Friday Flash 2/26/21

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Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Save the Dates...

  • Tourism Partner Call—This bi-monthly call is dedicated to the six tourism Regions, 18 CVBs, the Montana Tourism Advisory Council and specific industry stakeholders. The calls are held on the fourth Wednesday, every other month from 10:00-11:00 a.m. For assistance or information regarding this call, please contact Kev Campbell or call her at 406.438.7011. 
    • March 24, 2021
    • May 26, 2021
    • July 28, 2021
    • September 22, 2021
    • November 24, 2021
  • April 20, 2021—Region/CVB 3rd Quarter Financial Reports Due 
  • May 4, 2021—Region/CVB FY22 Marketing Plans due to MOTBD in WebGrants
  • June 14-15, 2021—TAC Meeting 
  • July 20, 2021—Region/CVB 4th Quarter Financial Reports Due 
  • October 4, 2021—TAC Meeting

MOTBD Staff Updates

Maria V

Office of Indian Country Economic Development Program Manager

We are excited to announce that Maria Valandra has been selected as the Program Manager for the Office of Indian Country Economic Development (OICED).

Since July 2020, Maria has served as the interim Program Manager for OICED in addition to fulfilling her duties as the Entrepreneur Development Program Manager. We are currently recruiting to fill that position and hope to make an announcement soon. Please join us in welcoming Maria to her new role.

Sean Tippin

Welcome Sean Tippin to the Montana Film Office

We are pleased to announced that Sean Tippin has joined the Department of Commerce as the Locations Coordinator for the Montana Film Office. 

Sean grew up skiing and playing in the mountains around Helena developing an interest in outdoor film and photography. He graduated from the MSU School of Film and Photography in Bozeman, then spending eight years working in different creative agencies, television production companies and as a freelance Producer. Blending the world of traditional cinema with local Montana resources has always been a foundational value for Sean and he's excited to bring his experience to the Montana Film Office and MOTBD.

When he's not at work, you can find him in the South Hills trail system on his mountain bike, or tirelessly discussing the technical cinematography from the latest Netflix series. Please join us in welcoming Sean to the Department.

Tourism Grant Program

2021 Tourism Grant Update

The 2021 Tourism Grant applications are currently being evaluated. We anticipate making an announcement of 2021 awarded projects in the coming weeks. We encourage you to subscribe to receive email updates from the Department of Commerce for other funding opportunities and news by clicking here.

Made in Montana

Choose Local

We encourage you to support your local businesses when possible. If you are interested in locally sourced ingredients, check out this list of our Taste our Place members and savor Montana flavor. You can also find Made in Montana producers and retailers in your area by visiting   

Headframe Spirits

MIM Members in the News

Headframe to Expand Greatly, Make New Whiskey —Name two things Headframe Spirits is good at. Right: Making booze, and giving back.

The Butte distiller is about to do a whole lot more of both. Headframe’s co-owners, John and Courtney McKee, recently signed a six-year contract that will increase the amount of whiskey Headframe makes by a factor of 10.

The deal will make their company by far the largest producer of American single malt whiskey. Over the next six years, they expect to make 20,000 barrels, using Montana barley malted at Butte’s Montana Craft Malt. In the process, they expect to become MCM’s biggest customer, using nearly a third of the malter’s output capacity.

The deal will require a $1.8 million capital investment to expand Headframe’s distilling and whiskey-storage capacity — an investment that has already begun at the company’s Kelley mine operation, where local contractors are already at work.

The whiskey will be made and aged at the Kelley site — for a large distilling company that for now must remain anonymous, the McKees said last week. In order to meet the contract, Headframe will be producing 12 to 15 barrels of whiskey per shift, for two shifts every weekday — 24 to 30 barrels a day.

The whiskey represents a major new brand in an emerging market. It will not be a Headframe brand, like the Kelley single malt the company makes now, but rather a completely new line. It will be marketed as a Montana-made whiskey — Montana-grown, malted and distilled. And it will be recognized as a product of Butte, America. Read more at the Montana Standard here

2021 Made in Montana Tradeshow 

The Made in Montana Tradeshow for Food & Gifts is rescheduled for September 10-11, 2021 (TENTATIVE) in Helena MT at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds.

