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elections matter:


connect through social media


jeremy vannatta

ISSU E 2 3 | S E P T E M B E R 2019 - N O V E M B E R 2 019

COMING TOGETHER: TAKING ACTION TO IMPACT PUBLIC SAFETY and businesses holding themselves accountable

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table of contents


9.19 CONTENTS Coming Together: Taking Action to Impact Public Safety and Businesses Holding Themselves Accountable.

2020 AND BEYOND A look at Chamber priorities from board chair Brian Brown.



nextgen celebrates 5 years Anniversary party, awards and more.

chamber OFFERS EXECUTIVE RELOCATION SERVICES exclusively for members.

2019 Billings Chamber legacy award goes to... Stella And Ziggy Ziegler, a Legacy Worth Honoring.










PRESIDENT'S LETTER Local elections drive major impact.

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

Grow The importance of peer groups

business advocacy Elect business friendly candidates.

MONTANA’S TRAILHEAD Visit Billings Awards over $200,000 in event grants in 2019.

TRIPS ON A TANKFUL Out here we pause to honor our active and veteran military.

GET TO KNOW BILLINGS CHAMBER VOLUNTEERS Personal connections from our Chamber Ambassadors.



BUSINESS GROWTH Connecting through social media.

CONNECT Appreciating our law enforcement and fire service providers.

p.7 p.8 p.9 p.10 p.12

p.20 p.32 p.34


Top Investors


Big Sky level


Granite Peak level The Ashley Delp Team Holiday Station Stores NorthWestern Energy

Elections really do matter…and the closer to home the elected office is, the more the election impacts you, your business and the future of Billings. Don’t get me wrong, federal and state elections for senators, representatives, the president and other offices impact our lives. But elected offices in our community are charged with making decisions that immediately and directly determine our future. In the upcoming weeks you have the privilege of voting for the future of Billings by casting your ballot for a candidate for City Council. The

Chamber has provided opportunities for you to learn about candidates through our “Coffee with a Candidate” prior to the primaries. Now the Chamber’s Advisory Board and Board of Directors are looking at each City Council Ward to recommend candidates that are business friendly. I encourage you to review our resources and make an informed decision at the ballot box. A lot is at stake. With the right people determining our community’s trajectory, we can make headway in our fight to improve public safety. If we are deliberate in voting for business friendly candidates we will see success for the ONE Big Sky District vision; grow our air service and our airport facility experience. All of these initiatives are crucial to improving our quality of life, growing our economy and recruiting and retaining qualified workers.

Beartooth level

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

Published by: Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives

2015 Chamber of the Year

DiA Events MSU Billings U.S. Bank

The Billings Gazette

Project Management Dave Worstell ®

Project Management Project Editor:

Kelly McCandless

Creative Designer: Nadine Bittner Advertising Sales: Contact Kelly McCandless at 406-869-3732 Photo Contributors: Billings Gazette Staff Photographers, Billings Chamber, Visit Billings, Adobe Stock

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

Fax 406-245-7333


Community Statistics


80.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 70.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 60.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 50.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 40.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0.0%____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2018



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

Unemployment Rate Comparison

Yellowstone County Population

City Population

158,980 109,642







Percent change in county population 2010-2017



3.7% Unemployment Rate as of July 2019 Yellowstone County

Median Household Income



United States

Airport Deboardings: City Comparison 900,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 800,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Average Home Price


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

Number of Employer Establishments


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

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


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_________________________________________________________________________________________________ *2019 2018 2017 2016 Billings



*2019 Reporting January - July only



The Importance of Peer Groups –

A Powerful Business and Leadership Development Opportunity BY JENNIFER REISER, IOM, CCE CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER


ccording to Seth Godin, entrepreneur, best-selling author and teacher:

Your peer group are people with similar dreams, goals and worldviews. They are people who will push you in exchange for being pushed, who will raise the bar and tell you the truth. They’re not in your business, but they’re in your shoes. Finding a peer group and working with them, intentionally and on a regular schedule, might be the single biggest boost your career can experience.

The first Peer Division launched by the Chamber focuses on female business leaders.

Often members of a peer group share similar interests, habits, attitudes, values and beliefs. They also share a desire for meaningful social connections, to overcome isolation and develop opportunities for growth and accountability. Just like peer groups are highly influential on childhood and adolescent development, they can be tremendously impactful to personal and professional development in adulthood. Over the course of the next year, the Billings Chamber of Commerce will convene peer groups to support relationship building, foster collaboration and partnerships, and cultivate mentoring opportunities. These groups will be made up of like-minded Chamber members in similar leadership positions, with the goal of leveraging different experiences and different approaches to solve problems and grow


business. Peer advisory groups can help you find your “blind-spots” by respectively challenging your perspective and coming at situations differently. The results of our most recent survey indicate the majority of respondents are interested in a peer group for female leaders in business. Over the next few months we will be connecting with female business leaders to learn more about their needs and how the Chamber can facilitate the interactions needed for success. If you are interested in more information on this peer group, or have suggestions for other groups to consider, please contact Jennifer Reiser at


Elect Business Friendly Candidates for City Council this Fall BY DANIEL J. BROOKS, business advocacy MANAGER

opportunity to attract significant private investment, benefiting businesses, taxpayers, and the city budget, all without raising taxes. Ask your candidates whether they support pursuit of ONE Big Sky District and the funding tool necessary to make it a reality.

Public Safety


n the midst of this election season, Billings voters have the opportunity to elect City Councilpersons ready to move Billings forward; who will choose growth; and who support the initiatives that will assist our business community. The Billings Chamber works hard to make sure our business community is well informed. We’ve already hosted a ward-specific candidate forum for each race, allowing voters to meet the candidates and see what each has to offer. We are also hosting a larger forum open to the general public on September 19th with candidates who advanced through the primary election. Find details on the Candidate Forum at For our members unable to attend, we will also send out an information pamphlet with candidate answers to a number of important questions—look for that in the mail to help you cast a more informed ballot.

Businesses need the City to step up as well. That means adequately funding our police and fire services. According to a 2016 FBI data compilation on, Billings is short 28 police officers, relative to the averages of cities our size.

According to surveys of our business community, a majority would like to grow but cannot because of a lack of quality workforce. The Billings Chamber is supportive and thankful for Superintendent Upham’s efforts to create a Career Pathways program, preparing students for careers as well as college. Additionally, we partner with BillingsWorks to connect students with valuable opportunities in our business community. While those programs have seen initial success, the business community can’t do it alone. Even if Billings could retain every high school graduate, keeping them in our workforce, an annual deficit of 2,221 job openings remains. We need people to relocate to Billings. Along with public safety and public education, the third factor families often consider when choosing where to live is public amenities: parks, trails, entertainment, recreation, etc. It would be informative to ask your candidates: what policies and programs will you champion to ensure City Council is signaling to the next generation of workforce that they are better off in Billings?

Business Friendly Candidates

Billings needs more business friendly candidates—those who support the Billings' shortage of officers, relative Billings Chamber’s mission to develop Billings officers to the average of cities our size. a strong business climate and quality Source: article, calculating 2016 FBI data. of life that fosters prosperity. They are job creators, problem solvers, and With nine police beats covering Billings, that community leaders. equates to three officers per beat. Wouldn’t

Even with all that information, the best opportunity you have to learn about the candidates is to meet them. Find your Ward ( and reach out ( Unsure about what to ask them? We’ve provided a handy reference for you. Below are some priority issues and background to ask candidates about:

ONE Big Sky District

Billings’ public safety issues will not resolve themselves. It will take an engaged community, working together to address our problems. Businesses have already stepped up in numerous ways, including hiring recovering addicts to decrease recidivism, investing in security measures, and even offering property as a canvas for public art to deter crime.

