What Can We Do to Increase Montana’s Wages?

Promote High-Wage Jobs and Entrepreneurship

  • Use your network to build awareness of statewide opportunities to increase wages in Montana
  • Create and support organizations that reinforce and promote higher wages
  • Start high-wage businesses and assist the people creating them
  • Provide mentoring opportunities and events to encourage entrepreneurship here at home


Prepare Montanans

  • Encourage entrepreneurship at a young age
  • Introduce youth to hi-tech fields and provide hi-tech courses throughout their K-12 years
  • Train teachers to successfully lead hi-tech classes
  • Provide scholarship opportunities to help students of all ages succeed and be ready for high-wage careers

Promote High Wage Jobs and Entrepreneurship

Natural resource jobs, high-tech companies, manufacturing businesses and telecommuters are generally not located on Main Street and have few in-state customers.  As a consequence they are often invisible to most Montanans, yet they have a growing impact on the Montana economy. Visit the Higher Wages page to learn more, and spread the word about the importance of growing these types of jobs.

MHTBA LOGOMontana High Tech Business Alliance. In 2014 we helped launch the Montana High-Tech Business Alliance as a member organization to remove obstacles to growth and promote the high-tech and manufacturing industries in the state.  Currently the alliance has over 250 members and is still growing.  Membership in the alliance is open to all high-tech and high-tech manufacturers with an operation in the state of Montana, and others interested in supporting our efforts.  Visit the website at mthightech.org, and join.

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Members of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance gather in Bozeman for the founding reception.

Encourage Telecommuting. More and more companies allow employees to work from home via the Internet.  The Internet truly does remove geography as a constraint in starting a business or finding a job.  Telecommuting opens up thousands of new jobs to all Montanans, many that are high-paying, in every corner of the state.  Telecommuting lets us combine our Montana work ethic and quality of life with national wages.

come home to MontanaOne of the best features of telecommuting is that it allows our kids and grandkids (or friends and other family) who have had to leave Montana for work, the chance to come home to Montana and bring their job with them.  We recently printed and mailed over 18,000 guides on telecommuting in Montana to Montana university alumni who no longer live in the state.  View an online version of this guide here, or click on the image to the left, and share it with others who want to come home!

Although we have no relationship with this FlexJobs, it lists nearly 9,000 open jobs with major firms all over the US that can be filled today by Montanans working from their home.

High-Tech Jobs Portal. The Montana High Tech Business Alliance has launched an online portal to connect job seekers with Montana companies looking to fill technology-based jobs.  This will meet the needs of two groups: Montana high-tech companies looking for in-state talent, and job seekers who are looking to stay in Montana and still work in a high-tech field.  Several jobs are already posted, and more continue to be posted regularly.  Visit the portal here.

Bozeman Technology Incubator.  Since the success of RightNow, entrepreneurs from across the state have been reaching out asking for assistance.  Questions run the gamut from “Should I raise venture capital?” to “How do I know if I am hiring the right person?” to “What marketing and sales strategies should I use?”  Greg Gianforte has completed hundreds of one-on-one mentoring sessions, and he encourages other successful entrepreneurs across the state to volunteer some of their time to help the next generation of entrepreneurs succeed. To learn more, visit the Bozeman Technology Incubator, where Montana entrepreneurs can request a free copy of Greg’s book, Bootstrapping Your Business.  If you have successfully launched a business, find someone you can mentor in your community.

Bunker Labs. Bunker Labs is a national non-profit that organizes networking events and partnerships to help veterans and military spouses start successful businesses. In 2018 the first Montana chapter launched in Bozeman, and they are continuing to grow across the nation. To connect with the Bozeman chapter, or start your own chapter elsewhere in the state, reach out to the Bozeman team here.

Prepare Montanans

If we are going to create high-wage careers, we need to equip Montanans to take advantage of them.  Below are some ways this is already happening. Pick one and get involved.

Youth Entrepreneurs.  It’s never too early to start instilling an entrepreneurial mindset. Youth Entrepreneurs is a nationwide high school curriculum that ignites a passion
for business education and entrepreneurship, and provides the practical experience necessary to apply it to real life situations.

It focus on the application of an idea that students can own, and introduces economic thinking while striving to instill the moral character necessary for youth to lead lives as thriving, productive citizens. In the fall of 2018 the Gianforte Family Foundation provided a grant to bring the YE curriculum to Montana high schools, piloting it in 6 schools across the state. In 2019, its second year in Montana, YE is being used by 38 educators from all corners of the state.

codemt442x300Code Montana.  Our state universities are graduating only about 10% of the computer science students required by high-tech businesses in Montana.  In response, Greg Gianforte and Rob Irizarry founded CodeMontana in 2013, a free interactive program that encourages Montana high school students to pursue computer science in college.   In the first two years it grew to over 1,200 students, expanded to both middle school and high school students, provided opportunities for scholarships, and even incorporated a way for students to earn college credit through the program.  It is currently administered by Montana Tech, where it can offer further mentorship for CodeMontana students from current Computer Science students at Tech.  Enroll now at www.CodeMontana.org.

joy and beauty editedJoy and Beauty of Computing High School Course.  Developed by MSU’s Computer Science Department, this course has been adapted for high schools to expose Montana students to computing in an engaging way.  The Gianforte’s funded the initial delivery of the course at the Bozeman Public High School with the hopes that it will be made available statewide. Check it out at http://www.cs.montana.edu/paxton/classes/joy-and-beauty/.

High School Teacher Training.  We need to equip our high school teachers to prepare our young people for the high-tech jobs of the future.  That is why the Gianforte’s funded the development of a summer program at MSU for Montana high school STEM teachers that will certify them on the delivery of the Joy and Beauty of Computing Course, so they can begin teaching computing in Montana high schools.  This training continues through a collaboration with Montana State University, University of Montana, Montana Tech, and Salish Kootenai College.  Encourage your local schools to send teachers to this training and incorporate computer science in their curriculum.


K-12 ACE Montana Scholarships. 77% of Montana high school graduates are not proficient in reading, writing, math or science, leaving them unprepared for the high-wage jobs.  The ACE (Alliance for Choice in Education) Scholarship program  began in Colorado and has significantly increased high school graduation rates and academic performance among kids from low-income families.  In 2012 the Gianforte Family Foundation introduced and initially funded ACE’s Montana program to give low-income Montana parents a choice in where they send their kids to school.  Broad support has been received from across the state and this year, in the eighth year of operation in Montana, over 900 K-12 students across 57 schools in Montana received scholarships of approximately $2,000 each to attend the school of their choice. Find out how to apply for a scholarship or support this work financially at www.acescholarships.org.

Gianforte Trades Scholarships. Montana manufacturers create high-wage jobs, but their growth is constrained by a lack of qualified employees. Since 2014 the Gianforte Family Foundation has granted over $1M to help Montanans gain the skills they need to fill these jobs at Montana’s two-year colleges in the state through a joint program with the Commissioner of Higher Education.  The scholarships are focused toward students who are veterans or come from lower-income households, and will serve to provide one more opportunity to enable all Montanans to access high-wage jobs.  If you are interested acquiring skills that can be used in Montana’s manufacturing and trade businesses, inquire about these scholarships at your local Montana two-year college.

College Scholarships. Many of the colleges and universities in Montana offer scholarships for eligible students pursing computer science.  These include University of Montana, Montana State University, Rocky Mountain College, and Montana Tech.  Encourage college-bound Montanans to explore these opportunities.