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2018 LEGACY AWARD: BILL & MARY UNDERRINER

TRADE WORKS FOR MONTANA

GET TO KNOW BOARD MEMBER

DOUG MILES

IS S U E 19 | S E P T E M B E R - N O V E M B E R 2018

Expression

CREATIVE in Economic Development


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table of contents

FEATURES

9.18 CONTENTS CREATIVE EXPRESSION IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT How Arts and Culture Impact the Economy.

p.22

OUTLOOK 2018-2019 A look at Chamber priorities from board chair Patrice Elliott.

p.16 NEXTUP WITH NEXTGEN NextGEN Members Celebrate Arts And Culture In Billings

STRATEGIC PRIORITIES

p.30

New Service Finds Success in Billings.

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p.26


DEPARTMENTS

9.18 EVERY ISSUE

PRESIDENT'S LETTER Businesses Support Arts and Culture.

GROW Learning to Better Deliver What Members Want.

ADVOCATE Trade works for Montana.

MONTANA’S TRAILHEAD Resident spending adds to the tourism story.

TRIPS ON A TANKFUL Taking a peek at Ekalaka.

GET TO KNOW LUKE ASHMORE Visitor Information Center Assistant.

HORIZONS

GET TO KNOW DOUG MILES

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

p.25

BUSINESS GROWTH Newman Restoration.

p.6 p.7 p.8 p.10 p.12 p.14 p.26 p.32

SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 5


TOP INVESTORS

FROM THE PRESiDENT/CEO

BUSINESSES SUPPORT ARTS & CULTURE

BIG SKY LEVEL THE DELP TEAM

REALTOR

GRANITE PEAK LEVEL

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

and vibrant arts and culture scene encourages relocation of families, workforce and, ultimately, business.

O

n the cover Bill Coffee, CEO of Stockman Bank, stands with a painting he commissioned of Luther Sage “Yellowstone” Kelly by Billings artist Charles Fritz. The art, located in the lobby of Stockman Bank downtown, was commissioned by Bill in commemoration of this great frontiersman and as a way to celebrate the opening of the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site. Like so many other local business organizations, Stockman Bank leadership supports the significant role arts and culture play in our community. Visual, performance and cultural arts add to our enjoyment as residents, but also impact our economy in meaningful ways. An inviting

Tourism and quality of life amenities ride on the shoulders of so many entrepreneurs and non-profits who bring acts, shows, exhibits and entertainment to our town (Art House, Magic City Blues Festival, The Pub Station, and Yellowstone Art Museum, to name just a few) – and their impact on our economy cannot be understated. A study released last month by Big Sky Economic Development shows MetraPark alone generates $151 million in annual economic impact. Enjoy reading this issue of LiNK as we dig deeper into the connection between arts, culture and our business community. And, if you are interested in owning a piece of our history as captured through the art of Charles Fritz, prints, giclée’s and metal plates of the Yellowstone Kelly artwork are available for purchase in the Chamber’s Visitor Center (815 S. 27th St.).

Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives

2015 Chamber of the Year

BEARTOOTH LEVEL

Albertsons 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 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 Billings Rocky Mountain Bank Rocky Mountain College Sanctuary LLC Spectrum Business Stockman Bank, Billings The Western Sugar Cooperative Underriner Honda Vertex Consulting Group Walmart Walmart, Heights Western Security Bank

LiNK is proudly distributed at these member businesses: • 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

• BioLife Plasma Services

• Jiffy Lube

• Sanctuary Spa

• Black Dog Coffee

• KTVQ2

• Shiloh Automotive

• Bob Smith Motors

• LP Anderson Point S Tire • Spin Fresh Laundry

• Brewer Dental Center

• Masterlube locations

• St. Vincent Healthcare

• Colleen Black CPA

• MorningStar

• Starbucks locations

• Crowley Fleck PLLP

• Moulton Bellingham

• Thomas Smile Designs

• Doc Harpers

• Olsen Ortho Studio

• Western Heritage Center

• DoubleTree ®

Published by: Project Management/ Editor: Creative Designer: Photo Contributors:

Advertising Sales:

The Billings Gazette Kelly McCandless Nadine Bittner Billings Gazette Staff Photographers, Billings Chamber, Visit Billings, Rhea Wolpoe, Adobe Stock 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

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GROW

LEARNING TO BETTER DELIVER WHAT MEMBERS WANT BY JENNIFER REISER, IOM CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

T

he Billings Chamber knows that the key to our organizational success is our members, and specifically, member loyalty. As we look forward, we need to know how our members will behave in the future, which products or services they will continue to need, and whether or not they will recommend membership to a friend or colleague. In our recent membership survey, 87.2% of respondents said the Chamber staff is meeting or exceeding their needs; however, we believe it is important to continue to seek an understanding of how to best share our purpose and align with our members’ wants to encourage continued and future investment in our organization. In an effort to research and discover the needs and desires of our members, while also

sharing the findings with a broad audience, the membership team is launching a “What Members Want” campaign. The first component will be a video series highlighting why members join, how they are engaged in the Chamber, and what keeps them renewing year after year. These videos will be shared through our Chamber blog, through e-newsletters and on our social media pages through the coming months. Be on the lookout for your fellow members! And, if you have a comment you’d like to share, email rene@billingschamber. com to schedule a time to record your own video. The second phase of the campaign involves the Billings Chamber Ambassador Committee. Over the next few months, the Ambassadors will host a series of “What Members Want” focus groups. During these sessions, our members will share why they originally joined the Chamber,

identify their biggest challenges, and share how their business has changed and how it will be changing. Through this campaign we will be better equipped to connect with our members, improve our communication, understand their needs and create customized solutions to meet these needs. The Billings Chamber membership team are facilitators of the membership experience. We want to give our members a sense of purpose, an opportunity to share their story, build relationships, and align themselves with our strategic plan and priorities. If you are interested in sharing your story or participating in one of these “What Members Want” sessions, please contact rene@billingschamber.com.

CHAMBER STATISTICS: What are we doing for you? As of of August 15, 2018, the Billings Chamber represents 1,255 members with approximately 47,163 employees.

Since the beginning of our fiscal year on July 1, 2018 through August 15, 2018: Number of Calls/Inquiries: .........................4,989 calls (avg. 1,427/month)

Visitors to the Visitor Information Center: ............902 Visits to VisitBillings.com: ................................ 34,107 Visits to BillingsChamber.com: ........................... 3,414

Chamber Event Attendance: ...............................1,201 Convention and Meeting Tourism Bookings: .....2,920 hotel room nights booked for $675,550 total economic impact on the city of Billings.

Conventions and Meetings Serviced by Visit Billings:.......................................960

Relocation Packets Mailed:......................................56

convention delegate packets provided.

Visitor Information Packets Mailed: ...................3,081

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: ........ 2,960

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BUSiNESS ADVOCACY

TRADE WORKS FOR MONTANA BY DANIEL J. BROOKS BUSINESS ADVOCACY MANAGER

W

hether our Montana goods are shipped around the world, or we purchase items made in the global economy, we all benefit. Trade creates Montana jobs, particularly in our state’s number one industry, agriculture. And thanks to international trade, we carry around affordable smart phones, consume international foodstuffs, and wear clothing that was almost certainly “Made in” multiple countries.

Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business organization, had this to say:

If these actions continue, our businesses will lose customers, workers will lose jobs, and American consumers will lose family income through higher taxes and higher prices. Studies show that a combined 760,000 jobs could be lost from the tariffs already enacted as well as those being considered on autos and auto parts. 2

But I’m worried for our businesses. The Trump administration’s attacks on trade partners and increased tariffs runs against all sound economic pro-growth reasoning. But don’t take my word for it. Here is Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a right-leaning think tank, Senior Fellow, Marc Scribner:

Recent analysis suggests the president’s plan will destroy five American jobs in downstream industries for every job created in American steel and aluminum production. 1

140,200 NUMBER OF JOBS IN MONTANA SUPPORTED BY TRADE

11.3%

1992

So why does this matter to you, Billings Chamber members? Because we are all beneficiaries of free trade and it’s in our best interest to preserve it. As a bit of background, the United States has engaged in liberalized open trade since it helped establish and signed onto the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (precursor to the World 21.8& Share of Jobs Tied Trade Organization) to Trade in 1947, which aimed to Increased 92 percent reduce tariffs, open markets, from and eliminate 1992 to 2014 trade 2014

SOURCE: BUSINESS ROUNTABLE

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protectionism. Since then the US has benefited tremendously. A 2017 study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) suggests that between 1950 and 2016 trade expansion’s benefit to the US totaled $2.1 trillion dollars3. Despite some negative aspects of globalized trade—namely, displaced workers—the PIIE study estimates the US’s trade expansion benefit-to-cost ratio at about 51-1. For every $51 of trade benefit, we experienced a $1 loss. While we don’t have analyses as robust as the PIIE study for Montana, we know Montana’s economy benefits greatly from trade. In fact: • $3.5 billion in goods and services ($2.5B and $975M respectively) were exported from MT in 2014.4 • $51 million in goods were exported from Billings in 2016.5 • 140,200 MT jobs are supported by international trade.6 In order to help protect Montana’s businesses, the Billings Chamber joined 222 other local and state chambers of commerce urging Congress to recover their tariff oversight.7 The bipartisan amendment simply provided Congress with an oversight check against the president’s power. Unfortunately the bill also had bipartisan opposition and a Senate Democrat from Ohio, Sherrod Brown, argued against it, successfully convincing Senate leadership to not vote on the amendment. We appreciate the administration’s $12 billion bailout for our ag industry, but propping up a single affected industry is an unsustainable measure leading to more bailouts at taxpayer’s expense. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce calculates that bailouts for negatively affected industries could cost taxpayers $39 billion.8 The policy of providing emergency relief to pay


$1.6 billion Montana goods exports in 2017

Increased tariffs and protectionism are a bad deal for our Montana businesses and citizens. The sooner the US can reach new agreements, roll back tariffs, and return to free international trade, the better off we’ll be. I encourage all of our members to learn more and send a letter to Congress expressing your opposition to the trade war. To do so, please visit www.thewrongapproach.com and scroll down to easily send a message to your elected representatives.

Montana’s Top 5 Export Markets 670

Dwyer, Annie, Kent Lassman, Iain Murray, and Marc Scribbner. “Trump’s Recent Trade Decisions Could Spell Doom for the Economy.” Competitive Enterprise Institute. (8 March 2018). 2 Donohue, Thomas J. “Costs of Recent Trade Policies Rack Up.” U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (11 June 2018). 3 Hufbauer, Gary Clyde and Zhiyao Lu. “The Payoff to America from Globalization: A Fresh Look with a Focus on Costs to Workers.” Peterson Institute for International Economics. 17-16. (May 2017). 4 Thomas, David. “How Montana’s Economy Benefits from International Trade and Investment.” Business Roundtable. 5 U.S. Department of Commerce. “Montana Exports, Jobs, & Foreign Investment.” (February 2018). https://www. trade.gov/mas/ian/statereports/states/mt.pdf 6 Thomas, David. “How Montana’s Economy Benefits from International Trade and Investment.” Business Roundtable. 7 Accessible from: https://www.billingschamber.com/ media/180626_Coalition_S3013_Senate.pdf 8 Bradley, Neil. “A Slippery, $39 Billion Slope: New Data Analysis Makes Case for Trade, not Aid. (30 July 2018).

(Millions of U.S. Dollars)

1

261 129 Canada

Korea

China

52

49

Belgium Taiwan

MONTANA’S TOP 5 EXPORT CATEGORIES (Millions of U.S. Dollars) 285

Chemicals 228

Minerals & Ores Beverages & Tobacco Products Agricultural Products Machinery

217 199 139

SOURCE: US DEPT OF COMMERCE

for self-inflicted losses is akin to taking aspirin because you’re hitting your head with a hammer.

$20 MILLION

MONTANA EXPORTS THREATENED BY AN EMERGING TRADE WAR

$15K

Montana exports to

Montana exports to

Canada

Mexico

targeted for retaliation

targeted for retaliation

$14M

$366K

Montana exports to

Montana exports to

China

Europe

targeted for retaliation

targeted for retaliation

1. Plywood, Excluding Bamboo $1.9 million exported annually to Canada 2. Seats with Wooden Frames, Upholstered $1.1 million exported annually to Canada 3. Plywood, Veneer Panels & Similar Lam Wood $880 thousand exported annually to Canada

SOURCE: US CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

$5.3M

Montana’s hardest hit products:

SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 9


Tourism

MONTANA’S TRAILHEAD

Resident Spending Adds to the

STORY

BY ALEX TYSON, IOM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VISIT BILLINGS

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From concerts, shopping, dining, and lodging, people travel to Billings ...

T

he Montana Department of Commerce recently released the first of its kind data regarding the impact of resident travel to communities across the state. Up until this report was available, the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research (ITRR), which executes research using State Lodging Tax funds, only focused on the impact of non-Montana resident visitation. For instance, non-resident travel includes a family from Texas traveling to Montana to enjoy Big Sky Country. Non-resident information is extremely important, but it’s only part of the story. When a resident of Great Falls travels to Billings for business or pleasure, or a family from Billings travels to Gardiner for a staycation, the tourism picture is affected. Knowing more about how residents travel and spend within our own state allows organizations like ours to tell a more complete story about the positive impact of travel. The report shows that in 2017, Montanans spent $2.9 billion traveling their own state whether for business, conventions, sporting events, or leisure trips. In Yellowstone County, in-state visitors spent nearly $159 million last year. Couple that with the $305 million non-Montana resident visitor expenditure data from ITRR, we can garner a broader look that for Billings in 2017, tourism was a trackable, near half-billion dollar industry. From concerts, shopping, dining, and lodging, people travel to Billings and it’s important for residents and community leaders alike to think ahead to be sure Billings continues to attract visitors. Being competitive is what will make Billings a viable community in the future and of course, is a necessity for today. Events at MetraPark, events hosted by local residents who care about the quality of life of their neighbors,