Workforce Issues

you feel safer knowing the Thin Blue Line was a little thicker in your neighborhood? If so, be sure to ask your candidates whether they will be supporting a safety mill levy in the upcoming year to pay for additional public safety in Billings. ( safety-justice/police-officers-per-capita-ratesemployment-for-city-departments.html)

The Billings Chamber will work to keep you informed on the candidates’ positions. We encourage you to find your Ward, learn more about your candidates, and stay engaged throughout the election. Make sure to cast an informed ballot this election and together we can make Billings a better place for business.

The ONE Big Sky District project is an




Event GRANTS since 2010




hink about Billings for a moment. What comes to your mind for entertainment or events? Is it the growing music scene, major events happening every month, dynamic sports offerings, or the inspiring arts, culture, history, or foodie experiences available to visitors and residents? All of these events and amenities contribute to making Billings a great place to live while increasing visitation and growing the economy at Montana’s Trailhead. In December of 2010, Visit Billings offered its first grants. The Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) Board of Directors created another avenue to promote Billings as a preferred travel destination, generate room nights, and get visitors excited about experiencing some of the best attractions and events Montana has to offer. The grant program focuses on growing the tourism economy and increasing visitor spending by generating room nights at area hotels and motels. By doing so, retail establishments, restaurants, transportation companies, and attractions all experience increased visitation. The Visit Billings Grant Program affords community members, who are looking to take a risk and grow their event, an opportunity to apply for grant dollars to support their growth. During the application process they interview with the TBID Board of Directors to demonstrate how their event will benefit the Billings community and lodging establishments. If organizers can prove their event assists in fulfilling mission, the TBID Board offers grant funds to help execute the event. Over the past nine years, Visit Billings has had 13 grant cycles. TBID Board members awarded 43 applicants more than $205,000 in funds, an investment resulting in millions of dollars in economic impact to the Billings business community. Among those awarded are Magic City Blues Festival, Summerfair, Heart and Sole Run, NILE, The Taste

of Billings, Big Sky Comedy Festival, Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site, Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale events, the Yellowstone Art Museum’s Art of Brick Exhibit, Downtown Billings Restaurant Week, and MINT Film Festival. Each of these events increased visitation and enhanced the visitor’s authentic experience in Billings which grows repeat visitation. The highlight of the most recent grant cycle was the MINT Film Festival. The festival is a five day art and film festival in downtown Billings bringing actors, producers, and films from across the world to Billings. MINT expects 2,8003,500 attendees for this year’s festival. Based on previous data collected, it’s estimated to bring an economic impact of $700,000 to the Billings community. The TBID Board of Directors was excited about the opportunity to support this event and assist them in growing attendance through grant funds. Events like these draw visitors to Billings, expand the culture scene, support Billings’ lodging establishments, and grow the economy. When they’re successful, Billings is, too. The support of the Tourism Business Improvement District to enhance the area economy through dynamic events is a proven model and an admirable method for strengthening tourism in Billings. Learn more about Visit Billings grants at

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.

Billings Tourism Business Improvement District Board MEMBER Lori Walker, the general manager of Home2 Suites by Hilton, serves on the Billings Tourism Business Improvement District Board of Directors with an appreciation for the tourism industry that energizes Visit Billings staff and her hospitality industry colleagues. With more than 20 years of experience in hospitality, Lori has witnessed great growth in the industry, locally and across the state. Her first job was as a sales manager for Northern Hotel. Lori says that while she loves working for Hilton, Northern Hotel still holds a very special place in her heart as it’s where her career began. Today, Lori operates one of Billings’ most successful properties located on 27th Street between the heart of downtown Billings and the medical corridor. The Home2 is a new brand for Hilton. She says it’s an extended-stay property that is more streamlined offering less frills than Hilton’s other extended-stay brand Homewood Suites. Lori has served as GM of the hotel for two years. Lori shares a great story with us about her first few months in Billings in the late 1980’s: We moved to Billings the year Yellowstone Park had their historical wildfires. During our going away party in the town we were moving from, someone noticed Dan Rather of CBS News reporting from Yellowstone National Park in a parka with massive wildfires in the background - all the while it was snowing. Our friends and family thought we were crazy for moving. Once here, I was instantly hooked by the people, the landscape, and the history of Billings.

I became enchanted by the pride people had for their community and state. I spent those first few years exploring the downtown, taking day trips to the surrounding areas and logging 50+ trips to Yellowstone. While working at the Northern, I quickly learned that it didn’t matter how wonderful our guest rooms were - I needed to sell people on our community. I started selling Billings, and eastern Montana along with all of the wonderful things the region had to offer. I was fortunate enough to partner with the state tourism office at different national conventions, promoting Montana, but Billings first. I’m always flattered when people ask if I grew up here, I say sadly no - just a Midwesterner with a long term crush on Montana. Lori also serves on the Billings Chamber of Commerce’s Local Government Advisory Committee. We appreciate her service.



out here we pause to



Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.


Photo courtesy nathan satran



Military stories run deep out here—as does Montana’s commitment to enlistment in the U.S. Armed Forces. This map will help you locate sites from Veterans cemeteries and national monuments to battlefields and memorials. We’ve even included local American Legion and VFW posts scattered throughout small towns.


Use this map to visit one, or several, of these sites to better understand our history and how we arrived to where we are today—and this region where we honor all.










34 Miles to Theodore Roosevelt National Park






12 Miles City 12



























Rosebud 447











Saint Xavier


Fort Smith



Red Lodge












26.4 Miles to Sheridan, WY






18 310


Lame Deer


Lodge Grass



Crow Agency
























SOUTHEASTMONTANA.COM | 1.800.346.1876 | #OutHereMT | #SoutheastMontana Some roads are gravel but not paved. Printed on recycled paper for free distribution. 14A













Reed Point



















Hammond RRI







113 Miles to Mount Rushmore National Memorial



on 12








ost of us have an abstract understanding of American history that includes Christopher Columbus, the Declaration of Independence, Lewis and Clark with the Corps of Discovery, and two World Wars. There may be blanks in-between, with our “modern” wars less understood by the average citizen. Out here in Southeast Montana, history is entrenched in the soil. We live on the exact land where many battles were waged as the Plains tribes fought to retain their way of life. That is why 300,000 people, on average, visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield and adjacent Custer National Cemetery every year, making it the mostvisited location in Montana east of Yellowstone National Park. Last Stand Hill, Reno’s Battlefield and the Indian Memorial are ideal places to reflect. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs website (2017 data), Montana has a high percentage of the adult population who are veterans – 11.44% – which is second only to Alaska with 13.12%. Those strong military ties, entrenched in Western heritage across the region, offer locals and visitors alike an intimate journey into our history. Each community in Southeast Montana, from the smallest to the largest, has a story to tell about its active and veteran military personnel. You can find these stories at the memorials and cemeteries, and you can hear them at the monuments and the local American Legion and VFW posts.

