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LEGACY AWARD FOR 2015 GOES TO

KAREN SANFORD GALL

wing ding 38

GET TO KNOW CHAMBER BOARD MEMBER

PATRICE ELLIOTT

I S S U E 7 | S E P T E M B E R - N O V E M B E R 2015

Filling the Workforce Gap

BILLINGS CHAMBER NATIONALlY HONORed Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives

2015 Chamber of the Year


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table of contents

features

9.15 CONTENTS Filling the workforce talent gap

p.18

BILLINGS CHAMBER LEGACY AWARD WINNER KAREN SANFORD GALL

p. 23

THE BEST OF THE BEST

p.16

Billings Chamber of Commerce wins Chamber of the Year Award.

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

p.28

Paynewest Insurance.

4 | SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY


departments

9.15 EVERY ISSUE

p.6

PRESIDENTS LETTER

Your Chamber staff, board of directors and you, our members: simply the best in the country!

Grow

p.7

Connecting employers with potential workforce.

HORIZONS

p.8

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

ADVOCATE

p.9

City Council Elections bring 19 candidates. Who will you vote for?

MONTANA’S TRAILHEAD Visit Billings books Wing Ding 38 for September 2016.

GET TO KNOW NICK MANN Marketing Director of Visit Southeast Montana

p.10

p.13

TRIPS ON A TANKFUL

p.14

Hunting season in Southeast Montana.

Get to Know PATRICE ELLIOT

p. 26

CONNECT

p.24

We’re celebrating a breakthrough year!

LiNKED

p. 27

Did we see you at recent Chamber events? Look for yourself and your friends in LiNKED!

SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 5


Top Investors

FROM THE PRESiDENT/CEO

Big Sky level

Your Chamber staff, board of directors and you, our members: simply the best in the country! Receiving the Chamber of the Year award from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives is an honor that every chamber in the nation aspires to.

As a member of this organization you volunteer on committees, finically support the Chamber and its initiatives, evangelize all the great work we are doing—and the work that still needs to be done—and offer direction to move Billings toward a brighter tomorrow. The Chamber of the Year Award was earned by the Billings Chamber in large part because of you. Thank you. We are fully aware that this honor was only a stepping stone to what will come next. In this issue of LiNK we focus on one of the next big initiatives for Billings: addressing our workforce shortage. With just over 3% unemployment, Billings businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water, let alone grow. Our 1,200 members point to workforce shortages as a top concern. Big Sky Economic Development, the Billings Chamber and over 120 private business and 15 community leaders are addressing this issue through the BillingsWorks initiative. There are two broad areas being addressed that will improve our workforce shortage: increasing the available

Granite Peak level CenturyLink Holiday Station Stores U.S. Bank

Beartooth level Albertsons District Office Bay, LTD Big Sky Economic Development BNSF Century 21 Hometown Brokers Charter Business Computers Unlimited Crowley Fleck PLLP Denny Menholt Chevrolet ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Co. Gainan’s Integra Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. Olsen Ortho Studio PayneWest Insurance Phillips 66 Rocky Mountain College Stockman Bank, Billings Underriner Honda Vertex Consulting Group Walmart, Heights Western Security Bank, Downtown

workforce pool by encouraging relocation to Billings; and bridging the skills gap to better address the needs of employers. BillingsWorks will soon launch a web portal to connect employers and employees with resources to attract employees to Billings and provide job and internship opportunities. In the meantime, the Chamber launched a jobs board (which can be found on the Chamber’s homepage) and the Chamber’s NextGen young professionals group is deep into their mentorship partnership with Montana State University Billings students. Part of Billings’ success as a regional leader is our diversified economy and industry. From healthcare to energy, agriculture to retail services, manufacturing to financial services; all industries play key roles in our appeal and growth. The state of the workforce article in this issue of LiNK dives deeper into what is being done and how you will be able to use our tools.

LiNK is proudly distributed at these member businesses: • Atlas Chiropractic • Beartooth Vision • Brewer Dental • Montana Medical Aesthetics • Olsen Ortho Studio • Riverstone Health • St. Vincent Healthcare

• Barnett Opticians • BioLife Plasma • Grand Avenue Dental • Moulton Bellingham • Prill Dental • Starbucks

Published by:

The Billings Gazette

Project Management/ Editor:

Kelly McCandless

Designer:

Nadine Bittner

Photo Contributors:

Advertising Sales:

Billings Gazette Staff Photographers, Billings Chamber, Visit Billings, Rhea Wolpoe Kevin Cremer 406-245-4111

www.billingschamber.com PO Box 31177 Billings MT 59107-1177 406-245-4111 • 800-711-2630

Fax 406-245-7333

6 | SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

Crowne Plaza MSU Billings


GROW

HELP WANTED

Connecting Employers with Potential Workforce BY JENNIFER REISER, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

As of July 2015, unemployment is at 3.2% in Yellowstone County.

