GET TO KNOW CHAMBER BOARD VICE CHAIR
TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR BUSINESS SAFE
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT RECIPIENT
FIRST INTERSTATE BANK
I S S U E 3 | S E P T E M B E R - N O V E M B E R 2 014
BILLINGS’ EMERGING LEADERS
NEXTGEN CONNECTS MILLENIALS TO THE COMMUNITY
406-294-9116 â€˘ 1-855-328-9116 www.mackproductionsinc.com
Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014 Brewfest 6Pm. Over 30 German Beers & Microbrews, German Wine, German Food, And Live Music. 21 & Over Admitted. Family Fun at Zootoberfest 10am - 5pm Families can enjoy ZooMontana while experiencing a traditional Oktoberfest event complete with German Food, Music, Entertainment, Games, and Beer Daytime Admission - $7 Adults, $4 Child Evening Admission - $12 per person with $4 drink tickets OR $35 with unlimited beer pours.
Autumn Music Festival! AT
October 4, 2014
Tickets: $25 For Tickets Go to GhoulDays.com
2 | SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2014 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2014 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 3
table of contents
9.14 CONTENTS BILLINGS’ EMERGING LEADERS The Chamber’s new group NextGen connects millenials to the community.
Billings Chamber recognizes Tom Scott as the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient.
TIPS ON KEEPING YOUR BUSINESS SAFE
Local businesses offer tips on keeping safe
Mobile marketing with Big Sky Loyalty.
SMALL BUSINESS, BIG STAGE
Sanderson Stewart’s innovation and big picture planning lead to national recognition.
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9.14 EVERY ISSUE
Responsible growth is key for communities.
Membership Benefit Spotlight: Chamber presents new way to invest and maximize your benefits.
Some of the latest statistics and economic data impacting businesses in Billings.
Elections are just around the corner and education is integral.
MONTANA’S TRAILHEAD Magic City or Montana’s Trailhead?
GET TO KNOW JENNIFER REISER Billings Chamber Director of Operations.
TRIPS ON A TANKFUL
Billings is Montana’s Trailhead to a treasure trove of experiences in southeast Montana. Explore watering holes of character and lore in this issue.
GET TO KNOW JEFF WALTERS Vice Chair.
Your educational partner for a lifetime! MSU Billings has been an integral part of Billings and Eastern Montana since 1927. As Billings continues to grow, we stand ready to educate and develop the next generation of leaders.
Did we see you at recent Chamber events? Look for yourself and your friends in LiNKED!
800.565.MSUB • msubillings.edu
FROM THE PRESiDENT/CEO
BIG SKY LEVEL
AFFECTING POSITIVE GROWTH I met with a young professional for coffee recently; a physician at Billings Clinic who relocated here two years ago. He and his wife were considering San Diego, Denver and other communities to call home and start their family. Why Billings? Our schools, outdoor recreation opportunities, trails, arts and culture, and of course career opportunities are a draw. As we “build” Billings and become Montana’s City, we need fresh, optimistic and openly-honest voices from our emerging leaders around the decisionmaking table to entice more young professionals to
Billings. In doing so, our workforce grows and our quality of life is enhanced. In this issue of LiNK we focus on the Chamber’s newly launched “NextGen” program and how this enthusiastic group is impacting higher education, the political process and the future of our community: all while developing their professional network and leadership skills.
GRANITE PEAK LEVEL CenturyLink Holiday Station Stores U.S. Bank
Crowne Plaza MSU Billings
BEARTOOTH LEVEL Bay, LTD Big Sky Economic Development BNSF Century 21 Hometown Brokers Charter Business Computers Unlimited Costco Wholesale Crowley Fleck PLLP ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Co. Holiday Inn Grand Montana Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. Montana Rail Link, Inc. PayneWest Insurance Phillips 66 PPL Montana, LLC Rocky Mountain College Sam’s Club Stockman Bank, Billings Underriner Honda Vertex Consulting Group Western Security Bank, Downtown
The Billings Gazette
Dave Worstell, Allyn Hulteng
Lynn Langeliers, Michelle Maki
Billings Gazette Staff Photographers, Billings Chamber, Visit Billings, ThinkStock/Jupiter Images Photography
www.billingschamber.com PO Box 31177 Billings MT 59107-1177 406-245-4111 • 800-711-2630
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NEW INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES CATER TO INDIVIDUAL MEMBER NEEDS BY JENNIFER REISER, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
After nearly a year of thoroughly evaluating all programs, sources of income, resources, and our organizational structure, the Billings Chamber of Commerce, with the guidance of our Board of Directors, now offers a restructured membership sales and sponsorship recruitment process. Throughout this evaluation, we conducted a product assessment that established specific value for every program, event and publication, and proposes pricing and levels of recognition that enable the Chamber to offer sponsorships that are affordable to every member. With this customized approach to sponsorship and advertising, our new Business Development Manager will lead
the effort in working with Chamber members to match organizational priorities with potential investment opportunities including advertising and event sponsorship. When we officially begin recruitment this fall, we will package each program, event and publication so they can be purchased by existing and new members. The benefit to you, our members, includes individualized attention through a detailed review of all investment, marketing and sponsorship offerings. This will allow all members to consider the wide variety of investment options and allow the Chamber to customize your investment package in a way that specifically caters to your individual
business. In addition, the Billings Chamber intends to utilize the current Ambassador Committee to assist in member outreach to match your member needs and wants to the correct opportunities and benefits. This is a natural fit as the focus of the Ambassador Committee is to support the mission of the Chamber by connecting new and existing members to opportunities to grow their business and to advocate for the members to the Chamber staff. Ambassadors will help gather information about our members and work with staff to match you with beneficial opportunities. Over the course of the next few months, a task force
of members will also review the membership dues structure and benefits with the goal of realigning your Chamber benefits with your interests, needs and budgets while continuing to offer unique opportunities for you to connect through relationships with Chamber staff, other members and the Billings community. This is an exceptionally exciting time to be part of the Billings Chamber! We continue to demonstrate the value of your membership while focusing on offering you venues for continued growth and success. If you have questions about the changes or new opportunities, please call the Membership Team at 406-245-4111.