Most importantly, as you travel across the region you can pause to honor those who came before us, those who fought to preserve freedom and those who stand for democracy today. We encourage you to use this military map to stop at one, several or all of these places and salute (map pictured on page 12). To learn more about Southeast Montana, see and if you want to dig farther into history, click Things To Do – History. For an in-depth look at the 7th Cavalry’s movements in the days leading up to and shortly after the Battle of Little Bighorn, follow the Trail to the Little Bighorn, a driving tour of 19 roadside markers. Download this and other regional maps at maps.

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.


peggy iba

“I’ve been a promoter of Eastern of Montana as long as I can remember, and I’m pretty passionate about where I live.” That’s Peggy Iba’s statement about why she applied for a Board position, representing Dawson County, with Visit Southeast Montana, back in 2014. She’s been working to bring visitors to Glendive and was instrumental when the Makoshika Basketball Tournament, which brings 100 teams to the area every March, was launched 25 years ago. Peggy also serves on the Greater Glendive Community Foundation (chair); Building Active Glendive; Miss Montana; and Farm-to-Table Boards in addition to helping to beautify the railroad underpass that visitors use to access Makoshika State Park. During her downtime, Peggy enjoys sailing and kayaking with her family on Fort Peck Lake.

Download this and other regional maps at




As a board member, you have the inside scoop. What would you share about the Chamber that other members may not know?


The Chamber is led by a wickedly smart and passionate staff and Board of Directors. At times we all may not agree with specific decisions the organization makes – but the Chamber ALWAYS has business and our community’s best interests at heart. I’m so incredibly excited about the work the Chamber is undertaking right now.



PayneWest Insurance

Years as a Chamber Member:

The snack always found in your desk/ office:

Personally over 20+, PayneWest over 50+

Definitely Kit-Kats, trail mix or a protein bar.

What was your first job? I grew up on a small farm north of Bainville, Montana – so it was working for my parents. But outside of that, it was washing dishes at a truck stop in Culbertson – about 15 miles away.

Words you live by: God put each of us on this earth for many reasons. We all have the opportunity to do great things – to impact each other positively. I’m not a perfect human, but I hope that each day I become a better version of who I was yesterday.

You get to make one change for the Billings community today – what would you do? Favorite television show and why. “The Office” almost makes a daily appearance in our house. It’s cleverly written and literally provides me the laugh out loud stress relief I need.

I’d turn up the boldness level. If there was a weakness I perceive in our community – it’s that we’re just okay with good. People love living and visiting communities that are engaging, that are unique. We have an opportunity to turn that up in Billings!

Tell us about your photo: While I love my job and love PayneWest – I really do work to live, rather than live to work. My boys and wife are who I work for. We love to travel and take in all of life’s adventures – including one of our favorites – backpacking.


What is the number one thing in Billings you’d take a visiting friend to see/do? One of my favorite features of Billings is our rims. I love starting in Zimmerman Park and taking people hiking or bike riding on the rims through pine trees and viewing our beautiful city from atop.

Why did you initially choose to get involved with the Chamber? Initially it was to grow my business network – to learn who all of the movers and shakers were in town. I did and many are good friends to this day. Today, it’s a little less about networking and more about helping to drive positive change within our community. We need big, bold ideas to drive Billings to the next level and people who are willing to invest the time and energy in doing just that.


Coming Together:

Taking Action to Impact Public Safety


Businesses Holding Themselves Accountable By kelly mccandless Photography by Rhea Wolpoe

New murals were recently completed on the west and south sides of The Pub Station. Public art is a beautiful placemaking contribution and a deterrent to crime.



s Billings grows, our community experiences a natural uptick in crime and public safety demands. In an effort to shed light on Chamber members’ public safety concerns, our first two issues of LiNK Magazine this year featured stories focusing on specific components of public safety. In the March issue you read about the safety concerns stemming from marginalized members of our community and how different agencies and businesses come together to offer services and uplift those in need, along with the ways businesses can have a seat at the table in addressing these concerns. In June, we featured the meth epidemic and how addiction and drug trafficking impact the Billings area. These significant issues are only part of the public safety story. The Billings Chamber hears increasing concerns from our members about homelessness, police and fire resources, perceptions surrounding safety, and impacts to business. Noting these concerns, our board of directors identified public safety as one of the strategic priorities our organization will be tackling now and into the future. This next installment in our series highlights the financial picture and challenges facing the City of Billings in terms of funding law enforcement and fire programs at a level appropriate for a growing city. While law enforcement is part of the solution, it’s not THE solution. One theme is abundantly clear: these problems will only resolve themselves by working together and remembering this is an issue owned by all of us.

Resource Limitations While discussing with City Administrator Chris Kukulski and Assistant City Administrator Kevin Iffland about public safety and the challenges facing Billings, it is clear they know the issue inside and out. They also will be the first to note that there isn’t a simple solution. “A silver bullet doesn’t exist to address these issues,” remarked Iffland, who spent over 20 years with the Billings Police Department prior to his promotion into City Administration. In the recently passed City budget, 76% of the general fund is dedicated to public safety: 33% to fire and 43% to police. This doesn’t include the municipal court system or the city attorneys – key portions of the full public safety funding and resource picture.

When the last public safety levy passed in 2004, $8.2 million was added to that budget annually. The annual amount cannot change, but, over the last 15 years, the value of $8.2 million has changed drastically. Our businesses understand the effect of inflation and growth. A $100 budget item in FY 2004 likely won’t cover the same expense in FY 2019. The same applies at a larger scale when we look at city services. The $8.2 million levied in 2004 will not provide the same Public Safety value 15 years later, considering cost and service increases. Luckily the static $8.2 million from the 2004 levy isn’t the only revenue funding public safety. “City Council added 20 police and firefighters a couple of years ago – no one would argue that we needed them,” Kukulski continued. “But the voters didn’t have to approve that growth. They were possible through growth in property tax value. Our community isn’t seeing a steady addition of 1-3 officers or firefighters annually. Growth happens in chunks based on voter approval through a levy or growth in tax revenue.” We are fortunate to see an increase in police and firefighter personnel, but even those additions leave us short of the national average of police officers per capita for cities our size. According to the FBI’s 2016 Uniform Crime Reporting data published at Governing.com1, Billings is almost 30 officers shy of the average for cities our size. And although more police aren’t the answer to every public safety issue as Kukulski and Iffland note later in this article, this is important context when discussing what we need to fund in a safety levy.

Finance 3%

Code Enforcement 1%

Levy Potential The need for a Safety Levy is a bit of a hot button issue. No matter how you feel about it, though, Kukulski says simply, “We don’t know where we’re headed yet. There will be discussion about the potential for a Levy early in 2020.” Before any decision is made, Kukulski and Iffland both stressed the necessity of having a clear outline of exactly what solutions will come from levying additional funds. “The public has a reasonable expectation to know what we will do with additional resources to address the issues being seen,” notes Kukulski. He’s quick to add that affordability is important to discuss, too. A typical homeowner in Billings pays $144 per month to the City. This includes all taxes, assessments, and utility bills for water, wastewater, and solid waste. Of the total, $44 is paid in property taxes. The majority of this (84% or $37) goes to fund public safety. City leaders are in the process of evaluating data on all ongoing public safety programs, examining the gaps and evaluating the best resources to address those gaps. Further, they’ve considered other communities with similarities to Billings to see how they’re successfully addressing their gaps. Iffland explains “Ultimately, we want to learn from our residents where they want Billings to be and what the expectations are. When we compare those expectations to the public safety data and the trends we’re seeing, we anticipate a clear argument for or against a public safety levy to take shape.”

