Commerce Connection

montana department of commerce
Wilma Theater

SBDC Application Assistance Available for Upcoming Federal Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

Businesses Encouraged to Begin Preparing for Applications Now

The Montana Small Business Development Center Network is adding additional staff to assist businesses applying for the upcoming Shuttered Venue Operators Grant through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant opens April 8, according to the SBA. Interested businesses are encouraged to begin preparing for their applications now by registering for free in the federal System for Award Management (SAM.GOV), which is used to do business with the federal government.

Businesses can reach out to Shannon Clancy, the Montana SBDC’s SAM registration specialist, for no-cost assistance in the SAM.GOV registration process. Shannon can be reached by email: or by phone: 406.590.1184.

Find the application checklist and eligibility requirements for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant at the SBA’s website.

The Montana SBDC Network can also assist small businesses in applying for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), and other federal and state resources. Find your local SBDC at: SBDC.MT.GOV.

Film Marker

14 Productions to Share $500,000 in Big Sky Film Grants to Film in Montana

Fourteen film productions will share $500,000 through the Big Sky Film Grant from the Montana Film Office to film on-location across the state, the Montana Department of Commerce announced today.

“Film, television and commercial productions have a direct economic impact in Montana, creating good-paying jobs and infusing outside dollars into Montana communities,” Montana Film Commissioner Allison Whitmer said. “The Big Sky Film Grant is one of a suite of incentives the state offers to filmmakers that makes Montana competitive with other states and countries as the ultimate filming location.” 

The 14 film projects have a total estimated production cost of almost $126 million and expect that they will spend an estimated $72 million in Montana. A total of 42 projects requested more than $5 million in grant dollars this year, with only $500,000 available through the competitive Big Sky Film Grant for fiscal year 2021.

The productions will film at locations across Montana, from Dupuyer to Missoula to several places in eastern Montana.

The Big Sky Film Grant builds and supports partnerships with filmmakers and production companies to create good-paying Montana film industry jobs. The grant program enhances the marketing efforts of Montana’s tourism regions and advocates for the state’s people, history and overall quality of life.

See the complete list of awardees, here.

Circle Finance

Montana Main Street Grants Awarded to Revitalize Downtowns in 8 Communities

Eight communities across Montana will share $120,000 through the Montana Department of Commerce’s Montana Main Street Program to revitalize and strengthen their downtown cores.

“Montana’s Main Street businesses and downtowns are the foundation of our state’s economy,” Commerce Director Scott Osterman said. “Funding through the Montana Main Street Program invests in communities across our state, encouraging economic growth to make Montana’s local economies stronger and create more opportunities for Montanans.”

  • City-County of Butte-Silver Bow | $12,500 to complete a downtown master plan for Uptown Butte
  • City of Great Falls | $12,500 to create and install wayfinding signage
  • City of Hamilton | $16,000 to create and install wayfinding signage
  • City of Havre | $20,000 to complete a downtown master plan
  • City of Helena | $12,500 to complete a downtown capital improvements plan
  • Lewis and Clark County | $20,000 to complete a Downtown Master Plan for Lincoln
  • City of Red Lodge | $6,500 to complete a Community Parking Study & Access Strategy for the Roosevelt Center
  • Town of Whitehall | $20,000 to develop a preliminary architectural report for the Star Theater

The Montana Main Street Program helps member communities strengthen and preserve their historic downtown commercial districts by focusing on economic development, urban revitalization, and historic preservation through long-range planning, organization, design, and promotion.

Funds can be used for planning or brick-and-mortar projects that support downtown revitalization efforts and require a $1 match from the local community for every $5 received. The program currently serves 34 communities across Montana.

For more information about the Montana Main Street Program, visit


Coming Soon: Emergency Rental Assistance Program 

The Montana Emergency Rental Assistance program will soon take applications from Montana renters who have lost income and are at risk of housing instability due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funded through the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and appropriated by the Montana Legislature, this emergency rental assistance will help an estimated 8,000 Montana renters stay in their homes.

The application period will open soon. Here are some key things to know: 

  • Online application is easy, thousands of Montanans will qualify
  • Renters may receive a monthly maximum of $2,200 for back and/or future rent 
  • Gas, electric and internet services are eligible 
  • No co-pay is required
  • Renters may apply directly, landlords may apply on behalf of their renters

Renters can prepare for the application now by filing their 2020 taxes and/or gathering all income documentation, and landlords should prepare a W-9.


Luke Robinson

Office of Indian Country Economic Development Program Manager

Please welcome Luke Robinson to the Office of Indian Country Economic Development. Luke is taking on the role of Entrepreneur Development Specialist overseeing the Indian Equity Fund and Native American Business Assistance grant programs. Luke has more than seven years of experience working in economic development and comes to us from the Native American Development Corporation in Billings where he held the position of Loan Officer for their Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Luke also has commercial and agricultural banking experience as a Credit Analyst. He is originally from Lame Deer. Luke can be reached at

Cheese Plate Billings

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   

2021 Made in Montana Tradeshow 

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

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.

COVID-19 Resources

  • Montana COVID-19 Hotline: 1-888-333-0461 or 
  • Montana Coronavirus task force: COVID19@MT.GOV
  • 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


Dates to Remember