A study released recently at the University of Montana Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research revealed the chief reasons for outside development to come into Montana.

Interim Director Jeremy Sage said the timing of the survey dovetailed with the start of the COVID 19 pandemic.

“Just before the flu pandemic got rolling we sent out about a survey to about 500 businesses throughout the state asking them about the key attributes of Montana that really attracted them to bring business here; to start businesses here, and to create jobs in Montana,” said Sage. “We have a whole host of things that might attract them here to the state.”

Sage counted down some of the reasons why businesses chose to locate in Montana.

“We have a whole host of things that might attract them here to the state,” he said. “Everything from their proximity to customers, the ease of transportation and access to airports or railroads, energy costs, labor costs, government incentives, like tax breaks or tax cuts, a whole host of things and but the top reason was the quality of life.”

Sage said the quality of life came out as by far and away the number one attraction to Montana.

“We were pretty sure that was going to come out of this, if not the top, but one of the top pieces, and that was really what we were interested in,” he said. “We broke it out into a handful of categories about outdoor recreation, parks, open space, personal safety or crime rates, health and medical services, cost of living, public education, and cultural opportunities.”

Sage brought up what occurred in Colorado over the past decades where new arrivals literally ‘loved it do death’, but said that doesn’t have to happen in Montana.

“We have opportunities right now to set in place our expectations and our standards, our way of life,” he said. “Trying to maintain that quality of life is up to us as Montanans,  and policymakers must make sure we do this smartly, because people are going to come and we want them to come in to our economy grow, so you the question is how do we do it smartly?”

Sage said they intentionally left out agriculture, mining and forestry, not because they are not important, but because they were interested in those businesses which are more mobile and largely able to locate their businesses almost anywhere.

To see the complete study, click here.


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