CHAMBER STATISTICS As of August 1, 2014, the Billings Chamber represents 1,169 members with approximately 46,355 employees. Last fiscal year, July 1, 2013 â€“ June 30, 2014, the Chamber reports: Number of Calls/Inquiries: ......... 9,637 (average of 803/month) Visitors to the Visitor Information Center: ...................... 5,500+ Visits to VisitBillings.com:............................................... 131,278 Visits to BillingsChamber.com: .........................................38,957 Relocation Packets Mailed: .................................................... 318
Number of Conventions/Meeting Attendees Booked by Visit Billings: ....................................................28,465 Direct Spending from Tourism Bookings: ................$6.4 million Conventions & Meeting Delegates Serviced by Visit Billings ..................................................................... 8,100
Visitor Information Packets Mailed: ................................. 12,791 Business Meeting Attendees at Chamber: ......................... 9,441 Chamber Event Attendance: ................................................ 8,713
Is your membership listing current? With all of these inquiries, make sure weâ€™re sharing the correct information with potential clients! Check your listing in the membership directory at BillingsChamber.com and let us know if changes are needed. SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2014 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 7
KEY ECONOMIC INDICATORS Hotel Occupancy
80.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 70.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 60.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 50.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 40.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10.0% __________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0.0% ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2013
2012 United States
Unemployment Rate Comparison County Population
Percent change in county population 2012-2013
Unemployment Rate as of August 2014 Yellowstone County
Median Household Income
Airport Deboardings: City Comparison 500,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 450,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________
Average Home Price
350,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 300,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Number of Business Licenses
250,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 200,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________
School District #2 Enrollment
Sources: Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Billings Association of Realtors®, City of Billings, School District #2, U.S. Census Bureau.
100,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 50,000 ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2013 2012 2014 0
Airport Deboarding Data Source: Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research. *2013 Billings deboardings were impacted by runway maintenance in July/August **2014 deboarding data for January – June only
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ELECTIONS: A TIME FOR EDUCATION BY BRUCE MACINTYRE, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS AND BUSINESS ADVOCACY
When term limits were established for legislative and city elections, the dynamic changed substantially. Previously, we knew who we were supporting in our ward or district because we knew who was running.
Today, when I don’t know the candidates, I assume that you don’t either. For the past four years, the Chamber asked candidates to give us their opinions on issues of importance to our members and we compile that information to share with you. This spring we gathered opinions and profiles from all of the candidates running for the U. S. House of Representatives, and this fall we will feature the candidates for the Montana House and Senate seats in our area. It’s important to note that while the Billings Chamber may endorse an issue or legislation, we do not endorse candidates. Our goal is to help you become an informed voter. Once a candidate is elected, our role changes from voter education to legislator education. In the past 12 months, we’ve compiled a set of potential legislative issues for inclusion in our Public Policy Manual. When completed, it will be a guide for staff and a reference document for our lobbyists and our legislators. Elected officials at all levels hear from those of us who lobby on a frequent basis. They do not, however, hear from their constituents. A letter, call or e-mail from you far outweighs anything I might say in a committee hearing. We are here to provide guidance on how to contact an elected official if needed.
during the previous week. It is also posted on our legislative website, PublicPolicy. BillingsChamber.com. Your input is important at every step in the legislative process. Your concerns can’t be addressed if no one knows what they are. Share your thoughts with us by emailing Bruce@ BillingsChamber.com and connect with the issues and your elected officials at PublicPolicy. BillingsChamber.com.
FOLLOW MORE OF BRUCE’S WORK ON LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL ISSUES. VISIT OUR POLICY WEBSITE:
PUBLICPOLICY.BILLINGSCHAMBER.COM During the session, we weigh in on a substantial amount of legislation. Weekly, we distribute an e-newsletter called Capitol iNSiGHT which highlights important legislative action
CAPITOL BUILDING, HELENA – PHOTO COURTESY OF MONTANA OFFICE OF TOURISM
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MONTANA’S TRAILHEAD or MAGIC CITY? BY ALEX TYSON
Are we the Magic City or are we Montana’s Trailhead? And, what exactly is Montana’s Trailhead? 10 | SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2014 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
• EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VISIT BILLINGS
Many times we hear comments of confusion from fellow residents who are unsure about Billings’ brand. Are we the Magic City or are we Montana’s Trailhead? And, what exactly is Montana’s Trailhead? Billings will always be the Magic City. It’s our community’s nickname. Much like Butte is the Mining City and Great Falls is the Electric City, the Magic City is part of our heritage; our roots. However, to market a community as a destination and to grow visitation with such a nickname would prove challenging. What is the Magic City? If I lived in Illinois and was planning a Montana vacation, would the Magic City or Montana’s Trailhead sound more appealing to add to my Big Sky Country itinerary? Truth is, while the Chamber of Commerce, Visit Billings, City of Billings, Yellowstone County, Downtown Billings Association and other community partners, businesses and residents went through the public branding process in 2009, we found eleven other ‘Magic’ cities. Essentially, where the railroad expanded and populations grew rapidly, like magic, cities were deemed Magic cities. It didn’t set the city apart from the others. We weren’t unique. Through a rigorous self-assessment of the community and its strengths, the Billings: Montana’s Trailhead brand was born. The brand markets to visitors, yes, but it also speaks to people who want to live in a city that offers more. Billings is a trailhead to business and professional goals, medical needs, educational objectives, a strong quality of life, and/or Montana retirement, to name a few. And, Billings: Montana’s Trailhead has also proven quite successful for our tourism marketing efforts, too. From strong entertainment and cultural attractions to numerous
retail offerings, competitive air service and thousands of hotel rooms, Billings is a visitor hub to more than two million guests every year impacting the local economy by $250 million annually. With the community’s proximity to Red Lodge, the Beartooth Highway, Yellowstone National Park, the Lewis and Clark Trail and Pompey’s Pillar, Little Bighorn Battle Field National Monument and Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, a leisure traveler can fly into Billings, stay a few nights in one of our many hotels, eat and drink at our amazing restaurants, take in the Brewery District, grab outdoor gear and essentials, then head out ready for the next leg of their excursion. The Visit Billings team markets Billings as the trailhead to vacation memories; a gateway into history or the top rated Beartooth Highway leading visitors right into the northeast entrance to Yellowstone. The team work’s hard with State Lodging Tax dollars, Billings Tourism Business Improvement District dollars, the Montana Office of Tourism and our partners like Visit Southeast Montana and Red Lodge Convention and Visitors Bureau to market regionally, nationally and internationally to help people plan their bucket list vacations. What a privilege to be their trailhead to forever memories.
