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IS S U E 2 1 | M A R C H 2019 - M AY 2 019

Advocating for Business at the




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table of contents


3.19 CONTENTS 2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION Advovating for Business




Empowering the Community to “Take a seat at the table”

2019 YOUNG PROFESSIONALS SUMMIT Building Connections Across Montana


SKYLINE TRAIL Blazing ahead in 2019

p.22 BUSINESS EXCELLENCE Congratulations to the 2019 Business Excellence Award Winners






PRESIDENT'S LETTER Billings Chamber: Over 100 years representing our community.


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

GROW Making the healthy choice the easy choice and Chamber takes the Equal Pay Pledge.

MONTANA’S TRAILHEAD Travel Matters: National Travel and Tourism week 2019.

TRIPS ON A TANKFUL There’s More Than Meets the Eye in Hardin.

GET TO KNOW MARYA PENNINGTON Communication and Leadership Assistant.




Marketing Matters. 

CONNECT Join 1,600+ Professionals at the Annual Chamber Breakfast 


p.8 p.10 p.12 p.26

p.32 p.34




interests and political parties. The Billings Chamber of Commerce is fighting for your business and our community each and every day. Not long ago, your Chamber was recognized as the “Chamber of the Year” by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. This award was based on our work to advance quality of life initiatives such as air service, trails and workforce development – all of which positively impact the business environment.

Last fall the Billings Chamber celebrated 100 years in business. Just as with your business, the Billings Chamber of Commerce relentlessly seeks excellence, despite our longevity and proven track record of success. We are unapologetically independent in our support for free enterprise and for your business; independent from special

In addition, for the past ten years, the United States Chamber of Commerce has awarded the Billings Chamber its highest designation: 5 Star Accreditation. This honor is bestowed on just 1% of the 7,000 Chambers of Commerce in the U.S. This award is based on bipartisan political engagement and general operating best practices. Thank you for investing in us, therefore allowing us to lead alongside you, in moving Billings to a higher peak.






DoubleTree by Hilton MSU Billings EBMS NorthWestern Energy Holiday Station Stores U.S. Bank

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

LiNK is proudly distributed at these member businesses:

Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives

2015 Chamber of the Year



• Anytime Fitness locations • EBMS

• PayneWest Insurance

• Barnett Opticians

• First Interstate Bank

• Picture Perfect Ultrasound

• Beartooth Vision Center

• Grand Ave. Dental Care

• Rimrock Subaru

• Billings Vision Center

• Heights Eye Care

• RiverStone Health

• Black Dog Coffee

• Jiffy Lube

• Sanctuary Spa

• Bob Smith Motors


• Spin Fresh Laundry

• Brewer Dental Center

• LP Anderson Point S Tire • St. Vincent Healthcare

• Colleen Black CPA

• Masterlube locations

• Starbucks locations

• Crowley Fleck PLLP

• MorningStar

• Thomas Smile Designs

• Doc Harpers

• Moulton Bellingham

• Western Heritage Center

• DoubleTree

• Olsen Ortho Studio

Published by: The Billings Gazette Project Management/ Editor: Kelly McCandless Creative Designer: Nadine Bittner Photo Contributors: Billings Chamber, Visit Billings, Rhea Wolpoe and AdobeStock Advertising Sales: Joe McGinnis 406-869-3724 www.billingschamber.com PO Box 31177 Billings MT 59107-1177 406-245-4111 • 800-711-2630

Fax 406-245-7333




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

2018 Billings

2017 Montana


United States

Unemployment Rate Comparison County Population

City Population

158,980 110,323






Percent change in county population 2010-2014




3.8% Unemployment Rate as of January 2019 Yellowstone County

Median Household Income


United States

Airport Deboardings: City Comparison


500,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 450,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ Average Home Price


400,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 350,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 300,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Number of Employer Establishments


250,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 200,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 150,000_ ________________________________________________________________________________________________

School District #2 Enrollment


100,000_ ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2015 2016 2017 2018

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..








ealthy employees are more present, perform at a higher level, increase an organization’s productivity and cost employers less. Employers can use their worksites to become activators of health by making the healthy choice the easy choice. Through creative placemaking and environmental design, worksites can create opportunities for social connectedness and, through policy and practice, provide for increased physical activity for employees. Although chronic diseases are among the most common and costly of all health problems, adopting healthy lifestyles can help prevent them. A wellness program aimed at keeping employees healthy is a key long-term human

asset management strategy. To curb rising health care costs, many employers are turning to workplace health programs to make changes in the worksite environment, help employees adopt healthier lifestyles, and in the process lower their risk of developing costly chronic diseases.


Healthy By Design’s Healthy Worksite Recognition is a voluntary initiative that recognizes Yellowstone County employers that demonstrate a commitment to wellbeing. The Healthy By Design Coalition acknowledges efforts to facilitate and encourage employee health, enhance productivity, and ensure a work environment that makes the healthy choice, the easy choice. This recognition focuses on employer efforts in the areas of active living, healthy eating, work-life balance and health promotion.

*Billings Planning & Community Services *RiverStone Health *Yellowstone County *Yellowstone Naturopathic Clinic

*Billings Clinic *CTA *Granite Health & Fitness *PacificSource Health Plans *St. Vincent Healthcare



*Billings Chamber of Commerce *Kampgrounds of America (KOA) *Total Nutrition *indicates Chamber Member Business

The Billings Chamber continues to partner with Healthy By Design on our Healthy Communities Initiative, encouraging Billings area worksites to The Billings Chamber of Commerce is proud to become activators of health to attract and retain be one of the first to receive recognition from a qualified workforce. We aim to: Healthy By Design for our worksite wellness • Inform worksites about their natural efforts and we congratulate our fellow honorees: positioning as activators of health, about creative placemaking and how community health functions as a driver of workforce development. • Use creative placemaking as a fun way to create welcoming places promoting physical activity and social connections among employees; and The cost of as a great place to live, Billings The cost of The cost of The cost of The cost of• Recognize cardiovascular cardiovascular diseases work, learn, anddiseases play! stroke obesity obesity


The cost of The cost of The cost of blood pressure high blood pressurestroke

od raises oyee’s re nearly d.

High blood pressure raises an employee’s healthcare costs by nearly one third.

Stroke is America’s No. Stroke 1 is America’s No. 1 debilitating disease.debilitating disease.

