Commerce Connection

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Action Plumbing

Action Plumbing Plus, Inc., Great Falls

Montana’s Small Business Development Centers Support Statewide Business Growth, Job Creation

The Montana Department of Commerce today released a new report showing that Montana Small Business Development Centers supported more than 2,300 jobs last year through assisting small business growth across the state.

“Small businesses strengthen local economies, create jobs and contribute to our state’s overall economic health,” said Commerce Director Tara Rice. “Montana’s Small Business Development Centers are at the vanguard of small business growth, serving as a no-cost resource to turn an idea into an opportunity.”

Montana’s SBDC network, which is made up of 10 satellite offices across the state and is headquartered at the Department of Commerce, also assisted Montana entrepreneurs in successfully launching 61 new businesses in 2019.

One of those businesses is Trovare, a high-quality cooking supply store in Whitefish. Trovare’s owner, Julie Hickethier, relied on the expertise at the Kalispell Regional SBDC led by Dan Gorton to start her business. She opened her doors to customers in November 2019.

“Dan Gorton challenged my thinking, urged me to explore more profitable options, probed my level of confidence in assumptions, and independently analyzed data,”Hickethier said. “He offered suggestions, unbiased criticism, and essentially helped me develop a solid plan. It’s people like Dan who help people like me turn a dream into a reality.”

Click here to continue reading.

Responding to COVID-19 


Montana currently has no cases of COVID-19. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services is closely monitoring this rapidly evolving public health situation and is updating its website daily.

The U.S. Government has not recommended restricting or limiting domestic travel. Some recommended limitations are in place for outbound international travel.


This is a rapidly changing public health situation and it’s important to stay informed by following reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

The best way to prevent infection from COVID-19 and any respiratory virus is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The same preventative measures that are recommended during cold and flu season will also help to protect against coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often for at least 20 seconds using soap and water
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue (or your elbow)
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

We urge the traveling public to stay informed, seek information from reputable sources, and take preventative measures like washing your hands to protect against COVID-19.


The Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development at the Department of Commerce is coordinating closely with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and Disaster and Emergency Services.

Governor Steve Bullock has assembled a multi-agency task force, including the Department of Commerce, to ensure Montana is prepared to address a local COVID-19 outbreak.


Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

DPHHSHealth in the 406 social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

DPHHS: 24/7 hotline: 406.444.0273

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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Montana Department of Commerce Announces Second Round of Funding to Promote Tourism Growth in Eastern Montana

The Montana Department of Commerce has announced a second round of grant awards to support efforts from nine communities to promote long-term tourism and economic development in eastern Montana.

A total of $297,829 will be awarded through the Eastern Montana Tourism Partner Initiative Grant Program. The Eastern Montana Tourism Partner Initiative is an ongoing collaboration among the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development at Commerce and communities across eastern Montana that was formed in response to community leaders seeking to strengthen local economies.

The funding will be used to build or enhance existing tourism infrastructure, raise awareness of eastern Montana as a tourism destination and support sustainable economic development in the communities and nearby areas.

“This funding will support communities across eastern Montana in their ongoing work to strengthen local economies and create job opportunities in part by planning for sustainable tourism growth,” said Commerce Director Tara Rice. “The continued, collaborative effort through the Eastern Montana Tourism Partner Initiative allows us to keep showing travelers all that this part of our state has to offer.”

Click here to see the full list of awardees. 

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 March 31!


Commerce Announces 5 New Montana Main Street Communities

The Montana Department of Commerce announced Thursday that five Montana communities have been accepted to become affiliate members of the Montana Main Street Program. The program helps Montana communities strengthen and preserve historic downtown commercial districts by supporting economic development, urban revitalization and historic preservation through long-range planning, organization, design and promotion.

“The Department of Commerce is dedicated to supporting communities in their efforts to improve the economic, historic and cultural vitality of Montana’s downtowns,"Commerce Director Tara Rice said. “The Montana Main Street Program supports these communities through coordination and technical assistance with a focus on maintaining and restoring vibrant community districts and preserving historic structures that contribute to Montana's unique sense of place.” 

The new Montana Main Street communities are Baker, Ekalaka, Havre, Lincoln and Polson. These communities will now have access to resources to help build their own local Main Street programs and work on downtown improvement efforts to advance local community development objectives. Montana now has 34 Main Street Program communities. 

