Friday Flash 3/6/2020

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Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Save the Dates...

  • March 13-14, 2020—Made in Montana Tradeshow for Food & Gifts (Helena). 
  • March 18, 2020—Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Day
  • Bi-Monthly Tourism Partner Call—Calls will be held on the 4th Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. on the following dates (unless otherwise noted). Please update your calendars. For assistance or information regarding this bi-monthly call, please contact Kev Campbell or call her at 406.841.2887. 
    • March 25, 2020
    • May 27, 2020
    • July 22
    • September 23
    • November 25
  • April 1, 2020—Census Day
  • April 20, 2020—Region/CVB 3rd Quarter FY20 Financial Reports Due
  • April 26-28, 2020—Governor's Conference on Tourism & Recreation (Billings)
  • May 1, 2020—Region/CVB FY21 Marketing Plans due to MOTBD in WebGrants
  • June 8-9, 2020—TAC Meeting 
  • July 20, 2020—Region/CVB 4th Quarter FY20 Financial Reports Due
  • October 5-6, 2020—TAC Meeting 
  • February 8-9, 2021—TAC Meeting 
  • June 14-15, 2021—TAC Meeting 

MOTBD News/Program Updates

Staff Update

Meagan G

The Marketing Bureau welcomed Meagan Gallagher to our team in February as our Content Marketing Coordinator. As part of our content team, she will be managing our photo and video assets and working with our many photographers and videographers. Meagan has a degree from the University of Montana in Communication and Psychology.

She has experience in destination marketing in Missoula and Helena and most recently has worked for the Montana State Bar as Director of Member Learning & Programming. Meagan brings great energy and experience to MOTBD. 


The Office of Tourism and Business Development is happy to introduce Wendy Jo Brown as our new Database Manager for the Montana tourism business listings. 

Wendy grew up in Helena and has five years’ experience in state government, most recently with the Department of Environmental Quality. She brings experience in customer service, database management, web design and user experience design. She is a welcome addition to the team.

Governor's Conference on Tourism & Recreation

Join us for the Governor's Conference on Tourism and Recreation in Billings, Montana on April 26-28, 2020. Bringing together tourism and recreation leaders from every corner of the state continues to elevate these industries by inspiring innovation, educating through on-the-ground insights, connecting partners across the state, and experiencing all that the host city has to offer. Register now at the special rate of $229 by clicking here. Prices will increase on April 1. 

This year we are focusing our program on Destination Development, Destination Management and Destination Marketing. Each keynote and education session will look at tourism through one of these lenses. For more on our program, visit our website.

Kick-off your conference experience on Sunday, April 26 with a Fam Tour! These tours are included with registration and space is still available for the Old West History Loop, Downtown Billings Arts & Culture, and Indoor Recreation tours.

Tourism Grant Program

Destination Development Webinars

The Destination Development Association has a plethora of resources to inspire and empower local stakeholders and local organizations with their efforts to becoming vibrant, sustainable, and thriving destinations that will attract new investment, are fantastic places to live, and that visitors will gravitate to every chance they get. One of the resources is easy-to-digest how-to videos and accompanying guides on every place-making, tourism, downtown, and economic development topic you can imagine. As a courtesy to our tourism partners, the Tourism Grant Program is hosting a monthly Wednesday Webinar Series from the Destination Development Association.  

  • April 8—Economic Impact: Downtown & Tourism
  • May 13—Visitor Information Centers in the Digital Age
  • June 10—Getting Everyone on the Same Page, Pulling in the Same Direction
  • July 8—Breaking Down the Silos: Creating Winning Partnerships
  • August 12—Community Marketing on a Minuscule Budget
  • September 9—Turning Your Shoulder Seasons into Peak Seasons
  • October 14—Making the Most of Social Media
  • November 4—Great Ideas that Will Make You a Fantastic Holiday Destination
  • December 9—Seven Deadly Sins of Destination Marketing

Please register here if your entity or organization is interested in community efforts to become a vibrant, sustainable, and thriving destination.

Made in Montana

Made in Montana Tradeshow for Food & Gifts

Our annual Tradeshow is next week! Join us at the Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds in Helena on Saturday, March 14 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. for Public Showcase Day! Shop your favorite Made in Montana products, and discover something new. We hope to see you there!  

