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In just six years, Business for Montana’s Outdoors has grown from an informal roundtable discussion into an organization with more than 175 business members from across the state.

While our name might hint at a coalition led by outdoor recreation sector businesses, we are actually comprised of a diverse cross-section of industries that includes entrepreneurs leading innovative businesses from a multitude of sectors — an increasing number of which are high tech businesses that are growing, thriving and yes, hiring.

The trend we’re experiencing in our growing roster of businesses appears to be coinciding with statewide trends. A new study from the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research revealed that Montana’s technology sector is growing nine times faster than the statewide economy, reporting nearly $1.7 billion in revenues in 2017. Headwaters Economics also reports that counties with more protected public lands see higher income levels and faster economic growth throughout the West.

These public lands provide our businesses with a competitive advantage for recruitment and support their desire to build cohesive and loyal teams. Every weekend, during lunch breaks and before and after work, tech companies share about how employees recharge their batteries on our public lands, hiking, hunting, fishing and enjoying these places with their families and friends. It is critical to the work culture, and the productivity of the companies leading job growth across the state.

These trends are significant, and worthy of acknowledging. The significance of how our public lands are woven into the fabric of leading industries is exactly the message that we have an interest in sharing, and in doing so, wanted to set the backdrop for a larger discussion on how tech and the outdoors intersect in Montana’s economy.

We invite entrepreneurs and interested members of the community to join us for a series of business roundtable discussions coming up this month in Bozeman (May 17) and Missoula (May 31) titled, “Where Technology Meets the Outdoors.” At the upcoming roundtables, we’ll delve into the latest research and hear case studies from some of the most exciting technology firms in the state, including onXmaps, LumenAd, SiteOne Therapeutics, Adelos, Wisetail, pulseCHECKER, Next Frontier Capital, the Montana High Tech Business Alliance and more.

A recent Outdoor Industry Association report shows that Montana’s outdoor economy supports 71,000 jobs, generates $2.2 billion in wages and salaries, $7.1 billion in consumer spending and $286 million in state and local tax revenue. Those numbers don’t even take into account the impact our public lands are having on non-outdoor recreation enterprises. It’s a topic with implications for the future of our state’s economy and we invite you to join us for an occasion to learn, network and engage in a robust discussion with tech-industry leaders.

Marne Hayes is executive director of Business for Montana’s Outdoors.

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