Commerce Connection

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Winter Sleigh

Happy Holidays from the
Montana Department of Commerce!


'Become an Alum' Aims to Support Workforce Solutions

Governor Bullock and University of Montana President Seth Bodnar celebrated the initial success of Become an Alum, a partnership between UM and the Department of Labor & Industry, which encourages former students who did not complete a college program to return and attain a credential, certificate, or degree in an in-demand and good-paying field.

DLI and UM have worked together to reenroll 99 students this fall with another 38 students committed to attend in spring 2020. Local employers will also benefit from the program and 16 businesses so far have expressed interest in using the program to recruit recent grads or upskill their current workforce.

“There are 120,000 Montanans who attended a Montana University System institution but left before attaining a degree or credential,” Governor Bullock said. “Become an Alum is aimed at identifying these students and showing them that there is an opportunity to finalize that degree and gain a credential and skills that employers will be looking for as they seek to fill in-demand jobs.” Learn more here.

Circle Finance

Reminder: Annual Update to Big Sky Trust Fund Job Creation Grants

New average wage rates affecting the next round of applications for funding through the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund Job Creation Program are available now.

Local and tribal governments applying for funding on behalf of new or growing businesses to create good-paying, permanent jobs in Montana should check whether wage rates for their county have changed. Visit the BSTF website to determine the correct matching wage rate when applying for funding. Also check to see if your county qualifies for a higher award and match rate.

The annually updated wage rates are based on average wage data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

The next application deadline for funding through the BSTF Job Creation Grant Program is March 11, 2020. 

For application guidance or further information, contact Annmarie Robinson at 406.841.2250.

Montana Housing Icon

Now Accepting Applications for Multifamily Coal Trust Homes Program

The Multifamily Coal Trust Homes Program makes available $15 million of Coal Tax Trust Fund dollars to develop affordable rental homes by providing developers with low-interest rate loans. The program is a result of House Bill 16 that was passed during the 2019 legislative session.

It’s estimated the money will initially support the development of six new affordable rental properties. As these loans payoff, the money returned will be used to fund the development of additional homes.

Eligible applicants for the program include non-profit, for-profit or government entities.

Applications will be accepted on a continual basis and reviewed by the Montana Board of Housing at their regularly scheduled meetings. The next scheduled Board meeting is February 10, 2020. Applications submitted at least six weeks before the meeting are eligible to be included on the agenda.

Click here to learn more and for application information.

NEW! Census 2020 Newsletter

Census 2020 postcards will start hitting Montana mailboxes in mid-March. Stay up-to-date on the decennial Census, learn ways to support Census outreach efforts, and share your upcoming Census events with us. Sign up to receive this weekly newsletter here.

New Partner Resources Available at CENSUS.MT.GOV 

Updates to CENSUS.MT.GOV have been made this week and the site has additional information and resources for partners to use and distribute. Eleven new fact sheets and flyers were added in the “Resources” section. They include flyers geared toward complete count committees, group housing, military, college students, rural healthcare, children, and security. Additional flyers will continue to be added on a regular basis in the following weeks.  

Billings Rims

Registration is now open to attend the 2020 Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Recreation!

The annual conference celebrates and advances Montana’s thriving tourism and recreation economy. This year’s conference will be in Billings from April 26-28. Hundreds of stakeholders from across the state are expected to attend.

Tourism and recreation contribute billions of dollars to Montana’s economy each year. Last year, 12.4 million non-resident visitors traveled to Montana and spent an estimated $3.7 billion in state. That was a nearly 11 percent increase in visitor spending from 2017.

Additionally, the outdoor recreation industry in Montana generates $7.1 billion in consumer spending and supports more than 71,000 jobs. According to a report released this fall, Montana recently ranked second in the nation for the impact outdoor recreation has on the state’s economy.

Register and find more details at MTGOVERNORSCONFERENCE.COM.

Funding Opportunities

  • The Montana Coal Board is accepting grant applications until Jan. 27, 2020 for its March 12 meeting. Application materials are available here.
  • The DNRC Renewable Resource Grant and Loan Program (RRGL) is accepting planning grant applications. Register and apply at The current grant cycle closes Jan. 31, 2020.
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Save the Dates

  • MADE IN MONTANA TRADESHOW | March 13-14 at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds in Helena | MADEINMONTANAUSA.COM
  • CENSUS DAY | April 1 | Statewide

Real ID

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