Posted: Sep 11, 2013 7:34 AM by Dennis Bragg - MTN News
Updated: Sep 11, 2013 8:17 AM
MISSOULA - The men who are tracking the state's business climate say while it may be difficult to pin specific projects to the Montana Economic Development Summit, the event creates an atmosphere critical to spurring economic growth in the Treasure State.
Hundreds of business and government leaders, along with distinguished guests, will start two days of extensive discussions about the state's economy, and what's on the horizon when Senator Max Baucus convenes the Economic Summit in Butte next week.
While pinning down a specific number of jobs created by past summits is difficult, the experts charged with checking Montana's business pulse say it's a great economic workout. That's especially true given the state's distances, and the trend of more individuals working project-to-project, without urban networking opportunities.
"I think an event like a summit, even though it only comes around every three years, is kind of a bootstrapping way to get that same sort of networking going. Not just for these employment opportunities I was talking about, but for investment opportunities, for marketing opportunities," explained Patrick Barkey with the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research.
"It's something that really gives us a little bit of a jolt, which an urban area might get on a much more consistent basis," he added.
Barkey told us that the summit's "secret sauce" boils down to some really good old fashioned face-to-face contacts.
"These big name CEOs - the Meg Whitman's and whatever that come and talk - they're the big draw. But I think the real mileage is the communication that occurs both in smaller breakout sessions, as well as in the audience and networking opportunities," Barkey said. "There really is still a need for the human connection."
Barkey says he'll be watching to see what might develop for Montana's growing tech sector during the summit, a segment of the economy that's not only growing aggressively, but has been virtually recession-proof.
"There's a lot of those kinds of things happening here. They're smaller scale. But if you know anything about technology, small-scale today could be anything in ten years," he pointed out.
The Montana Economic Development Summit takes place at Montana Tech in Butte on Sept. 16 and Sept. 17.