The public health situation in Montana and Lewis and Clark County continues to evolve and a large event in March 2021 is not a feasible option. To keep our Made in Montana members and Montana community safe, we rescheduled the annual show with a tentative plan for a wholesale and public day trade show that aligns with public health guidelines.

Exhibitor registration will open in early May 2021 and wholesale buyer registration will open in early July 2021. We encourage Made in Montana members to verify their membership status and information in the online directory at is accurate and up to date.

Montana Film News


Montana Film Office to Launch New Website

The Montana Film Office is very excited to announce our newly designed website — to officially launch on March 1, 2021. We wanted to make the new website easier to navigate, more user-friendly, and more appealing to producers and filmmakers worldwide looking to make Montana their Ultimate Location.

We aspire to provide our clients and partners with the most accurate, up-to-date information while maintaining focus on our mission to enhance Montana’s economy by: expanding film production in the state, advertising Montana as open for business, increasing job opportunities, promoting the growth of small businesses, and promoting tourism.

Producers have come to depend on the Montana Film Office to help navigate permitting, regulation processes, and location nuances. And we are thrilled to showcase our new website to aid in that endeavor.

Our web address has not changed – you’ll still find us at MONTANAFILM.COM. We invite you to visit our new look on March 1, 2021.

Ultimate Location

Montana Aiming to be the Next Big Film Production Destination

Montana is building upon its longtime history as a destination for film producers with a new tax credit. The incentive ends up knocking about one-third off the budget of a TV or film production.

Based on that tax credit, Montana is attracting films such as “Murder at Emigrant Gulch” and “Please, Baby, Please.” Both were filming during my recent visit to Montana. Montana’s history with film started with Thomas Edison, who filmed tourists at Yellowstone National park way back in 1897. It was the scene of cowboy movies in the 1910s and 1920s such as “The Devil Horse.”

There was a host of movies in the 1970s starring big names like Clint Eastwood. In 1991 came “A River Runs Through It.” In 1998: "The Horse Whisperer". And in 2019, a film set in Scotland, “Robert the Bruce,” was actually filmed primarily in Montana. A lot of viewers are familiar with the Paramount TV show “Yellowstone.” It was mostly filmed in Utah unit last year. Now, the entire production has moved to Montana.

Allison Whitmer is Montana’s film commissioner. “There are counties in Montana where their entire operating budget for a year is less than a million dollars,” says Whitmer. “And we have some Montana counties where their population is less than 1,000 people. So, bringing those dollars into the community really makes a difference.”

With the coronavirus shutdowns and restrictions in 2020, and production in L-A hitting a recent record low, many Hollywood productions sought more rural and less restrictive settings like Montana as places to shoot film and television productions. Read more from WCYB here


Montana Matters: Protect Montana Moments

Montana is home to extraordinary experiences and moments that will leave you in awe. With over 147,000 miles to explore, our unspoiled beauty, wonderful wildlife and charming small towns deserve respect and thoughtfulness from visitors and residents alike. With this in mind, the marketing team is excited to announce some new messaging, "Montana Matters."

The new page on is up and running, and we are excited to incorporate this messaging into existing initiatives to encourage visitors and residents to travel responsibly when exploring Montana. Learn more here

Tribal/Cultural News

Blackfeet Seamstress Sells Local, Invited to More International Runways

A local woman is getting international attention for her craft while sharing Blackfeet history. Belinda Bullshoe’s intricate stitching creations highlight Montana native struggles and triumphs one thread at a time.

People in north/central Montana have probably noticed her posts on local Facebook groups or even seen her selling items around town from her car. Bullshoe explains her passion for fashion stems from her roots and each item she hand makes depicts Blackfeet culture.

