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Tim Rybiski, president of Rocky Mountain Homes

Tim Rybiski, president of Rocky Mountain Homes, told the Ravalli Republic in 2015 that business is booming at the cornerstone Ravalli County company just south of Hamilton. His biggest challenge now is finding the kind of skilled employees he needs to keep with the growing demand.

From guns to fireplaces to vitamin pills, western Montana businesses are firing on all cylinders and looking to hire and train more workers. But training people in these fairly technical jobs is time-consuming and expensive for the companies, so a state agency has stepped in to help.

The Montana Department of Commerce announced on Wednesday that a total of $631,270 worth of Primary Sector Workforce Training Grant funding has been awarded to eight firms to create up to 147 new positions. Only businesses whose customers are out of state are qualified to receive the grants.

For example, a nutritional supplements manufacturing company that has production facilities in Missoula and Lolo has been awarded a state grant to train 19 new full-time jobs. A home manufacturing company in Hamilton also got a grant to train 17 new full-time jobs, and a stove and fireplace manufacturing firm in Hamilton also was awarded funds to train 21 new jobs.

“A qualified workforce is critical to the success of Montana’s growing economy,” said Montana Department of Commerce Director Pam Haxby-Cote. “These grants provide an incentive for Montana businesses to expand the size and quality of their workforce while adding good-paying jobs in communities across the state.”

The funds come through the Department of Commerce’s Office of Tourism and Business Development.

Elite One Source Nutritional Services Inc., which has production facilities to make high-quality nutritional supplements, received $91,200 of the funds to train 19 new jobs. The company has a facility on Third Street in Missoula and a facility in Lolo.

Rocky Mountain Homes in Hamilton, which is a vertically integrated design-build and manufacturing company, was awarded $81,704 to train the 17 new positions.

Ironhaus Inc., a Hamilton business that fabricates high-performance wrought-iron fireplace inserts and stoves, received $105,000 to train 21 new full-time jobs.

Tru-Home Montana, a Missoula business aiming to design and manufacture pre-built homes in an indoor environment near the Bonner mill site, received $11,728 to train three new full- and part-time jobs. Representatives from all four western Montana companies were not able to return calls on Wednesday seeking comment, nor was a spokesperson from the Department of Commerce.

Other business that received funding were:

• Down Range Solutions Group LLC, doing business as U.S. Optics, received $80,528 of WTG funds to train 17 new full-time jobs. The Kalispell business manufactures and assembles firearm scopes.

• Foundant Technologies Inc. received $16,000 of WTG funds to train 20 new full-time jobs. The Bozeman business develops grant management software for the philanthropic community.

• Mesa Laboratories Inc. received $156,870 of WTG funds to train 32 new full-time jobs. The Bozeman business develops, manufactures and markets high-quality process validation and monitoring instruments.

• Synesis7 Corp. received $88,240 of WTG funds to train 18 new full-time jobs. The Butte business specializes in aerospace technology and data conversion.

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