Commerce Connection

montana department of commerce
Five on Black

Five on Black, a Montana-owned restaurant chain, received Business Stabilization and Adaptation grants. Owner Tom Snyder meets with Gov. Bullock.

Governor Bullock Announces 13,000 Small Businesses Now Supported Through Targeted Relief Programs

Business Stabilization, Adaptation programs award $200 million in small business grants


Nearly 13,000 small Montana businesses in every corner of the state have now received support through Governor Steve Bullock’s Business Stabilization and Business Adaptation grant programs, he announced Thursday. These two targeted relief programs are among more than 30 that were created in response to the pandemic.

“You kept me in business,” said Scott Buchholz who owns and operates Buchholz Custom Sawmilling in Dillon, Mont. “The Stabilization Grant filled in all the blanks – I didn’t have to worry about where I’d get the money to repair tools or buy inventory. It gave me a lot of peace of mind, and we are going to make it.”

Buchholz said of the relief program that it’s a good example of government working for Montanans. In fact, out of the 35 states for which complete data is available, Montana ranks 8th when it comes to spending its share of Coronavirus Relief Funds.

“Montana has been a leader in quickly and effectively deploying targeted support to the businesses that need it most,” said Governor Steve Bullock. “Businesses in every Montana county and in virtually every industry have accessed grant dollars to help weather the economic impacts created by the pandemic and emerge from it in a position that will allow them to continue serving their communities across the state.” 

The Business Stabilization and Adaptability programs have now awarded almost $200 million to 12,944 small Montana businesses. The average grant awarded through the Business Stabilization program is $16,500, the average Adaptability reimbursement is $7,500. These dollars helped support professional service businesses, restaurants, coffee shops, outfitters and guides, sole proprietors, hotels, retail stores, manufacturers and more by providing working capital allowing businesses to buy inventory, cover rent and pay for adaptations needed to promote best public health practices.

“Receiving these funds assisted our small business in making necessary environmental changes in order to keep our clients and practitioners safer during these uncertain times,” said Jonathan Baum of the Business Adaptability Grant received by the Red Barn Wellness Collective in Kalispell, Mont. “On a larger scale these funds have allowed our doors to remain open to our local Flathead Valley community.”

“It helped smooth things out,” said Rock Creek Coffee Roasters owner Joel Gargaro. “Our business is in the middle of downtown Billings and COVID canceled everything this summer. [These dollars] helped cover the impact of losing the summer. Now, I think we’ll be fine.”

The deadline to apply for the Business Adaptability Program is Nov. 15. Applications are no longer being accepted for the Business Stabilization Program.

To date, more than $835 million has been awarded to businesses, nonprofits, homeowners, renters, schools, local governments and child-care providers across 32 relief programs created by the governor. Find a complete list of relief programs here:

Transparency Dashboards Updated Weekly

More than 14,000 Montana businesses and nonprofits have now received relief funding through more than 32 programs created by Governor Bullock's Coronavirus Relief Fund. 

The state of Montana has launched a dynamic dashboard that shows the Coronavirus Relief Fund grants that have been awarded to businesses and nonprofits. You'll also found a complete breakdown of program allocations on the resources tab. This dashboard will be updated weekly until all grant dollars have been expended. 

Circle Finance

Governor Bullock Announces More than $1 Million in Business Development Funding to Create up to 136 Montana Jobs, Train New Workers

Governor Steve Bullock has announced $1,050,260 in business development funding through the Montana Department of Commerce to support the creation of up to 136 jobs and train new workers at eight growing businesses in Montana.

“It’s a testament to our state’s strong economic climate heading into the COVID-19 pandemic and the grit and resourcefulness of Montanans that some Montana businesses are growing and creating new jobs even in these challenging economic times,” Governor Bullock said. “When Montana businesses grow, our communities and the hardworking Montanans who live and work here have new opportunities to grow as well. These funds will invest in our state’s economy by expanding businesses and creating good-paying jobs to support those businesses.”

Funds will be awarded through two reimbursement programs at the Department of Commerce: The Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) and the Primary Sector Workforce Training Grant (WTG). The two grant programs provide reimbursements to local and county governments and economic development organizations on behalf of businesses for creating good-paying jobs in Montana and training Montanans to fill those jobs.

Click here to see the complete list of organizations that will receive funding for creating jobs and training new workers.

The next application deadline for the Big Sky Trust Fund Grant Programs is December 16, 2020. In addition, Montana businesses are now eligible to apply directly for workforce recovery grant dollars to help companies refill jobs that were lost due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Montana Department of Commerce has launched a temporary Workforce Recovery grant program as part of the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF). The deadline to apply to this temporary program is December 31, 2020. Learn more at BSTF.MT.GOV.


$3 Million Now Available to Support Montana Businesses to Refill Jobs Lost Due to Pandemic Impacts

Montana businesses are now eligible to apply for workforce recovery grant dollars to help companies refill jobs that were lost due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Montana Department of Commerce has launched a temporary Workforce Recovery grant program as part of the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF).

The Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund Workforce Recovery program will reimburse a business for the wages of full-time, permanent jobs that are created and retained for at least six months, up to a maximum of 25 jobs per business. Businesses apply directly to the program. A reimbursement of up to $7,500 per job is available to businesses in high-poverty counties. The business must match $3,750 per job. A reimbursement of up to $5,000 per job, with a $5,000 match, is available for businesses in all other counties.

Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds have been committed or December 31, 2020; whichever comes first. Apply at MARKETMT.COM/BSTF/WorkforceRecovery

Apply Here


Rise and Restore Virtual Summit: Resident Recruitment in Rural America

In response to COVID-19, Headwaters RC&D has partnered with Great Northern Development Corporation, America's Small Business Development Center of Montana and Montana Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program to present the Rise & Restore Small Business Virtual Summit. This event will take place on November 10, 2020, from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM via Zoom. Join us for a timely talk and sneak previews of speakers, topics and the Minnow Tank competition being presented at our live Rise and Restore Conference planned for Spring 2021. Ben Winchester is the keynote speaker with the topic Resident Recruitment in Rural America: Capitalizing on Covid-19 Influx of New Talent into Montana.

Ben Winchester has been working both in and for small towns across the Midwest for over 25 years. He lives in St. Cloud, Minnesota with his wife and two children. Ben is trained as a Rural Sociologist and works as a Senior Research Fellow for the University of Minnesota Extension. His applied research on economic, social, and demographic topics surrounding the theme of “rewriting the rural narrative” is a new way of looking at rural America. Winchester received his B.A. in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Minnesota, Morris (1995), and M.S. in Rural Sociology from the University of Missouri, Columbia (2001). He was a founding employee at the Center for Small Towns, an outreach and engagement program at the University of Minnesota, Morris and specializes in community development, demographic analysis, data visualization, and moving communities away from anecdata.

--------> Please use the following link to register: 


Deadline Approaching to Apply for Rent, Mortgage Assistance

Montanans who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for rent and mortgage payment assistance, but time is running out to apply for the monthly assistance. The Montana Department of Commerce announced Wednesday all applications must be received by Tuesday, Nov. 10.

Since the program’s May inception, Montana Housing, with assistance from NeighborWorks Montana, has approved more than 1,100 applications and awarded more than $4.2 million in rental and mortgage assistance to Montana families and individuals statewide.

Emergency Housing Assistance applicants who need assistance with the application can contact NeighborWorks Montana at or by calling 406.604.4500.

Apply here

Commerce Department Launches Program to Provide Legal Assistance for Montanans Facing Pandemic-Related Evictions

The Montana Department of Commerce announced Tuesday a new partnership with the Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) to form the Montana Eviction Intervention Project, a new program that will provide civil legal assistance for Montanans facing evictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This partnership is to make sure Montana renters have access to free legal resources that can provide information, guidance and support so people can stay in their homes and not have to worry about possibly being evicted,” Montana Department of Commerce Director Tara Rice said. “The Montana Eviction Intervention Project will help financially stressed Montanans who are facing an eviction with free legal representation before or during an eviction proceeding.”

The COVID-19 public health emergency has more adversely affected people who normally live paycheck-to-paycheck and are suddenly out of work and struggle to pay for food or rent. Although there are some civil legal solutions available for struggling renters, they are often too complicated to navigate without support from legal or housing experts. For example, the current nationwide Centers for Disease Control eviction moratorium contains numerous complex legal requirements.

Through the Montana Eviction Intervention Project, MLSA will work with Justices of the Peace and Clerks for Limited Jurisdiction Courts across the state, as well as the Supreme Court's Office of the Court Administrator to develop a referral system for people who are representing themselves in an eviction and connect those people with an attorney to provide legal services.

"We are excited to be able to launch the Montana Eviction Intervention Project with the support of the Department of Commerce and the Governor's Office,” MLSA Executive Director Alison Paul said. “This project will provide valuable legal representation to Montanans struggling to get by in these difficult times. Through the project, the Montana Legal Services Association will help Montanans avoid illegal evictions, negotiate with landlords to obtain additional days to move out and plan an alternative home, connect with available social services, educate judges on the new eviction ban and avoid negative legal judgements for tenants. The goal of these services is to decrease the number of homeless Montanans during the coronavirus public health emergency "

The Montana Eviction Intervention Project is supported by a $70,000 grant provided by the Montana Department of Commerce using federal CARES Act funding. The program will continue to assist Montanans who are facing an eviction and need legal assistance until December 30, 2020. For more information visit MONTANALAWHELP.ORG or call 1.800.666.6899.

Montana renters who have lost income due to COVID-19 may be eligible for monthly rent assistance through the Emergency Housing Assistance program. The deadline to apply is Nov. 10, 2020. Apply at COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV.

COVID-19 Resources

  • Montana COVID-19 Hotline: 1-888-333-0461 or 
  • Montana Coronavirus task force: COVID19@MT.GOV
  • If you are a business owner and have questions related to the the phased approach to reopening and how the plan applies to you directly, please call 1-800-755-6672.

  • If your question relates to unemployment insurance/benefits, please contact the Department of Labor and Industry at 406-444-2545. If you think you are eligible for unemployment benefits accessible to workers laid off due to COVID-19, you can apply for benefits online at: or contact the Unemployment Insurance Division over the phone at 406-444-2545.

  • Visit Montana: VISITMT.COM or 1-800-847-4868


Upcoming Application Deadlines