As a partner in BillingsWorks, the Billings Chamber saw a need to create a link between our Chamber member businesses and the potential workforce. Job seekers have a number of tools available to them to find the next job: gone is the sole reliance on the want ads, job service postings and employment agencies. Now there’s Monster, Craigslist, jobs boards and social communication that all come into play. Recently the Chamber released a new Jobs Board to help our nearly 1,200 member businesses find qualified employees. In many cases, the first stop someone new to our community makes is to the Billings Chamber

JOBS BOARD

for information. They need maps, information on events and attractions in our area, visitor or relocation packets and, ultimately, information on employment in the area. For every person who stops in to visit, there are many more who visit our website looking for the same information.

members, the jobs board becomes one more in an array of member benefits we offer, and for job seekers, the resource offers quality employment opportunities from vetted businesses involved in a reputable community organization. The new Jobs Board is accessible at BillingsChamber. com/job-board/.

Chamber members can extend their reach to the hundreds of locals and potential newcomers to Billings who use our website daily. Jobs post for 30 days for just $100, and posting is complimentary to Rimrock Level members and above. (If needed, call 245-4111 for details about your business’ membership level). For our

In addition, Chamber members who offer services to job seekers are highlighted on the page. The new Jobs Board is one step toward addressing current and future workforce needs in Billings.

Chamber Statistics: What are we doing for you?

As of June 30, 2015, the end of our fiscal year, the Billings Chamber represents 1,181 members with approximately 47,935 employees. Since the beginning of our fiscal year on July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015: Number of Calls/Inquiries:...........9,925 (average of 827/month) Visitors to the Visitor Information Center:.......................... 4,780 Visits to VisitBillings.com:................................................ 190,759 Visits to BillingsChamber.com:..........................................38,095 Relocation Packets Mailed:.....................................................203

Connect for Lunch:................ 373 lunches served so far this FY. At an average cost of $12/lunch that is an impact of $4,476 to member restaurants.

Convention and Meeting Tourism Bookings:.................... 56,164 hotel room nights booked for $12,636,900 total economic impact on the city of Billings.

Conventions and Meetings Serviced by Visit Billings:.......5,820 convention delegate packets provided.

Visitor Information Packets Mailed:..................................25,295 Business Meeting Attendees at Chamber:........................ 11,350 Chamber Event Attendance:.................................................8,297

Is your info current? Make sure we’re sharing the correct information with potential clients! Check your listing at BillingsChamber.com and let us know if changes are needed.

SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 7


Community Statistics

KEY ECONOMIC INDICATORS Hotel Occupancy

80.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 70.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 60.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 50.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 40.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10.0%___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 0.0%____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2014

2015

Billings

2013 Montana

2012

United States

Unemployment Rate Comparison County Population

City Population

154,200 106,954

Yellowstone

3.2%

Montana

4.0%

COUNTY STATE

United

Percent change in county population 2010-2013

4.2%

STATES

5.3% Unemployment Rate as of July 2015 Yellowstone County

Median Household Income

$50,608

Montana

United States

Airport Deboardings: City Comparison 600,000_______________________________________________________________________________________

500,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Average Home Price

$231,072

400,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________

300,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________ Number of Business Licenses

7,350

200,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________

100,000_________________________________________________________________________________________________

School District #2 Enrollment

16,277

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

0 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

2015**

2014 Billings

Bozeman

2013* Missoula

2012

*2013 Billings deboardings were impacted by runway maintenance in July/August. **2015 deboardings reported for January – June only.

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BUSiNESS ADVOCACY

CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS

BY BRUCE MACINTYRE, Director of Government Affairs and Business Advocacy

Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain if your preferred candidate does not get elected. When registrations for city council closed on July 2nd, there were a record number of candidates for the five wards. There have been elections where only one candidate filed in a ward, so this is a pleasant surprise. Thank you to the nineteen candidates who would like to be our voice in city government. The Billings Chamber gets numerous requests for information on candidates, issues and legislative actions, so it is important for us to be well-versed on all things political. I sent out a request to each candidate asking who they are and why they are running. As the responses come in, I am impressed with the variety of backgrounds and the motivation to file for office. On September 15th, the list of candidates was paired down to ten. The top two vote-getters in each precinct will move

CITY HALL - DOWNTOWN BILLINGS

PHOTO COURTESY OF: GAZETTE STAFF

on to the general election in November. I encourage you to get to know the candidates in your ward. If one comes to the door, ask the questions of importance to you. Study the materials you may receive in the mail, that are left at your door, and that we post at http:// publicpolicy.billingschamber.com. Every candidate has his or her address, e-mail address and phone number listed so you can call or e-mail them. Finally, be sure to vote. Often a primary election will receive low voter turnout and it is important that you cast your ballot. After the primary results are final, we will post the information we have received on our Public Policy website. This will remain a quality place for information on the ten remaining candidates. Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain if your preferred candidate does not get elected.

LEARN ABOUT YOUR CANDIDATES FOR CITY COUNCIL. Visit OUR POLICY website:

PublicPolicy.billingsChamber.com

SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 9


Honda Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) members will converge on Billings September 1-4, 2016 bringing 10,000 riders to enjoy the community and the surrounding area during Wing Ding 38.