investment in business, parks, recreation, and opportunity, equate to a strong local economy for residents and visitors. Other specifics of the ITRR resident travel report include: • Yellowstone County receives the highest number of resident visitors in the state at 12%. • Yellowstone County captures 13.2% of all resident travel spending in the state. • Billings represents 97% of all overnights in Yellowstone County. Travel and tourism are a big deal to Montana and a big deal to Billings - to businesses big and small. Community leaders and residents must continue to have progressive mindsets and planning conversations that will not only strengthen the quality of life for residents of the city today and tomorrow, but in order to continue to encourage and grow visitation from around the state, the nation, and the world. Billings is a gateway community. A trailhead. People come here to work, invest, relax, and compete. Without amenities, without facilities, without experiences to offer, without strong business and proper growth, without entrepreneurship, without good people to call residents, and without a good sense of civic pride, tourism and all industries which tourism helps connect, will no longer serve the local economy effectively. Partnerships are key to building our future. And, data like that of this new ITRR report, help tell a more complete story that will unlock opportunities for tomorrow. Find the full report at https://scholarworks.umt. edu/itrr_pubs/369/.

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

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TRiPS on a TANKFUL

TAKING A PEEK AT EKALAKA DINOSAURS, A STATE PARK AND NATIONAL FOREST CREATE A ROAD-TRIP WORTHY SMALL TOWN BY BRENDA MAAS, MARKETING MANAGER

kalaka – pronounced Eek-ahlack-ah – is a town as unique as its name. Located on the rolling prairies of Southeast Montana about 36 miles south of Baker on Montana Highway 7, this rural community remains undoubtably road-trip worthy. Visitors will find several year-round attractions plus a coffee shop, diner, bar, antique/consignment shops and 353 friendly people in the Carter County seat.

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.

The town’s shining star, the Carter County Museum, is the oldest county museum in Montana and host of the annual ShinDig in late July. With that sort of longevity, the museum is one of the town’s main draws for visitors, with approximately 5,000 expected by the end of 2018.

DINOS, DINOS AND MORE DINOS For many, Ekalaka and Carter County Museum (CCM) are synonymous with the word “dinosaur.” They have been the epicenter of paleontological discoveries for the last century, as is demonstrated by the comprehensive exhibits, including a mounted skeleton of the duckbill dinosaur Anatotitan copei as well as a complete

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Triceratops skull and the first- and mostwell-known juvenile T. rex. The ShinDig, which recently celebrated year six, has evolved into an annual celebration of all-things-dinosaur and community pride, with a dash of Americana and international comradeship rolled together. The town more than doubles in size, with attendance at 480 in 2018. According to Sabre Moore, CCM’s executive director, ShinDig started as “a way to bridge community awareness and knowledge about dinosaurs. The original intent was to start the conversation with professionals from other institutions and showcase what an amazing resource we have here in Carter County– the tourism piece was a bonus.” The event focuses on making learning fun for all ages. A fossil dig pit, atlatl (ancient spear) throwing, robo rex bite-force demonstration and evening bat walk mix with short lectures and roundtable discussions with paleontologists from across the globe. The second day features a by-reservation-only dig on private land or other educational presentations at Medicine Rocks State Park, just 11 miles north of Ekalaka.


MEET A SOUTEAST MONTANA

BOARD MEMBER

MEDICINE ROCKS STATE PARK While not the largest, nor the most popular, Medicine Rocks tops the list of all 55 Montana State Parks for intriguing. Known as a place of “bad medicine” by the Plains Indian tribes, this park is small but mighty. As you approach, the high, rolling prairies give way to massive rock formations erupting from the landscape. Eroded by wind and water, the crevices and holes give the pillars a Swiss cheese look. Upon closer inspection, the rocks demonstrate centuries of communication, from petroglyphs and pictographs to more modern carvings*. Here you can camp, hike, bird-watch, study geology and ecology or simply observe the wide-open night skies. Stellar sunrises and sunsets are guaranteed. Medicine Rocks State Parks is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

CUSTER GALLATIN NATIONAL FOREST While most think of the Red Lodge area in relationship to this national forest, the two thin slivers near Ekalaka and the South Dakota-Montana

Sabre Moore joined the Visit Southeast Montana Board of Directors in 2017 and currently serves as Secretary/ Treasurer. Moore has been involved with Carter County Museum since the summer of 2013 when she volunteered; she was offered the executive directorship in 2016.

border hold their own. Braced above an area locals call “The Rims” you can hike, camp, watch wildlife or simply explore mostly undisturbed nature.

Raised on a cattle and sheep ranch near Douglas, Wyoming, Moore grew up interested in history and originally thought to be a teacher. However, while job-shadowing a planetarium director, she changed course and Moore complimented her B.A. in history from MSU with a Master’s degree in museum studies and non-profit management from John Hopkins University.

Farther east, near the South Dakota border, a formation called Capitol Rock Natural Landmark –named for its resemblance to the nation’s Capitol Building—rises 4,130 feet and beckons exploration. It’s not an easy journey, but it’s certainly closer than Washington D.C. with markedly less traffic. *It is illegal and down-right rude to, in any way, deface public lands, including carving names into the pillars at Medicine Rocks State Park, despite what predecessors have done. Please let them stand for all to enjoy.

“This job is like the tactile version of teaching history,” she says. Since taking the helm of Carter County Museum, Moore has steadily grown annual visitation and attendance at the annual ShinDig. Moore and her team were recognized for this effort, winning the Tourism Event of the Year Award in 2017 at the Montana Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Outdoor Recreation. When she is not working, Moore enjoys spending time with her family on their ranch, reading, photography and hiking around Medicine Rocks or the Custer Gallatin National Forests with her dog, Carter.

Capitol Rock in Medicine Rocks State Park. PHOTO COURTESY KELLY WICKS.

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GET TO KNOW CHAMBER STAFF:

What is one thing about the Chamber/Visit Billings you think most people don’t know?

Luke

If you’re bringing 2 people or 200 people to Billings, make sure to reach out to us! The number of resources and amount of advice we can give on our city can provide you with a much better Billings experience.

ASHMORE PHOTO COURTESY RHEA WOLPOE

What book is on your nightstand?

Position:

Visitor Information Center Assistant

Reading is not an activity that helps me unwind (Thanks, College), so I’d probably freak out if I had a book on my nightstand. I typically play video games, so you’ll find my Nintendo Switch there.

Time on Staff: 2 Years

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

The dish you’re known for cooking?

Donald Glover, but Childish Gambino is a close second.

I’m awful at cooking any meal other than breakfast.

Describe your position in 5 words: Helping our volunteers and visitors!

Favorite Chamber/ Visit Billings event or program?

One adjective that describes you:

The volunteer program in the Visitor Information Center! It’s awesome how much motivation they have to help. I’ve got a feeling that I’ll be too busy yelling at kids to get off my lawn when I’m older, so it amazes me how kind and energetic they can be.