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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VISIT BILLINGS GRANT APPLICATIONS NOW BEING ACCEPTED Visit Billings continues to award grant assistance bi-annually to organizations hosting events that act as catalysts for visitation growth for Billings. The most recent cycle offered dollars as contributions to the following organizations for events: • The Magic City Blues Festival received $7,000 to assist with transportation/shuttle services from hotels that were not in close proximity to the August event’s concert venues. • The Billings Symphony Orchestra was awarded $1,500 to assist with marketing efforts for a major season performance.
• Yellowstone Art Museum received $2,500 to assist with marketing and the contract for the Art of the Brick Exhibit. • Chase Hawks Memorial Foundation received $7,500 to help fund expanded regional marketing for the 20th Annual Chase Hawks Roughstock Invitational Rodeo and Roughstock Weekend. Applications for the next Visit Billings grant cycle will be accepted through the middle of December. Go to www. VisitBillings.com for more details.
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CASH IN ON CULTURE From theater, arts and entertainment to cuisine, history and everything in between, you’ll be shocked at all the things you can see and do in Billings, Montana’s Trailhead. Visit our website to view the complete cultural lineup and
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ADS PLACED PROMOTING BILLINGS TO VISITORS
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GET TO KNOW CHAMBER STAFF:
Jennifer REISER PHOTO COURTESY RHEA WOLPOE
Position: Director of Operations
If you could make one change in Billings today, what would it be?
Years on Staff: 3.5 Years
Finish the Marathon Trail Loop
The TV show you can’t miss:
I won’t miss the Green Bay Packers versus anyone – especially Super Bowl XLV!
Favorite Chamber event or program?
Youth Leadership Billings. Having had little previous experience working with high school students, each year I am always very impressed by their enthusiasm and innovative questions. We are fortunate to have great support from the parents, and for the support the school principals and counselors give to promoting the program in the schools.
Describe your position in 5 words:
Challenging, ever-changing, rewarding, problem-solving, fun!
One adjective that describes you: Focused.
Words you live by:
I try to live by, “Breathe in, breathe out, move on.”
Tell us about your photo: As a graduate of Rocky Mountain College I chose this beautiful campus because it is dear to my heart. Every time I visit, not only does it bring back great memories from the past but also serves as an inspirational place to plan for the future.
What book is on your nightstand?
I always seem to have more than one. Currently you’d find Lord of the Flies, Tribes, The Longest Ride, and my Grandfather’s Little Treasure of Prayers.
If you could have lunch with one famous person, who would it be and why? I don’t really like famous people. I would prefer a quick snack and walk with my daughters and my best friend.
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TRiPS on a TANKFUL
SOUTHEAST MONTANA WATERING HOLES BY NICK MANN, VISIT SOUTHEAST MONTANA MARKETING MANAGER
SoutheastMontana.com The mission of Visit Southeast Montana is to increase tourism to Southeast Montana by increasing awareness of our region, showcasing our cultural heritage, developing memorable experiences and educating our residents about the economic benefits of tourism.
The Jersey Lilly is a great place to hear gossip from ranchers taking a break from haying or moving cattle to grab a bite to eat. JERSEY LILLY SALOON & EATERY â€“ PHOTO COURTESY OF: VISIT SOUTHEAST MONTANA
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he microbrew scene in Billings is beginning to make a name for itself across the state and the country, but there are also some great watering holes in Southeast Montana that can provide an experience you won’t find amongst the breweries and martini bars of Billings. The Montana Bar in Miles City is one of the few classic, western saloons left in Montana. It opened on Miles City’s Main Street in 1908, complete with an Italian tile floor, long horn steer mounts, marble bathroom stalls, and a cherry wood bar. In the 106 years since it opened, it hasn’t changed much. It’s a great place to drink alongside the locals. Be sure to ask the bar tender to show you the bullet hole in the glass at the entrance, which is a reminder that gun safety was an issue even back in the Old West. The slogan of Alzada’s Stoneville Saloon, complete with sawdust on the floor and antique tools on the walls, is, “Cheap Drinks, Lousy Food, Conveniently located in the Middle of Nowhere.” The owners have a quirky sense of humor and
enjoy the saloon’s reputation as an old west biker bar and Sturgis Rally stop. Ask the locals to tell you about the Valentine’s Day Shootout involving the George Axelby gang and local lawmen that took place in 1884 on the street outside the saloon. Finally, nobody can truly claim to be a Southeast Montanan until they’ve tried the world famous baked beans at the Jersey Lilly Bar and Eatery, another saloon-style watering hole surrounded by a few dilapidated historical buildings and not much else. The Jersey Lilly is a great place to hear gossip from ranchers taking a break from haying or moving cattle to grab a bite to eat. For those new to Montana, be sure to ask for some tips on the best places to see a real Jackalope. The scene in Billings provides enough variety to meet the nightlife needs of most people, but few, if any, are as unique as these. It’s time to fill up the tank, dust off those old cowboy boots, and hit the road for a memorable, Southeast Montana getaway. Visit Southeast Montana is managed by the Billings Chamber of Commerce.
