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Bullock Leads Economic Development Roundtable in Kalispell
Main Street Montana Project will issue statewide business plan in 2014
Gov. Steve Bullock speaks to more than 100 people at Flathead Valley Community College during a roundtable event for the Main Street Montana Project on July 8. - Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon
Gov. Steve Bullock visited Kalispell on June 8 to lead a roundtable discussion about economic development in Montana. The Main Street Montana Project was launched in May to create a “bottom-up business plan that is useful and nonpartisan,” according to co-chair Larry Simkins, president and CEO of the Washington Companies.

The meeting at Flathead Valley Community College was the sixth roundtable discussion across the state since May. About 120 local business leaders and citizens attended the local session.

“Montana businesses know better than anyone what it takes to succeed,” Bullock said in his opening remarks. “If you’re a business that is looking to expand, you create a business plan, but as a state we’ve never done that.”

The Main Street Montana Project roundtable discussions were launched in Billings on May 28. Bullock said the events are aimed at soliciting input from the business community about what it needs to succeed. This summer, people in every county will be surveyed and that data will be combined with feedback from the roundtable discussions to produce a formal report early next year.

“It’s not going to sit on the shelf,” Bullock said of the report.

The project is co-chaired by Simkins, who has been with the Washington Companies for 25 years, and Bill Johnstone, chairman and CEO of D.A. Davidson & Co. It is supported by Montana Chief Business Officer John Rogers, Commissioner of Labor Pam Bucy and Director of Commerce Meg O’Leary.

Barb Wagner, a senior economist for the Department of Labor and Industry, started the event with a presentation about the economic conditions Montana is facing. She said the recovery has been stronger in some areas, noting that unemployment in eastern Montana averaged 4.2 percent in 2012, versus 8 percent in Northwest Montana.

The need for skilled workers, infrastructure improvements and access to capital funding are cited in most discussions, according to Simkins. He said all of those issues would be addressed in the final report. Bullock said the discussions with businesses and citizens are the first step toward a final plan.

“I really believe a bottom-up approach is what’s best for our state,” he said.
 
On 07-10-13, realrepub commented....
Centralized Government Planning.  What a great idea!
 
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