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January 25, 2019 Newsletter
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Montana High Tech News

MHTBA Jobs portal analysis reveals 50 percent of open high-tech and manufacturing jobs are outside traditional Montana tech hubs

Tech and manufacturing positions are spreading throughout Montana, though half of posted positions during Quarter 4 were located in Missoula and Bozeman. Charts by Noah Hill/MHTBA.

By Noah Hill, Christina Henderson, and Katy Spence

When Amelia Lyons was looking to move from San Francisco to Montana, she came across the Montana High Tech Business Alliance (MHTBA) jobs board and found an opportunity.

“I found my job at TOMIS through the MHTBA jobs portal,” said Lyons, who formerly worked as the operations coordinator for the company. “When you want to work for a startup company, MHTBA is a good place to find those jobs.”

One of the benefits of Alliance membership is advertising open jobs on our jobs board, which advertises hundreds of tech and manufacturing positions across the state. Members may post unlimited jobs for free with a paid membership.

In a 2018 profile of Montana’s High Tech Industries, the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) reported that nearly 30 percent of tech employers found it increasingly difficult to find and hire qualified employees. One of MHTBA’s biggest priorities is helping Montana companies grow by connecting job seekers to opportunities and helping recruit top talent through our jobs portal, marketing and PR, and extensive company network.

The jobs portal also serves as a wealth of information about the Montana tech workforce. Based on data analysis all of the jobs available at MTHighTech.org during the 4th quarter of 2018, we were able to categorize jobs based on their location, career interest, and career level and identify a few key insights.

The location of Alliance members generally reflects the distribution of jobs posted in our jobs portal.

From October to December 2018, the MHTBA jobs portal advertised nearly 250 unique opportunities. More than half of these jobs were filled within the same time period. Opportunities ranged from executive positions at some of the largest companies in the tech industry, like Oracle, to business development positions at Montana-based startups like TOMIS, which was featured in the 2018 High-Growth Companies to Watch list. The diversity of opportunity underscores the expansion of the tech industry within the state, which is growing at 9 times the rate of the overall Montana economy and surpassed $1.7 billion in revenue in 2017 according to BBER.

Moreover, our jobs portal data indicates that the reach of the tech industry is broadening within the state: 50 percent of the available opportunities were based in communities besides the traditional tech centers of Bozeman and Missoula. The distribution of jobs across the state reflects the growing and diversifying membership of the Alliance.

Unsurprisingly, more than 25 percent of open positions required a background in software programming. Half of posted programming jobs were filled during Q4. Manufacturing positions placed second in terms of total number of positions, representing about 20 percent of available jobs, and proved easier for employers to fill with almost 67 percent of positions filled by the end of the quarter. Construction jobs were much harder to fill, with only 20 percent of posted positions filled.

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From the Executive Director:
Montana Legislature - Bills to Watch Impacting Tech and Entrepreneurship

The Montana Capitol in Helena. Photo by Mike Albans/MTPR.

By Christina Henderson

Montana’s biennial legislative session is underway. While the Alliance does not typically take positions on legislative issues, we do share with our members proposed legislation that could significantly impact tech and entrepreneurship in the state. In the last few weeks, member companies have reached out to make us aware of relevant issues coming up in the Legislature. Here’s what’s on our radar so far:
 

Drone/Unmanned Aerial Vehicle(UAV) Laws – LC3000, LC2949, LC2196

Montana legislators submitted draft bill requests regarding drone law revisions in December, and while draft language is not currently available, industry representatives anticipate these bills will be similar to some proposed in the 2017 session and attempt to regulate UAVs by banning them over private property, critical infrastructure, and airports.

Advocates from Montana’s UAV industry point to existing federal drone regulations and a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration on federal vs. local drone authority which states, "State and local governments are not permitted to regulate any type of aircraft operations, such as flight paths or altitudes, or the navigable airspace. . . Cities and municipalities are not permitted to have their own rules or regulations governing the operation of aircraft."