VISIT BILLINGS BOOKS

WING DING 38 FOR MONTANA’S TRAILHEAD by alex tyson EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VISIT BILLINGS


Visit Billings is proud to announce that Montana’s Trailhead will host one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the nation in 2016. Honda Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) members will converge on Billings September 1-4, 2016 bringing 10,000 riders to enjoy the community and the surrounding area during Wing Ding 38. In early September, Visit Billings staff and members of the Billings Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) Board secretly traveled to Huntsville, Alabama to officially reveal the 2016 destination to Wing Ding 37 attendees. “For several years we tried to inspire GWRRA to choose Billings as a Wing Ding host city again, but we didn’t have enough hotels to accommodate their growing convention attendance,” said Alex Tyson, Executive Director of Visit Billings, the tourism arm of the Billings Chamber of Commerce. “Now, with more than 800 new sleeping rooms available in Billings, strong lodging options in surrounding towns, and financial support from the Billings Tourism Business Improvement District, one of the budget sources of Visit Billings, our team was able to get them to look our way again.” The Labor Day weekend event will have a huge, multi-million dollar impact on the local economy. Wing Ding 38 will begin on Thursday, September 1st running through Sunday afternoon, September 4th at MetraPark. To illustrate in part what to expect, Billings successfully hosted the BMW MOA International Motorcycle Rally this past July, and the economic impact was nearly five million dollars on Billings for the three day Rally. Wing Ding 38 will attract nearly twice the attendance for the four day event. Wing Dingers will decorate their

bikes to show off the luxury rides to the community during their light parade and will particularly enjoy all of Billings’ ice cream shops. Trailhead hospitality will be as important as ever and Visit Billings will once again spearhead installation of welcome signs, flags, billboards, as well as storefront posters and buttons for merchants and front line employees who can make a significant customer service impact on visitors. “We are quite fortunate to have the ability to host two major city wide motorcycle conventions in nearly a one year period,” said Tyson. “It speaks volumes of Billings’ growth as a destination, the importance of facilities like MetraPark, funding from hoteliers via the TBID, as well as regional attractions like the Beartooth Highway and Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area and access to historic points of interest like Pompeys Pillar and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monuments.” Wing Ding riders previously visited Montana’s Trailhead in 1997, 2000 and 2007.

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. VisitBillings.com Visit Billings is managed by the Billings Chamber of Commerce.

SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 11


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GET TO KNOW CHAMBER STAFF:

Nick MANN

photo COURTESY R H E A W O L PO E

Position:

Marketing Director of Visit Southeast Montana

Years on Staff: 6 Years

What is one thing about the organization you think most people don’t know?

I don’t think people realize how far-reaching the organization is. With the combination of the three entities, the work we do here goes beyond just Billings and touches the lives of everyone in our region, and, in some cases, the entire state.

Describe your position in 5 words. Surprising, gratifying, challenging, growing, fun.

Favorite Chamber/ Visit Billings/ SEMT event or program?

My favorite event would have to be the Chamber Breakfast. Particularly in the last few years, I love seeing the buzz surrounding it and how the city has come to anticipate it for its amazing speakers each year. I can’t wait to find out who we bring in next.

Tell us about your photo:

The Rims, and in particular Kelly Mountain, has always been a place I’ve loved. Growing up I would go there whenever I needed a place to relax, think, or just get away from the hustle and bustle of life.

If you could make one change in Billings today, what would it be? I would love to see the riverfront developed as park land. We have two amazing natural resources here in the Rims and the Yellowstone River. I’d like to see us utilize them better.

The TV show you can’t miss:

The dish you’re known for cooking?

I make a mean breakfast scramble.

I’m a self-proclaimed space geek. I can always watch an episode of Star Trek or two.

If you could have lunch with one famous person, who would it be and why? I’d have to choose SpaceX/Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk. He has accomplished so much in a short amount of time, and he’s always looking toward the future. Also he builds space ships, which is awesome.

Words you live by:

Find a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. -Robert Mondavi

SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 13


TRiPS on a TANKFUL

Hunting Season in Southeast Montana By NICK MANN, 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.

FISHING THE BIGHORN – PHOTO COURTESY OF: doNNIE SEXTON - MTOT

ummer is winding down, and with the approaching fall comes a time of year for which many Montanan’s have been patiently waiting for ten long months: hunting season. It’s no secret that Montana is a state which should appear on the bucket list of most serious hunters. In a single trip a hunter has the opportunity to bag a trophy elk, deer, and antelope. Montana has plentiful public lands, plentiful big game, and, most importantly, a lack of people. Nowhere in our great state is this more true than in Southeast Montana.

This is also a season when many of the restaurants and motels in Southeast Montana’s small towns gear up for their busiest time of the year, catering to the hunters who flock to this area from places as close as Billings and as far as New York City. Hunting, which by necessity can only take place during what is known in the tourism industry as the shoulder season, is a major economic stimulus for the Southeast Montana economy. Our region is particularly attractive to out of state archery hunters because we are one of the only areas in Montana which possesses a blue ribbon trout stream that is fishable in September, when archery season typically begins.

