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. iResponse Receives American Indian Business of the Year Award

On Monday, a Rocky Boy business that helps tribes preserve and protect tribal lands received a national award.

iResponse was awarded the American Business of the Year Award from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, an American Indian business and economic development organization.  The award was presented Monday during the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s Reservation Economic Success. According to CEO Alvin Windy Boy, Sr., iResponse is an online resource tribal communities can use to identify historic and sacred lands to prevent them being damaged or destroyed by construction.

“We want to take iResponse to another level,” Windy Boy said in a Havre Daily News article.

Currently, iResponse is used primarily by the Chippewa Cree and Eastern Shoshone tribes. According to the Havre Daily News, between the two tribes more than 23,000 projects have come through the iResponse system with more than 500 companies being involved since the company began.

Click here to learn more about this company.

2. Major Award to Missoula’s MonTEC a Big Boost for State’s Bioscience Industry

The Montana Technology Enterprise Center (MonTEC) announced on Tuesday that it received a $500,000 annual award from the U.S. Small Business Administration. MonTEC was one of just seven business incubators across the nation to receive the grant.

“That’s a big deal,” said Brigitta Miranda-Freer, executive director of the Montana World Trade Center in a Missoula Current article. “It speaks to the value the funding body saw in putting some money behind things that are already occurring organically in the state of Montana.”

Missoula is home to several bioscience companies, including those based at MonTEC.

“This just further illustrates that the rest of the country is keying in to what we already know about our state,” Gov. Steve Bullock said in the article. “Montana is a place where people recognize opportunity and feel empowered to go after it.”

To learn more about MonTEC, click here.

3. Hi Country Jerky Factory Buyers Aim to Keep Jobs in Lincoln

The sale of Hi Country Snack Foods took one step forward when a $400,000 state economic grant was awarded to a Bozeman couple this week.

The prospective buyers are Travis and Molly Byerly of Bozeman. According to the Great Falls Tribune, Travis was a founder of the Montana Fish Co. in Bozeman. The loan is from the Montana Department of Commerce’s Community Development Block Grant Economic Development Program.

Hi Country is Lincoln’s largest employer with 42 employees. Hi Country anticipates retraining those jobs in Lincoln and adding 15-25 jobs over the next three years.

Click here to learn more about the new chapter for Hi Country Snack Foods.

4. Missoula Sculpture on Living with Parkinson’s Moves to Michael J. Fox Foundation in NYC

A Missoula sculpture paying tribute to the resiliency of people living with Parkinson’s disease is heading to the Michael J. Fox Foundation in New York City.

The sculpture, which is a steel trunk decorated with leaves that have quotes from people with Parkinson’s, was designed by Hadley Ferguson and Carolyn Rae Maier. The tree is titled “Forging Resilience.” Ferguson was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s in 2010 while Maier has a close family friend who has Parkinson’s.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation, according to the Missoulian, funds more Parkinson’s research than any other nonprofit.

“It was a very personal project,” Ferguson said, “and that’s why having it go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation feels so right because of their respect and dedication for the Parkinson’s community.”

If you’re interested in learning more about this Missoula piece of art, click here.

5. Montana Tech Gets $500K Gift for New Center Set to Open This Fall

This week, Montana Tech announced it received a $500,000 donation toward funding its Student Success Center from a Kansas-based foundation. The center is set to open this fall. Montana Tech received the gift from the Sunderland Foundation, which is a philanthropic group started by the family that previously owned the Ash Grove Cement Company.

The award was given in January but only announced this week. According to the Montana Standard, the gift will fund the creation of the  Sunderland Foundation Computer Center.

In a release, Sunderland explained the foundation’s reason for giving to the SSC: “We believe the new Center will enhance the campus and provide an outstanding working space for students.”
To read the full story, click here.

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