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Montana's Unique Entrepreneurship Ecosystems

“A New Frontier: Entrepreneurship Ecosystems in Bozeman and Missoula, Montana” is the first major study of entrepreneurship in Montana, funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Kauffman Index has ranked Montana the #1 state for startup activity for four straight years, and this case study helps explain why.

Based on 42 first-person interviews with Montana entrepreneurs and support organizations, surveys, and public data, the report sheds new light on Montana’s ecosystem – our high level of entrepreneurship, dense networks of support, global businesses, high quality workforce, and high quality of life.

This video features interviews with MHTBA Executive Director Christina Henderson, researcher and professor Yasuyuki Motoyama, Blackfoot VP for Strategic Development Joe Fanguy, Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply CIO and MHTBA Board Chair Lance Tinseth, UM Blackstone LaunchPad Director Paul Gladen, ATG Senior VP of Strategy and Corporate Development Tom Stergios, Elixiter Founder and President Andrew Hull, and Audience Awards Founder and CEO and MHTBA Board Member Paige Williams.

From the Executive Summary

“In this report, we examine the local entrepreneurship ecosystems primarily in Bozeman and Missoula but also in surrounding areas in Montana. Studying the ecosystems in these areas is important because there have been few entrepreneurship studies of small cities, yet some of those small cities exhibit nationally high levels of entrepreneurship activities. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first major study of the Montana ecosystems. The study is jointly conducted by academic researchers and local practitioners and funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a leading national philanthropic organization. The findings are as follows:

  • Both Bozeman and Missoula present a very high level of entrepreneurship measured by macroeconomic Census data, spinoff activities, Inc. high-growth companies, and private-equity investments.
  • The high level of entrepreneurship is leveraged by dense networks of active local support organizations (non-profits, university-related organizations, government, and individuals), which were well perceived and utilized by entrepreneurs.
  • Entrepreneurs in Montana seek out resources, participate in events, and meet mentors beyond their home towns, often 200-300 miles away.
  • Entrepreneurs in Montana have diverse backgrounds, coming from all over the country, with Silicon Valley or international experiences.
  • With exception of a few companies that work specically in a local environment, Montana companies target national and international markets and procure their inputs globally.
  • Montana companies enjoy the high level of workforce locally, with a high retention rate built upon the quality-of-life offered in the region.”

View PDF of Full Report (24 pages)

View PDF of Summary (2 pages)

Montana Entrepreneurship Ecosystems Report Cover

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