14 | SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

This stream is, of course, the Big Horn River. Not everyone in Billings grew up in Montana and was raised in this hunting tradition, and many of those who did grow up here may have never put on an orange vest or sighted in a hunting rifle. If you are a hunting novice, but want to experience the exhilaration of bringing home a trophy animal (even if the trophy status is just in your mind), you don’t have to worry. There are a multitude of hunting and fishing guides operating in Southeast Montana that will provide everything you need to have the sportsman’s experience of a lifetime. Learn more at southeastmontana.com.


Gardner Ranch Outfitters By Nick ManN

POWDER RIVER BREAKES – PHOTO COURTESY OF: DENNIS COELLO

ANTELOPE

PHOTO COURTESY OF: GAZETTE STAFF

One of the premier hunting outfitters operating in Southeast Montana is Gardner Ranch Outfitters. Located in Powder River County near Broadus, a well-known hotspot for deer, elk, and antelope, Gardner Ranch Outfitters caters to over 80 clients each year.

Doug Gardner, the owner, finds that many of his clients come in search of a big game trifecta: elk, deer, and antelope. In the areas he guides in the Powder River Breaks, it is rare that his clients don’t go home with all three. He also caters to a growing number of archery hunters. With archery season opening in early September, these clients often couple their hunting experience with a fishing trip on the Big Horn River. Though some of Doug’s customers are Montana residents, most are from out of state, with around half of his customers flying into Billings. When they do, they will typically spend at least two nights in Billings as they arrive and when they leave. Doug’s business, and others like him, provide a much needed stimulus to our economy when conventional tourism traffic is typically down. Anyone interested in an all-inclusive Montana hunting experience complete with supplies, food, lodging, and sage advice should visit Doug’s website at www. gardnerranchoutfitters.com.

ELK IN MORNING SUNLIGHT – PHOTO COURTESY OF: GAZETTE STAFF

SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 15


The BEST of the

b y K ELLY M C C AN D LESS

Best

Bill Cole, Jeff Walters, John Brewer, Ron Yates, Jennifer Reiser, Kevin Cremer and Kelly McCandless accept the Chamber of the Year award in MontreaL in august PHOTO COURTESY OF: BILLINGS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

16 | SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY


During ACCE’s annual conference in Montreal in August, John and Jennifer met with a panel of four judges and underwent a thorough question and answer process. They walked away feeling confident, but we knew our competition was stiff. Gainesville, Florida and Waco, Texas had exceptional applications, competitive projects, and impressive professionals. We are humbled to be in such remarkable company. “In the end, we walked away with the honor and we couldn’t be more gratified,” John shared. “I am so proud of the staff and the board. They are simply the best in the nation and should be proud of the work they do.”

John Brewer and Jennifer Reiser Celebrating the 2015 Chamber of the Year Award PHOTO COURTESY OF: BILLINGS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives

2015 Chamber of the Year It had been a while since any of us sitting at the table felt nervous jitters like we were that evening. The entire event had been a slew of announcements honoring a variety of outstanding individuals and projects in the chamber of commerce world, and we’d finally reached our moment of truth. All eight of us from Billings seated at the table seemed to hold our breath as the announcer said, “And the winner of the category three Chamber of the Year for 2015 is.... BILLINGS!!!” And the crowd went wild! Hugs and high fives, a few tears, and a slightly chaotic rush to the stage rounded out our moment. The Billings Chamber of Commerce was officially the Chamber of the Year – meaning we are the number one chamber of our size out of all qualifying chambers in the nation. The honor is the nation’s only award recognizing the dual role chambers have in leading businesses and communities. According to the Association for Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), those honored with the Chamber of the Year designation have demonstrated organizational strength and made an impact on key community priorities,

such as education, transportation, business development and quality of life. “Our application process was rigorous to say the least,” said Billings Chamber President and CEO John Brewer. He continued to explain that we had to qualify as an organization to even be invited to apply for the award – a feat achieved by only 33 other chambers across all five categories. Once eligible, we submitted an extremely comprehensive application highlighting our entire organization, our operations, and detailing projects we felt were exceptional examples of our work. “The projects we highlighted were our Trails Initiative and our Defining Tomorrow: Chamber of the Future Initiative,” says Jennifer Reiser, Chief Operating Officer. “The projects showcase our commitment to bettering our community in an inclusive way that spans both quality of life and business/workforce recruitment, as well as our fearless nature to look inward, take risks, and make changes – even when we’re at the top of our game.” The application got the team through to the top three in our category, but we still had one major hurdle to clear: the in-person interview.

We often talk about how our organization moves Billings toward a better place for business to thrive and people to live. This is an incredible moment for Billings. As they say, “a rising tide floats all boats.” The Billings Chamber is the rising tide, and we are bringing Billings along with us. A chamber does not get to this position without a board and staff willing to take risks, stick their necks out when required, speak with one voice and support the team. Our leadership is not only making an impact locally, it’s being recognized, celebrated and now imitated all across the country. Be part of what’s next for Billings – our community is limitless and your Billings Chamber won’t stop here. It’s a breakthrough year and we hope you’ll join us as we continue to break the mold, reinvent ourselves, and improve our community.

