As Montanans, we’re blessed with the natural resources that have allowed us to build a strong economy on extraction industries, agriculture, and tourism. But we’re experiencing a few formidable challenges. Extraction and agriculture have globalized, driving down profits and shedding jobs in the process. And growth in tourism, while great for the local hotels, restaurants, etc., tends to create jobs that pay below-average or seasonal wages.
Fortunately, Montana ranks in the top five states in the nation for entrepreneurism with the highest rates of new company formations and business longevity1. Unfortunately, new businesses in Montana are actually less likely to scale in size, hire 20 or more people, or hold patents or other intellectual property2. In other words, we’re great at creating small services businesses, but not as effective at creating larger businesses with technology roots to employ hundreds or thousands of Montanans with training, benefits, and above-average paychecks.
Check out these five stories from across Montana that highlight entrepreneurship, the high tech sector, and everything else that makes Montana a great place!
1. Small business brings opportunity to communities, entrepreneur says
Recently one of Montana’s best known entrepreneurs, Sarah Calhoun of Red Ants Pants in White Sulphur Springs, was the keynote speaker at the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Summit.
Red Ants Pants is a company headquartered 76 miles east of the state capitol. The company manufacturers pants and other clothing items for women who work in outdoor occupations that require more durable clothing. Calhoun said she wanted to create a pant that would fit, function, and flatter working women.
“The potential of small business is really what we should be thinking about (including) in rural areas, not just in urban areas,” Calhoun said in a Desert News article. “They are the backbones of our communities.”
You can read more Calhoun’s insights here.
Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, and every business plays a critical role in keeping Montana’s towns vibrant. The Treasure State consistently ranks among the top five in reports from the Kauffman Foundation in rates of business ownership and business sustainability.
In our Q and A series, we’ll introduce you to some of Montana’s brightest and best entrepreneurs from all corners of the state. These businesses are involved in a variety of industries including hospitality, retail, and food.
Join us we travel out east to meet Erica Schuppe!
1. What is the name of your business?