Obesity raises We need you! We are seeking: an employee’s • Laocal exampleswith of creative placemaking in healthcare Employees with Employees a the workplace. disease costs by cardiovascular disease cardiovascular 27 percent. Bper usinesses ormore organizations interested in • Lost 56 hours more • •Lost 56 hours per year in productivityyear in productivity participating (no experience needed). • Cost $1,119 more• •per Cost year $1,119engagement more per year Obesity-related Obesity-related Employee surveys or Hypertension-related Hypertension-related in insurance inmeasurement insurance absenteeism costs absenteeism costs Stroke leads to an Stroke leads to an tools. absenteeism costs absenteeism costs Congestive Heart Failure employers • Congestive Heart •Failure average of 20 lost average of 20 lost employers employers employers costs all payers $8,332 costs a all payers $8,332 a workdays per workdays per $11.2 billion $11.2 per year. billionperson per year. yourper ideas and tools with Jennifer Reiser per year.Share person year. billion $10.3 per year. billion per year peryear. patient. year per patient.



Obesity raises an employee’s healthcare Stroke costs all Stroke costs all costs by payers $6,492 a payers $6,492 a 27 percent. person per year. person per year.



at 869-3734 or jennifer@billingschamber.

The cost of The cost of physical inactivity physical inactivity

ter 6/17

Resource Center 6/17

Physical inactivity costs Physical inactivity costs U.S. employers U.S. employers

$9.1 billion per $9.1 year. billion per year.


Heart disease leadsHeart disease leads com. Learn more about Healthy By Design to an average of 13to an average of 13 worksiteper wellness recognition lost workdays lost workdays per at http://www. year perhealthybydesignyellowstone.org/ patient. year per patient.



Equal Pay Day is April 2nd! This day is dedicated to raising awareness of the gender wage gap and symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work to earn what men earned in the previous year doing the same job. Learn more at equalpay.mt.gov.


he Equal Pay for Equal Work (EPEW) Task Force was established by Governor Steve Bullock in 2013 and is comprised of 15 members representing a variety of private and public sectors throughout Montana. In the 2018 EPEW Task Force Winter Newsletter, Governor Bullock is quoted as saying, “More Montanans are in the workforce and wages are rising. We need to make sure they’re rising for men and women.”

THE EQUAL PAY PLEDGE In Montana, women are earning only 69 percent of what men earn, putting Montana at 29th in the nation for pay equity. ALL Montanans deserve a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work, which is why Governor Bullock established the Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force to meet this challenge head on and make Montana the first state to achieve gender pay equity. Equal pay for equal work is about putting more money in the pockets of Montana families. When

both the bread winners of a household earn more money, that money is dispersed throughout the entire Montana economy—creating better jobs and economic opportunity. Equal pay for equal work will ensure that our state continues to have a strong and fair economy for all Montanans. By taking the Equal Pay Pledge the Billings Chamber of Commerce commits to improving Montana’s economy by helping eliminate the wage gap.

WHY EQUAL PAY MATTERS According to Catalyst, Fortune 500 companies with three or more women on their board of directors experienced: 73% return on sales, 83% return on equity, 112% return on invested capital. The Montana Department of Labor and Industry reports 56% percent of companies reported better operating results after hiring a woman to their executive committees. MT DLI also reports that as baby boomer workers retire, the workforce


growth will not keep up with demand and there will be an employee shortage. Being equitable and diverse in hiring will help the Montana economy grow at a faster rate.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Consider these best practices for equitable hiring as easy steps you can take to explore this issue in your own business: • Encourage wage negotiation training • Conduct a pay audit • Stay vigilant • Encourage a gender-balance in hiring pools • Recruit women to executive-level board positions • Include women on hiring committees • Advertise diversely • Conduct applicant testing • Salary history is irrelevant More information can be found at equpalpay.mt.gov.





Travel creates and supports 15.6 million jobs across the U.S.–making it the seventh-largest private sector employer. In 2017, traveler spending generated $165 billion in total tax revenue, including $76 billion in state and local revenue. 10 |MARCH-MAY 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY


hough we pass by popular tourist sites daily, we may not always think about just how much travel matters to Billings and Yellowstone County. While tourism may not be the top industry in the city, it’s in the top five. Leisure and hospitality businesses are among the largest small employers across the United States and Billings. When we pass by places like ZooMontana, Western Heritage Center, and the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site, we may not even think of how they support our community. But these local attractions, and others like the walkable brewery district, local restaurants, trails, galleries, museums, and historical sites like Pompeys Pillar and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monuments, the Yellowstone River, the Rimrocks, and area State Parks, are the backbone of Billings. These places define our community, provide our families with jobs, and have given us—and millions of annual visitors —a lifetime of memories. In an effort to build awareness and understanding about these impacts, National Travel and Tourism Week is focusing on why travel matters this year. According to the Institute for Tourism Recreation Research, travel supports 55,000 jobs in Montana; thousands of those jobs right here in Billings. Travel also has an impact we do not always see: it can strengthen families, foster hometown pride, and build bridges that connect us with one another – themes that matter to America as a whole. At the national level, travel is critical to the U.S. economy and American jobs. The U.S. Travel Association (USTA) notes that as a leader in workforce development and career advancement, travel creates and supports 15.6 million jobs across the U.S.–making it the seventh-largest private sector employer. In 2017, traveler spending generated $165 billion in total tax revenue, including $76 billion in state and local revenue. That’s a win-win. Travel is powerful for cities and states, and Billings is no exception. In southeast Montana, research shows that non-Montana residents spent $346 million while Montanan’s traveling to and within the region spent $485 million (ITRR, 2017). Travel supports local entrepreneurs, boosts air travel, and offers local economies new dollars


positively impacting communities, all while developing the workforce. Think back to your first job. Maybe you worked at a hotel or restaurant that has been around for a while, or maybe your kids work there now. For many - one third of Americans to be exact – travel is the front door to a promising career. Americans whose first job was in travel now have an average career salary of $81,900, and two in 5 of those whose first job was in travel are now earning more than $100,000 annually (Source: USTA). Those are only a few reasons why it’s so important to keep welcoming visitors to town and why our industry is elevating the message of “Travel Matters” during National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) May 5-11. We encourage you to join us in observing NTTW this year, and celebrate all that travel does for the community and for the country as a whole.

HERE ARE A FEW WAYS TO GET INVOLVED: • Get social and engage with the #nttw19 #VisitBillings hashtags on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Share how travel matters to you at Montana’s Trailhead. • Take a vacation. Use those vacation days! • Stop by the Billings Visitor Center and be sure you know what Billings and the region have to offer you, your family, and your guests. This year’s NTTW is more than just another campaign. It’s a movement that positions the travel industry as a primary driver in the U.S. economy, and as an important part of our daily lives in Billings. Learn more at https://www.ustravel. org/events/national-travel-and-tourism-week.

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




ocated less than one hour from Billings, the small town of Hardin, Montana has a story to tell. With proximity to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Bighorn River and Bighorn National Recreation Area, visitors have both historical and outdoor recreation options. But those who take a closer look will find a community with roots deep in ranching and farming, heritage and American Indian culture.