Industry insiders believe that not only are state regulations banning drones overreaching and possibly illegal, they also can be perceived as stymieing innovation and making UAV businesses feel unwelcome in Montana. Those wishing to limit drone use most often cite privacy and safety concerns, but legal drone operators point out that it is possible for the Legislature to enact reasonable and enforceable rules that would both protect citizens and support investment and innovation in Montana’s drone industry.

Neighboring states (most notably North Dakota and Idaho) are actively working to enact UAV-friendly policies in a bid to increase investment and have crafted legislation that protects both privacy and industry growth. Montana’s legislature appears to be hesitant about drone technology and more inclined to regulate the industry. UAV technology, proponents say, is here to stay and will continue to be a fast-growing sector for jobs and economic impact, and Montana’s wide-open spaces and low population density make it a great state for UAV innovation.

 

Requiring Monitoring Software for Government Tech Contractors – HB 197

House Bill 197 is a proposed piece of State legislation going for a hearing on January 30: "An act revising laws related to public agency contracting for services performed on a computer; requiring a contractor to use software capable of data collection to verify work performed; providing for retention of and access to the data records; providing rulemaking authority; and providing an applicability date."

While the bill seeks to ensure timeliness and accountability for work performed under State contracts, members who perform technology services for the State of Montana are concerned that such policies could introduce potential security risks with sensitive data captured in screen shots.

Beyond security concerns, tech contractors say data from screen shots, keystrokes, and mouse movement are not necessarily measures of productivity and progress in complex knowledge work such as writing and debugging code.

Requiring tracking software could also undermine the trust between the government and private tech contractors that is essential to a positive business climate. Opponents of the bill suggest that if there is a known problem with some contractors abusing a partnership with the State, specific incidents could be addressed directly rather than subjecting all contractors to burdensome and invasive monitoring requirements.
 

How Companies can Stay Informed and Take Action

The Montana Chamber of Commerce offers a number of resources for those interested in better understanding the legislative process and ensuring their voice is heard on proposed bills that may affect their businesses.

If you would like to connect with other Alliance members who are concerned about legislative issues or make us aware of other bills impacting tech and entrepreneurship this session, please email Christina at director@mthightech.org.

Member News:

Workiva named one of the 2019 Best Workplaces in Technology by Great Place to Work and Fortune Magazine

Workiva, the leading cloud provider of connected data, reporting and compliance solutions, was named one of the 2019 Best Workplaces in Technology by Great Place to Work ® and Fortune Magazine.

To determine the Best Workplaces in Technology, Great Place to Work ® analyzed responses from more than 220,000 employees in the technology industry at Great Place to Work-Certified TM organizations. Employees anonymously rated their employers on more than 60 surveyed criteria.

Workiva ranked 19 on the list of 25 large technology companies. This is the third time Workiva has been named to the Best Workplaces in Technology list.

“Workiva is proud to be in this prestigious group, which includes some of the most successful technology companies in the world,” said Marty Vanderploeg, Chief Executive Officer of Workiva. “We give our employees the freedom and resources they need, and together we are transforming an industry and improving the lives of our global customers, employees and investors.”

“Iowa’s technology community is proud to be represented on the world’s stage by Workiva,” said Brian Waller, President of the Technology Association of Iowa. “We see every day how much Workiva employees love the work they do, the challenging problems they get to solve and the opportunities they have to improve their communities.”

“For years, Workiva has been one of the biggest employers in Montana’s tech community, setting the standard for high-paying jobs with excellent benefits, a workplace culture employees love and exciting career opportunities with global impact,” said Christina Henderson, Executive Director of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance. “Workiva is also leading the effort in growing the number of women and people of color in our high-tech workforce. It comes as no surprise to see Workiva nationally recognized.”

Read the full press release.

Blackfoot signs two new apprentices through Missoula College program

Two new apprentices signed with Blackfoot on January 18. Kim Hayes, third from the left, and Adam Watson, second from the left, participated in a State Dept. of Labor and Industry signing event at Blackfoot's headquarters in Missoula. Photo courtesy of Dylan Rogness/Missoula College.
Last week, Blackfoot signed two new apprentices through the Missoula College Apprenticeship program. Kim Hayes and Adam Watson will complete 2,000 hours with Blackfoot over the next few years in accounting and IT, respectively.

