BIG SKY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT RECEIVES 2 MONTANA ECONOMIC DEVELOPERS ASSOCIATION IMPACT AWARDS AT FALL CONFERENCE
BSED NEWS -Big Sky Economic Development awarded two 2022 Montana Economic Developers Association (MEDA) Impact Awards. Each year, through its Impact Awards, MEDA recognizes member organizations that demonstrate valuable and effective approaches to community and economic development throughout Montana. Impact Awards recognize MEDA member projects for their creative efforts advancing economic development and improved quality of life. The breadth and scope of the winning projects illustrate the important role MEDA members have in Montana communities, regions, and state.
The two projects/programs that received awards:
- Rock31 – Rock31 is a business incubator, accelerator and coworking space devoted to cultivating a vibrant entrepreneur community in Billings Montana.
- Edge of the Plains – The Small Business Development Center at Big Sky Economic Development produced an educational documentary showcasing businesses in Southcentral Montana showcasing inspiring entrepreneurs in unexpected places.
The BSED team is grateful for this statewide recognition from MEDA. “The BSED team works faithfully every day to serve our community with passion and excellence. This recognition from our peers for that dedicated work is indeed an honor, and a proud moment for our team.” – Steve Arveschoug, Executive Director.
More about the projects and their economic development impact.
How does this project support your community’s or region’s vision for economic development and improved quality of life?
EDGE OF THE PLAINS:
These videos highlighted testimonies from local business owners describing their journey before, during, and after the pandemic and were featured at local high schools, MSU Billings, and town hall meetings to reach entrepreneurs from across Montana.
Knowing that the SBDC region service area includes 9 counties with a total population of 206,948 we concluded that one effective method to both scale out the delivery of advice from local business owners and to begin shifting the conversation around the effects of COVID-19 from one of the problems, fear and retribution to possibilities, generosity and restoration would be through a short but inspirational and educational video series.
Big Sky Economic Development decided to focus on entrepreneurship for the following reasons:
- First, we now know that most of the net new jobs in the U.S. are created by new companies.
- Second, innovative companies attract young, intelligent talent through high-paying, meaningful work.
- Third, entrepreneurs bring innovation and prosperity to the Billings economy.
- Fourth, entrepreneurs are willing to take the risks necessary to revitalize abandoned neighborhoods within our city.
What was your organization’s direct role in the project?
EDGE OF THE PLAINS:
Funding for the project came through the Cares Act funding received from the SBA/SBDC programs. The SBDC team wanted to use the money in a way that would have a lasting impact on small businesses and entrepreneurs in the nine-county region the Billings SBDC serves and would relate to small businesses within the state and around the country.
The idea for the project came from the Rock31 and SBDC team leaders who direct the programs at Big Sky Economic Development in Billings, MT. They witnessed the struggles that small businesses had through COVID and wanted to highlight their hard work, passion, and successes. The team vetted businesses and chose to showcase a variety of industries that would be most relatable to other business owners across the country. The project took approximately ten months to develop and deploy.
The team proposed the best option to assist business owners and expand high-level training was to hire professional experts to provide subject matter requested by business owners/entrepreneurs. Our entire Big Sky Economic Development team worked on this effort in addition to continued work in all areas of the SBDC service delivery mission. The marketing team used social media to post photos to promote the progress of the project.
In 2018, Big Sky Economic Development launched the Rock31 program. Then, BSED received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help with the acquisition and renovation of the project. In 2019 BSED purchased the historic Montana national bank building in downtown Billings and renovated the building into the new home for the Rock31 entrepreneur center.