET INVOLVED IN ARE YOU LOOKING TO MEET NEW ORGANIZING AND PLANNING PEOPLE? NEXTGEN EVENTS AND Perhaps NextHOUR is right for you. NextHOUR ACTIVITIES? is a no-host social event that occurs the 3rd Thursday of each month from 5-7 p.m. Locations vary, so watch www.BillingsNextGEN.com or the Facebook page for updates.
WANTING TO GIVE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY? Consider becoming a mentor for a college student. NextGEN Inspire matches students form Rocky Mountain College and MSU Billings with NextGEN mentors. Benefits of being a mentor include… • Share ideas, try new skills • Continue to enhance leadership role • Translate values and strategies into productive actions • Identify opportunities to enhance personal contributions in your organization and your community • Personal fulfillment by investing in others
Attend an Action Team meeting. Just a reminder that there are four active Action Teams: Connect, Grow, Learn & Inspire. Connect focuses on social events and community engagement. Grow’s emphasis is recruitment and retention of NextGEN members. Learn identifies and creates professional development opportunities. Inspire coordinates mentorships with local college students.
LOOKING TO CONNECT WITH OTHER NEXTGEN MEMBERS ON A REGULAR BASIS? Cahoots is a weekly meeting held every Friday at 11 a.m. at the Billings Chamber. These sessions include lively discussions and an opportunity to build relationships with like-minded emerging professionals.
Upcoming NextGEN Events
15 NextHOUR (5 -7 p.m.) Überbrew
27 The Art of Professionalism, Social Media Swagger (10:30 am – 12:00 pm) Art House Cinema & Pub
4 Grow Team Meeting
(12:00 – 1:00 pm) Chamber Conference Room
19 NextHOUR (5 -7 pm) Seva
24 The Art of Professionalism,
Course #4 (10:30 am – 12:00 pm) Land Design Inc.
2 Grow Team Meeting
(12:00 – 1:00 pm) Chamber Conference Room
8 NextGEN Exchange Mentorship Program Wrap Up Event
17 Quarters (3:30 – 5:00 pm)
Billings Police Department CTA
17 NextHOUR (5 -7 pm), location TBA ND
22 The Art of Professionalism
“Serve Others, Serve Yourself & Get Involved” (10:30 am – 12:00 pm) Yellowstone Art Museum Visible Vault
6 Grow Team Meeting
(12:00 – 1:00 pm) Chamber Conference Room
21 NextHOUR (5 -7 pm), location TBA *Every Friday: Cahoots (11:00 am – 12:00 pm) Chamber Conference Room
NextGEN members connect during NextHOUR at Bauer and Clausen. PHOTO COURTESY ADAM GROSS
*Stay updated on all upcoming NextGEN events through the NextGEN Website & Facebook Page
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BUILDING YOUR NETWORK ON THE LINKS BY JESSICA HART EVENTS MANAGER
ith a winter that has left most of us yearning for warmer days and a bit more sun, many of us have summer plans on our minds. As the snow starts to melt and the grass starts to green, we can’t think of a much better way to kick off your summer than a round of golf. Mark your calendars for Friday, June 22nd as we host our annual Chamber Open at The Briarwood Golf Course.
• Each hole is sponsored meaning great companies are out supporting you on the course. Our hole sponsors are very creative, in the past providing great games, prizes, and maybe even a refreshing drink to enjoy on the sunny day. • After the flights wrap up, prizes will be
Briarwood in June most often brings us blue skies, warm days, and some pretty great golf. Here are some other things you can expect from the Billings Chamber Open: • We oﬀer 2 shotgun starts; one at 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Each flight is limited to 32 teams, so sign up early to ensure that you can golf when you prefer.