Apprenticeship Liaison Dylan Rogness said apprenticeships are a great option for some students.

"Students get an opportunity to not just get a taste of what a company could be like, or what your future career could be like, but really, become a part of a culture and getting really valuable experience on the job that you can't get in just a short internship," Rogness said. "Employers love the apprenticeship model because they get to invest, they get longevity, they get increased retention and, essentially, they get to scale someone into their business for the long haul."

Currently, the program has 15 apprentices and 18 employer partners. Rogness added that local small- and medium-sized businesses are finding the apprenticeship program especially valuable.

Missoula College's apprenticeship program offers opportunities in six educational areas: accounting tech, culinary arts, cybersecurity, information technology, medical claims service specialist, and operations assistant.

Rogness also said the State of Montana has just put out a grant to help companies establish an apprenticeship program. If your company is interested in learning more about the grant or how to become involved, contact Dylan Rogness at Dylan.Rogness@mso.umt.edu.

XY Planning Network Financial Planners Offer Free Emergency Advice for Furloughed Federal Workers

CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS (CFP) from XY Planning Network (XYPN), the nation's leading organization of fee-for-service financial planners, are offering free emergency advice to federal employees affected by the ongoing government shutdown.

Furloughed government workers are encouraged to visit XYPN's Find an Advisor search portal on xyplanningnetwork.com, and search under the keyword "furlough" to find available CFP professionals. All advisors on the platform are available to meet with furloughed government workers virtually, regardless of their location.

This member-led initiative was kickstarted by XYPN member Kevin Mahoney, CFP, founder and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based financial planning firm Illumint.

"The shutdown is a good reminder of why financial planning is about so much more than just investments," says Mahoney. "In a situation like this, a financial advisor can help an impacted worker evaluate the challenging trade-offs that come with financial decisions during income uncertainty."

Read the full press release.

ExcelliMatrix, Inc. delivers mobile application for Wildfire Defense Systems

ExcelliMatrix, Inc. is developing a custom mobile application to assist the field personnel of Wildfire Defense Systems (WDS) in Bozeman, MT. Image via wildfire-defense.com.
ExcelliMatrix, Inc. announced the delivery of a custom mobile application to assist the field personnel of Wildfire Defense Systems (WDS) in Bozeman, MT, with work queue management, location mapping and field reporting.

"We’re pleased to provide a custom solution that will improve the efficiency and productivity of the field personnel tasked with managing the properties of our customers in fire prone areas,” said Leland Johnson, CEO at ExcelliMatrix, Inc. The company provides technology consulting, software development, managed IT and cyber security services to clients in technology, insurance, e-commerce, healthcare, banking and financial services. The company is headquartered in Kalispell with offices in Bozeman, India and the Czech Republic.

“This app will enable our field personnel to better manage their time and priorities on the fly,” said David Torgerson, CEO of WDS. “When you’re tasked with protecting people’s homes – especially in an active fire zone, the more information you can get in real time, the better your chances of success. WDS and its insurance carriers are committed to doing all we can to protect the homes of our clients.”

Read the full press release.

Adelos and 4Cast partner under Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial R&D Foundation looking to invest $7.3 million in 8 projects

Adelos, Inc. (Polson, MT) was awarded a grant from the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation. Adelos was teamed with Israeli company 4Cast Systems (Petach Tikva, Israel). The two companies will develop technology to help detect and prevent pipeline disasters.

The announcement was made in December in Tel Aviv, Israel, by the Board of Directors for BIRD. The Board approved $7.3 Million dollars to go to eight teams, consisting of U.S. and Israeli companies and organizations.

The BIRD Foundation promotes collaborations between U.S. and Israeli companies in various technological fields for the purpose of joint product development. In addition to providing conditional grants of up to $1 million for approved projects, the Foundation assists by working with companies to identify potential strategic partners and facilitate introductions.

The Montana World Trade Center plays a crucial role in helping secure foreign investment opportunities for Montana companies.