Parks, Rec, and Public Lands 9%

Non-Departmental 3% Council Contingency 0%

Municipal Court 2% City Attorney 3% Human Resources 1%

Police 43%

City Administration 2% Mayor & Council 0%

Fire 33%

“Billings isn’t facing these issues because we’ve failed to establish safety as a priority,” explains Kukulski.


Source: City of Billings


While key conversations continue to move forward in city government, businesses and individuals—generally nimbler to implement change—are taking initiative to move the needle now. Todd Buchanan with Buchanan Capital is one of the leaders taking ownership of the issue. “Are we as individuals and as a community all engaging in an ethic which couples personal responsibility with the Law Enforcement focus to address the public safety issues we are facing?” Buchanan asks.

We are fortunate to see an increase in

police and firefighter personnel, but even those additions leave us short of

Immediate Action

the national average of police officers per capita for cities our size.

Sean Lynch, owner of The Pub Station and 11:11 Presents, feels strongly about his responsibility as a business owner in Billings.

but government moves slowly. If you want immediate results, make them happen within your own space. Business owners have to take pride in our establishments, our businesses.”

“Safety is the number one priority at Pub Station. Getting our patrons in the door, while they’re in the building and when they leave. We have to do everything we can to make our customers feel as safe as possible. If people come to our business and walk by other businesses without that approach, it deters my customers from coming.”

And the solution is not only needed in downtown Billings – the desire to overcome frustrations with continuing public safety issues stretches throughout the community. With homeless camps and violent crime reported all over the city, it’s time for all businesses to act.

Lynch shares how his proactive approach to keeping his businesses safe has helped address issues in his immediate vicinity. “We constantly send the message that Pub Station is not a place to loiter. Whether I’m working or if I’m simply driving by with my family on a Sunday, if someone is sleeping or hanging out around our building, we will stop and ask them to move on. Action speaks, and the message is received.” Consistency in this approach means Lynch doesn’t see the activity on his property that can be found elsewhere. “We can point blame all we want, but if we want action, as a business owner that means taking control of your space,” he continues. Returning to Iffland’s initial observation, there is no silver bullet. Addressing these issues requires a multi-pronged approach, and few are better positioned to begin making change than our business owners. Buchanan echoes the sentiment and the “we can’t do it alone” mentality. “The proverbial ‘they’ are not going to solve this; WE as individuals, business owners, neighbors and community organizations have to be a part of the solution.” Lynch agrees. “There has to be a change in mentality. We can’t police our way out of these problems. They are part of the solution, sure,

The Billings Heights, arguably one of Montana’s largest populations with over 30,000 people in that geographic area alone, sees issues similar to downtown Billings: transience, crime, traffic issues, and more. Ming Cabrera, Chairman of the Heights Business Association, a member of the Heights Taskforce, and a Main Street business owner, speaks passionately of the issues impacting his and other businesses in the east part of Billings. “Traffic moves too quickly on Main Street. We see frequent wrecks and businesses struggle when motorists/potential customers feel unsafe traveling the road. Additionally, our businesses are not immune to the increased rates of crime and theft related to drugs,” Cabrera explains. “Both my fellow businesses owners and I find drug paraphernalia near our trash cans and face transients on our properties.” Cabrera, too, notes that the successes the Heights-area businesses have seen are the result of coming together to address issues. “The biggest success stories to date are the formation of the Heights Business Association and a very active Heights Task Force.” He explains that the city is more aware of the needs because of their unified voices. Working together as an association has impacted traffic issues that would’ve been bad for business, and demanded change necessary for the safety of residents by


shaping some of the development near the new Medicine Crow Middle School. “We have many important issues we want to address, and the strength of our voices is beginning to move the needle,” Cabrera said. He, too, recognizes we can’t do it alone.

The Road Ahead “The course that we’re on is the costliest course,” Iffland explained. “Incarceration is expensive, costing the City $18,000-20,000 per month for city ordinance violations. Is it needed? Yes, but we must seek alternatives which would be more affordable and more effective.” He goes on to explain that implementing diversion programs to help offenders deal with mental health and/ or addiction issues could be a much more affordable and impactful path, and that without those diversion programs, incarceration is the best option available to law enforcement. “Our proactive policing programs are tremendously successful,” Iffland continued. “Programs like our Street Crimes Unit and Project Safe Neighborhoods yield results of issues facing the community. But we simply lack the personnel to run them continuously.” He explained that Billings may end up with less citizen satisfaction because resources don’t meet expectations, nor do they meet the actual needs being seen. “The old solutions are not the right ones to solve today’s issues,” Iffland summarized. “It would be less costly to have more resources to implement proactive programming. If we could help people earlier in the process, we increase the likelihood they actually get the help they need, and it costs us less in the long term.” Kukulski also notes the subjective nature of this issue and how that impacts developing a comprehensive solution. “If you compare issues we’re trying to solve, some are easier than others. Solving the sewer issue is easy – we can calculate the solution to that problem. But public safety is not the same. Safety is subjective and perceptions vary widely.” Generally, taxpayers don’t want to assess their public safety and conclude that results may vary. Observant citizens will notice additional police on the streets; though they aren’t likely to notice the positive impacts getting addicts and mental health patients into treatment rather than jail or on the streets. But, as Iffland points out above, it’s less costly to get a person substance abuse or mental health treatment than to put them in jail. As conversations about what is needed

and how to spend limited resources continue, we need to seriously consider the most effective use of taxpayer dollars. If the best outcomes stem from adding law enforcement personnel AND providing additional funding for substance abuse and mental health treatment, we need to be good stewards of public monies and make decisions based on outcomes rather than ideology. With public safety at the forefront of discussion—especially among candidates for City Council—it’s important to note that statewide data indicates Billings is in the middle of the pack in terms of crime rate statewide. While we are not in the midst of a historical crime wave, we have a community who pays attention, and who seems to demand better than we have today. Kukulski agrees, “We have to invest in the level of service we want as a city – and that will be a series of things, over decades, that lifts our community to where demand outstrips supply.”

We Can’t Do It Alone Buchanan, who along with Mike Nelson with the Northern Hotel, Downtown Billings Alliance and the Billings Chamber, was instrumental in bringing a public safety meeting to downtown Billings last November focusing on urban engineering as a means for crime prevention. He notes that these strategies hold tremendous promise, but won’t be effective left on the shelf. “Our community, by getting behind a Law Enforcement led strategy, can take the next step in making us all safer. We need to canvass this community with the information and strategies outlined, and as individuals we need to embrace the responsibilities, we can each adopt to move the dial.” Lynch summarizes his approach to the issue simply: “We can’t wait for “someone else” to solve the problems. That will never happen. Be informed, be active, and take care of your space, it doesn’t just impact you, it impacts everybody.” As part of the strategy Buchanan explains, the Billings Chamber is committed to delivering

solutions for businesses. Through the upcoming year, you’ll see our team grow with the addition of a Public Safety Specialist and training and certification for one of our staff to provide Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) evaluations. This growth to our staff allows us to deliver services to you, our members, so you can take ownership and make immediate changes to your business, eliminating vulnerabilities and empowering staff. Additionally, we’re continuously monitoring the conversations happening about public safety funding, participating on the Yellowstone Substance Abuse Connect committee, and are committed to educating our membership as these issues evolve. If you’d like to learn more about the Billings Chamber’ Public Safety program, please contact Dan Brooks at FBI’s 2016 Uniform Crime Reporting data published at


The old solutions are

not the right ones to solve today’s issues,” Iffland summarized. “It would be less costly to have more resources to implement proactive programming. If we could help people earlier in the process, we increase the likelihood they actually get the

help they need, and it costs us less in the long term.