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.



Start your day at the Big Horn County Historical Museum, where you can see a massive diorama of the original Fort Custer as it looked in 1877-1898 along with a vast array of other military artifacts related to the troops of that period. Complete and detailed uniforms, official documents, original military photos, weapons and minute artifacts like bullet casings, bottles, and china shards combine to give a full picture of a trooper’s life.

If art is more your thing, be sure to stop at the Jailhouse Gallery for a closer look at local and regional artists. You’ll see multiple genres like pottery, sculptures, jewelry, paintings, sketches, carvings and multimedia.

The museum houses Robert Yellowtail’s vision teepee. Yellowtail, who died in 1988, earned a law degree and is known as a “20th Century Warrior” for the Crow Tribe in tribute to his many leadership roles, including promoting American Indian voting rights, protecting tribal land from non-native land acquisition and opposing the damming of the Bighorn River. The Big Horn Museum is open year-round with 26 historical buildings moved to the site and open during warm months (see website for seasonal hours). Most are restored or restoration is in progress. Visitors can walk through a train depot, visit a blacksmith’s shop, marvel at a German church or stand in Will James’ cabin. For an even more rich experience, visit during Little Bighorn Days to see reenactors from the late 1800s, learn to throw a knife from a frontiersman or hear the massive blast of a cannon and the sharp report of a Gatlin gun. (June 2019)

According to Terry Jeffers, executive director of the local non-profit, the gallery promotes works from local artists, including Crow and Northern Cheyenne, and is a great way for visitors to take home an authentic souvenir. Locals and visitors alike can schedule a Puzzle Room event, which is similar to popular escape rooms, to liven up their visit. Area hunters and Native culture aficionados will enjoy Lammer’s Trading Post. The long-time Hardin staple carries firearms and ammunition; horse tack like bridles, blankets and adornments; and Native dress, drums, blankets and the like.



The stunning array of Native art displayed across the trading post’s extra-high walls stands in juxtaposition to the store’s main product and puts this eclectic mercantile on the only-inSoutheast-Montana list. At the end of Center Avenue, Hardin’s main street, The Farmer’s Daughter General Store offers a more modern shopping experience. Opening about a year ago, owner/operator Landa Uffelman is the third generation in her family to open a business in the 1910 building. Uffelman’s great-grandparents originally ran a small café in the location and her grandmother operated the Fort Custer General Store for several decades. Uffelman blended past commerce into a new-century, gift store and boutique. “I’ve always been into old-fashioned things,” Uffleman said of the store’s name and her business concept. A full-service soda fountain gives a nod to the past while chic offerings include repurposed furniture from Uffelman. She noted that the soda fountain has been more popular than she expected with visitors and locals alike stopping for the sweet treat. The Farmer’s Daughter also

carries favorites like Montana Silversmith, Becky’s Berries, Martinson’s candy from Huntley and other Made in Montana products.

EATS No day trip is complete without food and Hardin has several great options. The Bighorn Bakery & Café provides homemade daily specials, soups (including gumbo and menudo) and local favorites like fry bread. But what visitors will immediately notice when entering the café is the intense smell of baking –cinnamon rolls, pies and other enticements are baked daily. Another Hardin favorite, the Lariat Country Kitchen, serves homestyle meals with Western portions and a side of local flavor —and the coffee’s always hot. Also located on Center Avenue, 3 Brothers Bistro offers lunch and dinner with access to the movie theater next door. Known for their hand-tossed pizzas, co-owner Greg Smith also customizes burgers like the Big Horn Burger, topped with caramelized onions, mushrooms, Greg’s pulled pork and diner’s choice of cheese. This popular venue also serves wine and beer.

For even more suggestions on local dining options and other attractions, be sure to stop at the Hardin Chamber of Commerce, located in the former train depot. Many aspects of the historic building remain, and staff is wellversed in local lore.

ALONG THE WAY Driving Interstate-90 is the shortest route and certainly offers amazing vistas, including both the Pryor and Bighorn Mountain Ranges. However, alternative routes make for a more scenic drive. With one option, you can stop at Pompeys Pillar National Monument (check for seasonal hours). At Custer, turn south on highway 47 to meander along the Bighorn River. Stop at sites 17, 18 and 19 along the Trail to the Little Bighorn to learn about the 7th Cavalry’s movements leading up to and shortly after the Battle of Little Bighorn. For details or to download, see www. southeastmontana.com/maps. Alternatively, travel what locals refer to as the “Old Hardin Road” along Old Highway 87 to enjoy a more leisurely, two-lane road. While this route parallels the interstate for a bit, it veers West and covers more of Southeast Montana’s rolling terrain.



Randy Schoppe, Executive Director of the Big Horn County Historical Museum, joined the Visit Southeast Montana Board of Directors in June 2018 to represent Big Horn County. He brings extensive non-profit world experience to the Board. Randy first became acquainted with the museum when he, along with his wife, volunteered as gardeners. Randy later joined the staff as handyman, restoring many of the exterior buildings, and was appointed director in August 2017. Randy also serves as senior pastor at Hardin New Life Church and was former director of Helping Hands Food Bank. When he is not wearing his many vocational or volunteer hats, Randy enjoys fishing and camping with his grandkids and restoring old cars. Be sure to wave when you see him driving his 1969 VW Karmann Ghia.

Jailhouse Gallery.

Farmer’s Daughter General Store.

3 Brothers Pizza & Bistro.

Lammers Trading Post





Hardin is roughly the half-way point between Billings and Fort Smith, the micro-berg at the gateway to the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area – North Unit and the base of the Bighorn River, which is prized as a trout fishery. Hardin is a convenient place to fuel-up, grab ice and eats or relax after a great day outdoors. The town was named for Samuel H. Hardin, a cattleman from Wyoming who leased tracts of land on the Crow Reservation to range his cattle.


Annually on the third weekend in June, Hardin celebrates Little Bighorn Days with a rodeo, parade, street dance and concert, plus arts and crafts fair along with several vendors and other events, such as Custer's Last Race and pancake breakfast. Hardin is also home to two farmer's markets in the downtown area on Thursdays and Fridays starting the first week in August through the first two weeks in September featuring locally-grown food and talented local artists.


What is the number one thing in Billings you’d take a visiting friend to see/do?



Run on the rims, from there I can show them the landscape of our town.

Coldwell Banker Commercial, CBS

What was your first job? Bagger at a grocery store at 14.

As a board member, you have the inside scoop. What would you share about the Chamber that other members may not know? You are one connection away from anyone in the city. One connection. Anyone in the city. That connection is at the Chamber.

Words you live by: If you are irreplaceable, you can set your own value.

Why did you initially choose to get involved with the Chamber? The access to information, connections, and combined effort to improve the community of Billings.