PRESENTED BY KULR8 FEATURING FIVE FOR FIGHTING MAR. 29TH • DOORS OPEN AT 6:00 A.M. TABLES OF TEN COST $500 GENERAL ADMISSION TICKETS $40
awarded. The Grand Prize will be announced at the finish of the afternoon flight, but morning golfers need not be present to win. If this sounds like your kind of Friday in June, gather a team and register at BillingsChamber. com or email Jessica@billingschamber. com to sign up. The cost is $600 for a team of 4, which includes lunch and 2 mulligans per player as well as a candy rope for the team – a tool that may just help you stretch that putt and win a prize! Maybe you don’t count yourself as a golfer, but would like to spend your day in the sun. We have the perfect fit: volunteer by emailing Jessica@billingschamber. com. And, sponsorships are available. Get connected by contacting Joe@ billingschamber.com.
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.
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MARCH-MAY 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 29
Hammes Company recently released this map indicating the potential location of two key districts, Lifestyle and Healthcare.
DISTRICT VISIONING IS THE SENSIBLE WAY TO APPROACH COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND REGIONAL ECONOMIC GROWTH BY JOHN BREWER, CAE PRESIDENT/CEO
he evolution of One Big Sky Center from a singular high-rise structure to two unique districts (Lifestyle District and Health and Wellness District) is a strategic approach to community planning. The concept is simple: develop an anchor project (a regional convention center in this case), invest in this civic asset, and provide a roadmap for private developers to invest in opportunities that augment the anchor such as office space, hotels, restaurants, retail, and housing. It is estimated that public private partnership investment in the catalytic anchor project will generate over $1 billion in private development over a 15-year period for Billings.
WHY DO WE NEED A CONVENTION CENTER AND WHY SHOULD IT BE DOWNTOWN? In 2015 the Billings Chamber commissioned a convention center feasibility study from HVS in Chicago. Looking specifically at our ability to accommodate 500 or more attendees, the study
found meeting venues in Billings were, “old and outdated and fail to provide meeting planners and attendees with the modern amenities and services they expect.” Additionally, “without development, by 2020, HVS projects that overnight visitor days by meetings and conventions attendees would decline by approximately 25 percent from their current levels.” With visitors spending $305 million in Yellowstone County each year, that meeting and convention decline represents a significant impact. Over the past 24 months, we have seen weaker citywide hotel occupancy, conceivably attributable to deficient facilities and increasing market competition. Smaller hotel property managers state they miss the compression and overflow of business from events that used to be hosted at our largest convention hotel. Billings still accommodates smaller conventions (<500) because the existing six convention hotels can accommodate smaller groups’ needs for full general sessions, breakout rooms, and sleeping rooms. But we’ve experienced a decline in group
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bookings above 500 attendees. In fact, larger groups that booked business here just a few short years ago tell us they cannot do so in the future based on the current state of our only true convention center. So, how do we re-attract the bookings we’ve lost and put Billings on the map for regional conventions yet to experience our incredible hospitality? If we were to develop a convention center in Billings, the study states: • 48% of event planners across the country who have not hosted an event in Billings before indicated they would be somewhat or highly likely to book an event in Billings if a new convention center met their needs. • Net direct, indirect and induced spending resulting from a new facility would be $16,734,400 (three years following development). • A downtown location aﬀords the best opportunity to enhance destination appeal which is essential to attracting events. • 66,000 square feet of rental space is ideal (est. 150,000 total square feet).
The feasibility study provided in 2015 by HVS is a valuable roadmap and is currently being updated with an expected completion date of April 2018. Although some express concern that a regional convention center is a “downtown asset,” the fact is that positive impacts would be felt citywide, statewide and throughout the region as people drive and fly to events, shop in our retail stores, eat in our restaurants and enjoy our cultural amenities. While we are
excited that additional outside investors are considering Billings for regional convention center development, a downtown location better accommodates regional convention attendees, making those events easier to book and leading to increased business in Billings. Simultaneously, as a community there is also a recognized need for increased sports venues and trails for amateur athletics and recreational opportunities by our residents. As a community we should consider how the District model
can be implemented in other areas of town with a sports facility anchor. Billings needs recreational ice, an aquatics facility, indoor courts, and outdoor fields for soccer, baseball and lacrosse. A catalytic sports project facilitating these activities with trail connectivity and a planned “Recreation District,” would further drive the economy and a vision for future private development to support the civic assets in that district, and the broader Billings community.