BEAVER CREEK BREWERY The Beaver Creek Brewery in Wibaux stands alone in Southeast Montana as the only microbrewery east of Billings. Since opening in a refurbished building in downtown Wibaux, Beaver Creek has become a regional hub for craft beer and live music. On weekends they regularly draw customers from as far as Miles City to the west and from North Dakota to the East. The Brewery has become so popular that the building next door, a long abandoned theater, reopened as the Gem Theatre and Pub with plenty of space for concerts and other entertainment. Aside from wine, the Gem Theatre, of course, serves Beaver Creek microbrews. The owners of Beaver Creek Brewery make it a point to use local ingredients and supplies whenever possible, but when they are unable to find what they need in Wibaux or Glendive, they come to Billings to stock up on everything from brewing equipment to paper towels. They have also begun distributing in Billings, giving local bars yet another Eastern Montana brew to offer their customers. If you’ve never tried a Beaver Creek brew, you can find them in Billings at Gusick’s or at The Vig.
MONTANA BAR IN MILES CITY – PHOTO COURTESY OF: VISIT SOUTHEAST MONTANA
ADS PLACED PROMOTING SOUTHEAST MONTANA TO VISITORS.
BEAVER CREEK BREWERY –
PHOTO COURTESY OF: VISIT SOUTHEAST MONTANA
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BILLINGS’ NEXT GENERATION OF BUSINESS & COMMUNITY LEADERS BY JULIE GREEN
My favorite saying is ‘enthusiasm moves the world.’ Through NextGen, I think we have the opportunity to make a difference. –Nichole Mehling-Miles 16 | SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2014 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY
On August 5, NextGen held its launch party at the Hilton Garden Inn. Attended by an estimated 90 people, the event served as the first of many upcoming social activities & professional development opportunities already being planned, as well as an opportunity to provide more information about the organization. PHOTO COURTESY OF: THE BILLINGS GAZETTE
It’s no secret that the business landscape has been changing across the U.S. Baby Boomers, long the leaders in the boardroom and the community, are taking the first steps toward retirement while Millennials —those born between 1982 and 2000—are streaming in the front door to begin their careers. By 2020, Generation Y (as they’re also called) will make up 50 percent of the global workforce, and nearly 75 percent of all workers a decade thereafter. “Last year we really started a process of self-examination to determine what the Chamber of the future would look like,” says Kelly McCandless, Communications Manager for the Billings Chamber of Commerce. “We recognized that we were largely missing that critical demographic. So we invited a group of individuals from our membership who were in that Millennial age range and had an open and honest discussion about what we needed to do to get others involved. That led to the creation of NextGen.”
THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS With a mission and focus on fostering networking opportunities, personal and professional development and civic leadership among young professionals, NextGen’s executive council and steering committee were created.
ZooMontana Executive Director Jeff Ewelt and Nichole Mehling-Miles, General Manager of the Billings Hilton Garden Inn, agreed to cochair the steering committee in its inaugural year. “I manage a business, I have a young family and my husband and I also own a business,” Mehling-Miles says. “The future of Billings is important to me, so I wanted to be a part of getting the organization off on the right foot as we define who we are and where we want to go.” Ewelt agrees.
Nichole Mehling-Miles, NextGen Steering
“It’s our generation’s responsibility to steer Billings in the right direction,” he says. “We have some very powerful minds in this town and I want to use them collectively to move Billings into the future.”
“I think it’s very important to take an active role in the community where you live, work or play. There are so many great things we can take on to effect change in our city.”
To ensure that the diverse needs of NextGen membership will be met, four action teams have been established on which
individuals may serve. The first focuses on social and networking opportunities, while the second is geared toward personal and professional development. Membership and marketing are incorporated into the third team, and the fourth is primarily concerned with priority projects, including service opportunities. “Ideally, we’d like each member to get involved on one of those teams,” says Mehling-Miles. “They’ll get together and decide what to accomplish as leaders. Lunch and learns, connecting people in the community, learning about how to run for public office, taking on a charity or service role—the possibilities are endless.”
A PLACE FOR EVERYONE According to Billings Chamber Director of Operations Jennifer Reiser, part of the goal of NextGen is to appeal to a variety of people,
SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2014 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 17
Jeff Ewelt, NextGen Steering Committee Co-Chair “Too many times, folks like to voice their opinions on growth but not take personal action to better a situation. That’s where we come in. We will take action, together, to better Billings.”
entrepreneurs are also on the membership rolls, demonstrating that working for a large, established company is not a precursor to joining. “It’s absolutely an opportunity for someone in an entry-level position as well as for someone more established,” suggests Mehling-Miles. “If you’re interested in staying here, in improving personally or want to grow professionally, you can find it here. It’s an organization with something for just about anyone.”
BACKED BY THE CHAMBER
PHOTO COURTESY OF: THE BILLINGS GAZETTE
John Brewer and Stefan Cattarin talk at the NextGen launch party in Billings.
both in age and profession. “Anyone between the ages of 21 and 39, who lives in Billings and/ or works here can join NextGen,” she says. “That’s a wide age range, which means we’ll have those who have been in their current job or on their career path for ten years or more who can mentor those coming in. Socially, people won’t just be interacting with those their own age; they’ll be able to connect with others and do things they might not have had the opportunity to do otherwise.” Accommodating the various needs of members will also be a priority, she notes. That means offering events at varying times to allow for different work schedules and family obligations. From the group’s inception, the executive and steering committees hoped to also attract individuals from a wide variety of businesses and industries. A look at the steering committee, as well as the nearly 100 people who have already joined, demonstrate that goal is becoming a reality. There is an impressively wide scope in the backgrounds, businesses and levels of professional skills represented. This includes those working in retail, banking, consulting and non-profit organizations. A variety of
There have been a number of organizations focused on young professionals established in Billings over the years, including several still in operation. Both Reiser and McCandless distinguish NextGen from those groups in several ways, including its nexus to the Chamber. “I believe that what differentiates this young professionals group or network from others that have come and gone over time is the Chamber Board’s commitment to developing our emerging leaders in our community,” Reiser says. “It’s a priority; we’ve spent a lot of time and effort bringing the right people together who can lead the organization and let us know where they want to take it.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF: THE BILLINGS GAZETTE
Ray Porrello, Angie Stiller and Jeff Ewelt connect at the NextGen launch party in Billings.