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

The snack always found in your desk/office: I snack all day long. Jerky, protein, trail mix, peanut butter, etc.

I love food. A lot. So, I would add more restaurants. Breakfast is my favorite meal.

Tell us about your photo: This picture encompasses my business. I research and analyze commercial real estate which includes looking at maps, hours on my Surface, reviewing spreadsheets and pro forma, and my notebook. Reading and personal development is very important to me also. Not included in the picture are snacks. I like snacks.


One adjective that describes you: Resourceful.

Providing an exceptional phone system and local support when it matters most.

“The biggest thing we love about BluePrint is they keep a local office. If there is an issue, we have a contact person to call as well. It makes a difference.” - Jay Cochran, Farm Bureau Financial Services - Billings, MT




Our goal is to keep you on the leading edge of technology and communications, so you can focus on what you know best—your business.

BluePrint’s business solutions can maximize efficiency for your entire business!

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Good mental health is good for both individuals and our community. That’s why St. Vincent Healthcare now offers integrated behavioral health services at our primary care clinics. These mental health professionals work with our doctors and health providers to deliver whole-person care.


has ranked in the TOP 5 for suicide rates in the nation for over 30 years.

1 in 5

Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year. Based on population, the number of Montanans taking their own lives was

2X the national average in 2016.

The new Mobile Mammography Coach offers 3D imaging technology, proven to find invasive cancers 40% more frequently than traditional 2D mammograms. St. Vincent Healthcare offers 1 OF ONLY 2 mobile mammography programs in Montana.

ADDRESSING OBESITY St. Vincent Healthcare takes an active role in increasing activity for kids and adults in our community. We partner with the YMCA to offer our Diabetes & Heart Disease Prevention Program, helping adults reduce their risk for these chronic diseases. 16 |MARCH-MAY 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

is Healthy for Your Bottom Line

New Mobile Mammography Coach

Community Clinic based at Lockwood School

Coming Soon! Mobile Occupational Health Services

From our walk-in clinics open 365 days a year and conveniently located primary care clinics to virtual doctor visits and making it easy to book appointments online, we continue to ensure our patients and communities are empowered to access care on their time, and on their terms.

See how St. Vincent Healthcare can improve your company’s bottom line at svh.org. 17 |MARCH-MAY 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

Pictured above: Helena Capital. COURTESY BILLINGS CHAMBER

Advocating for Business at the


Legislative Session BY DANIEL J. BROOKS



e’ve passed the halfway mark and are coming into the home stretch of Montana’s 66th Legislative Session. With a Constitutional mandate to meet every two years, for no longer than 90 days, legislators need to work quickly to amend, strike, and draft new laws. Despite the difficulties and the constrained timeline, our citizen legislature accomplishes this great task every other year. It’s been a busy 2019, with over 3,000 bill drafts in the legislative database and dozens that have gotten our attention. Your Billings Chamber of Commerce has been actively engaging legislators and committees, lobbying for the policies that will help our member businesses and organizations. We focus on a pro-business, non-partisan approach, emphasizing the need for solutions over party politics.

ADVOCATING So far this session, we’ve covered a host of business issues: opposing substantial private wage increases, new taxes, and additional regulations, while supporting Medicaid expansion, career and technical education, and income tax revisions to incentivize military retirees to bring their entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic to Montana. But our primary focus is in three key areas: (1) our economic development toolkit; (2) public safety; and (3) tourism industry support. Each of these priority areas addresses our need to build a better Billings and attract the next generation of workforce. With businesses expressing difficulty in attracting and retaining the talented individuals needed to help their business grow, it is essential we focus on the areas that have substantial impact on workforce challenges. With additional economic development tools, an increase in public safety, and bringing more people to Montana, we hope to backfill the nearly 44,000 workers who will leave the workforce in the next 10 years.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOOLKIT Perhaps the most game-changing economic development initiative is the 406 Impact District legislation being brought forth to create a new economic development tool. This tool would allow for massive private investment to “turn on” a public contribution to offset the costs of the private sector financing and building civic infrastructure. It puts the risk of financing and building on the private side, rather than the public, reversing the traditional model of community and civic development. Utilized across the state, this legislation could put

Montana on the map for major private investment and attracting and retaining the skilled workforce we need for our businesses to thrive.

And, concerning our business community, the study would investigate the direct and indirect costs incurred by our business community.

Outside of fresh, innovative ideas, our toolkit for economic development is limited in Montana. We need to expand our toolset and empower local communities to tailor funding solutions to their respective needs. Voters and elected officials at local levels should have more options to raise revenue for the critical infrastructure and quality of life investments necessary to building an attractive community where business and residents thrive. This is why we supported, and 77% of our membership supports, the local option authority.

With a better-informed legislature, understanding the costs, gaps, and opportunities related to homelessness and substance use disorder, we hope to find more success with public incapacitation legislation in 2021 and continue to improve our public safety.

We also support the use of tax increment finance (TIF) for urban renewal and economic development. Billings’ TIF districts are a prime example of the positive investment and growth that can occur because of proper use of TIF funding. The infrastructure improvements to our southside, the corridor between downtown and MetraPark, and our downtown area are all great examples of the use of TIF as a necessary economic development tool.

PUBLIC SAFETY As we seek to address the obstacles to attracting and retaining a skilled workforce, we must make sure we address our public safety issues. Public safety includes a broad spectrum of services, partnerships, action, and deterrence. It is both reactionary and proactive, relying on law enforcement and government as well as businesses and citizens. On the proactive side, the Billings Chamber will be working closely with our Billings Police Department to foster additional engagement from our business community to deter bad actors and bad behavior. And we’re also working on finding solutions at the local and state level to the challenges we face. In past legislative sessions, the Billings Chamber worked to pass a public incapacitation bill, aimed at addressing the issue of chronic inebriates. Unfortunately, a misinformed opposition stymied those efforts. In order to continue the conversation of a public incapacitation bill, we need to bring more awareness to the state regarding homelessness and substance use disorder. This session, we’re supporting an interim study bill looking at the availability of treatment services, the costs of service, improving coordination between providers, and strengthening partnerships at the local level.


Along with law enforcement, fire protection is an important component of public safety, especially in Montana where fire seasons can be devastating, and geographic distances make service difficult. That’s why the Billings Chamber supported a bill allowing the creation of regional fire protection service authorities. Voters within a proposed boundary vote to create an authority and adoption of an authority plan. Ultimately, it allows additional flexibility for cities and towns, particularly their voters, to best determine how they will provide fire safety for themselves.

