Larry Gianchetta, Dean of the University of Montana’s School of Business Administration, was named Export Advocate of the Year by Gov. Steve Bullock during a celebration of Manufacturing and International Trade Day 2016 on Monday at the Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown.

The event connected Montana business owners with experts who can help expand their reach outside the state, bringing dollars back home.

“Larry has done a lot for Montana,” Bullock told the crowd.

The governor delivered a speech and presented awards to several other individuals and businesses.

Greg Thayer, the CEO of Montana Milling in Great Falls, won Small Business Person of the Year. John and Courtney McKee of Headframe Spirits in Butte won Small Business Champion of the Year and Rachel and Dustin Rising of Bibs & Binkies in Bozeman won the Millenial Entrepreneur Award.

Lena Wharton of Wharton Asphalt in Billings won the Women-Owned Small Business award, and Jim Markel and Perry Jones of Red Oxx Manufacturing in Billings won the Veteran-Owned Small Business Award. Manufacturer of the year went to Plastic Design and Manufacturing, Inc. in Manhattan, and Exporter of the Year went to Resonon, Inc. in Bozeman. Paddy Flemming, the director of the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, was named Manufacturing Advocate of the Year.

Gianchetta currently serves as a board member of the Montana World Trade Center and a member of the Montana District Export Council. He’s also a member of the Montana Ambassadors, a trustee of the Community Medical Center Foundation, a trustee of the William and Rosemary Gallagher Charitable Foundation and a board member for Blue Cross Blue Shield Montana.

Gianchetta said he’s a strong advocate for exports because of how important they are to economic growth.

“Four percent of the world’s population lives in the United States,” Gianchetta said after the awards ceremony. “So if you want to access the other 96 percent, just from a marketing perspective, it makes a lot of sense.”

Bullock said that Montana has a great business climate, but he is focused on initiatives that will diversify the economy and support innovation.

“Good is not good enough and we need to do a little bit more,” he said.

He said other states, such as Kansas and New Jersey, have had to close schools early and suffer credit downgrades because they haven’t done enough to support small businesses.

“The driver in Montana of industry certainly is small business,” Bullock said.

Senator Jon Tester spoke to the crowd via video conference to say he is supporting legislation to end the trade embargo with Cuba, which would benefit Montana farmers and ranchers in the state’s top industry, agriculture.

Congressman Ryan Zinke spoke in person to say that the next president of the United States will inherit the strongest military that’s ever been assembled and that new technology is leading to an increase in the global production of energy sources. Sen. Steve Daines spoke via video conference and congratulated all the award winners as well.

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