Ultimately, that means the Chamber serving as a resource for the steering committee and action teams. The group has already come up with a number of ideas for various activities, including lunch with a leader, professional development seminars, and programs to mentor students at MSUB, Rocky and City College. “They come to us with an idea, and we can help connect them to the right person or place to provide the services,” shares McCandless. “But we really want the group to make NextGen its own.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF: THE BILLINGS GAZETTE
Hilda Delgado-Leon, Carly Gibbs and Maisie Sulser enjoying the NextGen launch party at the Hilton Garden Inn.
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IINNTERESTED JOINING NEXTGEN?
Anyone aged 21-39 who lives and/or works in Billings is eligible to become a member. ANNUAL DUES ARE REQUIRED. ($75 for employees of a Chamber-member organization; $100 for non-Chamber members.)
Information is available at BillingsNextGen.com, or you may phone
BUSINESS RELATED TRAINING & WEBINAR OPPORTUNITIES OFFERED BY FELLOW MEMBERS
9/24: I-9 Compliance: As Easy as 1, 2, 3! A webinar offered by Associated Employers of Montana. Learn more: 406-248-6178. 9/29-10/3: Implementing a Desktop Infrastructure with Entré Technology Services. Deploy Windows 7 and Windows 8 Desktops Using Windows Server 2012 Deployment Tools. Learn more 406-256-5700. 10/6 or 10/9: Correcting Employee Performance Issues through Avitus Group. Regular and frequent communication is especially important when dealing with a performance issue. Learn more: 406255-7470. 10/8: Organizational Ethics Awareness webinar offered by Associated Employers of Montana. Learn more: 406-248-6178. 11/13-14: MSU Billings 32nd Annual Tax Practitioner Seminar. A two day program taught by Prof. John J. Connors, J.D., C.P.A., LL.M. Learn more: 406-896-5890 11/18 or 11/20: Paying Employees Properly webinar through Avitus Group. Important information that every employer should know about how they classify and pay employees. Learn more: 406-255-7470. 11/19: HR 101: Short Course in Human Resources webinar offered by Associated Employers of Montana. Learn more: 406-248-6178. 12/16 or 12/18: Developing PTO, Vacation, Sick Leave & Holiday Policies through Avitus Group. Learning how to navigate the multifaceted requirements will help you to be in compliance with the rules and help you to develop best practices for your organization. Learn more: 406-255-7470
Does your business offer webinars, trainings or workshops that may be beneficial for other Chamber members? Let us know:
email@example.com. You may be included in the next issue!
Billings Chamber proactively promotes community, business & public safety B Y S H E L L E Y VA N AT TA
DOWNTOWN BILLINGS – PHOTO COURTESY OF: THE BILLINGS GAZETTE
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In its proactive approach to addressing issues of crime prevention and public safety, the Billings Chamber of Commerce is looking to the east to gauge the impact the Bakken is having on our community, and lauds law enforcement’s multi-jurisdictional task force for its commendable use of limited resources as law enforcement agencies juggle the increasingly daunting task of keeping us safe.
BILLINGS AND BISMARCK: “BOOKENDS TO THE BAKKEN” Billings Chamber President and CEO John Brewer has been reaching out to Chambers of Commerce across the country that are close to Billings’ size, asking how they engage their members and communities in crime prevention and public safety issues. The first response Brewer received was from the Bismarck, N.D., Chamber of Commerce, requesting continuing discussions: “They had just started a safety task force, similar to what we’re doing in Billings, and they were very interested in collaborating,” reported Brewer, who said he looks forward to future dialogue, “fueling opportunities for us to discuss cross-border issues with the U.S. marshal’s office and other law enforcement agencies.” Brewer described the alliance of Billings and Bismarck as “bookends to the Bakken,” because on both ends and in between, the two cities are “hubs for a variety of activities that we both want to make sure we stay ahead of the curve on.” Law enforcement chiefs and Chamber Safety Task Force members agreed that shared information and collaboration between law enforcement and communities are essential to crime prevention. Billings has witnessed a concerning uptick in
crime statistics from a decade ago, much of which can be attributed to the transient population filtering in from the Bakken, providing a continual, worrisome ping on the crime-fighting radar of U.S. Marshal Darrell Bell, a Billings Chamber Safety Task Force member. Bell’s entire professional career has been in Montana, beginning in 1974 with the Billings Police Department. “We have to stay ahead of [these challenges], and for law enforcement, that takes money for bodies and technology. If we don’t have the money, something’s gotta give. The citizens of Billings have been overwhelmingly supportive. I’m proud to see a community stand behind the police department like this community does.” Yellowstone County Attorney and Billings native Scott Twito said that in the realm of crime statistics, “It’s not all bad news.” Twito, who also sits on the Billings Chamber’s Safety Task Force, encourages the community, especially businesses, to visit his office’s Billings Crime Watch for Businesses Facebook page. The timeliness of social media, he touted, proves to be a significant aid in catching criminals. Once suspicious activity is posted to the Facebook page, it immediately is reported to other merchants and to law enforcement: “It’s fast, it’s effective, and it works,” he quipped with a broad smile.