TOURISM INDUSTRY SUPPORT Our final priority issue is support for one of Montana’s largest economic drivers: tourism. We know we’ve got an amazing state that tourists from across the globe want to visit. According to Voices of Montana Tourism, non-resident visitors spend an average of $11 million daily, directly supporting over 38,000 jobs in our state. In Billings alone, visitors spend around $420 million annually, leading to job and business growth. That economic impact didn’t happen by accident. Montana has a lodging tax that takes a portion of proceeds and reinvests in the marketing and promotion of Montana as a tourist destination. In the competitive travel market, it is essential we share the destination opportunities Montana has to offer, and inspire people to spend their vacations, and their money, in our state. Therefore, it is vital we preserve current funding for the marketing, promotion, and infrastructure necessary to keep Montana on peoples’ bucket lists. Because it is a successful revenue generator, there will always be attempts to increase our lodging tax and send the additional dollars to the general fund. Generally, this isn’t to the direct benefit of our tourism economy. We believe the money earned from tourism should be reinvested in tourism, growing our economy, and benefiting Montana by adding jobs.

OPPOSING ANTI-BUSINESS BILLS My predecessor, Bruce MacIntyre, used to tell me, “Ninety percent of what you do is playing defense.” As the Billings Chamber works to support good legislation that can help make our economy more competitive, we also have to watch out for those bills that would disadvantage Montana, harming our businesses and slowing the economy. One of those bills we opposed is a proposed substantial minimum wage increase, nearly doubling the current minimum wage from $8.50 to $15. While we don’t disagree that increased wages, and subsequently spending, are good for the economy, an increase of that magnitude would almost certainly freeze new job hiring, reduce employee hours, and lead to job losses. Small businesses, which constitute a majority of our membership, would find it very difficult to absorb such a significant increase. Climate change is another policy area receiving substantial attention this session. From carbon taxes and CO2 reductions to efforts aimed at further delay of the Keystone XL pipeline, attempts to address climate change have been met by opposition. Not because we don’t believe in it, or think it’s a serious issue, but because these measures are symbolic gestures rather than prudent solutions. Climate change is a global problem in need of resolution beyond the boundaries of Montana. We’ve also lobbied against unnecessarily burdening business with new regulations and fines. For instance, a bill was introduced to fine restaurants $25 for plastic straws offered to customers. Again, it’s not that we don’t understand the problem—we’ve all seen the images showing islands of plastic pollution and sea life snuffed out from ingesting indigestible plastic waste. But rather than looking for punitive regulations, let’s work toward a positive solution—like promoting recycling businesses, such as Earth First Aid. They make recycling as effortless as possible by coming to you, helping to sort items, and dealing with pollution by providing a business model solution.

MEDICAID EXPANSION Montana’s Medicaid expansion program was originally passed in 2015, carried by Senator Ed Buttrey from Great Falls. Now the program that extends health care coverage to 95,000 low income Montanans is up for reauthorization, reaching the end of its initial four-year authorization. After having the opportunity to

evaluate the impacts of Medicaid expansion, legislators will discuss whether to continue the program, modify it, or abandon it altogether. As of this writing, two bills are being proposed, one from Democrat Mary Caferro, and a second from Republican Ed Buttrey. There are a number of differences between the proposals, but the primary contrast concerns recipients having “skin in the game,” as Representative Buttrey describes it. Meaning, people who benefit have to be partially responsible for the program’s success. This requirement, referred to as “Community Engagement,” includes the option of working, volunteering, attending substance use disorder treatment, or participating in counseling, among other options. Largely paid for by the federal government, Medicaid expansion provides numerous benefits to the state of Montana. According to a report published last year by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER), Medicaid expansion introduces, “$350 million to $400 million of new spending to Montana’s economy each year.” Additionally, national studies suggest Medicaid expansion improves health, prevents medical bankruptcies, and reduces crime. Because of the significant benefits to the Montana economy the Billings Chamber of Commerce supports reauthorization of Medicaid expansion.

AWARENESS Lobbying isn’t all we do. The Billings Chamber also works to make sure our membership is aware of what’s going on in Helena because face time, an email, or phone call from a member with a story to share can be very impactful to lawmakers. If you haven’t attended one yet, please join us for our next Legislative Videoconference. These hour-long sessions allow Billings residents to get some face time with elected officials and give our legislators an opportunity to discuss their priorities. The meetings run from noon to 1:00 at the College of Business in McDonald Hall, room 163 at MSU Billings. You can park in the parking garage to the north of the building and walk across the sky bridge. The event is free to attend and lunch is provided. In partnership with MSU Billings and other sponsors, we have scheduled three more events on March 28th, April 11th, and April 25th. Our


events generally draw about 30 Billings residents to the MSU Billings, campus while 10 legislators participate at the Capital in Helena. Everyone is welcome to join whether you just want to hear an update from lawmakers or you have a story you’d like to share. We also send out a Weekly Legislative Update to let you know what’s coming up and what we are working on in the week ahead. Not only will you find the schedule of our upcoming videoconferences mentioned above, you can find a list of bills the Billings Chamber is supporting or opposing in the comimg week. And if you happen to miss the email, each one is posted on our blog at billingschamber.com/blog.

ENGAGEMENT The third pillar of our legislative effort involves you, our membership! We want to make it as easy as possible to engage with your elected officials. Along with facilitating videoconferences to get you face time with lawmakers, we have our VoterVoice platform that allows you to quickly and easily email your elected officials. Even if you don’t know who your officials are, you can find your councilperson or legislators and send them a quick email. First, go to billingschamber.com/action-center. Under “Contact and Find Your Officials” input your zip code and address, and VoterVoice will list your elected officials from City Council all the way up to President Trump. Check the box next to the officials you’d like to contact and click “Compose Message.” It’s that easy to tell your story and make your voice heard. Whether you want to voice your opinion on an issue or just tell them thank you for serving, we make it easy to get into contact with your representatives.

FINISHING STRONG There remains much work to be done. The end of March brings the deadlines for introducing revenue and appropriations bills, and the House will finish its work on House Bill 2, which appropriates the money to fund government, before sending it over to the Senate. As of this writing, we have an optimistic outlook. And regardless of the upcoming outcomes, we will continue to work hard, promoting the issues you support and protecting our businesses from unnecessary burdens.



