Hundreds of people gathered in Billings last week to listen, learn and network at the Innovate Montana Symposium that focused on highlighting change and innovation in Montana’s small business climate.

Tourism as a leading industry for Montana is particularly relevant to the discussions as it provides amazing opportunities for small, family businesses.  Tourism based business can often have lower barriers to entry relative to other capital reliant industries.  A few examples include small business entrepreneurs opening retail shops, restaurants or creating a business around recreation, guiding and outfitting.

Steve Wahrlich, owner of Best Western Plus Clocktower Inn who served on the Main Street Montana Tourism Key Industry Network with 30 other owners and CEO’s was able to present the Final Recommendation Report to an interested audience during the conference.

Wahrlich discussed the four identified challenges for tourism and presented the recommendations to address those challenges.  He opened the floor to the group for discussion and ideas, who represented large and small communities from Great Falls and Bozeman to Lewistown and Alder and everywhere in between.

If not familiar with the final report, please take a moment and read it in its entirety as the work of the business leaders in the state was very insightful.