Bullshoe learned how to sew from her Grandma when she was little. Now she makes thousands of native masks, car seat covers, blankets, and wallets, but her dresses have been catching eyes overseas for years. Her work has been on 43 runways; including New York and Paris fashion weeks. She loves expressing art through fashion, and each piece tells a story. Read more from KULR8 here

Outdoor Rec

Mother's Day Fishing

Free Fishing on Mother's Day

On Tuesday, February 23, Governor Gianforte signed into law SB 61, making fishing free on Mother’s Day weekend. Senator Pat Flowers (D-Bozeman) introduced the bipartisan bill.




National Invasive Species Awareness Week February 22-26, 2021

Invasive species are a global problem that starts at home,” said Belle Bergner, director of the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA). “Everyone can do something to prevent invasive species from taking over agricultural and natural environments, and we encourage organizations and individuals to take leadership teaching their community about how to solve invasive species issues locally,” said Bergner.

Invasive species cost the United States $137 billion annually in damages to crops, forests, fish, and other wildlife. In Montana, if invasive mussels alone were to become established, our state economy could see more than $230 million in annual mitigation costs and lost revenue.

Montana’s natural resources and outdoor recreation opportunities are what makes living in Montana so extraordinary, and they contribute significantly to our state’s economy,” said Bryce Christiaens, Chair of the Montana Invasive Species Council. “Invasive species threaten our livelihood, land, and water. We all must do everything we can to prevent and stop invasive species to protect the state we love,” said Christiaens. Click here to watch a newly published video about invasive species threats in Montana. 

Bike and Pedestrian Paths Planned for Rural Missoula Co.

Missoula County commissioners approved an agreement last week that would hire a consultant for rural pedestrian and bike paths. It’s an agreement with the Montana Department of Commerce for Community Development Block Grant Funding.

Missoula Community and Planning Services received a $30,000 award to put toward paths in rural communities in Missoula County. They say the focus will be in northern and eastern parts of the county, like Clinton, Seeley-Swan and filling some transportation gaps in Frenchtown. Read more from NBC Montana here

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

AnacondaAnaconda's Economic Outlook: 'Right Now it's Absolutely Booming'—A year ago, Anaconda’s Chief Executive Bill Everett predicted his town would be going forward. “We are rebuilding,” he said. “No question about it.” 

Those were not empty promises. In spite of COVID-19, much has been accomplished. “Right now it’s absolutely booming,” said Everett. “Our schedule is very full.” For the town and its residents, there are a number of accomplishments worth celebrating. “This is a big coming out year for Anaconda,” said an excited Everett.

First up is the 88-room motel now under construction. The $10-million facility is expected to be finished from top to bottom by early summer and will include seven suites, a swimming pool, an exercise room, a Jacuzzi, and conference center. As an added bonus, Barclay II, a popular Anaconda restaurant and bar, will move its operation to the new motel.

The Best Western motel will be called The Forge and a good deal of sentimental thought went into naming it such. “We named it The Forge due to the historic relation to smeltering in our community,” explained Everett. Read more from the Montana Standard here

BelgradeBelgrade Publishes Plan to Invest in Downtown—Belgrade has published a long-term plan for improving and investing in the area around Main Street.

The Downtown Design Plan is the culmination of an effort by the city and Cushing Terrell, a Bozeman consulting firm, “to focus limited resources on impactful projects to spur economic development that benefits the people of Belgrade, visitors and business owners,” according to the document, which can be viewed at

The city is now accepting feedback on the document, and the planning board will review it on Monday.
The Downtown Design Plan details numerous projects, including the addition of a parking lot south of Main Street between Kennedy and Davis streets, an update to zoning regulations to allow for higher density and mixed-use development, the addition of green spaces and bike lanes, the creation of a truck route to bypass Main Street and the addition of lighting, trees and other amenities to downtown streets.

Billings2021's Hardest-Working Cities in America—Billings is the 19th hardest working city in the U.S., according to a new analysis from the personal finance website Wallethub.

To determine its rankings, Wallethub compared 116 of the most populated cities across two key dimensions, “Direct Work Factors” and “Indirect Work Factors.”