Introspective

Tell us about your photo: Words you live by: “Memento mori.”

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If I need a space to relax, I usually spend some time at one of the downtown coffee shops or breweries. This photo was taken at Last Chance Pub & Cider Mill.


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SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 15


Creative Expression in Economic Development BY KELLY MCCANDLESS

How Arts and Culture Impact the Economy Symphony in the Park, a free annual Billings event, draws huge crowds out to enjoy the music. PHOTO COURTESY VISIT BILLINGS

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P

erception leads us to believe business = profit and all things that contribute to a larger profit. But, that’s simply not the case. When you dig a little deeper, you’re likely to notice businesses all over supporting some of your most personal and significant causes. One of the many ways business owners and employers move Billings forward is by financially investing in arts and culture to support their community – which is exactly what happened at the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site. About three years ago, a group of business owners ranging from lawyers to hoteliers to architects and designers recognized the historical significance of the Yellowstone Kelly gravesite sitting atop the Rimrocks – undeveloped, neglected and ripe with potential. They came together, pooling their passion and their resources, and formed a plan to create the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site. The Site would not only celebrate the life and legacy of Luther Sage “Yellowstone” Kelly, but it would bring to life some of the other notable heritage surrounding the area. Fast forward three years and some blood, sweat and tears, and the Site is complete and through its inaugural year of welcoming visitors. The project wouldn’t have begun without the work of those original business owners – and it wouldn’t have been completed without leading donations from major businesses: Phillips 66 and Singh Contracting donated $80,000 each, and many other businesses and individuals donated to make the vision a reality. Why do businesses dip into their own profits to support arts and culture endeavors? Why do employers allow, and often encourage, employees to allocate time to serve on the boards of arts and culture non-profits? What’s in it for them?

BEYOND THE WALLS: ARTS AND CULTURE DEFINED “Culture” can be defined in many ways, but at its most basic foundation, it’s a collection of behaviors and activities. Culture is learned and varies from place to place. Art, then, is a subset of culture. “The Arts” is a phrase used to describe varying expressions of creativity. When put together, “Arts and Culture” is a broad term bringing together a unique cultures’ creative expression. We see this creative expression take many forms. Naturally, you’ll find it in museums and

symphonies, at the theater and in galleries. But you also see it in a carefully placed outdoor sculpture; in the preservation of a historic narrative; in a live music performance; in the farm-to-table delicacy ordered for dinner; in the showing of a carefully selected film; in the practiced movements of athletes and in the cheeky script of a stand-up comic. They’re the items lending richness to the fabric of our dayto-day lives.

A CASE STUDY Most people could tell you about some kind of enjoyable arts and cultural experience. What can present a challenge; however, is demonstrating the numerical and monetary value. To help address this challenge as it related to one venue, Big Sky Economic Development released a study conducted by Circle Analytics, Inc. on the economic impact of MetraPark in early August 2018. It’s safe to say the Billings com-munity recognizes the facility as an activity driver for the region, but the study helped to paint a more complete picture of its fiscal impact. According to the data, which analyzed 2017 in full, 782,000 guests attended a tradeshow, sporting event or performance last year. 37.8% of these were out of town visitors who spent an average of 1.1 days in Billings. They were also able to project $26 million in gross vendor sales and counted a total of 455 event days last year (thanks to multiple buildings housing several events in one day). All the data brought the total impact from operations, visitor spending, and event vendors to $150.9 million – a major driver for Yellowstone County1.

BY THE NUMBERS Billings is growing and evolving. Major projects already in motion along with those on the horizon will bring positive change to the community. And, with major shortages in trained workforce talent, it’s key that our community choose to push beyond the norm and set ourselves apart. Sean Lynch, the owner of 1111 Presents and The Pub Station, as well as a Chamber board member, couldn’t agree more. “We talk about attracting a younger generation and these folks, particularly those under 35, want to have a quality culture. Billings will attract younger people with outdoor activities and recreation, but we need arts and culture or people are not going to come. Arts and culture provide the

amenities that make people want to move here and stay here.” Research supports these notions. According to Kassie Hilgert, the President and CEO of ArtsQuest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (one of the Aspirational cities the chamber recently visited), some of the impacts of community investment in arts and culture include: • Generating revenue through business development; • Attracting and retaining young people and talented employees; • Supporting real estate values and the ability to attract residents; • Spurring urban revitalization and economic development. Examining the impact on a national scale, a recent report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) found that 2015 arts and cultural economic activity in the United States contributed $763.6 billion, in one year2, accounting for 4.2% of gross domestic product (GDP)3. Lynch also noted his position as an economic driver for Yellowstone County. “We’re much more of an economic driver than we realized. Businesses come to us to tell us how much our concerts drive their business. And, no less than 15 businesses call us to ask what our ticket sales are like so they can staff accordingly.” Taken a step further, the business he often brings serves what are traditionally slower times. “Live music routes Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday in our market traditionally; which is good for the businesses around us, too.”

PUSHING BEYOND BOUNDARIES As major opportunities come to our community, Billings has a choice to make. We can crank out basic structures, necessary amenities and simple experiences that may allow us to compete with other communities. Or, we can create incredible, out-of-the-box, never before seen or built structures that weave quality of life amenities and memorable experiences that set us apart as a community others are striving to keep up with and emulate. If you were looking to move, which community would you choose? Wayne Wilcox, co-founder and co-producer of the Big Sky Comedy Festival (as well as the owner of Big Sky ATM and a Realtor with Century 21 Hometown Brokers) helped to drive the point home. He explained that with the Big Sky Comedy Festival, they provide an unparalleled experience for the comics they

SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 17


recruit to the festival, which leads to high-level participants and in turn, an amazing festival for the Billings community. “Arts and culture amenities make a quality of life for visitors, like our comics, and for residents. Without them, people don’t have fun, they don’t have a quality experience,” he explained. And, the cutting-edge approach to development resonates with people like Wilcox who want to see Billings step into its potential. “Nobody has done it before? That’s it. That’s the challenge. Let’s do it,” he said enthusiastically. With the Festival, he and co-founder Lukas Seely chose to create an experience unlike anything else in the country – and it’s working. As they close in on their seventh festival this fall (October 9-13, 2018), they boast national broadcasters vying for the opportunity to attend and 1,500-2,000 comic submissions for just 30 coveted spots. They had just 50-100 applicants their first year.

INTERRUPTING BILLINGS As a community, Billings has a reputation for not reaching our full potential. Building is often done simply to meet functional need and demand. But recent efforts to interrupt that pattern and take risks have proven mightily successful. Matt Blakeslee, Executive Director of the Art House Cinema and Pub, is an exceptional example. “Art House began when my wife and I decided to stay in Billings and were determined to bring something here that matters,” he explained. While traveling around the country, Blakeslee and his wife, Kate, experienced theaters like Art House and wanted to bring their unique vision to their own community. “Quality films were being released, but they weren’t coming here. I knew people here felt the same way, so, we decided to bring it here with our own unique vision and twist,” he said. Their ultimate goal was to create a self-sustaining non-profit and become a source of giving in the community.

week amenity of cinema is a destination – people seek out a movie they want to see. And, with Art House serving up boutique films and The Babcock promising to deliver more blockbuster hits, the traffic generated by the cinematic cultural scene will undoubtedly build a stronger Billings.