Read the full press release.

Missoula Chamber of Commerce to host Pathways to Careers event

Murdoch's Ranch and Home Supply: Murdoch’s buys Linton’s Big R Powell and Riverton locations in Wyoming (Bozeman Daily Chronicle)
Oracle, Helix Business Solutions: 5 Customer Experience Tips From CX Heroes (SmarterCX)
Diamond BTS: Phone co-op acquires Billings data business (Billings Gazette)
Advanced Electronic Designs: New buildings planned in west Bozeman shopping center (Bozeman Daily Chronicle)
Helix Business Solutions: Joining the Child Welfare Case Management Revolution (Chronicle of Social Change)
Kalispell Chamber of Commerce: Chamber looks forward to another year of growth (Daily Inter Lake)
Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce: “We’re facing a crisis:” State’s drug epidemic unites disparate forces under common cause (Missoula Current)
Montana West Economic Development: Hearings begin for House Bill 14 (NBC Montana), Report offers data on local internet access (Daily Inter Lake)
Schedulicity: The Power of Technology: 5 Questions for Jerry Nettuno (Salon Today)
Billings air travel: Frontier Airlines returning to Billings, will resume flights to Denver (Billings Gazette), Billings airport saw record number of passengers last year — nearly 1 million (Billings Gazette)
Bozeman air travel: Bozeman airport sets passenger record in 2018 (Bozeman Daily Chronicle)
Missoula air travel: Passenger growth at Missoula airport hits record high; old terminal maxed out (Missoula Current)
Montana air travel: Air access is a big deal for rural Montana economies. Here’s how far small-town residents have to go (Helena Independent Record)

Welcome New Members:

Concinnity Solutions, LLC, Austin Mahn, Bozeman
ExcelliMatrix, Leland Johnson, Kalispell
Flathead County, Michael Hausler, Kalispell
Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce, Margo Magnant, Missoula
Waterstreet Company, Erica Schatte, Kalispell
WaterStone Staffing Holdings, Kimley Svendsen, Chicago

Upcoming Events: 