Wholesale buyer day is Friday, March 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. If you missed the deadline to pre-register, we are offering on-site registration for wholesale buyers during that time. For more information about the tradeshow, click here

Last Chance Cider Mill

Taste our Place

Big Adventures Call for Big, Local Eats
Southeast Montana, where mountains roll out to meet the prairie, is the epitome of Montana. Local restaurants serve up classic dishes made with Montana ingredients for one of a kind culinary experiences.

While the “eat local” movement is not new, we’ve taken that adage a step further. Launched in late 2018, the Montana Department of Commerce’s Taste our Place program focuses on matching Montana growers and producers with the restaurants, bars, cafes and coffee shops that will prepare and serve up scrumptious Montana goods. And, we have it on good authority that this is something the locals love as much as the travelers. Read more on the Southeast Montana blog.

Montana Film Office

Governor Bullock, Montana Ambassadors Host LA Film Industry 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 participated in individual meetings with film industry producers and companies prior to the evening reception. Read full press release here.


Steps You Can Take to Ensure a Complete Count for Montana

  • Promote beginning in mid-March for people to go to fill out their Census form. 
  • Get involved with your community’s Complete Count Committee (CCC). CCC's are volunteer committees established within communities to increase awareness and motivate the public to respond to the 2020 Census. A map of CCC's in Montana can be found here
  • Ask public facilities (libraries, senior centers, county health offices, etc.) to become a "Be Counted" location. To view the current “Be Counted” sites click here
  • Place 2020 Census information in areas where people congregate (supermarkets, restaurants, health clubs, schools, etc.) To request free materials be mailed to you contact us here
  • Talk about the Census and become a trusted voice on the importance of a complete count. As a community member that people trust, your support of the 2020 Census can help other people see the benefit of filling out their 2020 Census form. 

Helpful Resources

Upcoming Census Events

  • Mid- March:  All Montana public K-12 schools should begin looking for their Census and Schools packet from the State Complete Count Committee. This will include a Census activity book for K-6 and all schools will receive posters, fact sheets, rack cards, and a Statics in Schools brochure. Educators, please keep your eyes open for these items and help Montana's children obtain a complete count for their future.
  • March 12 - 31:  Montana households will begin receiving official Census Bureau materials with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail. Watch for a postcard to be mailed to you or left in a packet along with the Census form on your front door.
  • March 30 - April 1: The Census Bureau will count people who are experiencing homelessness over these three days.
  • April 1: Census Day!
  • Throughout April:  Census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people.
  • May - July: Census takers will begin visiting homes that haven't responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted.

Montana in the News
Tourism Partner Shout-Outs, Recognition and News

Butte—Butte Sees Media Industry Boost—Butte is seeing a boom in interest from filmmakers and photographers following legislation that passed in the spring of 2019.

Butte is a central location in Montana. It has an urban environment, including buildings from several centuries. It’s close to mountains, lakes and rivers -- and it’s affordable.

Butte is this beautiful landscape of different canvasses and texturesideal for filmmakersand Butte has this incredible opportunity with our low cost of living, as well, to really be the hub for filmmaking,” said Cassandra Sunell, marketing director for the Butte Local Development Corporation. Read more from NBC Montana here

Great Falls$130 Million in ExpoPark Improvements Include New Arena, Upgrade to Livestock Facilities; Bond Question Possible—Plans for $130 million in improvements to the Montana ExpoPark grounds, including a new 10,000-seat multi-use arena, were unveiled to about 100 residents at ExpoPark’s Exhibition Hall Thursday. It’s possible that a request for public funding could be on the November election ballot, but public input still is being gauged, officials said.

Minneapolis-based CSL International, a consultant specializing in convention, sport, entertainment and visitor industries, studied ExpoPark’s facilities for Great Falls Montana Tourism, which is looking for improvements to the buildings and layout of ExpoPark to boost the number of visitors to Great Falls and Cascade County, which owns the facilities. The 133-acre fairgrounds is home to the Montana State Fair and numerous other sports and convention events. Read more from the Great Falls Tribune here

Other News

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Guidance for tourism industry partners regarding COVID-19 is available at This web post will be updated with new information as it becomes available. 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.