Direct work factors includes a subset of data such as average work hours a week, employment rate, share of households where no adults work and share of workers leaving vacation time unused. Indirect work factors include things such as average commute time, share of workers with multiple jobs and annual volunteer hours per resident. Read more from the Fairfield Sun Times here

BozemanSouthwest Airlines Lands in Montana—One of the nation’s largest airlines announced Thursday morning that it’s expanding its service into Montana for the first time.

Southwest Airlines announced year-round, nonstop flights between Bozeman and Denver and Bozeman and Las Vegas are set to start on May 27, with two flights each way every day. Flights to and from Denver are scheduled to increase to four daily flights each way on June 6.

What this really means is that we have another major network carrier,” said Brian Sprenger, Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport airport director. “There’s the biggest four carriers, we had three of the four and this will fill that out. Basically, we’ll have all of the largest carriers in the nation flying here.” Read more from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle here

HavreHavre Group Working to Beautify Alley—The Havre group Downtown Montana Matters has been working to beautify the alley between Second and Third streets and Third and Fourth avenues with LED lights and artwork as part of their mission to make the town more enjoyable to walk in.

One of the group's members, Debbie Vandeberg, said the organization, formerly called the Havre Main Street Group, was created as a result of a meeting years ago about becoming an official Main Street program through the Montana Department of Commerce.

The group operates under that program now but has maintained its goals and functions held since its creation. The group is responsible for a number or projects in town, including bike racks downtown and a mural on the Hill County Printing Building. Vandeberg said the goal of this latest project is to create an art alley in a well-traveled alley that could use some work anyway. "The vision for that was to create an area that has some ambiance to it, bring a variety of public art, some light, some beautification," she said. Vandeberg said alleys are generally overlooked spaces for beautification and this one could use some TLC, especially considering how many restaurants and bars are in the area.

Paul Tuss, executive director of Bear Paw Development Corp., the fiscal agent for the project's funds, is also involved with the art alley, which he said could be used for events even with social distancing requirements in place. Read more from the Havre Daily News here

KalispellAdditional Flights Coming to Glacier Park International Airport—Additional flight options – including JetBlue Airways – are coming to the Flathead. Glacier Park International Airport (GPIA) has announced a new partnership with JetBlue Airways and additional routes through American Airlines.

Travelers will be able to take a seasonal JetBlue flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City three times a week in July and August. American Airlines has also added service to New York City with Saturday flights to LaGuardia Airport, as well as Saturday service to Charlotte, North Carolina.

The JetBlue partnership increases our airline carriers from five to six,” said GPIA Rob Ratkowski. “This is great news for all travelers." The American Airlines announcement increases Kalispell service from three cities – Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, and Los Angeles - to five. Read more from KPAX here

COVID-19 Research

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of February 21 from Destination Analysts

New records in American travel sentiment this week are sweet music to the travel industry in the march back to normalcy. This summer looks especially promising —particularly for a larger return to commercial outdoor attractions and events.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • Americans’ optimism about the month ahead soared an additional 5 percentage points in the last week, reaching another record high (44.2%).

  • Other record highs in travel sentiment reached this week include: the level of excitement about travel in 2021 (6.2/10), a readiness state-of-mind around travel (60.2%), those who have received or know friends or relatives who have received the vaccine (62.7%), the making of travel plans specifically in anticipation of vaccine distribution (34.8%) and the proportion who will take at least one leisure trip in the next 3 months (52.9%).

  • Welcome record lows noted this week include: perceptions of travel and leisure activities as unsafe (45.7%), strong concern about the virus’ impact on personal finances (52.2%), general avoidance of travel (45.3%), avoidance of conferences and conventions (63.2%), agreement that travel should be for essential needs only (48.7%), travel guilt (42.7%), and refusal to travel until vaccines are widely available (46.5%).

  • Americans’ support of travel in their own communities reached important milestones in the recovery. Anticipated happiness with ads promoting their community for tourism reached another high (41.9%), while agreement that tourists in their community are unwanted reached a record low (48.3%).

  • When asked to use just one word to describe how they feel about travel right now, “excited” is what Americans largely cite, a feeling that has become even more predominant since the start of the year.