D R  evise and make permanent funding for various economic development programs HB 130 John Fuller R Revise income tax law to exempt military pensions HB 171 David Bedey R  Create career and technical education and workforce development commission HB 195 Dave Fern D Provide for local option luxury sales tax to fund infrastructure HB 213 Llew Jones R Revise the tax rate for certain oil production HB 218 Sue Vinton R  Generally revise laws related to career and technical education HB 293 Wylie Galt R  Provide for film tax credits HJ 9 Kathy Kelker D  Interim study on maintaining public safety while offering addiction treatment SB 17 Margie MacDonald D Authorize creation of regional fire protection service authorities SB 18 Margie MacDonald D  Establish workforce housing tax credits SB 24 Terry Gauthier R Increase optional light motor vehicle registration fee for parks and recreation SB 28 Tom Richmond R  Revise taxation of certain incremental oil production SB 110 Edie McClafferty D Increase the age limit in the defintition of pupil SB 111 Mark Blasdel R  E xtend termination date of qualified endowment tax credit SB 152 Dick Barrett D  Repeal sunset on 6-mill university levy HB 52


Willis Curdy

HB 193 Mary Dunwell HB 194 Mary Dunwell HB 241 Andrea Olson HB 269 Derek Skees HB 271 Bridget Smith HB 300 Kerry White HB 345 Mary Dunwell HB 367 Rodney Garcia HB 377 Matt Regier SB 97


Jim Keane

Frank Smith

SB 120 Sue Malek SB 189 Dick Barrett SB 190 Mike Phillips

R Eliminate aviation fuel refunds and revise allocations of aircraft reg. account D Establish a carbon tax and distribute revenue D Revise lodging and rental car taxes including local option D Require public utilities to report a plan for 100% renewable use R Constitutional amendment for taxpayer protection act to limit tax types D Revise laws related to siting pipelines R Generally revise taxes and the distribution of revenue through sales tax D Provide a stepped increase in minimum wage to a living wage R Require advisory committee for urban renewal districts that use TIF R Revoke property tax exemption for payment of excessive compensation D Generally revising laws related to common carrier pipelines D Limiting restaurant distribution of plastic straws unless requested D Establish a carbon tax and distribute revenue D Establish targets, reporting, and monitoring for CO2 emissions

*This list is current as of submission on March 1, 2019. For updated info log on to BillingsChamber.com/action-center.


You’re connected even when the power is out. We work hard to make sure you’re never in the dark … or feel like you are. Besides delivering you reliable and safe power, we also deliver you up-to-the-minute information regarding outages. Access our website for storm safety tips, to report an outage and to view our outage map. Or, sign up to receive text alerts and email notifications, and we’ll make sure you’re always in the know. Now that’s a bright idea.

Connect to our outage safety information at NorthWesternEnergy.com/Safety


Blazing Ahead in 2019 BY KRISTI DRAKE,



illings TrailNet has made great progress on the first phase of the Skyline Trail. Through collaboration with the Montana Department of Transportation, there is now a partial trail and pedestrian underpass providing access to Zimmerman Park, a gravel trail leading to Zimmerman Park and a restroom at Zimmerman Park, courtesy of Phillips 66.

path. When completed, this will be a three­mile trail which will connect two major parks: Swords Rimrock Park Trail in the east to Zimmerman Park. Learn more about the project and donate at https://billingstrailnet.org/ skyline-trail/.

The project was awarded $12,000 from the state’s Recreational Trails Program and together with private donations and Heart and Sole Run proceeds, has raised a total of $51,000. Billings TrailNet has paid for the engineering of the trail, which is now 95% complete. Plans this summer are to pave the trails from the west side of the underpass to Zimmerman Park (Phase 1), build the trail from the eastern underpass approach all the way to Zimmerman Place (Phase 2), install a privacy screen in front of the restroom at Zimmerman Park and add interpretive signage and a park bench at Zimmerman Park. With just $41,000 in donations needed to build phases 1 and 2 in the summer of 2019, the project looks attainable. Billings TrailNet also plans to host a “Trail Blazing” event June 29, 2019 to celebrate these accomplishments and kick off fundraising for the next phases of the Skyline Trail. More event information available at billingstrailnet.org. Future plans include a connection to Swords Rimrock Park Trail from the end of the proposed


A new restroom facility opened at Zimmerman Park thanks to a donation from Phillips 66. PHOTO COURTESY BILLINGS TRAILNET

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Empowering theCommunity to


illings has a reputation as a magic city, dubbed so because of its rapid growth in its formative years. Today, it still captures this sense of wonder in people, more so because of its unique sense of community, and the smile or handshake you can expect to receive from strangers on the street. Neighbors helping and supporting one another, and people that want Billings to be the best city it can be, is what makes it so special.



There has been a growing concern about public safety in the downtown core of Billings. These perceptions stem from the concentration of marginalized members of the community those that are homeless, transient, or struggling with mental illness or addiction. Activities ranging from sleeping on a business doorstep to trespassing, vandalism, or even more violent behaviors, can make it difficult to differentiate between people that need treatment, incarceration, or just a hand up. With staff limitations at the Billings Police


Department (BPD), and an over-crowded Yellowstone County Jail, options are challenging. Billings Police Chief Rich St. John states that his department answers around 10 calls per hour on a given day, with less than 20 officers per shift to accommodate those needs. Calls for loitering or inebriated trespassing in the downtown core often fall to the bottom of the list when more pressing activity in other areas of town are transpiring. The Yellowstone County Jail during the rehabilitation of their facility has a capacity of 339, but is currently at 517. The responsibility for public safety must extend beyond the borders of our civil service professionals. As Chief St. John states, “We can’t continue to arrest our way out of this problem.” There has been great progress made to come alongside the BPD in assistance. The Downtown Billings Alliance (DBA), has created several programs to help with these challenges. The Community Innovations arm of the DBA focuses on bringing service providers together to work toward change, and is funded by taxes generated

via the Business Improvement District, a collection of downtown businesses dedicated to taking care of their “neighborhood.” This includes the Motivated Addiction Alternative Program (MAAP), which has been very effective in moving those who are part of the chronic inebriated population of Billings into treatment. Spare Change for Real Change, another Community Innovations program, helps to alleviate poverty and addiction through the education and empowerment of downtown businesses, and through grant raising that is then donated to local service organizations. In addition, the DBA supplies two resource officers and a licensed addiction counselor to help serve these needs. These are all stellar programs and strategies, but the need to continue to build and support their efforts remains. Last November, over 200 local business owners and concerned community members came together with the BPD and the DBA, to discuss how they could support public safety efforts in the core of Billings. The event was held at the Northern Hotel, and was spearheaded by local business owners. The focus was to discuss and brainstorm ways in which the downtown business community can be proactive regarding public safety. The meeting included a presentation of The Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) program, an approach centered on deterring criminal behavior by focusing on changing how places look and feel. Fundamentally, CPTED proposes that a community can change how people act in a location by altering its design. These principles often spur conversation about how lighting, fences, and landscaping can deter unwanted behaviors. Removal of benches, improving exterior lighting, and cutting back trees and shrubs, are all low cost and relatively easy ways to help promote public safety. Mark Johnson, a CPTED assessment expert, presented the criteria that CPTED uses when assessing a building and the changes they might make. The BPD is providing in-house training of CPTED for their officers, and will offer this assessment service to any interested downtown businesses. “We want to engage business owners to look at their property and make small changes that will enhance the safety around their building,” says Chief St. John. Mike Nelson, owner of the Northern Hotel and host of the public safety meeting, said that “it was all born out of an intense desire of the business people of downtown to continue to do