Coronavirus Could Have Mixed Impacts On Montana Tourism

International travel to the U.S. is expected to decline due to flight restrictions and fears over the novel coronavirus. That downturn will take a big bite out of the U.S. travel and tourism economy. But, the virus could be boon to places like western Montana as Americans cancel their international trips in favor of something a little closer to home.

And with the recent spread of COVID-19 in large cities like Seattle, wide-open spaces like Montana might sound appealing to those looking to get out. The idea even came up on Howard Stern’s show on SiriusXM this week.

Stern isn’t alone in thinking of Montana, particularly the northwest corner of the state — which accounts for about a third of the $3.6 billion non-resident visitors spend in the state each year.

Missoula-based Glacier Country Tourism says they’ve heard from some businesses that trip bookings in the area are going up. CEO Racene Friede says, "Right now, we just don’t have a firm grip on what exactly is happening." Read more from MTPR here

Are you REAL ID Ready? 

On October 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will officially begin enforcing the REAL ID Act of 2005 at airports. This will require all Americans to present REAL ID-compliant identification to go through security.

An estimated 99 million Americans do not have a REAL ID compliant driver's license or an acceptable alternative identification (e.g. passport). A majority of Americans (57%) are unaware of the October 1, 2020 deadline for enforcement. This could mean tens of millions of passengers are turned away on October 1, 2020 for not having the necessary documents to fly. 

Use the resources in this toolkit from the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) to encourage travelers to get #REALIDready today. For specific information on REAL ID in Montana, click here

Other Dates/Events to Note

March 18, 2020—SBDC Day (Held annually on the 3rd Wednesday in March)—SBDC Day is a national, collective proclamation of the success and impact America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) have across the nation in economic development and the small businesses community. For more information, click here

SBDC Training Workshops—The Montana SBDC Network offers a wide variety of training and workshops for small businesses in all phases of business development, from start-ups to those looking at growth and expansion. Click here for a list of popular training offered in the SBDC Network. 

April 28-30, 2020Montana's Healthy Communities Conference (Helena)—Montana Healthy Communities is a collaboration of various organizations committed to raising awareness in Montana about the relationship between the physical and mental health of its citizens and the economic vitality of the community. This includes the coordinated discussion, planning and funding for quality jobs, transportation, research, broadband, schools, safe walking, biking and recreational options, early child care, housing, infrastructure, revitalization and historic preservation. Click here for more information. 

May 3-9, 2020National Travel & Tourism Week—Celebrate travel’s contributions during National Travel and Tourism Week, May 3-9. Travel is more than just fun—it’s an industry that has a significant impact on nearly every sector across the U.S., a role to play in policies concerning trade, security and commerce and innumerable benefits for Americans nationwide. The theme for National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) this year is "Travel Works". Every day during this week, the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) will highlight a different way that this theme rings true across America. Learn more here

May 28-29, 2020MEDA Spring Conference (Helena)

September 14-16, 2020—The 2020 Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit (Great Falls)—Led by the Montana Office of Outdoor Recreation and co-hosted by the Crown of the Continent Geotourism Council and Montana Trails Coalition, this summit is an enhanced follow-up to the 2018 inaugural full Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit.

This year's summit is capped at 350 participants from Montana, The Greater Crown of the Continent Region and beyond, ranging from industry, community and conservation. The summit will offer tools that will help facilitate interaction between attendees and create concrete opportunities to utilize and integrate into future work. Registration opens on May 4, 2020. To learn more, click here

October 6-8, 2020—The 2020 NAISMA Annual Conference is the organization’s 27th Annual Conference (Whitefish)—Co-Sponsored with the Montana Invasive Species Council, the conference will include field trips to visit Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake, and surrounding natural areas. Concurrent sessions will present new techniques and technologies, standards, climate change impacts and adaptation strategies, biocontrol updates, forest pests, feral hogs, new invasive species on the horizon, aquatic invasive species management, education and awareness brands, Cooperative Weed Management Area successes, cross-jurisdictional strategies, and much more. To learn more, click here