Commerce Connection

montana department of commerce
Governor Bullock Press Conference

Earned Income Tax Credit Now Available

Governor Steve Bullock and Lt. Governor Mike Cooney today highlighted a tax credit for up to 75,000 low and middle-income Montanans that is available for the first time after receiving approval from the Legislature in 2017.

“This tax credit will benefit nearly 75,000 working Montanans and help them provide basics for their families such as groceries and gas,” Governor Bullock said. “In addition to lifting families out of poverty, the tax credit gets dollars invested in communities across the state to support local economies.”

The Montana Earned Income Tax Credit, sponsored by Rep. Tom Jacobson in 2017, passed with bipartisan support to provide an additional tax credit to low and middle-income workers. Montana is one of 29 states with an earned income tax credit, based on the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. The federal tax credit has been effective in lifting millions of American families above the poverty line and increasing their quality of life.

For most Montanans, the state tax credit is worth 3 percent of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. The tax credit is refundable, meaning those who don’t owe any taxes can still receive the credit. If the credit is more than what is owed, taxpayers receive the difference. Only two weeks into tax season, nearly 20,000 Montanans have already filed for the credit.

Montanans who claimed the federal tax credit last year received an average credit of $2,178. The two tax credits combined will provide Montanans with hundreds to thousands of dollars that will be invested in local communities.

“This tax credit, especially when combined with the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit, can make a meaningful difference for Montana families,” Lt. Gov. Cooney said. “Thousands of Montanans have already taken advantage of this tax credit for the first time and it’s critical everyone carefully review the eligibility criteria to ensure they don’t miss out on this refundable credit.”

Eligibility for the credit is determined by the IRS and can be reviewed here:

The Montana Department of Revenue encourages Montanans who may qualify for the EITC to start working on their tax returns early. Electronic filing is the fastest and most secure way to claim the credit and file a return. Because of efforts to protect Montanans from fraud, filers should allow 90 days to receive their refunds.

Tax help events will be hosted around the state where preparers can help Montanans determine if they are eligible for the credit and help file returns. Visit for organizations hosting tax help events and information on approved tax preparation software.

Downtown Kalispell

9 Montana Communities Awarded Main Street Program Grants

Nine Montana communities will share $118,000 through the Montana Main Street Program to support historic preservation, wayfinding, and revitalization plans for their downtowns.

“Montana’s vibrant and charming towns are what attracts visitors, keeps residents and encourages downtown business growth,” Montana Department of Commerce Director Tara Rice said. “These Montana Main Street Program grant dollars will fund important planning efforts that contribute to community vitality and vibrancy.”

The Montana Main Street Program assists communities in revitalizing and strengthening downtown commercial districts, while also offering technical assistance, expertise, and competitive grant funding to its 27 member communities.

Click here to see the full list of grant awardees.

Dollar sign graphic

Montana Department of Commerce Announces Funding to Strengthen Business Growth

The Montana Department of Commerce today announced that 12 communities across Montana will receive funding to support local economies in planning for sustainable business growth.

The communities will share $275,850 in funding through the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) Planning Grant Program for activities related to future economic planning, growth and development, such as feasibility studies.

“Communities across Montana are actively working to encourage long-term business growth, which in turn strengthens local economies and our state’s economy,” said Commerce Director Tara Rice. “This funding will support local economic development organizations as they look ahead and plan for sustainable growth.”

Funding through the BSTF Planning Program is awarded to assist business development planning efforts that promote long-term, stable economic growth in Montana. Funds go toward critical activities that move economic development projects forward.

Click here to see the full list of grant awardees.


29 Montana Communities to Receive Planning Grants

The Montana Department of Commerce announced Thursday that 29 Montana communities will share more than $900,000 of federal grant funding through the Community Development Block Grant Program. These grants will support the planning of critical infrastructure and community development projects in Montana. 

“Planning is at the foundation of building healthy and vibrant communities,” Commerce Director Tara Rice said. “These planning grants will help Montana communities develop and preserve affordable homes, plan for community projects, and create and retain jobs.” 

See the complete list of planning grant awardees here.


DEADLINE APPROACHING for Montana's New Historic Preservation Grant Program

The deadline to apply for the Montana Historic Preservation Grant Program is February 28, 2020. The new grant program is designed to support the preservation of historical sites, societies and museums in Montana.

With awards of up to $500,000 for each eligible grant recipient, the funding will be used to improve historical sites, historical societies or history museums in Montana.

Applications are due by Feb. 28, 2020. Grant recipients will be determined by the Montana Legislature during the 2021 legislative session. 

Circles info

Survey: How should HUD dollars be used in Montana for housing and community development needs?

The State of Montana is developing a five-year plan to guide policy and investment for housing, economic, and other community development. The five-year plan, also known as the “Consolidated Plan for Housing and Community Development” is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to assess Montana’s needs and current conditions as well as to determine priorities and allocate HUD funding.  

The Montana Departments of Commerce and Public Health & Human Services invite you to participate in the 2020 Housing and Community Development Survey. We hope that you will share your opinions and perspective with us so that, together, we can identify and address housing and community development needs throughout our state. 

The survey closes Friday, March 13

"Counting all Montanans" PSA


Montana’s Census Complete Count Committee Releases ‘Counting All Montanans’ TV, Radio PSA

Montana’s second Census 2020 public service announcement will start airing on broadcast television and radio stations statewide.