  • And as demonstrated time and time again, feelings translate to actions. An incredible 83.5% of American travelers have at least tentative trip plans right now.

  • The majority of Americans continue to believe they will be vaccinated from COVID-19 by this summer, which we see reflected in the timing of their trip plans, including a notable spike in July and consistency in the months following.

  • As each week more Americans have been vaccinated as well as know others who have, more trips in the short term appear. The proportions with trips planned for April and May have inched up over the last month (including for Easter and Spring Break). Well over half of American travelers will travel for leisure within the next 3 months, taking 1.1 trips on average.

  • With two-thirds having travel dreamt and planned in just the last week alone, Americans remain highly open to travel inspiration (6.0/10) and the potential influence of travel advertising.

  • 56.2% have not yet taken any significant action towards planning their next leisure trips, and thus could potentially be swayed on decisions from the destination to visit to their trip activities.

  • Interest in public and commercial outdoor attractions and events is certainly present, from National Parks attractions (53.8%) to outdoor concerts (31.1%). Half of American travelers expect to be comfortable at commercial outdoor venues and attractions by July.

Read more from the Destination Analysts report here

Montana Aware

Montana Aware Badge

Montana Aware Toolkit & Resources

The Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development has been hard at work promoting the safety and wellness of our citizens and visitors through the "Montana Aware Campaign".

Businesses wanting additional resources can access the downloadable toolkit and other information at MARKETMT.COM/ISO/Montana-Aware-Toolkit

Other News

How to be a Film Friendly Destination

Have you wondered how your destination can become film friendly? It doesn’t happen overnight, but there are steps you can take to let the right people know what your destination can offer to those who are looking to find the “perfect location” for a movie, TV show, commercial, or even national print ad.

If you’re in the U.S., do you know how much film business your state has? You can find out right here in this terrific map from the Motion Picture Association. The economic impact of filming in any given area is staggering. Here are five tips to help you get your destination ready for filming should the opportunity arise:

  1. It’s All About Connections!—The first thing you need to do is connect with your local, regional, and state or province film services/commissions.
  2. First StepIf anything has been filmed or you’ve had a big photo shoot in your area (movie, TV show, commercial, or even a print ad) start a list and get photos or clips to highlight what has been done in the past.
  3. Show OffMake a list and include photos/videos of interesting film locations in your area; either ones that have already been used or ones that offer great possibilities.
  4. Be Film Friendly OnlineNow that you’ve organized your film assets, add a Filming page to your website. A good state example of this is Texas and their Film Friendly Communities webpage.
  5. Host Film Friendly Fam (Familiarization) TripsFilm location managers are a lot of fun. They like to attend fam trips as a group as well as work on their own.

Read more about making your community film friendly from Tourism Currents here

Other Dates/Events to Note

American Trails Presents Advancing Trails Webinar Series

American Trails brings agencies, trailbuilders, advocates, and volunteers the latest in state-of-the-art information on all aspects of trails and greenways. Our webinars focus on a variety of trail topics, usually applicable to all trail types, with expert presenters. Webinar topics are chosen from current cutting-edge trail topics selected from attendee/presenter suggestions as well as recent popular conference sessions. For more information, visit or click on individual webinar links below. 

Upcoming webinars:

May 12, 2021 (9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.)Free International Roundup Supplier SeminarHosted by the Great American West (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota & South Dakota) & Rocky Mountain International, join us for this free virtual seminar to learn more about the international travel recovery process. This seminar will focus on further education about the international tourism industry and bring in key industry players to speak about everyone’s part in the recovery process through collaborative effort.

We cannot welcome international visitors until our borders open and it is safe to travel again. But we are working toward recovery now. If you are a Montana lodging facility, ranch or activity provider and would like to learn how to attract more international guests, as well as learn about recovery efforts and trends in the international markets, please attend this free webinar. You can be part of the recovery process. Suppliers do not need to have attended International Roundup to benefit from this seminar. This supplier opportunity will be hosted virtually and is completely free to any supplier. If you have questions, please reach out to Kim Birrell