Local artists create unique, colorful art on the outside of The Pub Station.



The Ambassadors of the Billings Chamber. Left to right: Back row–Brandon Scala, Kyle Schlichenmayer, Drew LeVeaux, Brian Hafner. Front row–Brittani Hunter, Amy Barnhart, Leif Welhaven, Becky Bey. Not Pictured: Keith Hart (The Brokerage), Tyler Crennan (First Interstate Bank), Sarah Brockel (Dawsom Community College), Wayne Wallace (Edward Jones), Roger Gravegaard (US Health Advisors), Tami Bonkowski (Western Skies Real Estate), Lee Humphrey (Edward Jones), Alexis Mason (Big Sky Exterior Design), Jerry Theis (Aflac), Win Seitz (QBS), and Rob Lowe (First American Title).


Kyle Schlichenmayer;

Commercial Real Estate Specialist at Coldwell Banker Commercial CBS

1. In five words, tell me why you’re passionate about what you do for a living. I connect people every day.

2. Are you a Billings native, or a transplant, and if so from where? I’d consider myself a native but I actually grew up in Lewistown.

3. Who inspires you professionally? David Mitchell

4. Why are you a Billings Chamber Ambassador? To help local businesses understand that the chamber is more than a sticker you slap on your window and how to leverage the various events and programs available to them.

Amy Barnhart; Hotel Management / Sales & Marketing at Residence Inn

1. In five words, tell me why you’re passionate about what you do for a living. Be “Home away from Home.”

2. Are you a Billings native, or a transplant, and if so from where? Transplant from Central Illinois.

3. Who inspires you professionally? My General Manager, Mrs. Ginny Hart. She leads by example both personally and professionally.

4. Why are you a Billings Chamber Ambassador? To show new businesses and residents the same support and welcoming feelings I received when we relocated along with growing alongside our business partners.

Drew LeVeaux;

Commercial Insurance with HUB International

Brian Hafner; Mortgage Loan Origination at Universal Lending Home Loans

Brandon Scala; SVP

Brittani Hunter;

1. In five words, tell me why you’re passionate about what you do for a living. Helping people

1. In five words, tell me why you’re passionate about what you do for a living. Helping

1. I n five words, tell me why you’re passionate about what you do for a living. People

1. I n five words, tell me why you’re passionate about what you do for a living. Mentorship,

at critical times.

2. Are you a Billings native, or a transplant, and if so from where? Born in Great Falls, but grew up in Billings.

3. Who inspires you professionally? My dad. I’m lucky to work with him on a daily basis. It’s inspiring to see the culture he helped build.

4. W hy are you a Billings Chamber Ambassador? The Chamber does an excellent job of connecting like-minded individuals and being an Ambassador helps keep my finger on the pulse of what is happing in Billings.

Leif Welhaven; Business Developer, LW Consulting

1. In five words, tell me why you’re passionate about what you do for a living. #Inspire #Motivate #Lead #Community #Legacy

2. Are you a Billings native, or a transplant, and if so from where? Native from B Town 50 plus years.

3. Who inspires you professionally? Karen Grosz...she helped me Find my “Next”

4. W hy are you a Billings Chamber Ambassador? I feel that I can help the Chamber Affect Change in our Community One Person and One Business at a Time!

achieve the dream of homeownership. Six is the new five.

2. Are you a Billings native, or a transplant, and if so from where?

Close enough, Laurel.

3. Who inspires you professionally? I could name so many people, but I truly look up to my parents and everything they did for me growing up.

4. W hy are you a Billings Chamber Ambassador? I love Billings and I want to give back anyway that I can.

Tyler Crennen; VP/

Commercial Manager with First Interstate Bank

1. In five words, tell me why you’re passionate about what you do for a living. Helping people and the community.

2. Are you a Billings native, or a transplant, and if so from where? Born and raised in the Magic City!

3. Who inspires you professionally? My team and colleagues at First Interstate Bank.

4. W hy are you a Billings Chamber Ambassador? I believe in communicating the benefits and connections provided by the Chamber and the hard work their staff puts forth to drive our community forward.

Business Development at Valley Credit Union

Helping People

2. A re you a Billings native, or a transplant, and if so from where? Native

3. W ho inspires you professionally? Richard Branson

4. W hy are you a Billings Chamber Ambassador? Being an Ambassador allows me to help show the WHY of the Chamber and how it can help local businesses and business people grow.

Lee Humphrey, Jr.;

Financial Advisor, Edward Jones

1. I n five words, tell me why you’re passionate about what you do for a living. Helping people achieve life goals.

2. A re you a Billings native, or a transplant, and if so from where? I am originally from Bossier City, Louisiana

3. W ho inspires you professionally? Warren Buffet

4. W hy are you a Billings Chamber Ambassador? I have had a great experience being part of the chamber, and enjoy helping others get the same experience.

Residential Real Estate Sales Manager at Coldwell Banker

Opportunity, Relationships, Homeownership, Success

2. A re you a Billings native, or a transplant, and if so from where? Transplanted in 1999 to attend MSU-B from Rock Springs, WY.

3. W ho inspires you professionally? My boss George Warmer.

4. W hy are you a Billings Chamber Ambassador? The Community knowledge and connections the Chamber provides to their members is the main factor for my involvement as an Ambassador.

Win Seitz; Sales for QBS


1. I n five words, tell me why you’re passionate about what you do for a living. Helping clients grow through creativity.

2. A re you a Billings native, or a transplant, and if so from where? Billings Native.

3. W ho inspires you professionally? Mark Cuban and every kid with a Lemonade Stand.

4. W hy are you a Billings Chamber Ambassador? I enjoy connecting with people in the community and helping them solve problems.

Becky Bey; Government Relations Specialist at KLJ

1. I n five words, tell me why you’re passionate about what you do for a living. Positively impacting communities through connection.

2. A re you a Billings native, or a transplant, and if so from where? Transplant. I was born in San Diego and grew up in Deer Lodge, MT.

3. W ho inspires you professionally? SO MANY PEOPLE. Nationally Brene Brown. Locally Karen Baumgart, Nikki Schaubel and Patti Webster just to name a few!

4. W hy are you a Billings Chamber Ambassador? Being an Ambassador gives me the opportunity to meet amazing new people and share my love of the Billings community with them.