BILLINGS POLICE PATROL DOWNTOWN BILLINGS – PHOTO COURTESY OF: THE BILLINGS GAZETTE
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BILLINGS CRIME WATCH FOR BUSINESSES One idea being vetted is a citywide Crime Watch for Business program, a sister to the community’s Neighborhood Watch program, and similar to the Downtown Billings Association’s long-established Crime Watch for Business program, organized through the Billings Police Department, the Crime Prevention Center, and the DBA. DBA’s Greg Krueger is proud of the lower crime rate in downtown Billings, which he attributed to their program: “Every one of our 500 businesses has a Crime Watch decal in its window. Every business owner receives a pamphlet that lists all business owners’ phone numbers, so if there is suspicious activity in any of our businesses, we work our phone tree to alert the other shopkeepers and offices so they are aware.” In advocating downtown’s Crime Watch for
Business program, Krueger pointed out that the calls requesting law enforcement services coming from the downtown district are far fewer than in other beats. “The calls for service would be much higher if we didn’t have our two beat cops,” asserted Krueger. Taking downtown Billings’ Crime Watch for Business program and extending it citywide might be too ambitious to do all at once, Krueger, acknowledged, “But if we could break the city into neighborhoods, and do it in phases, it could be very effective.”
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS? CHAMBER MEMBERS SHARE THEIR TIPS FOR BUSINESS CRIME PREVENTION AND EMPLOYEE SAFETY: ASSOCIATED EMPLOYERS
Bryan Peterson, vice president of AE’s eastern region, offers the following advice: • Make sure the perimeter of your building is properly lit, and check often to make certain all lights work. • Consider pre-employment drug-and-alcohol testing. • Conduct background checks on all potential employees to get a good idea of who you’re bringing through the door. • Encourage employees always to be aware of their surroundings; it can be as simple as having their car keys ready from the time they leave the building. This especially is important as it gets dark. • Keep valuables out of sight in your car so someone won’t be waiting for you. • Communication is essential; let someone know when you’re working late. • Employees always should have an awareness of their surroundings, and should feel comfortable coming to someone in the company if they perceive a threat. It’s better to be proactive than reactive. • Limit cash on site. • Consider establishing a process for vendors and visitors so that non-employees are not walking freely throughout the business. There could be a check-in log and visitor badges, depending on the size and type of business. • When terminating employees, treat them with dignity to avoid lingering animosity.
WESTERN HERITAGE CENTER Julie Dial, Executive Director, worked with the downtown Billings police officers and other safety professionals to conduct a safety audit of the WHC. Based on this advice, the WHC has made the following changes in recent years: • Added interior and exterior cameras. • Strategically placed lighting to maximize safety. • Adjusted landscaping to provide maximum visibility and minimizing comfort while still being aesthetically pleasing. • As a community-gathering place, the staﬀ has taken CPR and first-aid training so they would be ready if the need were to arise. • Staﬀ and volunteers walk to their cars together, and encourage volunteers to move their cars to the front of the building, not, Dial says, because of perceived danger in the area; rather, she said, “It’s smart to take preventive measures; to be safe and prepared.” • As part of AAM accreditation, an extensive evacuation and emergency plan takes into account numerous diﬀerent scenarios.
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TOM SCOTT, First Interstate Bank
Billings Chamber Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
B Y K E L LY M C C A N D L E S S
“I’m shocked and honored to be selected by the Billings Chamber of Commerce as this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. It is truly humbling to receive such recognition. Billings has been a part of my life for many years, and it will always be a community that I consider home.”
Each year the Billings Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors selects a community member to recognize as the Lifetime Achievement honoree. This award recognizes an outstanding individual who dedicated his/her career to improving the business climate in our community while giving back to improve our quality of life. The 2014 Lifetime Achievement Honoree is Tom Scott with First Interstate Bank. “No one better deserves this type of recognition,” says Chamber Board Chair Ron Yates. “Tom and three generations of the Scott family worked tirelessly operating and expanding First Interstate BancSystem throughout Montana and Wyoming. Tom’s efforts, vision and strong leadership are universally-recognized and widely-respected.” Upon hearing he’d been selected for this award, Tom remarked, “I’m shocked and honored to
be selected by the Billings Chamber of Commerce as this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. It is truly humbling to receive such recognition. Billings has been a part of my life for many years, and it will always be a community that I consider home.” Tom Scott was born in Sheridan, Wyoming, and grew up on the family ranch, beginning his banking career in 1969. Tom and his wife, Joan, moved to Billings in 1970 and as the family’s banking interests expanded, Tom’s responsibilities focused on managing a growing, multi-bank holding company. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of First Interstate BancSystem, Inc. and served as its CEO from 1978 to 2003, and as a Director since 1971.
Yates further explained the board’s selection by saying, “Tom Scott’s career is a tremendous business success story. Tom & Joan made an unbelievable monetary and sweat-equity investment in Billings, as well as all of Montana and Wyoming, while also being extremely generous with their time and personal assets. Billings and the entire region are better places to live, work, and visit thanks to a lifetime of personal efforts and professional achievements by Tom Scott.” On behalf of everyone at the Billings Chamber of Commerce, our board of directors, and the Billings community, we sincerely congratulate Tom Scott on this significant honor and recognition.
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Tribes by Seth Godin
REVIEWED BY JOHN BREWER During one of the Chamber’s first NextGen meetings, one participant likened the development process and evolution of this group to examples given in Seth Godin’s book Tribes. A week later the book showed up on my desk with a nice note of appreciation (thank you Dustin Frost). Tribes explores the motives behind people’s engagement in a group and the importance of communication to maintain the connectivity. Whether leading staff, customers, a committee, or other volunteer group, you will find Godin’s message helpful: “A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected
to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). It’s our nature.” All a tribe needs is a shared interest, a leader, and a means of communication.
