Posted: May 19, 2011 4:54 PM by Dan Boyce
Updated: May 20, 2011 9:28 AM
This week's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference in Big Sky deals primarily with big-picture ideas. Delegates meet behind closed doors to discuss issues like opening trade barriers and increasing transparency. But Montana businesses are still finding ample opportunities to get noticed.
During a Wednesday Press Conference, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke spoke on a primary APEC objective for the year--increasing opportunities for small and medium businesses.
"Are APEC member economies pursuing policies that unleash innovation and enable entrepreneurs? That needs to be our guiding star," he said.
"That's almost every company in Montana, including mine," said GCS Research President and CEO Alex Philp. His company produces mapping software and he came to the conference with about 100 other Montana companies to help the U.S. delegation in negotiations.
"Montana has a greater percentage of workers employed by small businesses than any state in the nation, by bringing the world to Montana we can ensure APEC focuses on exports from rural regions as well as urban regions," said U.S. Senator Max Baucus during a Wednesday night opening reception.
Outside of the policy goals, there are much more specific tangible benefits too--serious networking.
"It's been a feeding frenzy of opportunities," Philp said, adding his business has had productive discussions with business leaders from Canada, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.
"In fact I wish more Montana companies had the opportunity to be here as well because this has just been fantastic," he said.
Senator Baucus said Montana exports to the 21 APEC economies have tripled in the last ten years.