This is an incredible moment for Billings. As they say, “a rising tide floats all boats.” The Billings Chamber is the rising tide, and we are bringing Billings along with us.

SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 17


Filling the workforce talent-gap to ensure a robust economy b y S H ELLEY V AN ATTA


A conversation that begun two years ago by the Big Sky Economic Development Authority and Corporation, joined by the Billings Chamber, business, industry, and educational partners, now has reached the ears of over 3,000 Yellowstone County businesses, and the buzz it is creating very conceivably could turn the Billings community into the premier hub for workforce development in the economic region, bridging the skill-gap that has threatened to hamper business growth in our area. BillingsWorks: If you have not yet heard about it, you will. A business-driven initiative with an engine sparked by a Workforce Council of seasoned leaders whose collaborative efforts are focused on identifying trends in workforce supply and demand, and who intend to tear down any barriers that keep our business community from attracting and retaining the niche workers it needs to build and maintain a robust economy. Leading the BillingsWorks collaborative initiative is Steve Arveschoug, executive director at Big Sky Economic Development Authority and Corporation, who emphasizes that the BillingsWorks mission is “to support the growth of existing business, recruit new business, and to facilitate community development. This is all about helping our existing business community grow because they can’t do that without the talent. It’s difficult to recruit new industry if you can’t show them there is a workforce available to execute their business needs. This Roundtable Council we’ve created through BillingsWorks is so vital to meet that mission.”

STEVE ARVESCHOUG

JOHN BREWER

JOHN CECH

DR. MARK NOOK

An inaugural survey, the first of which will become an annual BillingsWorks assessment, was sent last spring to area industry. These first results are providing invaluable data that will serve as a benchmark to measure BillingsWorks’ yearly progress as the project moves toward its goal-completion date of 2023. The good news is that data found from the results of the survey—now compiled into the State of the Workforce Report— is that Yellowstone County employers intend to hire over 1,000 new workers in the next year. The not-so-good news is, the survey also found that nearly seven in 10

DAN CARTER


employers reported a lack of available workers, a dire situation that would hamper potential business growth. “The fact that there are 1,000 potential jobs in our community is encouraging,” said Chamber President John Brewer. “It shows Billings on the cusp of continued business growth; however, any future expansion hinges on whether or not there is an adequate pool of qualified talent available to fill those jobs. Without it, we are on the reverse track of economic progress. A stagnant economy has tentacles that impact the entire community, so it is essential to implement sound strategies that will address both our short-term and long-term workforce needs.” Tackling the workforce issue from all sides, the Workforce Council came up with an Action Plan which segues into four strategic goals.  GOAL 1: Position the BillingsWorks Workforce Council as the tool for collaboration, accountability, and reporting related to workforce needs and as the go-to resource for workforce development information, coordination, and connections.  GOAL 2: Address the immediate and sector-specific talent development and talent attraction needs of Yellowstone County business.  GOAL 3: Ensure the alignment of our post-secondary education, career and technical education, and K-12 education and training systems with current and future workforce demand.  GOAL 4: Develop a talent attraction campaign that promotes the benefits of living and working in Billings and Yellowstone County. Studies suggest that the best long-term strategy to ensure an attractive labor market is a community-wide investment in education and training programs. With three outstanding post-secondary opportunities in Billings—Montana State University Billings, Rocky Mountain College, and City College—our community is uniquely positioned to be able to pivot quickly toward solving industry needs in the labor market.

John Cech, former dean of MSU Billings’ College of Technology, now City College, and the current Montana deputy commissioner of higher education for academic and student affairs, is one of our state’s longtime leading experts on tracking current and trending workforce needs, in addition to the creation and implementation of academic and niche training programs that fill skill-gaps in our economy. Cech’s visionary partnership with the auto and refinery industries, while dean at City College, led to the creation of training programs that local industry needed quickly in order to have a pool of qualified workers. The need for programs to fill the talent needs of Montana industry continues, especially as communities adapt to economic and population shifts within the state. “As we look at the changing demographics of Montana, we’re an aging state,” notes Cech. “Right now, we’re the fifth oldest state per capita in the nation, and, within about five years, we’ll be the fourth oldest. The younger generation coming in to replace the Baby Boomers is smaller, and it’s creating a gap; plus, the economy of the state is changing. We’ve had a lot of changes in the eastern third- to two-thirds of the state, with the major expansion of energy development creating need. That’s slowed down because of the price of oil, but I think it’s going to continue. The western part of the state also is seeing a pick-up in its economy; so, we’re looking at some shortages in key areas. Healthcare is at the top of the list: everything, from physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, RNs, pharmacy techs, surgical techs, radiological techs, medical information technology, medical coders, billing specialists, and more. “We are looking at shortages across the state in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. Manufacturing occupations across the board also are in demand, whether it be machine industrial maintenance,