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MEET DIFFERENT MEMBERS EVERY WEEK
BY RENE BEYL, MEMBERSHIP DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANT
Looking for an opportunity to meet with other members?
Consider adding Collaborate to your weekly schedule. This benefit is open to all members with no added costs. During the meetings you have an opportunity to share notable details about the services or products provided by your business. Stop by the Billings Depot at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays as you are able; there is not an attendance rule. The group starts with introductions and business news, then allows time for community announcements, scheduled member spotlight talks and tackles timely topics related to business challenges. Information is shared about changes
in ownership and new businesses. One recent discussion was on the challenge of finding workers with a low unemployment rate. Since the size and attendees of the group can vary from week to week, conversations are varied and a dynamic selection of businesses perform as resources for one another. Members who attend often report a different mix of people at each meeting and site that meeting new people each week in this format as one of the most valuable benefits of membership. To learn more about Collaborate, simply attend Wednesday’s at 10:30 a.m. at the Billings Depot, or call the Membership Team at 406-245-4111.
Business After Hours
October 8th Anytime Fitness – Westend Location 605 24th Street West 5pm to 7pm, $8 per person November 12th Stockman Bank – Shiloh Location 1450 Shiloh Road 5pm to 7pm, $8 per person December 10th St. Vincent Hospital 1233 N. 30th Street 5pm to 7pm, $8 per person
Billings Chamber Annual Meeting & Business Expo Holiday Inn Convention Center September 18th 2014 Lunch 11:45 to 1:00 $30 per person, reserved tables of 10 available for $300 Business Expo runs from 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and is open to the public. Annual Ag Appreciation Banquet January 2015 (day TBD) at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana.
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w w w. e i d e b a i l l y. c o m / t e c h n o l o g y
GET TO KNOW THE BOARD:
WALTERS PHOTO COURTESY RHEA WOLPOE
Business: Vertex Consulting Group Chief Operating Officer
Board Position: Vice Chair
Years as a Chamber Member:
One adjective that describes you: Creative
What was your first job:
Words you live by:
“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein
What is the number one thing in Billings you’d take a visiting friend to see/do? I’m a lifelong baseball fan so it would probably be a Mustangs game. Dehler Park is a phenomenal facility for a community of our size, with a great fan base. Magic City Blues would be a close second.
Why you took this photo:
Art has been a significant part of my life since I was very young, but I truly fell in love with stained glass as a medium. I have a very technical professional career, so staying connected to art in my personal life really keeps me grounded and can be somewhat of a refuge for me. Projects like the ones I’ve done for Rocky Mountain Bank (pictured) are really a peek into the personal side of me.
If you had a super power, what would it be?
Favorite TV show and why:
The first job for which I actually got paid is still one of my favorites. I spent an entire summer when I was fifteen helping to renovate and reassemble an antique theater pipe organ. When it was finished, we hosted a movie brunch and showed the original black-and-white silent version of “Phantom of the Opera” with pipe organ accompaniment.
The Walking Dead. I’ve always been a fan of zombie movies, going way back to George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead.” Getting an opportunity last fall to actually be a zombie in a locally produced movie just cemented my ongoing zombie crush.
As a board member, you have the inside scoop. What would you share about the Chamber that other members may not know? I think a lot of members don’t realize the amount of time and genuine effort by the Chamber staff that goes directly into promoting their businesses and giving them opportunities to be successful.
Absolutely the ability to fly. As a young boy, I had a regular, recurring dream that I could fly and I often looked forward to going to sleep…just in the hope that the dream would re-visit me.
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You get to make one change for the Billings community today – what would you do? I would enable Billings to implement a local option tax. We need to find ways to develop and grow the community; maintain and expand infrastructure; and continue to enhance our quality of life – not only for our citizens, but as an economic development driver as well. With several million out-oftown visitors a year, the inability to even consider a local option tax is potentially leaving millions of dollars on the table.
Did we see you out and about at Chamber events? Look for yourself and your friends here! If we missed you, snap a picture at the mext meeting or event you attend and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!
John Brewer, Rick Leuthold and Michael Sanderson before the U.S. Small Business of the Year Award was announced.
Visit Billings and Visit Southeast Montana host a site visit with Bitter Creek Outfitters in July as part of booking the 2015 Hot Bike Tour. The Collaborat e meeting held one Wednesday over the summer at The Depot.
Steve Wahrlich prepares fro the Trailhead Classic Golf Tournament in May.
Members enjoy the view from atop the Yellowtail dam during the Ag Tour in June. Members check out the articfacts at the Big Horn County Museum during the Ag Tour in June.
Members enjoy Business After Hours in May at Rimrock Auto GMC Cadillac.
Ready to board the bus for Big Horn County Museum during the Ag Tour.
Visit Billings hosts at booth at the BMW MOA Rally in St. Paul Minnesota in July ahead of hosting the group in Billings next summer.
Volunteers and Visit Billings staff member Morgan prepare to guide visitors in the Visitor Information Center.