the good work that has already begun.” Nelson believes that doing a CPTED assessment and making these small changes, are part of taking ownership in the community, and being a good neighbor and leader. In reference to the meeting, Nelson said, “Instead of complaining, we turned it into a work session and talked about the positive steps we could take.” Nelson shared that the Northern Hotel did the CPTED assessment and made some small changes to their exterior - better lighting in the alcoves and parking garage, and regular rounds made by security and valets. The CPTED program is in alignment with the DBA’s goals through Community Innovations - to work at street level to address issues of addiction, serial inebriation, and homelessness by bringing service providers together. Katy Easton, DBA Director shares, “It is no one organization or person’s responsibility to solve this challenge, but if we can bring everyone together at the same table, working in the same direction, then we can leverage all of those resources.” The DBA will have a staff member trained in the CPTED program as well, and will offer the assessment to any interested businesses. They may even offer grant money to match funds for businesses that choose to make CPTED improvements.

FIND A SEAT AT ONE OF THESE TABLES: • Montana Rescue Mission • Women’s Mission • Community Crisis Center • St. Vincent De Paul Charity Center • VOA’s Home for Homeless Shelter • HRDC

Easton adds, “We want to be a resource for our community, so they can be part of the solution.” Easton stressed the need for people to be educated about the issues, because they are not easy to solve. She challenged the community to become more involved. “Come sit at the table and get the resources needed to be educated about the realities that our community faces. There are so many passionate people who want to find solutions; get involved and be part of that solution.”

• The Center for Children and Families

As a business owner, you can be part of the solution by having a CPTED assessment done of your property and implementing the easy changes to your building or space. The BPD will be using a sample CPTED survey to begin with and modify it as needed. Chief St. John said, “I am looking to prep the survey this month and have it ready to rollout no later than May.” You can find the sample CPTED security survey at sandiego.gov/police/services/prevention/tips/ deter. Neighbors helping neighbors and being invested in each other is what makes Billings such a great community to live in. There are plenty of spots for everyone at the table - just find the one that fits best and have a seat.

• Family Promise


• The HUB • Family Service • Tumbleweed • MAAP • Billings Community Connect • Housing Authority • Friendship House • Rimrock • Canvas Project - Illuminating Homelessness • Community Innovations – meets the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 3:00 p.m. at the library with committees on housing, legislation, MAAP, and Spare Change for Real Change.


One adjective that describes you:





Communications and Leadership Assistant

Years on Staff: Less than 1!

Favorite Chamber/ Visit Billings event or program? Youth Leadership Billings – High School students are the best!

Words you live by:

The dish you’re known for cooking?

“You wanna be excellent? Really excellent at what you do? Then be excellent every day, in every part of your life. That’s how the great ones do it.” – Captain Marvel

Chicken enchiladas

If you could make one change in Billings today, what would it be? The winter weather.

If you could have lunch with one famous person, who would it be and why? Jesus – so much wisdom and compassion! I would want to hang out with him all day just to see what he would do!

What book is on your nightstand? The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho & Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

The TV show you can’t miss: Game of Thrones


Tell us about your photo: This is my girl tribe (including two of my daughters) at the Oula class at the YMCA. It is an integral part of my life and such a powerful force for women here in Billings. Oula is more than a fitness class, it is a community of women who encourage and support one another – where your story matters.

Accuracy and Experience you can Build on

Settle in and make yourself at home in Billings.

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Connections Across Montana By Jennifer Reiser, IOM Chief Operating Officer


ark your calendars and begin planning for the 2019 Montana Young Professionals Summit in Kalispell, June 12-14. We invite you to join the group of NextGEN members heading to the MTYPS! Interested? Email kelly@ billingschamber.com.

between Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park.

The theme of this year’s Summit is Ignite. How can you ignite your community, your career, your company, yourself, and others around you?

Early-bird registration is open from February 1-April 1 and includes a discounted price of $139/person PLUS a ticket to the exclusive Summit Kickoff Cruise around Flathead Lake. Registration after April 1 is $179/person. The Summit kicks off late afternoon Wednesday, June 12th and concludes early afternoon Friday, June 14th.

Centered at the Hilton Garden Inn, #MTYP2019 is packed with relevant breakout sessions, highenergy networking opportunities, teambuilding strategies, an inspiring keynote speaker, and chances to get out and explore everything

The conference hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, is offering a discounted rate of $129/night. Only 85 rooms are available, so we suggest you book your room as soon as possible using the code MTYP2019. More information can be found at


https://mtyoungprofessionals.com/mtyp2019/ Billings NextGEN and the Leadership Team hope to have a strong showing from Billings. Join us on April 8th at 5:00 p.m. at Thirsty Street Brewing Company to learn more about the MTYPS and how you can connect with other Billings young professionals to attend! This is a no host information night. Email kelly@ billingschamber.com with questions. The 2019 Montana Young Professionals Summit is being coordinated by Flathead Area Young Professionals, the high-performing development group for young professionals that is organized by the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce.



hether you are looking to connect socially, access community leaders, or develop yourself professionally, NextGEN can meet your needs. NextGEN communications include member spotlights, highlights from past events and activities, a calendar of events, and more.

WHERE TO FIND NEXTGEN INFO: • www.BillingsNextGEN.com • Monthly e-letter • Follow us on FB and Instagram •Share your photos and use #BillingsNextGEN If you have something you want to share with NextGEN, or if you want to know more about the program, get in touch with us!


Communications and Strategic Priorities Manager Kelly@BillingsChamber.com 406.869.3732

Enjoy all that you enjoy in life. Protect your thumb, feet, arms, head and the rest of you by working safely. Learn how by visiting safemt.com. 29 |MARCH-MAY 2019 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY


Communications and Leadership Assistant Marya@BillingsChamber.com 406.869.3723


illings is a community with many remarkable attributes: incredible landscapes, strong and diverse economy, rich history and deep roots. Add our incredible people to that list, and we are a force to be reckoned with.

who enhance Montana’s Trailhead on a daily basis. This year, the 2019 Awards for Business Excellence go to:

Without strong people and businesses, Billings certainly would not be where it is today. To that end, the Billings Chamber honors the outstanding individuals and businesses





Join us in celebrating these winners during the Chamber Breakfast 2019 presented by KULR8. The event will be held on April 4th at MetraPark. Learn more on page 34 or at BillingsChamber.com.