industrial electronics, welding and many other related occupations. “We’re going to have these shortages for the next 15-20 years; so, it’s really important for colleges, such as City College, the MSUB campus, as well as other campuses across the state, to re-think how they’re approaching workforce development: how they’re reaching out to prospective students, and how they’re looking at partnerships with business, industry, and with state agencies like the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.” In addition to the implementation of new training opportunities, BillingsWorks Workforce Council member and MSUB Chancellor Dr. Mark Nook feels, “The BillingsWorks initiative can help by creating better talent-attraction mechanisms. Many of the employees we have the most difficulty recruiting have a professional spouse who also is looking for employment in the community. Talent-attraction efforts can be a big help in identifying ways we can support the professionals we are trying to hire. We need to take on questions like:  How can we support dual profession couples?  What are the amenities away from work that young professionals are looking for, and what do we need to develop in that area?  Are we able to provide the transportation needs, both professional and personal, that professionals often require?” Chancellor Nooks adds that those involved with BillingsWorks understand that, “The initiative has to help develop a plan to be able to provide the people we are trying to attract—including the educational professionals who are vital to MSU Billings—with the social, cultural, and environmental qualities they desire.” He notes that, “Part of this work will be identifying the community and cultural amenities

STUDENTS WORK WITH COMPUTERS AT CITY COLLEGE PHOTO COURTESY MSU BILLINGS


that people employed throughout the employment spectrum are looking for in terms of: jobs; support for their further development; and, quality of life for their families. All of this will help us paint an attractive picture for future employees.”  Partnerships between industry and education have proved successful, says Dan Carter, a former top administrator at MSUB, and now director of government and public affairs at ExxonMobil, who shares the business community’s concerns about the availability of future workforce talent: “We believe that our collective engagement to support high standards in classroom education is critical to ensure that we have the quality workforce to fuel all our needs in the future. We view this as an issue of national competitiveness. American students need to be able to compete on a global scale and the better we can prepare them to move forward—especially in high-demand STEM careers—the better it will be for all businesses.” John Brewer sums up the views of the Billings Chamber: “The recipe for success with the BillingsWorks initiative in our community comes

from the myriad resources available to us, of which education is but one key ingredient. Once a need has been identified, the magic of Billings is the ability of all its sectors—from finance to healthcare, from industry to retail, from media to education, and everything in between—to coalesce into one cohesive partnership, and to address and rectify that need from every angle. Now that the State of the Workforce Report has provided us with a measureable blueprint from which we can plan an integrated strategy, I have every confidence that this project will be successful. The Billings Chamber, along with its partners, will be a vital link toward accomplishing the initiative’s goals, every step of the way.” Steve Arveschoug echoed Brewer’s views about the unique nature of the greater Billings-area community to pull together when problems need to be solved: “This community partners really well, and that’s an ingredient that has real value everyone.”

In the December issue of LiNK, we will look at:  Sectors of the economy that are having difficulty in hiring qualified workers.  Chamber President John Brewer discusses the BillingsWorks initiative’s Talent-Attraction Campaign.  Strategies BillingsWorks’ Workforce Council members think the community should implement in order to achieve all of the BillingsWorks goals.  What will the Billings job market look like with the completion of BillingsWorks’ goals, in 2023? What do you think the community could do to foster a greater skill-set for local industry? Please email your ideas to: Kelly McCandless, Communications Manager of the Billings Chamber, at kelly@billingschamber.com The BillingsWorks initiative and State of the Workforce Report are funded, in part, by an award from the Montana Department of Commerce, a n d Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund Planning Grant. The full report can be found at BillingsChamber.com/ priorities/.

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Karen Sanford Gall Legacy Award Honored with the Billings Chamber

Each year the Billings Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors selects a community member to recognize with an elite honor recognizing an outstanding individual who dedicates his/her career to improving the business climate in our community while giving back to improve our quality of life. The award for 2015, now known as the Billings Chamber Legacy Award, goes to Karen Sanford Gall, Executive Director of Big Sky State Games (the award was formerly known as the Lifetime Achievement Award). “The Board of Directors is proud to present the 2015 Billings Chamber Legacy Award to Karen Sanford Gall,” shared board chair Jeff Walters (Vertex Consulting Group). “Karen’s tireless efforts over so many years have been a huge factor in enhancing the quality of life

in Billings, and in Montana. It’s a rare thing to be able to positively and directly impact the lives of thousands of people even one time, but Karen has done exactly that for many years. We’re so proud that she’s a part of the Billings community!” The board considered many exceptional individuals, but Karen’s position as a community role model, as well as her authenticity and grace as a leader is inspiring, setting her apart from other candidates. Another board member remarked, “She cares deeply about this community and illustrates this everyday with her work for schools, the library, the Billings Chamber, Rotary and so many other boards and projects over her career.”

Her career with Big Sky State Games began in 1990, and she’s been the Executive Director since 1996. Her leadership extends beyond the State Games, however, as Karen also manages Montana Amateur Sports programs including the Heart and Sole Run, Shape Up Montana, and Big Sky Fit Kids. Under her tenure, Karen has been a driving force in helping Billings become a healthier community, and her passion and commitment for helping others is reflected in the far reaching positive impact she has had across the State of Montana. Karen is very deserving of this award and has established a legacy of helping others improve their quality of life. Hats off to you Karen, and thank you for showing us all the very best in civic involvement.