Rob Lowe; Business

Development, First American Title

1. I n five words, tell me why you’re passionate about what you do for a living. I like the people.

2. A re you a Billings native, or a transplant, and if so from where? Native.

3. W ho inspires you professionally? My Uncle Bill Lowe and my Dad Jim Lowe.

4. W hy are you a Billings Chamber Ambassador? Jen Reiser told me to be one.


Chamber OFFERS Executive Relocation services exclusively to our members By Julie Seedhouse, Century 21 Hometown Brokers and Billings Chamber Executive Board Century 21 Hometown Brokers is thrilled to forge a partnership with the Billings Chamber of Commerce in aiding the Chamber membership in their efforts to recruit talent. C21, the newest Big Sky level investor in the Billings Chamber, is deeply committed to our community and making it the very best place to live, work and play. Through thoughtful hiring and thorough training, C21 has created a team of Realtors who know Billings well and who are poised and ready to help you sell this community to your potential new-hires. What’s more, their representatives are passionate about Billings and genuine in their efforts to promote the community as the exceptional place that it is. How do you take advantage of the Executive Relocation Services? The process is simple. First, contact Rene Beyl in the Billings Chamber offices (406-245-4111). Rene will work with you to understand the details of your potential hire, their interests and must-sees as well

as your goals as a hopeful employer. She’ll create an itinerary, a welcome gift and make arrangements for them while they’re in Billings. Then, while you have the prospective employees in town, a qualified representative from Century 21 will show them around, educate them on the local housing market, and tell them why we choose Billings as our Hometown! The hiring process requires a huge investment of time and other resources. The Billings Chamber and Century 21 are pleased to be able to aide our membership in alleviating part of this process by sharing our passion for Billings. Let us help you elevate your offer and put Billings at the top of the list for the talent you seek to recruit. Contact Rene Beyl at

Making the Homeownership Dream a Reality.

3127 Central Ave. • Ste. 4 Billings, MT 59102 Company NMLS# 3274 NMLS ID# 250504 Branch NMLS# 140408


DeDe Stoner 406.237.0104

CONGRATULATIONS Jennifer Reiser for achieving the

Certified Chamber Executive credential

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

Recently at the 2019 ACCE Annual Convention, Jennifer Reiser received the Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) credential from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. She is one of seven professionals earning this designation in 2019.

belongs alongside a balanced energy mix. And that research is helping us build a brighter future for the next generation of Montanans.

Candidates earn this designation through a series of steps related to standards of excellence in professional and ethical performance and demonstrating community leadership as set by the Certification Commission. There are approximately 474 professionals with CCEs. Roughly 227 are working in chambers of commerce, the remainder are retired or working in non-chamber organizations. In addition to the CCE designation, Jennifer received her Institute for Organization Management (IOM) credential in 2016.

View more of the story at

We are incredibly proud of our Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Reiser and the excellence she brings to our Chamber Team!


An invitation to you

from Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari:


ne of the key parts of my job as Minneapolis Fed president is to travel around our region and hear from residents, business owners, and civic leaders about the local economy. Learning about Billings—as I plan to do during a series of meetings and a public town hall— helps me to represent our region’s needs, priorities, and opportunities as we set monetary policy for the nation. During my time in your community, I’ll be meeting with tribal leaders, business owners and entrepreneurs, and folks from the energy industry to get a fuller picture of Billings’ successes and obstacles. I’m coming to Billings with my questions for you, and I look forward to the opportunity to answer any questions you may have for me. Please join me for the public town hall at the Petro Theater at MSU-Billings on Thursday, Sept. 26, from noon to 1 p.m. MT.

The event is free, and you can register at I am committed to highlighting our unique region as part of monetary policy deliberations in Washington, D.C., but I can’t do that without a candid discussion with you in Billings. That’s why I look forward to meeting all of you, engaging in a conversation, and answering your questions about the Federal Reserve, interest rates, and economic opportunity in Billings and across Montana. Sincerely,

Neel Kashkari President, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

PUBLIC TOWN HALL Petro Theater at MSU-Billings Thursday, Sept. 26 | 12:00–1:00 p.m. Register:


Stella & Ziggy Ziegler A Legacy Worth Honoring

halfway houses. Ziggy is well-known for his work with prison inmates where he developed a three-day retreat to minister to inmates; something he has done almost monthly for 40 years. As quoted in the Billings Gazette, Ziggy says, “I don’t golf, I don’t fish, I don’t hunt. I go to prison!” To add to their resume of service leadership, Ziggy was Yellowstone County Auditor for four years and Yellowstone County Commissioner for 12 years. Stella has served on various community and state-wide boards and leadership committees. The couple is committed to their faith and to education, serving on the Billings Catholic Schools and BACET/BCS Foundation boards. They were instrumental in building the new St. Francis Catholic Elementary School, serving as honorary chairs of the capital campaign.


hen asked about iconic Billings establishments, you can bet that Stella’s Kitchen and Bakery will be one of the examples shared – and with good reason. Ziggy and Stella invested over 40 years into their downtown establishment, and to this day you’ll find a line out the door to get seated for your weekend breakfast. The Billings Chamber Legacy Award recognizes individuals who consistently demonstrate success in improving the business and economic climate, in addition to the quality of life for residents of Billings, over their lifetime. Through their consistent advocacy for downtown, their habit of offering second chances and their determination to change lives, they are tremendously deserving of the 2019 Billings Chamber Legacy Award.

After 40 years of running Stella’s Kitchen & Bakery, Stella and Ziggy retired in August. Nominated for the award by Eide Bailly and its Partners Jeremy Hauk, Roger Huebner, Ron Yates, and Debbie Potter, the group noted, “Stella and Ziggy are well known for hiring disadvantaged people and providing not only a job, but mentorship, a family atmosphere, and a positive influence. They give second chances and first opportunities to so many in need. They have changed lives by giving more than a paycheck, but by giving life lessons and true love.” Prior to starting their restaurant, the Ziegler’s owned KOA and Great Harvest Bread franchises. In addition to their many business successes, they are loyal to their mission of giving second chances and offering guidance to those transitioning out of prison and

The Ziegler’s were nominated for the Billings Chamber Legacy Award, along with a long list of competitive candidates submitted by our board and entire membership. Ultimately, the board voted for Stella and Ziggy to receive this honor and the Eide Bailly team summarized the selection of the Ziegler’s for the 2019 Legacy Award perfectly in their nomination: “Ziggy and Stella are a tremendous business success story. However, their success and contributions reach far beyond that of the business world. They have made unbelievable monetary and sweat-equity investments in Billings while donating their time and talents to the community as a whole. Along the way, they have made a difference in the lives of many. They have left a legacy that is truly worthy of recognition.” Join us in celebrating Stella and Ziggy when they receive the Legacy Award during the Billings Chamber Annual Meeting presented by PayneWest Insurance on September 24th from 11:30 – 1:00 p.m. You can learn more about the event and get your tickets at www.


2020 and Beyond: A Look at Chamber Priorities By Brian D. Brown, First Interstate Bank, Billings Chamber of Commerce Board Chair


ith the start of a new fiscal

year, the Billings Chamber of Commerce is re-shaping priorities, identifying and actively pursuing new goals and continuing the transformational work the organization is known for. Our team of professionals both at the board and staff level continue to deliver exceptional work that moves the needle for our community and our personal lives. I am a Montana native. I grew up in Columbus, MT and graduated from the University of Wyoming. I currently serve as the Billings Market President for First Interstate Bank, where I have worked for my entire banking career of 20 years. I am proud to be a part of two great organizations, First Interstate Bank and the Billings Chamber of Commerce, that are community oriented and looking to help Billings and our surrounding community be the best that it can be now and going forward. The goals we set as an organization can’t be achieved overnight. We’re making long-term commitments to projects and developing action plans to secure the successes Billings demands. We’re working for you, our members, and look forward to sharing the milestones as well as the smaller goals we’ll realize along the way. Read on to learn about the five areas we’re focused on this year and what that means for you.

Elections Matter: We’re committed to electing business-friendly candidates who are job creators, problem solvers and community leaders. We will:

Public Safety: Together, we will enhance public safety by working directly with Billings businesses on environmental improvements that will deter criminal activity. We will: • Launch the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) program as a benefit of Billings Chamber of Commerce membership and an opportunity for business engagement in public safety. • Monitor and evaluate public safety funding needs as the opportunity arises. • Participate in Yellowstone Substance Abuse Connect. • Spotlight public safety through member communications as a means of educating the membership on current issues.