BUILDING BILLINGS When you consider the community benefits along with the personal benefits to employees and the improved ability to attract and retain trained talent, the business investment in arts and culture becomes an absolute must. Bill Gottwals, Director of Banking for First Interstate Bank and the Immediate-Past Chair of the Alberta Bair Theater Board of Directors, explains the investment of time and resources into arts and culture as an opportunity to make Billings a better community by providing the quality of life people demand. “What makes a community of our size great is diversity. While not everybody may enjoy going to the theater, the art museum, or a baseball game, it’s critical that we create as many recreational opportunities as possible. Even if you don’t personally take advantage of the cultural opportunities, they are essential in attracting talent into our community.” First Interstate Bank (FIB) puts this philosophy into their company culture: they’re known for encouraging their employees to help make the community a better place.

“The employees in each of our markets come together to determine how we can have the greatest impact on our communities with both financial support, and volunteer hours. Our commitment to community is at the core of who we are, not just a written value we hang on the wall,” Gottwals explains. To encourage employee participation, they match employee donations up to $5,000 per employee as well as contribute financially for every hour employees volunteer. This practice delivers arts and cultural economic impact as well. In the Billings market last year 40% of FIB employees participated in the program resulting in $200,000 and 3,400 hours donated to area non-profits. “Quality of life matters,” Gottwals continued. “When we’re soliciting businesses to come to Billings, encouraging them to stay or helping to recruit employees, you must offer quality education, healthcare, and recreational opportunities, to name a few. This is what makes our cultural base so necessary. It makes us a better, more competitive place.”

ASPIRATIONAL BILLINGS Vicky Horton, a business site selection consultant with Evergreen Advisors and an instructor for the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Organization Management, noted a key consideration for economic development. “You can’t market your way into being a community a business wants to locate to. All you can do as a community is build the absolute best community you can and trust that businesses, and thus employees, will take notice and seek you out.”

“I Googled ‘how to start a theater’ – I had no idea what I was doing. But I brought in smart business people who could help assess what we were doing and develop a plan,” Blakeslee laughed. And, as they work toward Phase 2 development while simultaneously taking over the management of The Babcock Theater, they clearly got it figured out. (Learn more at http:// arthousebillings.com/phase-2/). Art House and The Babcock are a further economic driver for Billings. The seven-day-a-

18 | SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

A family enjoys a sculpture exhibit at Yellowstone Art Museum

PHOTO COURTESY VISIT BILLINGS


We see this time and again. A well-known recent example was Amazon, who sought a community for their second headquarters offering exceptional arts and culture, among other major considerations.

and culture activities can improve health and safety and promote a sense of well-being among residents. Further, they share the importance of creating a placemaking vision and bringing the right people together to act.

Lynch, who used to bring live music to other Montana communities, recognizes the potential in Billings and now focuses his efforts here. “There is genuine opportunity here, and I think that’s hard for people to see sometimes,” he said, noting that we must begin to trust our Billings identity.

“Effective creative placemaking relies on the ability to work collectively with all community stakeholders including residents, artists and arts organizations, businesses, elected officials, and, of course, funders4.”

For Blakeslee, that acceptance of opportunity is key. “People need to see that investment in arts and culture is absolutely worth making. The spreadsheet matters, but so does the vision and heart.” And, the investment in arts and culture expands well beyond the experiences themselves. “Of course there is a major financial impact when an event is held, but the benefits go far beyond this. For example, the educational outreach of cultural partners such as the Alberta Bair Theater provides experiences that our schools simply can’t as budgets become constrained.”

Wilcox brought it all together in discussing his vision for the future of Billings: “Quality. Everyone should be shooting to offer the absolute best. And, we must commit. We can’t be in it for just one year, we have to keep working on it.” It’s time to commit and work on it, Billings. Let’s push ourselves beyond “good enough.” Let’s do what hasn’t been done before. Let’s become a community others will aspire to be like in the future. 1

2

3

The Grantmakers in the Arts see this notion as well. When it comes to advancing the livability of a community they note that the presence of arts

4

https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/ billingsgazette.com/content/tncms/assets/ v3/editorial/c/cf/ccfab87c-1168-5d06-b3f0eb076f5cc8a3/5b68dd80cbb81.pdf.pdf https://www.giarts.org/blog/carmen-graciela-diaz/oneyear-arts-contributed-billions-dollars-us-economy https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/general/acpsa/ acpsanewsrelease.htm https://www.giarts.org/article/advancing-livability

Submit Your Ideas!

There are a ton of major development projects going on, meaning prime opportunity to choose out of the box ways to set our community apart. So, we want you to weigh in!

HERE’S HOW TO DO IT:

• As you’re traveling, take notice of impressive, creative, exceptional features. Look in the airport, along the streets, in your hotel and convention space, etc. Wherever you see it, snap a photo. • Send the photo to Kelly@ BillingsChamber.com along with a sentence about what you saw, where you saw it and why it stood out to you. That’s it! We’ll collect the ideas and share them with the developers building their big ideas in Billings. Leaving the Western Heritage Center after enjoying the history of Billings. PHOTO COURTESY VISIT BILLINGS

SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 19


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SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 21


OUTLOOK 2018-2019:

A Look at Chamber Priorities BY PATRICE ELLIOTT, EBMS, BILLINGS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE 2018 BOARD CHAIR

22 | SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY


T

he Billings Chamber of Commerce is excited to embark upon a year (really, several years) full of transformational work we’re certain will create an even better Billings. I am proud to be chair of your Board of Directors and confident we’re delivering exceptional work for our members. One of my greatest blessings has been the opportunity to raise my children in Billings. My personal hope is many generations of my family will now call Billings home. I challenge all of us to never settle for good, but to envision the greatest possible version of Billings and to work together to make that vision a reality. The Chamber has set its sights on some major goals this year. All of them will require a multiyear commitment to realize ultimate success; and we look forward to sharing the milestones as we reach them. And, with the 2019 Legislative Session right around the corner, these are some of the items that will help shape our policy agenda. What follows is a rundown of each of the six items we’re determined to focus on this year:

ONE BIG SKY DISTRICT • Continue work with Hammes Company/ Landmark and the Strategy Partners (Big Sky Economic Development, Billings Chamber of Commerce, City of Billings, Downtown Billings Partnership, and Visit Billings). • Complete the development plan for the Lifestyle and Health and Wellness Districts in downtown Billings. • Support the development of a regional convention/event/community venue. • Encourage development of additional catalytic projects as they’re determined.

• Be the voice for Billings businesses as the projects unfold. • Build upon the $500+ million tourism economy supporting Yellowstone County.