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SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 23


CONNECT

LIMITLESS

BY KATE HAGENBUCH, EVENTS MANAGER

We’re celebrating a breakthrough year! Our success as the 2015 Chamber of the Year was built upon our mission to connect, advocate and grow our community and member businesses. Where to next? The options are LIMITLESS! To truly be limitless, you must subject yourself to the endless possibilities that new can mean. Preparing for triumph or tragedy and knowing that movement can mean forward or backward. The 2015 Annual Meeting theme was LIMITLESS and we had the pleasure of listening to two keynote speakers: Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Roy H. Williams and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.  When we’ve just become the Chamber of the

Upcoming

Events 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.

Year, our members may ask why we invited another city and their chamber to speak at our luncheon on September 16th. The answer is simple: learning from other successes and failures creates ripples moving everyone forward. And there’s certainly a lot Billings can learn from OKC.

Oklahoma City for trusting that high-impact change and investment would lead to an attractive city and an unrivaled quality of life. The Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce recently attributed these changes to a $5 billion effect in public and private investment in Oklahoma City.

Twenty-two years ago Oklahoma City was coasting. Unbranded, unattractive, rebuilding from years of economic drought, faced with a public safety problem and lacking a superior quality of life. Through major needs assessment, the decision was made to invest in themselves and move an average city to an aspirational city.  

The Billings Chamber doesn’t simply strive to be limitless; we strive to propel our momentum forward and seek positive change, progress and improvement for our community. We’re building a legacy, and the shape it will take is still being formed. Let’s work together to expel our limits and seek positive growth to build a better Billings.

Mayor Cornett often credits the people of

Morning Star Senior Living

2016 Ag Appreciation Banquet

October 14 • 4001 Bell Ave

Presented by Yellowstone Valley Electric

Beartooth Bank November 11 • 4130 King Ave W

Central Wellness December 9 • 1010 Central Ave #2

Small Business Saturday November 20-22 Shop Billings! Participate in the fun and excitement of shopping our local merchants over the weekend and enter to win great giveaways!

24 | SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

Save the Date!

January 15, 2016 Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark The Ag Appreciation Banquet is an opportunity for businesses to thank their customers, for ranchers and producers to take the evening off and/or for members of the community to come together in the name of celebrating agriculture.


Choice Matters. New West Medicare offers plans that keep Montanans in mind.

AT NEW WEST MEDICARE, WE ARE MONTANANS, JUST LIKE YOU. And we know you value the freedom of choice. So when it is time to start looking at Medicare coverage, remember, you have the right to choose a company and a Medicare Advantage plan that is right for YOU! We offer monthly premiums as low as $25 and an exercise and healthy aging program in every plan. And, as a Montana company, you can be assured we are looking out for your best interests. Let us make Medicare simple for you. 888.873.8044 路 TTY 711 newwestmedicare.com Find us on New West Health Services is a PPO Plan with a Medicare Contract. Enrollment in New West Medicare depends on contract renewal. You must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium. Limitations, co-payments and restrictions may apply. The benefit information provided is a brief summary, not a complete description of benefits. For more information contact New West Medicare. For accommodations of persons with special needs at a sales meeting call 1-888-873-8044, TTY 711. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Benefits may change on January 1 of each year. H2701_NW#2015_605_6-2015 Accepted

SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 25

15Chi Fitn Hea 8.4 AD: 3.6 4-c


GET TO KNOW THE BOARD:

Patrice ELLIOTT p h o t o C O U R T E S Y R H E A W O L PO E

Business: EBMS (Employee Benefit Management Systems)

Board Position: Secretary/Treasurer

Years as a Board Member: Four

One adjective that describes you: Caring

Why did you initially choose to get involved with the Chamber?

Tell us about your photo:

An effective Chamber significantly impacts the vitality and success of their community. I feel the Billings Chamber is one of the most effective and successful Chambers in the United States. It is a privilege to serve on their Board and contribute to their important work.

I have recently had the opportunity to start a new career in the health care business at EBMS. I feel very connected to our mission statement as helping individuals and communities on their wellness journey is very challenging yet fulfilling work.

The snack always found in your desk/office:

Strawberry Nutri-grain bars and Weight Watchers candy.

Words you live by: If you had a super power, what would it be? Telepathy

“You are the most important person in someone’s life. Don’t let them down.” “Don’t expect life’s very best if you’re not giving it your very best.”

What was your first job?

I was a florist/gardener at a small town garden center where I grew up. I still love working with flowers today.

Favorite television show and why. Blue Bloods. I enjoy a good drama and outstanding acting.

26 | SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY

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

I would give the Billings voters the ability to vote on a local option tax. I have seen the positive transformation a local option tax can make on a community. I feel the people that live in a community should have the authority to decide, but currently that is not the case.


LiNKED

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 next meeting or event you attend and send it to kelly@billingschamber.com!