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arketing is often a pain point for businesses. Limited resources ranging from time to budget, combined with an ever-changing, ever-growing landscape, make it difficult for business owners to determine where to focus. This issue, we’ve taken some marketing tips from some of the best in the Billings Chamber. Learn from these area leaders how they make the best use of their resources – and make a big splash for their businesses!

Face-to-face marketing is a powerful tool. I feel the most personal/professional growth when I am active in the community, speaking in front of different professional organizations, and being open to making first contact with someone new in the room. A handshake or a hug goes a long way in creating those meaningful, lasting relationships. Social media is great for keeping you front of mind, but I feel a truly worthwhile marketing strategy is a mix of digital and face-to-face. You can’t ignore the impact of direct human interaction. Some of my closest business partners and clients have come from my networking groups with the Chamber and NextGEN. Marketing feels less like a work task when you are surrounded with friends.

Ribbon Cuttings

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

MSU BILLINGS Hosted a daylong event to celebrate Veteran’s Day and launch the Military and Veterans Student Success Center on November 11th, 2019.

BABCOCK THEATER There was a big crowd to cheer on the reopening as a

movie house on November 16th. The theater is managed by Art House Cinema & Pub.

WELL PARED Congratulations on their second location opened on November 7th, offering their healthy choices restaurant in downtown.

RICE & MOSELEY A celebration took place on December 14th to highlight the new location for their specialty maintenance company.

PURPLE SNOW On January 25th they revealed their new show room of specialty promotional products.

PIZZA RANCH & THE FUN ZONE ARCADE The brand new family

restaurant opened for business January 28th in Billings Heights to offer families great food and fun.

j j 1820 1 Ave. N. st

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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RANDI BARBER, FOUNDER – GOUNITE When writing Facebook posts and ads, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd and actually grab your potential customer’s attention. One technique I have been seeing results with is customizing posts to different personality types. If you dive in and learn the four personality types in the DISC Personality Profile, it can teach you how to talk to each personality so it resonates and they are more likely to buy your product or service. For example, “D” personalities do not like to read a lot of information. They are normally busier people who are professionally driven and always on the move. If your post or ad is longer than 1-2 sentences, they will skip right over it; but if you are direct, to the point, and mention how it will benefit them, it will grab their attention. The opposite is true for “S” personalities. They are relationship driven and if your post sounds like you are speaking directly to them, they would easily click the “see more...” option on a longer post. Learning how each personality type preferers to be communicated with, and finding out what drives them, can help your marketing be more targeted and see better results.

GENIA CASTRO WALLER, PROJECT COORDINATOR – GRAPHIC FINESSE In today’s crowded marketplace, branding and marketing go hand-in-hand. You can market all you want but if potential customers don’t feel as if they can trust your business, your marketing campaigns may not reach their full potential. Having a well-designed brand helps you create trust with your target market and helps to create brand loyalty. It cannot be overstated how valuable these qualities are when it comes to the connection you have with those you serve. By evoking positive feelings within a person, they will feel more comfortable doing business with you, continuing to be in business with you, and recommending their friends and family do business with you. A business can hope for nothing more than the trust, loyalty, and positive word of mouth recommendations of its customers.

KYLE NELSON, OWNER/OPERATOR CPR CELL PHONE REPAIR BILLINGS HEIGHTS As a small business owner, I don’t always have the time or the capital to have an employee dedicated to marketing. This means we must be very efficient with our time and money. To accomplish this, I asked my myself one question, “how would I find what I’m looking for?” The answer is almost always asking Google. Because of this, we focus on actively asking our customers for Google reviews. Our customers generally love our products and services are more than happy to leave a review. This keeps our organic traffic high with Google, meaning we show up when customers are seeking a product or service like we provide. Most importantly, our happiest customers are our best cheerleaders!


WIN A CHANCE TO MEET THE NINJAS! Be an activator of health with



he Billings Chamber is working hard to engage our workforce to be activators of health. We joined forces with Partners in Health to encourage physical activity and social connectedness in a fun competition. Challenge Yourself Bingo is well under way; this 6-week challenge has added a new twist on the Chamber Breakfast, bringing employer teams together to seek out healthy workforce activities. We have sixteen 5-person teams participating in bingo, which offers 25 opportunities to engage in physical activities ranging from a walking meeting to taking a class at a Partner in Health. These teams have been invited to participate in 3 head-to-head challenges throughout these 6 weeks to battle it out for bragging rights, opportunities for additional activity, and a chance to meet the Ninjas! (see pg. 34). Our final head-to-head challenge will be hosted April 3rd at ZooMontana. Everyone is invited out for an afternoon of fun. You will get an opportunity to meet with our Partners in Health, engage with your team and community in a health-focused way, and the chance to Challenge Yourself by joining in on the race around the Zoo with surprise guests at the finish line!




chamber breakfast challenge yourself. Jessie Graff


ou don’t want to miss the 2019 Chamber Breakfast, presented by KULR8, where two very motivational speakers will talk about their journeys and how health and wellness have played a key role in their success. Jessie Graff and Akbar Gbajabiamila are well known for their accolades in the athletic and fitness world and, currently, for their time on American Ninja Warrior. One of the top competitors on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” Jessie Graff is quickly becoming known as a modern-day Wonder Woman, breaking stereotypes as she continues to break records. And while Akbar Gbajabiamila had his pro career with the Raiders, Chargers, and Dolphins, he continued to pursue his passion for broadcast, ultimately leading to his work cohosting American Ninja Warrior.

Back by popular demand, the hilarious James Cunningham will emcee the event! In addition to his work as a corporate emcee and entertainer, James is the entertaining host and associate producer of the TV series Eat St., which airs on Cooking Channel USA, Food Network Canada, and in more than a dozen other countries around the world. James had the crowd in stitches last year, and we look forward to his light-hearted addition to the event. Don’t miss the biggest and most anticipated event offered by the Billings Chamber each year! Get your tickets to the Breakfast. The event will be held on April 4th at MetraPark; doors open at 6:00 a.m., the program runs from 7:00 – 9:00 a.m. Tables of ten are $675 and General Admission tickets are $40 each. Both options offer a hot breakfast. Tickets and tables can be purchased through the MetraPark Box Office. Learn more at BillingsChamber.com.

Akbar Gbajabiamila

Thank You to our Breakfast Sponsors... James Cunningham



SAFE ZONE 7.625” w x 7.8475”

TRIM 8.375” w x 8.3475”

TRIM 8.375” w x 8.3475”

TRIM 8.375” w x 8.3475”

815 S. 27th St. Billings, MT 59101

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Billings Chamber LiNK Magazine  

Information about the Chamber, Billings Community, Laws and Events

Billings Chamber LiNK Magazine  

Information about the Chamber, Billings Community, Laws and Events