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A note from our Executive Director –
Inc. Business did a series of articles on what it would take for the post-coivd economy to thrive. “We regrow America’s economy by unleashing our entrepreneurial energy. And we start wherever we are. Connect people, break barriers, and homegrown businesses will raise.” (Sept. 2021)
This may indeed be a formula for economic growth coming out of covid, but it is not a new discovery. In fact, that same prescription was launched 104 years ago at this very location in Billings, Montana. John Clay and Frank Connor founded a bank in Billings in 1912 and in 1917 the bank was federally rechartered as the Montana National Bank. They then constructed this beautiful building as Billings’ first place exclusively for banking. The goal—invest in business and economic future of Billings. That sounds like supporting entrepreneurship.
Today we mark the opening of Rock31 and he BSED headquarters. It is a construction project that you’ve seen and lived with over the last 14 months, but this work actually began years ago when the BSED team sought ways to diversify our economy and attract innovative, new business growth. Billings has always been noted for its very successful, homegrown businesses so the natural first step was to lean into what is our natural strengthen—entrepreneurs.
BSED has three decades of experience helping businesses start and grow—advising and lending for small businesses through multiple programs. That experience and our passion to do more, be proactive, and better engage entrepreneurs fueled our journey to today. You could argue that Billings isn’t the ideal place to grow innovative startups. We’re not necessarily a tech hub or home to a research university. Well, maybe I was too naïve or real stubborn, but we were not willing to accept those limitations. Billings is Montana’s economic engine and we are home to some of the most successful startup companies in the state. So, get out of our way. We’re going to drive more business growth by supporting entrepreneurs in a unique and dynamic way. A way we call Rock31.
All of the team members of Big Sky Economic Development and many of you in the audience have had a direct or indirect hand in the work that was necessary to redevelop this important place. Thank you! Your dedication to this community through you work at BSED is extraordinary.
So, if you ask why we bought this iconic building and turned it into a center for entrepreneurship and a resource for business growth, the answer is simple we want to see our community growth from the inside out by supporting the dreams and passions of entrepreneurs. The same passion that opened this building 104 years ago.