Winston Churchill famously said, “Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.”

Unfortunately, private enterprise has become villainized in today’s world.

In visiting with Montana students, I am surprised to hear that many students think working for a non-profit is somehow more virtuous than working for a private for-profit company. Don’t get me wrong, non-profits are valuable – in fact our family foundation supports hundreds of them. But without for-profit businesses, where would we get our food, cars, phones, houses, or surplus to support non-profits?

Work in the private sector is the horse that pulls our entire economic cart.  It is virtuous in how it creates sustainable livelihoods and serves people. All for-profit businesses have a legitimate and noble role in serving people.  Businesses feed, clothe, house and provide recreation for people.  Taxes on private for-profit businesses are what fund government, education, and infrastructure.

If private enterprise is the engine, entrepreneurship is the spark. Only entrepreneurs start and grow companies. We should be celebrating, encouraging, and supporting our entrepreneurs.

I speak often in Montana high schools and college campuses about entrepreneurship and I am always amazed at how few young people have considered starting a business and becoming an entrepreneur.  We should be planting the spark of entrepreneurship in our young people.  If we don’t have entrepreneurs starting businesses, we don’t have a bright economic future.

We need to reshape the way society thinks about private enterprise, and encourage its development, so that our children and we can be confident in Montana’s future, full of the possibilities that a virtuous private sector brings.