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MOBILE MARKETING WITH BIG SKY LOYALTY BY BRUCE MACINTYRE AND KATHERINE COLE
Big Sky Loyalty, LLC is a mobile marketing company located in Billings that specializes in delivering results to clients through Loyalty Rewards kiosks integrated with text messaging. There are many businesses that do not understand the power of text messaging as a key component of a marketing plan and Big Sky Loyalty is dedicated to helping companies leverage the power of loyalty and text message marketing with easy and affordable options. Don Jones, President of Big Sky Loyalty and long-time Billings resident, says, “I’ve been in management of professional services firms where marketing was a key component of my responsibilities. Now, as a graduate of Masterminds University, developing plans for text message marketing and implementing them is what I do.” Big Sky Loyalty is working to take mobile marketing to a new level in the Billings area. According to Jones, 97% of text messages get read. He shares that his greatest challenge, especially with seasoned business owners, is to gain understanding of the power of text messaging, especially if the decision maker does not use it on a personal basis. Jones says that this marketing method is easy and affordable for businesses of all sizes and understands that no other form of advertising gets a greater return on investment than mobile marketing. Big Sky Loyalty is an “opt-In” system meaning recipients optin to texts from a business. Jones explains, “This type of opt-in system develops a loyal following of people essentially saying, ‘Yes, please market directly to me because I am interested in your offers.’ That type of quality reception to any marketing is exceedingly difficult to attain in today’s marketplace.” Jones has been involved with the chamber for twenty years, with some of the highlights including Leadership Billings in 1997 and chairing the Local Government committee for three years. Jones believes the Chamber is a great organization to keep him connected to the business community in Billings and utilizes his membership to further those connections and grow his business. DON JONES BY ONE OF HIS KIOSKS AT FUDDRUCKER’S PHOTO BY: BIG SKY LOYALTY
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Ribbon Cuttings The following Chamber member businesses recently celebrated grand openings, anniversaries, rebranding, relocation, and ground breakings. Congratulations to each of them!
VALLEY FEDERAL CREDIT UNION celebrated the grand opening of their new location at 2955 Grand Avenue on May 19th.
FIRST INTERSTATE BANK
celebrated the grand opening of their new branch located at Shiloh Crossing on May 22nd.
LEDGESTONE HOTEL celebrated their grand opening on May 29th. BIG SKY PET RESORT celebrated their ground breaking on May 30th.
CHRYSALIS COVE & JOY’S HAVEN celebrated the grand opening of their new homes for Tumbleweed runaways on May 30th.
BREWER DENTAL ORTHODONTIC AND PEDIATRIC CENTER celebrated
the grand opening of their expansion on June 2nd.
AUTO TRIM DESIGN celebrated the grand opening of their new location on June 4th.
MORNING STAR SENIOR LIVING
celebrated their new ownership and rebranding on June 19th.
BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY celebrated
their rebranding on July 1st.
UNDERRINER MOTORS celebrated the grand opening of their expanded location near Zoo Drive on August 8th. MOSSMAIN COLLEGE OF THERAPEUTIC MASSAGE
celebrated their grand opening on August 8th. 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.
Big Sky Loyalty is working to take mobile marketing to a new level in the Billings area. According to Don Jones, 97% of text messages get read.
Trailblazers at Underriner Motors in August. PHOTO COURTESY OF: BILLINGS CHAMBER
SMALL BUSINESS, BIG STAGE:
HOW TO BUILD A NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED SMALL BUSINESS One small business’ innovation and big-picture planning lead to major results. BY KARI ANDREN
The firm’s recent growth and innovation got it recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a Blue Ribbon Small Business, and ultimately landed the company on top of the small business world as the National Dream Big Small Business of the Year for 2014.
SANDERSON STEWART’S RICK LEUTHOLD & MICHAEL SANDERSON RECEIVING THEIR AWARD FROM THE U.S. CHAMBER PHOTO COURTESY: SANDERSON STEWART
Few businesses are woven into the fabric of a community like Sanderson Stewart is in Billings. The firm has literally shaped the face of the Billings community with its designs for some of Billings’ most high profile projects. Projects like Lake Hills, Rimrock Mall, Homestead Business Park and the Shiloh Road corridor allowed Sanderson Stewart to place its enduring stamp on the community. From humble beginnings 50 years ago in a garage on Grand Avenue, Sanderson Stewart adapted and changed over the years; growing from a small, one-office civil engineering and surveying firm to a full-service planning and design consultancy serving the entire region. Long recognized locally as experts in land development and transportation, now the firm’s business practices are getting noticed, too. The firm’s recent growth and innovation got it recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a Blue Ribbon Small Business, and ultimately landed the company on top of the small business world as the National Dream Big Small Business of the Year for 2014.
The Billings Chamber of Commerce nominated Sanderson Stewart for this award because of their community-minded actions. “Their civic leadership, support for our trails initiative, local service, and employee-friendly work environment truly make them stand out in the small business world,” says John Brewer, President and CEO of the Billings Chamber. “Their wonderful work building enduring communities throughout the region and their vision for creative problem solving in Billings yields a company we should all be proud of.” Michael Sanderson, President and Chief Executive Officer, said the company significantly transformed in recent years. “The recession forced some pretty deep introspection, and our leadership team realized we needed to adapt to a new marketplace and a new workforce if we were going to remain competitive for the next 50 years. We knew we needed to remain technically excellent, but beyond that we really re-envisioned, retooled and transformed the firm into a 21st century type of company.” He said that the U.S. Chamber’s selection criteria were well aligned with Sanderson Stewart’s strategic priorities. “The Chamber was looking for companies that were building great company
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cultures and doing innovative work in the areas of strategic business planning, employee development, customer service, and community involvement. These were our priorities too.” He also said it’s important to take some chances, saying, “I think the way we do things can be a little bold and even a little edgy, so it catches peoples’ attention. We’re not afraid to push some buttons, and we try to have some fun with everything we do.” Sanderson says that community involvement is especially important to the firm. “It’s really a core value of ours that we have to take care of the communities that take care of us. It’s a fundamental part of being successful in a community-based business.” The firm has a philanthropy committee and commits significant resources to supporting local organizations through direct charitable giving, in-kind services, and volunteer service. “The Billings Chamber is one of those organizations that we are really invested in. We see the Chamber’s commitment to building the quality of life in Billings as well-aligned with our firm’s core purpose ‘to plan and design enduring communities.’”
YOUR CHANCE TO ADVERTISE in the December issue of
CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF CHAMBER MOTIVATI ON
ARTICLES WILL COVER THE 2015 LEGISLATURE, AGRICULTURE, TOURISM AND MUCH MORE!
CONNECT WITH BILLINGS’ NEWSCOMERS
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MARCH 2014 | LiNK BUSINESS QUART
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