• Pride of place sends a message to existing residents, visitors and those considering our community for business, pleasure and/or to make Billings their home. • Encourage and facilitate all Billings residents to talk about why they love where they live.

qualified employees with many noting this is stopping them from growing their businesses. • BillingsWorks is growing the talent pool in Yellowstone County by working with both K-12 and higher education, promoting internships and marketing Billings as a great place to live and work. The Chamber supports this program financially and with staff time. • Chamber programs like NextGEN, Leadership Billings and mentorships are supporting existing talent, increasing retention of talent and helping to attract new talent.

AIR SERVICE

RIVER TO THE RIMS

CHAMPION HOMETOWN PRIDE

• Continue efforts to increase and maintain existing service. • Support the airport facility renovation. • Educate locally and regionally the need for increasing airplane seats purchased to drive the demand for more flights.

PLACEMAKING FUNDING • Explore creative funding options working well in other places to create money for community projects. • Local Option Authority, Resort Tax Expansion, Gaming Tax, Neighborhood Improvement Zone, etc. • Consider tools that could benefit cities across the state of Montana. • Defend existing funding mechanisms at the legislature. • Tax Increment Finance (TIF), Lodging Tax, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), and bonding. • Build relationships with political candidates so they become champions for Billings businesses.

ADDRESS WORKFORCE NEEDS • Chamber member businesses cannot find

• The Yellowstone River and the Rims are the gateway to Billings and they are both currently underutilized, lacking connection to each other and the access needed for quality and memorable recreation. • Both areas are home to incredible heritage and historical sites that should offer better educational signage and promotion in addition to access. • Two major projects are in the early stages of development and must be supported: • Coulson Park/Corette Plant Area Master Plan • Skyline Trail (from Zimmerman Park to Swords Rimrock Park along Highway 3) • Improving the River and Rims will improve quality of life, tourism, workforce and business attraction, community pride and more. • Connecting these community assets will aid in the effort to complete the Marathon Loop around Billings. The Billings Chamber represents you, our 1,300 members who employ 50,000 people. In these projects and with everything we do, our aim is to help you grow your bottom line by connecting you to opportunities and advocating for your business and our community.

SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 23


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855 Front Street, Helena, MT 59601


GET TO KNOW THE BOARD:

Doug MILES

PHOTO COURTESY RHEA WOLPOE

Business: KULR & SWX-TV

Board Position: Executive Committee member and Visit Southeast Montana board liaison

Words you live by:

Why did you initially choose to get involved with the Chamber? KULR has always been active in the Billings community, and working with the Chamber is one more example of that involvement.

Do it right, do it big and give it class!

What is the number one thing in Billings you’d take a visiting friend to see/do? The snack always found in your desk/office:

As a history geek, I think the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site is fantastic.

No snacks, but lots of coffee.

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

If you had a super power, what would it be?

Find a way to fully fund park maintenance. Some parks are simply undeveloped fields.

To see the future, for Billings and the broadcast industry, because both are rapidly changing.

One adjective that describes you: What was your first job? Janitor at a saw mill in North Idaho.

Competitive

Tell us about your photo: “The KULR news studio. I spent the first 12 years of my career in a news studio, and it’s still my favorite place in the station.”

SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 25


COMMUNITY STATISTICS

KEY ECONOMIC INDICATORS Hotel Occupancy

80.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 70.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 60.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 50.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 40.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0.0% ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2015

2016 Billings

2017 Montana

2018

United States

Unemployment Rate Comparison County Population

City Population

158,980

110,323

Yellowstone

3.4%

Montana

3.8%

COUNTY STATE

Percent change in county population 2010-2014

United

7.4%

STATES

3.9% Unemployment Rate as of June 2018 Yellowstone County

Median Household Income

$55,032

Montana

United States

Airport Deboardings: City Comparison 500,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 450,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________

Average Home Price

$246,253

400,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 350,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 300,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________

Number of Employer Establishments

5,614

250,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 200,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 150,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________

School District #2 Enrollment

16,645

Sources: Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Billings Association of RealtorsÂŽ, City of Billings, School District #2, U.S. Census Bureau and the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research..

100,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2015 2016 2017 2018* Billings

Bozeman

Missoula

*2018 Deboardings reporting for January-June only.


CELEBRATING BILL & MARY UNDERRINER

of directors for the following organizations: Yellowstone Art Museum; ZooMontana; National Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse; American Cancer Society Relay for Life; and Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Helena branch. Mary Underriner is a native of Minnesota but moved to Billings in 1984. She graduated from Willamette University in 1977 with a BA in Economics/Psychology. Working closely with her husband, she’s been the Co-owner and consultant for Underriner Motors since 2002. Mary has a long history with the Billings Chamber of Commerce. She served as the Director of Member Services from 1984-1986 and was the Director of Billings Chamber Leadership Programs from 1986-1990. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Volunteers of American Northern Rockies and held a wide variety of past board and volunteer positions, including Co-Chair of Capital Campaign for the new Library, United Way of Yellowstone County Impact Council, MSUB Wine Fest Sponsorship Committee, Alzheimer’s Association of Montana Leadership Council, Rocky Mountain College Board of Directors, United Way of Yellowstone County Board of Directors, American Cancer Society Relay for Life Chair, Alberta Bair Theater Board, among many others. She was a Salute to Women Honoree, is involved in her church and has served on numerous fundraising committees for non-profits throughout Billings.

The Billings Chamber of Commerce announced that Bill and Mary Underriner are the 2018 Legacy Award honorees. The Underriner’s long history in Billings displays dedication to business, philanthropy, and to the community. Bill Underriner is the CEO/President/Owner of Underriner Motors in Billings. He has been in the automobile business since 1984 and took over the family business in 2001. He currently owns Honda, Hyundai, Buick and Volvo franchises in Billings, as well as Klamath Falls Subaru and Walla Walla Valley

Honda. Previously, he served three terms as Treasurer of the National Automotive Dealers Association and on the association’s Executive, Industry Relations, Dealership Operations and Membership committees. He has also served as chairman of the association’s Finance and Convention committees. Bill held a variety of offices with the Montana Automobile Dealers Association, including chairman of the board. He was a member of the Dealers Election Action Committee’s (DEAC) Presidents Club for five years. Active in our community, Bill served as past president of the United Way of Yellowstone County and served on the boards

Bill and Mary are active supporters of the Billings Symphony, Festival of Trees, Boy Scouts of Montana, Billings Chamber of Commerce and the Billings YMCA. They have two grown sons, Blake and Kyle. Join us in celebrating the Underriner’s and their legacy during Aspirational Billings, the 2018 Annual Meeting on September 18th. Learn more and reserve your seat at BillingsChamber.com.