ONE Big Sky District: The Strategy Partners are committed to the development plan, and the Billings Chamber will focus specifically on Montana Station Convention Center this year. We will: • Continue work with the Strategy Partners (Big Sky Economic Development, Billings Chamber of Commerce, City of Billings, Downtown Billings Partnership, and Visit Billings). • Support work in seeking additional developers interested in the existing development plan. • Support the development of Montana Station Convention Center and build upon the $500+ million tourism economy supporting Yellowstone County. • Develop an action plan for 406 Impact District Legislation ahead of the 2021 legislative session.

Air Service:

• Evaluate candidates in local and state elections by seeking their input on issues of importance to Billings Chamber members and sharing the candidate positions.

The community is eager to see the recent additions of new service with American and Frontier Airlines as well as the facility remodel taking place. The Chamber continues to be a key supporter of both these processes with an eye toward future opportunities for growth. We will:

• Host candidate forums to allow Chamber members to access candidates running for public office.

• Continue efforts to increase and maintain existing service through direct meetings with airlines.

• Consider endorsement of candidates in local and state elections.

• Support the airport facility renovation and expansion.


• Educate locally and regionally the need for increasing airplane seats purchased to drive the demand for more flights.

Workforce Development: The Billings Chamber is your expert in growing and retaining your existing workforce through leadership development programming. Through programs like Leadership Billings, Trailhead Leadership Academy, Youth Leadership Billings and Billings NextGEN, the Chamber is the premier professional development option in the community. • Chamber programs like NextGEN, Leadership Billings and mentorships support existing talent, increasing retention of talent and helping to attract new talent. • 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. • Early Childhood is a critical stage of human development, with 80% of the human brain developing by age 3. Access to quality child care is a two-generation workforce concern: children must experience quality care and early childhood development in order to ensure proper brain development, and parents in the workforce must have consistent, reliable and quality care for their children in order to be productive members of the workforce. In fact, 42% of Montanans not in the workforce site family responsibilities as the reason they are not working. The Chamber is beginning to explore these issues and how we can assist in solutions that will positively impact business. • The Billings Chamber actively supports higher education, particularly MSU Billings, City College and Rocky Mountain College. Connecting their degree programs with workforce demands, internship and job shadow opportunities returns graduates ready to hit the ground running upon graduation. The Billings Chamber represents you, our 1,200+ members who employ over 50,000 people. We are a catalyst for business growth, convening leaders and influencers to impact issues and champion a stronger community.

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Next Up with nextgen is presented by



e’re still trying to figure out how the time flew by so quickly, but somehow NextGEN is 5! We celebrated last month with a super fun Anniversary Party and Awards Show at the Pub Station with an After Party at Terakedis Fine Art. It was an amazing event and we are grateful to everyone who joined us to celebrate. Here’s a recap of what you missed: THANK YOU RIMROCK MALL: Rimrock Mall was our title sponsor for the event and they went above and beyond in helping to make the event a success. Our thanks to Daron, Kevin and the team for their contribution to NextGEN’s success.

NextGEN may be celebrating five years of success, but we’re just getting started. This group has a ton of momentum, due in large part to our stellar Leadership Team. Here are the exceptional young professionals leading us this year: David Mitchell,

THANK YOU ADAM GROSS – RETIREMENT SOLUTIONS: Have you seen the amazing 5 Year Celebration video Adam produced? If you missed the event and haven’t caught it on our social feeds, stop reading and go check it out. It’s a fantastic recap of where NextGEN has been and makes us crazy excited about where we’re heading. Thank you Adam for your commitment to excellence and for creating this video for us. THANK YOU TERAKEDIS FINE ART: The After Party was a blast with a dessert bar and live music from Grant Jones. Thanks to everyone who came out to continue the celebration and to toast 5 years of success. Terakedis was the perfect venue for our event.

Jason Leininger,

Kayla Vokral,

The Real Estate Hub – Connect Action Team Co-Lead

Big Sky Economic Development – Learn Action Team Co-Lead

Joe Ferrucci,

Whitney Griffin,

Coldwell Banker Commercial – Co-Chair

First American Title – Connect Action Team Co-Lead

Wipfli – Learn Action Team Co-Lead

Brian Hafner,

Universal Lending – Co-Chair

Shannon Christenson, Cathy Grider,

McCall Linke,

D’Vaughn Hayes,

Colton Welhaven,

Billings Federal Credit Union – Grow Action Team Co-Lead

Office 360 – Grow Action Team Co-Lead

Montana Outlaw BBQ – Inspire Action Team Co-Lead

Buchanan Capital – Inspire Action Team Co-Lead


CTA – Learn Action Team Co-Lead

And, we can’t celebrate our past success or our bright future without taking a moment to thank the incredible Chamber leader who built this group from the ground up. Jennifer Reiser, CCE, IOM, took the lead to create Billings’ best young professional group. Without her careful thoughts, her vision and her knack for leadership development and strategic planning, this group simply would not be the force it is today. She’s taking over new programs with the Chamber and passing the NextGEN torch to me – I’m grateful for her leadership and her mentorship. She’s left me very big shoes to fill. Last but certainly not least, we crowned a few award winners during the Anniversary Celebration and Awards Show last month. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the good-natured folks who accepted these honors: Most likely to become mayor: Allison Corbyn Man-crush Monday: Kyle Schlichenmayer The Vampire Award (most likely to come early, stay late): D’Vaughn Hayes Who will most likely have to be physically removed from NextGEN: Lee Humphrey Most Likely to get carded at 30: Jamie Hovey Cutest Couple that never was: Brian Hafner and David Mitchell Woman crush Wednesday: Four-way tie! Brooke Crennen, Chrissy Halverson, Jonna Jones, Kayla Volkral Most likely to lead a movement with or without followers: Keith Hart It’s been a great ride and we can’t wait to see what the next five years bring. Don’t miss out – if you haven’t yet, please renew your NextGEN membership, or join our group and our momentum. Learn more about it all at




2404 6th Ave. North, Billings, MT


Accuracy and Experience you can Build on

Thank you to our NextGEN sponsors. A few sponsorship opportunities remain! Contact to get in front of this key group of professionals in Billings.


406/248.9000 | 3333 2nd Ave North, Suite 230, Billings



Blue Sky AT TH E




hen asked, “How are things at the Airport?” The best response would be, "Great and going to get better."