Two additional PSAs will be released between now and when the count begins in mid-March. These spots are available in :30 second and :60 second radio and TV ads.

“Counting All Montanans” is the second of four PSAs that will be released by the State Complete Count Committee. “Counting All Montanans” features a Montana high school student, college student, and construction worker as they explain why counting everyone in the Census is so important.

Distributed by the Montana Broadcasters Association, these public service announcements will also be available for individual download and distribution on CENSUS.MT.GOVFacebookYouTube, and Vimeo. Individuals, businesses, and organizations are encouraged to download the videos and share them on their websites, social media platforms, newsletters, or other digital communication channels.

Counting everyone in Montana is critical because it determines the state’s share of federal funding over the next decade, it shapes local voting districts, and it determines whether Montana will get another representative in Congress.

Montana receives an estimated $2 billion in federal funds each year based on Census data. For every Montana resident counted, the Census estimates the state will receive $20,000 over the decade for things like highway planning, healthcare, educational programs, and infrastructure.

Find additional resources and learn more about how Montana is preparing for the Census at CENSUS.MT.GOV

Download “Counting All Montanans” here:

Tourism Awards Nominations Open Until 2/16

Recognize your peers with a Tourism Award nomination. 

These awards recognize outstanding accomplishments of the people, businesses, organizations and communities that strengthen Montana's tourism and recreation industries. Nominations are open until February 16, 2020

Winners and finalists will be honored at the Tourism Award Banquet on April 27, 2020 in Billings as part of the Governor's Conference on Tourism and Recreation on April 26-28, 2020. 

The Montana Exporter of the Year Award

How do I submit the application?

No later than March 1, 2020, send your application to ExportMontana, who will submit them to the Montana District Export Council’s Review Committee for consideration.


Review the guidelines (page 5). If you have any questions about the nomination process, please contact ExportMontana: 406-841-2783,

Due Date & Application

March 1, 2020  |  Application is available for download here.

Contact Us

ExportMontana, Montana Department of Commerce, 301 S Park Ave | PO Box 200505 Helena, MT  59620-0505 | Fax: 406-841-2871 | Email:


Montana Procurement Technical Assistance Program Opportunity

The Montana Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) at Big Sky Economic Development in Billings is requesting proposals from eligible entities interested in operating a full-time Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) in Helena or Bozeman, Montana.

Eligible entities include states, local governments, universities/community colleges and local nonprofit economic development organizations. Located nationwide and in United States' territories, PTACs play an important role in economic development by serving as a resource for businesses participating in the government marketplace. The center will require at least one full-time government contracting advisor that will provide consulting, training and technical assistance to businesses pursuing and performing on government contracts. The advisor will assist companies located in the counties of Gallatin, Park, Madison, Lewis & Clark & Broadwater.

For more information and to view the RFP, please go to: []

Circle Finance

Funding Opportunities

  • The Tourism Grant Program is opening a special cycle of event grants on Feb. 1. Application deadline is March 1. Learn more here.
  • BSTF Job Creation & Planning application deadline is March 11. Learn more here.
  • ExportMontana has grant dollars available to help companies translate promotional materials into foreign languages. Learn more an apply here.
  • Agriculture Innovation Center grants are available from USDA. Learn more and apply here.

Save the Dates

  • MADE IN MONTANA TRADESHOW | March 13-14 at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds in Helena | MADEINMONTANAUSA.COM
  • SBDC DAY | March 18 | Billings + Nationwide
  • EQUAL PAY DAY | March 31 | Statewide
  • CENSUS DAY | April 1 | Statewide
  • INNOVATE MONTANA SYMPOSIUM | Sept. 24-25, Missoula


Commerce Announces First Multifamily Coal Trust Awards to Develop Affordable Rental Homes

The Montana Department of Commerce announced Tuesday that four Montana communities will receive funding to support the development and rehabilitation of affordable rental homes through the Multifamily Coal Trust Homes program.

“Every Montanan deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. Right now, the need to develop more housing that people can afford is greater than ever,” Montana Department of Commerce Director Tara Rice said. “The Multifamily Coal Trust Homes program is a tool we can use with our partners to provide more quality affordable homes for families and individuals in Montana.”

The program makes available dollars to develop affordable rental homes by providing housing developers with low-interest rate loans. When the loans are paid off, the money returned will be redistributed and used to fund the development of additional homes.

The Montana Board of Housing approved the following projects for funding contingent on receiving additional required information to close the loans.

  • Belt and Cascade | NeighborWorks Great Falls: $1,675,560 to acquire and preserve 42 affordable homes at Golden Valley Homes in Belt and Quiet Day Manor in Cascade. These properties serve senior residents and individuals living with a disability.
  • Havre | Echo Enterprise: $520,509 to acquire and preserve 32 affordable homes for individuals and families at Highland Manor.
  • Livingston | Human Resource Development Council of Bozeman: $1,100,000 to place 12 affordable modular homes at the Livingston Land Trust Cottages location. The homes were purchased from the Bakken region and are being repurposed as affordable single-family homes.

The program is a result of House Bill 16 that was passed during the 2019 legislative session and signed by Governor Steve Bullock. This is the first time state funds have been made available to support the development or rehabilitation of affordable rental homes in Montana.

For more information visit HOUSING.MT.GOV.