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BILLINGS’ By Jennifer Reiser, IOM; Chief Operating Officer

keeping it interesting:

“NextGEN Members

e t a r b e l ce

ARTS and CULTURE In Billings” 28 | SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY


T

he millennial generation, born between 1980 and 2000, are now entering employment in large numbers, and by 2020 will form 50% of the global and North American workforce. Their career aspirations and attitudes about work and community will continue to alter and define business and the workplace. This group of employees and community members is important not only because they are different from generations before, but because they are more numerous than any generation since the soon-to-retire Baby Boomer generation. They view the workplace as much more than a place to earn a paycheck or advance a career, and a community as more than a place to live. Having meaningful work, a positive impact on society and a connection to people and place are high on the list of what makes a desirable workplace and community. The Billings business community and its cultural partners are working hard to create places and spaces that appeal to the younger generation in an effort to attract and retain talent. I spoke with three NextGEN-ers not only working within that space, but who choose to live in Billings because of these amenities.

CREATING A VIBE, AND A CONNECTION Ryan Cremer, Development Director at the Yellowstone Art Museu, like many young professionals in Billings, grew up in Billings, moved away for college, and came back to establish RYAN CREMER a career, make a home, and create life. Cremer and his wife frequently compare Billings, its food scene, entertainment opportunities, and cultural amenities to other communities. “Billings is on the cusp, the edge of something unique,” he shared. Having access to unique experiences and a sense of connection and belonging are important to Cremer. The walkable downtown, local restaurants, Art House Cinema & Pub, Farmer’s Market, and The Pub Station are among some of his favorites. According to Cremer, there is a “feeling” you get when you walk around downtown Billings. The Yellowstone Art Museum (YAM) is at the heart of the downtown corridor. In an effort to

appeal to the NextGEN demographic, Cremer says the YAM is “working hard to become a vibrant cultural destination and embrace the funky.” They are being intentional about staying true to their mission while looking for innovative ways to be “different,” which is key to engaging Millennials. It is important to showcase more than just admission to the exhibits. The YAM creates unique events, activities and nontraditional partnerships to get NextGEN members involved as attendees. Once they become regular attendees, they create a connection to the organization. This may lead to future membership, Board service, and, eventually, regular donor support.

CREATING ACCESS Zack Terakedis, Terakedis Fine Art and Jewelry, also incorporates the unique and customized experience into his gallery. By focusing on exposing individuals to art, not trying to “sell” art, ZACK TERAKEDIS he is able to remove some of the intimidation factor of the gallery and begin breaking down barriers. Besides, says Terakedis, “art sells itself.” Terakedis shares that their business model “focuses on providing access to art in a comfortable environment creating separate cultural experiences that people can define on their own.” This leads to repeat visits and bringing friends and family in to experience the art. By partnering with those that may be seen as competition to meet the individual customer’s needs, Terakedis is

able to introduce individuals to the art AND to the artist so they can know the artist’s story, form a connection and fall in love with the “why” art is created. Further, patrons get a more complete vision of the art scene in Billings, which elevates all businesses.

CREATING EXPERIENCE At Black Dog Coffee House, exploring the community, giving back and including art and culture are important to building team camaraderie and the customer experience. Mariah and Kris MARIAH CARPENTER Carpenter use unique and interactive events in their space, and partner with other local businesses. They feel it is important to promote other local businesses through events and activities like Art Walk, educational sessions, and art classes, all held in their coffee house. Mariah says people come to their shop for good coffee, but also for “something different, to hang out with friends and be together. Because doing things with people is more fun than doing things alone.” At Black Dog they host events like wall art, succulent planting, charity parking lot yoga and jewelry making, all in an effort to offer unique opportunities to engage. As a NextGEN member, Mariah describes herself and her peers as wanting “something meaningful that includes the people we love. (We) know how to live in the moment and be present.” Art and culture allow for this meaningful interaction and connection, and is integral to innovation and business success.

CREATING LASTING RELATIONSHIPS It may be difficult to agree on a definition of art; however, by incorporating art and culture into their business models, these Billings businesses are creating unique experiences, meaningful interactions and long-term relationships with their customers. And, they’re attracting the NextGEN demographic on a more significant level, which is ultimately good for business and good for Billings.

SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 29


NEW SERVICE FINDS SUCCESS IN BILLINGS BY KELLY MCCANDLESS

American Airlines’ inaugural year of service in the Billings market is in the books, and by all accounts the effort was a success. The flight between Billings and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas averaged high load factors (passengers on planes) with 80.63% flight occupancy heading toward Dallas/Fort Worth and 79.55% flight occupancy coming to Billings. American agreed to test the Billings market following meetings with Kevin Ploehn, Director of Aviation and Transit for the City of Billings, and the Chamber’s Air Service Committee. The community’s one-year financial guarantee to American Airlines ran from June 2, 2017 to June 1, 2018 and the maximum financial commitment to American in the event of a revenue shortfall was $1,250,000. $603,500 was raised through organizational investors such as yourself. The balance was secured through a federal small community air service development program grant.

expectations. “We expected to pay some of the subsidy, that’s how these programs work. In our case, $298,156 of the total paid was a result of fuel subsidies thanks to higher fuel prices,” he explained. “This flight took off in a year where the ag industry tightened its belt due to drought and fires, a tough winter which also slowed things down, and with the energy industry in eastern Montana and North Dakota continuing to face challenges. Fuel costs impacted us more than any other factor – which we’ll definitely consider in our negotiations should we ever seek out a deal like this again in the future.” When asked if American Airlines will continue offering service in Billings, Ploehn noted the major carrier has added service in both Bozeman and Missoula since beginning in Billings – a good sign they see value in the Montana market. And, he says, the Billings market is strong – United’s seasonal service to Chicago is exceeding performance expectations and other year-round flights continue to do well.

Ploehn touted the success of the program, remarking that the flight exceeded performance

Be on the lookout!

Will Billings pursue another carrier to offer nonstop service to a destination not already served? Ploehn shared that the earliest opportunity for Billings to apply for another federal grant will be spring 2019, but it’s too soon to say if it will make sense to consider at that time. “The Chamber Air Service Committee will meet with air carriers this fall,” said Chamber CEO John Brewer. “Once those meetings wrap up, we’ll have a better idea of what the various carriers see as opportunities for our market.” The airport terminal building will be undergoing a significant remodel and expansion over the next few years. Brewer and Ploehn encouraged everyone to be on the lookout for airport sponsored open house opportunities to weigh in on the remodel and expansion process. Public opinion will be sought to help shape the final design. As always, the key takeaway for the region is to Fly Billings. By continuing to support the Billings Logan Airport and its flights, the demand will lead to continued growth.

As you’re traveling through airports around the world, we want to see what aesthetics stand out and matter to you! Send photos of things you see along with a sentence or two about why you took notice to Kelly@BillingsChamber.com or post them to the Chamber Facebook page.

30 | SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY


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SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 31


BUSINESS GROWTH:

NEWMAN RESTORATION JOINS THE CHAMBER AS OUR NEWEST BIG SKY LEVEL INVESTOR BY RENÉ BEYL

BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST Andrew Newman has an approach that makes everyone he meets feel important – especially his clients. During our interview, I quickly learned how he’s carefully built Newman Restoration to offer the most dependable, caring service during what is generally a difficult time. Whatever misfortune you face; fire, water, mold or sewage damage, his team brings exceptional education, training and top-of-the-line technology to the rescue along with a guarantee to meet client expectations.