Aaron and Lyle of the Chamber Ag Committee cooking up a delicious, hot pancake breakfast during MontanaFair.

The Future’s Council meets for lunch to strategize on what’s next for the Chamber and Billings in June.

Chamber Board Representatives Ron Yates and Bill Cole lay the wreath during a ceremony for Yellowstone Kelly in June.

Former Denver Broncos Tight End Ron Egloff meets with Chamber reps (including Greg McDonald) to plan a BIG Bronco event in Billings. Be on the lookout.

Ann Marie Sadler, Amanda Sowden and Megan Wilson enjoying Himmelberger Brewing during the Leadership Alumni Social in May.

Chamber staff Rene, Kevin, Nick, Dan, Jennifer and Kate pose after hosting huge tour groups during the BMW Rally in July.

Bruce MacIntyre and other representatives celebrate the ground breaking and dedication of the new Battlefield Rest Area in May.

Todd Buchanan and Bozeman and Wyoming Alumni announce the return of the Border War to Billings in November 2015 during a press conference in July.

Clarks Crossing Heritage Trail Connection was dedicated in July. Local historians and reenactors were on hand for the celebration.

Pub Station welcomes BMW during the Rally in July.

Mayor Hanel, Kristi Drake, Jeffrey Butts and others touring with The League of American Bicyclists to learn how to elevate Billings to a Silver Level Bicycle friendly community.

Grabbing lunch on the lawn during the Ag Tour in June.

SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015 | LiNK BUSINESS QUARTERLY | 27


BUSINESS GROWTH:

PayneWest Insurance By RENÉ BEYL

BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST

This issue, I further explored the scope of PayneWest Insurance to learn a bit about who they are, what they do and why they choose to be part of the Billings Chamber.

What makes PayneWest different from other insurance agencies?

You can purchase an insurance policy from a variety of sources, including our agency. At PayneWest, we don’t just sell insurance – we learn about you, your business and your industry.  We find out where you’ve been, where you want to go, how we can help you get there, and what risks could stop you along the way.  Then we put a customized plan in place to maximize your opportunities and minimize your risk.  As a business owner, it is wise to make sure your insurance coverage has the maximum benefit for you.  We strive to drive down costs, increase profit margins, strengthen culture and provide insight on being more competitive.    

Your mission statement is “Clients, Colleagues, Communities”. Can you expand on that? Our mission is very simple – take good care of our 3 C’s.  Every decision we make, every action we take – if it doesn’t positively impact our clients, colleagues or communities – we don’t do it.  Our 3 C’s nicely eliminate any guesswork.  It’s beautifully simple.    

Talk more about ‘community’…

We are proud and humbled to be part of Billings and the surrounding area community. Our 85 colleagues feel the same way.  We know that ‘community’ doesn’t happen by chance.  Instead it requires individuals and businesses to commit, contribute and collaborate.  We take the responsibility seriously by donating time and money to non-profit organizations, by encouraging colleagues to serve on local boards, by engaging in community events and by supporting our colleagues in their individual endeavors.  

We find out where want to go, how we ca what risks could st

Why are you a Billings Chamber member?

We find value in supporting an organization like the Chamber whose mission is to develop a strong business climate and vibrant economy with the goal of creating and maintaining a thriving community. Why wouldn’t we support that? 

CUSTOMER SERVICE DESK in the new location at shiloh crossing

PHOTO COURTESY OF: the billings gazette


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

U Do Yogurt

celebrated their grand opening at 1595 Grand Ave. #260 on 6/1/2015

Lasting Legacy Assisted Living is now open at 1636 Inverness Ln. on 6/5/2015

SUAVE Sedan

showed off their new, luxury sedan on 6/11/2015

Allegra

unveiled their remodeled office at 2620 Overland Ave on 6/11/2015

Kennedy’s

(Formerly Wine Market & Deli) restaurant and wine store opened in a new location at 1520 24th St. W. on 6/25/2015

Bistecca at the Granary

located at 1500 Poly Dr., renovated the patio and the new look was shared on 6/30/2015

Clarks Crossing

was officially dedicated with a planned new section of the Heritage Trail on 7/24/2015

1212 Boutique

held their Grand Opening at 1212 Grand Ave. was held on 7/28/2015

Patty’s Country Cottage New building in Shiloh Crossing

PHOTO COURTESY OF: THE BILLINGS GAZETTE

in Shiloh Crossing celebrated the new store on 7/29/2015

Volunteers of America

has opened a new office at 219 N 30th St and challenged the Mayor to help end homelessness for Veterans on 7/30/2015

you’ve been, where you an help you get there, and stop you along the way.

OPEN AND INVITING LOBBY ENTRANCE

PHOTO COURTESY OF: the billings gazette

Residence Inn By Marriott has had a multimillion dollar remodel that was celebrated on 7/30/2015

Beauty Mark Salon

showed off the vintage new look at 805 24th St. W. during an open house on 7/31/2015

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.

Country Cottage Ribbon Cutting.

PHOTO COURTESY OF: BILLINGS CHAMBER


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