High Tech loves Montana. So much so, that after generating more than $2 billion in revenue in 2018, the industry is growing up to nine times faster than the statewide economy.

Director of the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Patrick Barkey, has high praise for high tech industries in the state.

“We’ve been asked for a number of years to do a study of Montana’s high tech industry,” said Dr. Barkey. “We have a lot of cooperation from the industry itself, and the story is an exciting one. There’s certainly been a lot of growth in high tech, it’s a very high paying industry, and there are a number of high tech industries in Montana that have been around for going on two decades.”

Barkey said the companies are not as recognizable as Coca Cola or GE, but their impact on the state is profound.

“There are not household names, but in terms of the number of people they employ and the trajectory they are on, I would venture to say they soon will be,” he said. “Tech is home to a number of small startups and there’s not an enormous amount of physical capital that you need to start a tech company, so it does liberate you to be able to start your company wherever you happen to want to live.”

Barkey said even though Montana has much to offer in the way of lifestyle, there are certain drawbacks to bringing a startup to the state.

“That’s a challenge for tech here in understanding how to compete for workers in the national labor force,” he said. “Eventually, you run out of people who just want to live in Montana, ands a lot of tech now is people working for a living, and those folks are like anywhere else in that they have opportunities elsewhere and that will be a challenge for Montana moving ahead.”

A press release from the University of Montana states:

‘Companies who took the survey cited coding, programming, marketing and technical skills as the top skills sought after in new employees and listed software developers and sales managers as their most hired titles. Survey respondents also said they hire about 75 percent of new employees from within Montana and for the fifth year in a row, the BBER survey found that Montana’s quality of life provided significant advantages to doing business in the state.

The survey found industry impediments to growth are skilled technology workers and securing capital.

The full 2019 Montana High Tech Industries report can be viewed here.

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