Montana Housing Partnerships Logo

Registration Now Open for the 2020 Montana Housing Partnership Conference

The Montana Housing Partnership Conference, June 15-17 in Helena, is a networking and training event for housing organizations, developers, government agency representatives and other stakeholders to gather and collaborate with one common goal, to increase affordable housing opportunities for Montanans.

This year's plenary speakers are booked, and we are excited for them to share their knowledge and ideas with all of you.

We will be joined by:

  • Ben Winchester - Rural Sociologist and Senior Research Fellow for the University of Minnesota Extension
  • Greg Handberg - Senior Vice President of Artspace
  • Sarah Elkins - Communication Coach and Owner of Elkins Consulting

We will also offer four tours for you to choose from, each with a different area of focus. We will also have a wonderful opportunity to network with one another while appreciating our state's history during the Networking Reception, being held at the Montana Historical Society.

Registration deadline for early bird prices ends April 18, 2020. Register here.

Importance PSA

 Montana Students Share the Importance of Filling out the Census in New Radio, TV PSA

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

The “Importance of the Census” features Montana elementary school students and their teacher as they explain why counting everyone in Montana for the Census is so important. These educational spots are available for download in :30 second and :60 second radio and TV ads.

Each year, Montana receives more than $500 million for educational programs including Title I and II, Head Start, school food programs and career training based on Census data.

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 helps determine 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 “Importance of the Census” here:


Public Comment Period Opens for Treasure State Endowment Program 

Commerce has now opened the public comment period for the rule making process that will administer the Treasure State Endowment Program for the 2023 Biennium. A draft program application and project administration manual are available for review.

The Department will host a public hearing Friday, March 20, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. to consider the proposed amendment of the above-stated rule.

Now hiring bridge

We're hiring an Entrepreneur Development Program Manager to support the development and growth of businesses in Indian Country. Learn more and apply here:

Circle Finance

Funding Opportunities

  • 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 and apply here.
  • DNRC Renewable Resource Grant and Loan Program or RRGL is accepting applications until May 15, 2020. 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
  • MONTANA HEALTHY COMMUNITIES CONFERENCE | April 28-30, Helena | Learn more
  • INNOVATE MONTANA SYMPOSIUM | Sept. 24-25, Missoula

Governor Bullock, Montana Ambassadors Host LA Film Industry Event

Governor at LA Film Event

Governor Steve Bullock and the Montana Ambassadors hosted film industry producers, directors and studio representatives this week in Los Angeles to pitch the state as the ultimate location for filming movies, television and commercials.

“Montana is the ultimate location for filming television and movies,” Governor Bullock said. “More and more filmmakers are learning that Montana is not just a stunning backdrop for telling stories, but also the best place in the country to do business and a hire skilled film crew.”

The “Shoot with the Stars Under the Big Sky” event included a panel hosted by Governor Bullock with directors, writers, and producers who worked on projects in Montana. The panel shared their experiences with filming in Montana and how the state’s resources and welcoming nature benefitted their projects. Governor Bullock also participated in individual meetings with film industry producers and companies prior to the evening reception.

Governor Bullock signed the Montana Economic Development Industry Act (MEDIA Act) in 2019 which allows Montana to compete with other states and countries courting large film and television productions. These productions elevate awareness of our state, pump outside dollars into our communities, and create high-paying job opportunities for Montanans.

The film industry has a direct economic impact in Montana of between $10-$15 million each year. Films that choose Montana as their location are spending money in our stores, hotels and restaurants and are hiring Montanans as skilled crew, extras, actors and even livestock wranglers. Plus, visitors to Montana often travel to the state because they saw or heard about Montana in through films.

“As a Montana Ambassador living in the LA area, putting together this event seemed like the perfect way to bring my entertainment industry friends and colleagues together with the folks in Montana who are working hard to build production spaces that move the Montana industry forward and create new jobs for talented Montanans,”said Montana Ambassador Jeff Wright.

The MEDIA Act provides for a 20 percent production expenditure transferable income tax credit that can be increased to 35 percent if productions invest in resident crew, hire students, film on college campuses, rent Montana gear, or film in underserved areas. It’s the first film tax incentive made available in Montana since 2015.

In addition to the tax incentive, Montana is a competitive location because it doesn’t have a sales tax, location costs are low, access to public land is extensive and Montana is known for long daylight hours.

In just the last couple of years, Montana has been featured in the hit TV drama “Yellowstone,” “Mickey and the Bear,” “Wildlife, “Certain Women,” “The Ballad of Lefty Brown,” and a number of high-profile commercials.