Downtown Allentown, PA is an award-winning Hammes Company project, pictured above.
Planning and visioning for these much needed community assets and economic drivers is the easy part—with the right partners such as the Hammes Company and HVS. Developing and funding catalytic projects requires effort, creative solutions, and a commitment by our elected leaders and citizens to invest in our future. We will explore all options including private investment, facility naming rights, legislative changes to existing economic development funding resources, consideration of local option taxing authority, changes to the lodging tax, and general obligation bonds.
The PPL Center is an anchor tenant in the Allentown, PA development led by Hammes Company.
Though One Big Sky Center and potential sports complexes present some obstacles, they are not insurmountable and they both promise major economic lift. We believe our community is not only capable of navigating the difficult discussions and complicated processes, but that it must in order to continue to grow and remain competitive.
MARCH-MAY 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 31
BUSINESS GROWTH: GETTING TO KNOW
THIRSTY STREET BREWING CO. BY RENÉ BEYL
BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST Shea and Jill Dawson’s enthusiasm about their business shines brightly toward their Thirsty Street enterprise. They chose to leave the security of the corporate world because they saw the potential for their business ideas to take off in Billings. With the upcoming move of the brewery to a new west end location, they have creative plans for both business locations in the works. After spending some time behind the scenes, it is clear this pair also knows how to laugh and have some fun while working hard.
Your plans are about to become reality. Can you share with us how you’re able to grow into a second location?
Thirsty Street is comprised of three businesses in one. There is the brewing company, the building and the bar. This structure lets us move the brewing company out to the new location while maintaining the bar downtown. The downtown location will expand to offer homemade gourmet sausages characteristic of those we loved when living in New Orleans.
Plus, our partnership with Canyon Creek Nursery on the west end will create an atmosphere bringing the outdoors inside the brewery.
As a couple, why are you successful in business?
We take a family approach and discuss everything in detail to gain the big picture. We have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. The voice in the back of our head directs us and reminds us this is what we want to be doing. We have always planned to bring in amazing food to pair with the innovative brews.
Our communication is the key. We divide up the work and execute.
Why is membership with the Chamber important to your business?
We make it a priority to spend our dollars on membership with the Chamber for several reasons. We value partnerships we have gained to help our business. Communications from the Chamber help us make the best business decisions because we are informed. We want to be plugged in and we believe success begets success.
The marketing and connectivity offered by the Chamber has supported our business tremendously.
Since Thirsty Street opened, you have always been willing to join forces with the Billings Chamber, opening your doors to host receptions, sponsor pub crawls, donate beverages to our events, and serve on committees aligned with our priority issues. We thank you for all you have given back to support us! PHOTO COURTESY OF TIM STRUCK
Ribbon Cuttings The following Chamber member businesses recently celebrated grand openings, anniversaries, rebranding, relocation, and ground breakings. Congratulations to each of them!
DREAMIN’ OF GINNAYE HOUSEKEEPING
celebrated her business and eco-friendly cleaning products on November 14th.
celebrated their Grand Opening on November 30th.
held a Grand Opening event to celebrate their unique barbershop in downtown Billings on December 6th.
unveiled the new name, logo and remodel of the restaurant on January 3rd.
MICHAEL HASS INSURANCE PHOTO COURTESY OF TIM STRUCK
ALBERTSONS (GRAND & 32ND)
The voice in the back of our head directs us and reminds us this is what we want to be doing.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SIMPLY SARA PHOTOGRAPHY
celebrated the addition of a second location on the west end on January 9th.
held a ribbon cutting and presented donations to our community in conjunction with the new remodel on January 17th.
ALTRAIN PERSONAL FITNESS & WELLNESS
celebrated 5 years in business and showed off the new name and location on January 19th.
ADVANCED CARE HOSPITAL
celebrated 10 years of success during the Business After Hours they hosted on February 14th.
Does your business have a momentous change in the future? Schedule a ribbon cutting celebration! This complimentary member benefit is available to all members – simply contact us to schedule yours by calling 406.245.4111.
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Billings Chamber of Commerce 815 S. 27th St. Billings, MT 59101