2019 Economic Outlook Seminars - Statewide. Seminars begin Jan. 29 and run through March 24. This year’s Economic Outlook examines the challenges of affordable housing. EOS 2019 will travel to ten cities across the state and provide a live webcast for other regions. This year, the seminar will visit Helena, Great Falls, Missoula, Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Kalispell, Sidney, Miles City and Big Sky, Montana. Find registration information and the full meeting schedule on the website.
Montana Code School Full-Time Course - Missoula & Bozeman. Full-time class dates: Feb. 4, 2019 – April 26, 2019; May 20, 2019 – Aug. 9, 2019; Sept. 16, 2019 – Dec. 6, 2019, Monday-Friday, 9 am - 5 pm. Part-time class dates: April 9, 2019 – Sept. 24, 2019; Oct. 8, 2019 – April 14, 2020; Location: Missoula & Bozeman, Tuesday & Thursday for 6 months, 6pm – 9pm + 1 immersive weekend a month. Financing available. Montana Code School’s full-time immersive program gives you the skills and fundamentals you need to land a job as a full-stack Jr. Web Developer. Contact 406-219-1392 or talk@montanacodeschool.com. Learn more here.
UM Involvement Fair - Missoula. Feb. 6. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., University of Montana, University Center Ballroom. Find interested and qualified UM students for: Internships, Volunteer Opportunities, Independent Study, and Research Assistantships. Every year, nearly 50% of UM students participate in pre-professional experiences such as internships, engage in service learning and volunteering, go abroad, and contribute to research. Attending the UM Involvement Fair is free and gives your organization the opportunity to connect to these students. Learn more and register to attend as a student or an employer.
1 Million Cups Bi-Weekly Meeting - Missoula. Feb. 6. Meets the first and third Wednesday each month at 9:00 am at The Loft, Missoula. 1 Hour Free Parking across the street in the city parking garage. Start your morning with coffee and start your business with 1MC Missoula, a place to percolate your startup. Entrepreneurship runs through it. For more information visit the website or Facebook page.
1 Million Cups Monthly Meeting - Bozeman. Feb. 6. Meets the first Wednesday of the month at 7:30 am at Red Tractor Pizza, Bozeman. Creating conversation around Bozeman startups, business development, and economic growth in the most entrepreneurial state in the nation (plus, coffee). For more information and application to present, visit the website.
Free Skilled Trades Workshop - Missoula. Feb. 8, 8:30am - 2:30pm. Missoula College’s West Campus (2795 37th Ave, Missoula, MT 59804). Are you looking for a well-paying, steady job in the Missoula area? Do you love working with your hands? Have you considered entering the skilled trades but have no idea where to begin? This workshop has the answers and resources you’re looking for! This workshop is open to women and non-binary and gender-diverse people who are aged 14+. We will have a maximum of 60 spots available for participants and pre-registration is required to hold your spot! Free with lunch provided. Learn more and register.
Pathways to Careers - Missoula. Feb. 11, 8:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m. at MCT. Businesses will be presenting career path options to approximately 80 school counselors and CTE teachers. For more information, read the flier or contact Kimberly Hannon at kimberly@missoulachamber.com.
2019 GRIT High School Trades Workshops - Missoula. Registration forms for Welding are due Feb. 25, 2019; Registration forms for Auto Mechanics are due April 1, 2019. This winter and spring, the GRIT (Girls* Representing in Trades) program is offering three 20-hour workshops for high school students in Missoula and western Montana! These in-depth workshops will cover carpentry, welding, and auto mechanics! In each workshop you’ll gain tangible skills through hours of hands-on practice, work as a team to complete projects and solve problems, build confidence and leadership skills, make new friends, and have lots of fun!  For more information and registration, visit this website.
Big Sky Employment Fair - Missoula. Fair to be held on March 6, from 9:00am - 3:00pm in the University Center Ballroom (third floor). Second day interviews are available for registered employers from 9:00am - 3:00pm on March 7th, 2019 in the Career Services Office — Lommasson Center, Suite 154. This is an excellent opportunity for recruiters to network with students to fill employment opportunities. To register, please log into Handshake. Learn more and register.
2019 Manufacturing and International Trade Day - Helena. March 18, 6 pm -10 pm. Delta Hotels—Helena Colonial. Manufacturing & International Trade Day recognizes the importance of two economic drivers in Montana – exporting and manufacturing. Each year, this event celebrates achievements from these groups, and awards the Manufacturer of the Year. Please join the Montana Manufacturing Association, the Montana Chamber of Commerce, and our partners, at a dinner and reception that includes special guest, retired Senator and Ambassador Max Baucus. Learn more and register.
Big Sky Dev Con - Bozeman. June 8, The Commons, Bozeman. A Montana state-wide tech conference for developers hosted by Montana Programmers. More information will be released on the website as it is made available.
Big Sky Dev Con - Bozeman. June 8, The Commons, Bozeman. A Montana state-wide tech conference for developers hosted by Montana Programmers. More information will be released on the website as it is available.
Past Newsletters: 
01/10/2019 - Figure brings dozens of jobs to MT; Apply for MT Exporter of the Year; Reg. for Economic Outlook Sem; Submit proposal for Big Sky Dev Con
12/27/2018 - 2018 Year in Review- 5 Trends Indicate Rosy Outlook for Montana's Tech Scene in 2019; Next Frontier Capital invests in new Bozeman company
12/13/2018 - High Tech Companies Partner with UM; New member directory; MWTC supports GDPR compliance; ChickTech inspires girls to pursue tech careers
11/29/2018 - Photos: FIB Missoula reception; CTA celebrates 80 years; Zoot on Can-Do podcast; Volunteer with ChickTech; Last day regular price on Digital Forensics
11/15/2018 - Montana CEOs discuss K-12 computer science education; Perficient acquires Elixiter; atgSHE and onX host inclusivity event; ChickTech to host Dec event
Click to view more past newsletters.
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Montana High Tech Business Alliance · 1121 E Broadway St, Suite 108 · Missoula, MT 59802 · USA