The Billings Logan International Airport has announced a lot of good news recently. With the help of the Chamber, Big Sky Economic Development, Visit Billings and the Tourism Business Improvement District, and all their members who stepped up with financial contributions, direct service to Dallas on American Airlines began two years ago. That was followed with the start of direct service to Denver on Frontier at the end of May. Billings now has six commercial carriers with seven to nine direct flight destinations, depending on the time of the year. Plus, the Airport also has an Essential Air Service (EAS) provider, Cape Air, serving five of Montana's Northeastern communities, making Billings very accessible, particularly for those who travel to town for medical visits, business, and recreation; all adding to the Billings economy. And the good news keeps on coming! In calendar year 2018 the

An early rendering of the remodeled Airport pictured here. See more at

Airport set passenger and cargo tonnage records and those record numbers are on pace to be exceeded again in 2019. In order to keep up with the expanded service and to give the passengers a better Airport experience, your Airport is about to change. After years of planning, the Terminal Concourse Expansion project starts in late September to construct a facility that will offer the travelling public a concourse area with great views, more seating, more concession space including sit down dining, a comfortable sitting area in the center of the concourse near all the concessions, and more restrooms. For those that want a peek at what this is all going to look like, an architectural fly through of the space is available on the Airport's website under the Information dropdown menu. It’s also worth noting that these Airport improvements are not paid for by taxpayer dollars. While a lot of planning has gone into trying to make this construction process have as little impact as possible to our customers, it will not


be without some inconveniences, mostly related to placing all the boarding activity on the old B Concourse while the new A Concourse is being built. This will undoubtedly result in times when it will be a bit crowded. Fortunately, using the old B Concourse for all passenger operations will only last until May of 2021, when the new A Concourse and Great Room areas should be completed. Then all of the boarding operations will move to the new A Concourse where it will be more spacious and all the new concession venues will be operating, while the new B Concourse is constructed. When totally completed in 2023, the new Terminal Concourse will have eight passenger loading gates, versus the current five. And, if more gates are needed in the future, the design provides the ability to add four more gates with very little disruption. It's an exciting time for the Billings Airport and the supporting community. As I said earlier, things are "great and only going to get better!"


A fantastic way to reach kids in remote areas. Our easy, affordable service has everyone smiling, including Dr. Stanley and his team, who provide much-needed pediatric dental services to children across eastern Montana.



$ from


each way

Dr. Nathan Stanley and his traveling team



Wolf Point Sidney



Enjoy the ride.


* Including all taxes and fees Fares are subject to availability and other conditions. Fares may change without notice, and are not guaranteed until ticketed.





Zack Terakedis;

Terakedis Fine Art

Angela Stiller;

Angela L. Stiller Insurance


very small business owner wears multiple hats with countless obligations. Establishing a marketing plan can be uncomfortable and easy to skip in favor of other pressing tasks. The reality is people are spending more time on their phones making it essential to have a presence for your business or organization on social media. Our members share some creative ways they approach social media to keep their posts gaining traction. Erin Bratsky, MSW, LCPC;

Brighter Sky Counseling

Social media is about building relationships and a connection with an audience that is beyond just the people I serve at my business. When I post I try to come from a place of service and community, offering posts, inspiration, articles and information about mental health, self-care, and life balance as you see in my example above. Not everyone is at a place where therapy is needed, but we all can use inspiration and positive reminders. Because my goal is to build relationships, I work hard to not make all my posts about sales or services, I use those posts sparingly because, for me, if I can make a connection and build the social media relationship, if and when they would need my services, they can make that decision based on that history of trust.

A collective effort by downtown businesses increased our awareness on social media. For two weeks everyone posted at specific times of day, made sure that they liked and/ or commented on other businesses posts, and tracked the effect on both their followers and bumps on their websites. The residual effect of this effort was that it helped them become more aware of what was happening with neighboring businesses, it inspired them to be more creative with their posts, and they discovered how disconnected they were on social media with other businesses. Co-marketing our neighborhood and our community has larger impact to drawing attention to Billings, MT – especially important when people are making choices about where to visit in our great state. Some of our more successful social media posts have been with local organizations and other creatives. We host the Billings Symphony post parties at the galleries and people are always appreciative of knowing that businesses and cultural amenities are partnered up to provide people with the best possible experiences. It provides both parties with great stories to share for different audiences.


My philosophy with social media is to always create a marketing plan that stays true to your brand and to yourself. In order to attract long term customers and create fans out of your audience, you must share your real life persona. The struggles, the beautiful and the ugly of life and your career. My tips include being consistent with a plan so when you’re not feeling like recording yourself or you don’t have anything to say, amazing content is in the pipeline to pull from. Add depth to your brand. In today’s market consumers will buy from real people who share similar social beliefs; not big box stores. Share your personal stories and make it a part of your brand. Don’t get caught up in what to spend or how to buy ads until you understand your message. Don’t worry about what you look like. Honestly, we know what you look like as you walk around being human. Try not to agonize about having the perfect photo - use a photo that speaks your message and move on. Always share ideas, content and connections that could benefit your audience. Give info first to help create a helpful and socially responsible resource for your followers.

See you tomorrow. I’m headed home.

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

855 Front Street, Helena, MT 59601

Ribbon Cuttings

sit back... relax... stay a while...

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

• Free Hot Breakfast • Heated Salt Water Pool • Fitness Center • Close to Restaurants

Family Service invited the community to join in to celebrate their incredible new location on June 14th.

Lil Market Grocery opened in downtown and on August 1st held a ribbon cutting.

SOMETHINGchic, the newest

Rehabilitation Hospital of Montana held a Grand Opening

clothing store in downtown Billings, held a grand opening on June 14th.

Habitat For Humanity & The ReStore hosted a grand opening in their new location on June 21st.

LendUS, a mortgage lender new to the Billings market, hosted an open house on July 17th to launch the business.

Pirtz Field installed new artificial turf as a community-supported undertaking with a ground breaking ceremony on July 28th.

All of our rooms are suites with fully equipped kitchens.

with VIP guests and community tours on August 5th.

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.

2480 Grant Road | Billings 406-652-7106



chamber events connecting your business with important community issues




he Chamber Annual Meeting is right around the corner and is one you will not want to miss. Join us September 24th at MetraPark Pavilion for lunch and our public safety program presented by PayneWest Insurance. We will take a look back over the last year to celebrate where the Chamber has been and what’s on the horizon. You won’t want to miss the celebration of community pillars and 2019 Legacy Award recipients, Stella and Ziggy Ziegler. Then, we will focus on public safety with special recognition for our community’s law enforcement

agencies and fire service providers. With Billings’ growth it is natural to experience increases in crime. This challenge is proof we need to support the Billings Police Department, Billings Fire Department, and Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Department more than ever. We will highlight the needs of these invaluable departments to keep us safe. From personnel to equipment and facilities to training, supporting our public safety defenders means providing them with the proper resources. We will also take a look at what we can do as businesses with the


introduction of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), a concept for improving public safety by strategically enhancing the built environment. Member tickets for this event are $40; Member tables of 10 are $400. To register visit BillingChamber. com. For questions about the event reach out to Jessica@

Launching Soon: Chamber A.M. Looking for another way to get involved? Join us for a new offering! Chamber AM presented by Entre

Save the date:


Business After Hours

Business After Hours is the premiere networking event for business professionals in the Billings area. It is held on the second Wednesday of each month from 5 – 7 p.m and the cost to attend is just $8.

Technologies and hosted by Northern Hotel is a new way to stay up to date with the Chamber’s priorities. This quarterly breakfast will provide you time to grab a cup of coffee, sneak in some early networking, and take a deep dive into areas we find important. Save the date for our very first Chamber AM, October 31st 7:30 a.m.- 9 a.m. at the Northern Hotel. The cost to attend is $20. Please register online at

fisher’s technology OCTOBER 09 • 2404 6th Ave N, Billings

Pierce Flooring and Design November 13 • 2950 King Ave W, billings


annual meeting

september 24 • metrapark Presented by PayneWest Insurance

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY NOVEMBER 30 Be on the lookout for the small business fun soon!

815 S. 27th St. Billings, MT 59101

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

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TRIM 8.375” w x 8.3475”

Quality Matters.

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


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