RENÉ:

If I have a disaster, why is Newman Restoration the best company to hire?

ANDREW:

Our team has the training, specialized certifications and cutting-edge equipment to handle the job. I will send over a team of two technicians. They will consult with you on your concerns and make sure we understand what is most important to you about restoring your home before bringing in equipment. The most important issue to me is to eliminate the problem that caused the damage. With my background in building multimillion dollar homes, I have the knowledge to implement above standard results. The final turn key product has to be exceptional.

RENÉ:

Can you tell me more about how you are developing your staff to be experts in repairing my home?

ANDREW:

Investing in our employees by making sure they have the training and certifications assures we offer service beyond industry standards. I will send staff across the country to gain a master certification in the industry.

RENÉ:

How are you developing your company to meet future goals?

ANDREW:

We operate with a corporate model while continuing to be your hometown neighbors. We hired an industry expert to consult on fine tuning our operations over the next year. I don’t want to be complacent; I aim to be cutting edge. Our success is a win for the community because we can give back in two ways: Project Clean It Forward helps out families at no cost; and we financially support organizations aligning with our values. It is important to my wife and me that our team finds ways to contribute also.

RENÉ:

What other services do you provide?

ANDREW:

We can clean air ducts, dryer vents and chimneys. Improving your air quality not only impacts health, it helps avoid future disasters. Other services include cleaning carpets, rugs, hard surface flooring, and tile for both residential and commercial businesses.

RENÉ:

Why did you become a top investor in the Billings Chamber?

ANDREW:

Our visibility will increase, and becoming more involved will help grow our business connections. Our dues contribute to community growth. Our goal is to gain the trust of other members.


Ribbon Cuttings

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

SASSY BISCUIT

opened their bruncherie restaurant and celebrated with family on May 19th.

DAVIDSON HOME FURNISHINGS AND DESIGN

held a ribbon cutting on May 22nd to kick off a sale benefiting Habitat For Humanity and 30 years in Billings.

THE ASYLUM

congratulatory ribbon cutting on May 23rd for three years of business success.

LEGACY SMILES

commemorated a milestone anniversary of 30 years on May 31st.

EXPRESSO BRAKE

delivering amazing coffee for 2 years and on June 1st.

VALLEY CREDIT UNION

celebrated their remodeled to the Heights location and on June 8th.

CELL PHONE REPAIR

formerly iDoctor ribbon cutting at all locations to publicize rebranding on June 15th.

KINESI COACHING STUDIO

new name, same owner and staff announced the change on June 19th.

MARS

open house showcaseing the new facilities on June 20th.

STOCKMAN BANK

Billings Heights, opened its doors 20 years ago and celebrated this on June 26th. new owners showed the beautiful venue with a tour and ribbon cutting on July 2nd.

Investing in our employees by making sure they have the training and certifications assures we offer service beyond industry standards.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ART HOUSE CINEMA & PUB

DANWALT GARDENS

HIGH POINT NETWORKS

celebrated their new home base with a ribbon cutting on July 11th.

BILLINGS LIFESTYLE

has an office in downtown and a ribbon cutting was held to celebrate on July 12th.

RIMROCK AUTO GROUP

cut the ribbon on July 13th to celebrate the newly constructed Subaru dealership.

MEIER CHIROPRACTIC

celebrates the expansion to a second location downtown on July 19th.

STRIP WAX SALON

in Shiloh Crossing is open for business and cut a ribbon to publicize this on July 23rd.

LIBERTY & VINE COUNTRY STORE AND ANTIQUE WAREHOUSE

promoted their grand opening on July 27th with a ribbon cutting event.

BITTERROOT SIP & PAINT

hosted an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony on July 27th to celebrate their successful first year.

Does your business have a momentous change in the future? Schedule a ribbon cutting celebration! This complimentary member benefit is available to all members – simply contact us to schedule yours by calling 406.245.4111.


CONNECT

KEEPING IT LOCAL BY JESSICA HART

EVENTS MANAGER

S

hop local” is a hot phrase right now, but what does shopping local mean and why is it so important?

When we as a community support our neighbors, we are an active part of the growth and development of Billings. Our local businesses make Billings different than any other city. Our local shops create a unique landscape and provide an identity for our community and visitors to hold on to. When we personally know the people behind the business, our spending no longer feels removed and meaningless. That spending creates incredible connections with our local shops, neighbors, and friends. We want to celebrate them when they succeed and are confident in the meaningful investment we’re making because we know who we are supporting.

#BILLINGSSHOPSLOCAL So, what can you do to promote the shop small movement? The Billings Chamber created a social media campaign to increase awareness of our local shops and eateries. When you are shopping, eating, or enjoying a local beverage, snap a photo and post it to your social media page with #BillingsShopsLocal or #BillingsEatsLocal. By sharing your experiences, you are providing a personal connection to the business and encouraging others to shop local, too. Using the shop local hashtag creates top of mind

awareness throughout the year and allows us to share your photo as well!

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY We’re planning ahead for Small Business Saturday, an incredible way to celebrate and spend with our local shops. Each November we put together a Shop Small game for the community to shop our member small business retailers. Small Business Saturday has become a staple of the most popular shopping weekend and we could not be more excited to shop and share with you. The game lasts all weekend – meaning you don’t

When we buy local the majority of that money stays in Billings. We are spending our dollars with local shops that reinvest into our community through their businesses. When we make the conscious effort to shop local we are helping to improve the Billings economy.

have to cram all your shopping into Saturday. Start on Saturday, November 24th and shop through November 26th. Here’s more information so you can plan ahead, too: Retailers: Sign up with the Chamber to reserve your spot on the Shop Small game board by November 9th and provide $50 worth of gift cards in any denomination. We provide you marketing materials and feature your business on the game board, our website and our social media channels. Consumers: Find the Shop Small game on the Chamber website or in the Billings Gazette on Thursday, November 22nd and Saturday, November 24th and it’s time to shop! Get your game signed off at each participating merchant. Visit 10 local shops involved with the game and you will be entered to win a prize basket full of goodies from the participating member businesses, valued up to $500! Mark your calendars for Saturday, November 24th to shop and support our local businesses. To be featured on our Small Business Saturday game, contact me at Jessica@billingschamber.com.

UPCOMING

DANWALT GARDENS

LEVITY BAR

OCTOBER 10 • 720 WASHINGTON ST.

DECEMBER 12 • 1027 SHILOH CROSSING BLVD. SUITE 8

BUSINESS AFTER HOURS

CAMELOT RANCH, GAINAN’S MIDTOWN, MAGIC CITY PRODUCTIONS, VANDE STUDIOS, & SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY WINDMILL NOVEMBER 24 NOVEMBER 14 • 8736 CAMELOT LN. CHAMBER AG BANQUET (at Camelot Ranch)

EVENTS

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.

34 | SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2018 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

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JANUARY 18, 2019 • METRAPARK


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