News Alert, Press Release|

KALISPELL–– On Thursday, the Montana Chamber Foundation released the State of Entrepreneurship report during the 13th annual Economic Update Series entitled Make Montana Home: Enticing Entrepreneurs. This study was completed by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana and made possible by a grant from the Gianforte Family Foundation.

The State of Entrepreneurship Report details the entrepreneurs role in a regional economy, Montana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and entrepreneurship indicators of success and weakness. A healthy economy is sparked by entrepreneurs, a core objective of Envision 2026, the ten-year strategic plan of the Montana Chamber.

“I think the most surprising thing in the report is how much entrepreneurship has declined in Montana (and across the country),” said Bryce Ward, founder of ABMJ Consulting.”I knew that entrepreneurship had fallen, but hadn’t paid much attention to the magnitude. Twenty years ago, 1 in 5 Montanans worked for a firm that was less than five years old and 1 in 7 Montanans owned a business as their main job. Today, only 1 in 8 Montanans work for a firm less than five years old and only 1 in 10 Montanans owned a business as their main job. This represents a 42 percent and 28 percent decline, respectively.”

Some highlights from the report include:

As of 2015, 10.2 percent of Montanans owned a business as their main job. Nationally, only 6 percent of Americans owned a business as their main job.
In 2016, 51.8 percent of Montana firms formed in 2011 were still operating, this ranked 9th among all states.
The average new employer business — i.e., a firm less than 1 year old that has employees — in Montana has 3.9 employees. This is the smallest new firm size among all states.

After Ward presented on the State of Entrepreneurship report, a panel of three Kalispell entrepreneurs reacted to the report and shared their own experiences. These panelists included Courtenay Sprunger, with Big Sky Public Relations, Nathan Stoll of Learned Reality and Michael Richeson of 11eight89.

“People go and create the opportunity they don’t see in the marketplace,” Sprunger said. “I know that was my story. If you look at homegrown public relations firms, there are very few in Montana. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I was inspiried by the people I interned for in college and just did it.”

The Montana Chamber Foundation will continue the Economic Update tour next week, visiting eight other communities across Montana.

“We are excited to receive this report and start analyzing specifics,” said Webb Scott Brown, executive director of the Montana Chamber Foundation. “While we are gratified to know that Montana ranks well on business starts, we can also see we’ve got work to do in the future. The focus on entrepreneurship in this year’s Economic Update series is already bearing fruit.”

You can view the full report here and other Montana Chamber Foundation reports here.


Our mission is to educate Montanans about the fundamentals of business operations, business needs and responsibilities and contributions of business to society.
The Foundation promotes and improves the economic development opportunities of the state and its communities by participating in educational projects and research.
If you are interested in donating to the Chamber Foundation, click here.

Aug. 2, 2018
Media Contact: Communications Director Alexandria Klapmeier
(C) 406-437-4634 or [email protected]

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