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Friday Five: Sept. 7, 2018

Check out these five stories from across Montana that highlight entrepreneurship, the high tech sector, and everything else that makes Montana great!

elk running across prairie

1. Missoula-based Tech Company onX Names Former Amazon Exec as CEO

Laura Orvidas, the former vice president of Consumer Electronics at Amazon, was named the new CEO of onX in June. Eric Siegfried will remain onboard as founder and will continue work to enhance the off-pavement location experience. He will also lead advocacy efforts for public lands and access.

“That speaks volumes to the board, Eric the founder, and the leadership team–that they would hire a woman from Chicago to run a tech company in Montana,” Orvidas said in a Missoula Current article. “I think it really showcases that people recognize diversity is important and are trying to make positive change.”

Orvidas started at the finance department at Amazon in 1999. Over the years she worked for several departments including Toys, Software, and Movies. Prior to Amazon, Orvidas was a senior associate at the Parthenon Group in Boston.

Click here to read the full story.

2. Filmmakers Gather Works from Around Globe for Inaugural Montana International Film Festival

The first Montana International Film Festival is set to kick off Sept. 14 at the Babcock Theater in Billings. The festival will include 58 films from more than 40 countries. The film will kick off with The Children Act.

The movies are divided into categories such as narrative features, feature documentaries, and short narratives. There are also special selections for Montana films and one documentary from a Native American filmmaker. Many of the films are making their Montana debuts.

The Montana International Film Festival was created by Billings filmmakers Pete Tolton and Brian Murnion. In 2017, the pair decided to judge films and began organizing the festival.

Click here to read more about the festival and for a full schedule of the movies.

3. Spicing Up Columbia Falls

Amanda Bevill knew she wanted to make Montana home, and she recently did when she opened a World Spice Merchants location in Columbia Falls.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”Laura Orvidas, New onX CEO” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”That speaks volumes…that they would hire a woman from Chicago to run a tech company in Montana.”[/perfectpullquote]

Bevill is officially from Tennessee and went to school in Washington. After her father moved to Washington, she tried to get a job in Montana. In 2002, she began working at World Spice Merchants and bought the company in 2005.

Five years ago, Bevill and her husband moved to Columbia Falls and began shifting World Spice Merchant’s backend operations to the Flathead. Over two years they purchased land, planned, designed, and moved the business. The Columbia Falls warehouse isn’t a retail store, but there is a little area to buy premade gift boxes and packages of spices.

Click here to read more about World Spice Merchants.

4.  Innovative Great Falls Native Leads Charge to Cut Town Waste in Brewing Process

Montana is filled with breweries, and Great Falls native Taylor Woods is making brewing more green with his company CO Brew, Inc.

Woods’ company creates devices that capture and use the carbon dioxide produced in the brewing process. By using the CO Brew system, breweries are able to capture, clean and reuse the carbon dioxide they produce. Lolo Peak Brewing Co., in Lolo was the first Montana brewery to use this system.

Click here to read more about CO Brew, Inc.

5. Mercantile Hotel: New Thai, Mexican Restaurants, Art Bar Coming to Downtown Missoula

As construction continues on the Mercantile Hotel in Missoula, the public has finally found out what the building will house. The staples including Teton Thai, a Mexican restaurant called The Camino, CREATE Art Bar, and two local shops. The hotel will be a 175-room Marriott hotel and commercial complex on the corner of Higgins and Front.

The hotel is set to open in late January 2019.

The CREATE Art Bar will be a do-it-yourself crafting area where people can make a piece of art and enjoy craft cocktails, wine, or beer. CREATE will have a menu of 15 art projects ranging from wallets to jewelry. There is still limited retail space available in the complex.

Click here to read more.

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