Summit reviews Hi-Line economics
Talking Main Street, recovery, and Hi-Line schools, business and ag
May 15, 2014
Close to 200 people heard an overwhelming amount of information about the economy on the Hi-Line, in the state and in the nation Wednesday during the first Hi-Line Economic Summit Wednesday.
Topics addressed at the Hi-Line Economic Summit will be highlighted in future editions of the Havre Daily News.
The program included the governor inviting people to join into his plan to build up Main Street in Montana.
The event was sponsored by Independence Bank and BNSF Railway and was held at the ballroom of the Student Union Building at Montana State University-Northern.
Gov. Steve Bullock, who gave the lunchtime address, listed details of his Main Street Montana Project and invited everyone to participate.
Bullock last year asked Larry Simkins of the Washington Companies and Bill Johnstone of D.A. Davidson & Co. to co-chair the project, which he created to build a state "business plan" driven from the ground up by the private sector.
Bullock said Montana has done well even during the recession and is improving now, but the Montana spirit is to always strive to do better.
"I think it truly, truly is an exciting time to be in Montana," he said.
He invited people to review the plan - and to join in the program - by going online to http://www.mainstreetmontanaproject.com.
The main goal of the project, Bullock said, was to find ways for the state government to help businesses, nonprofits and local government drive and grow the local and state economy.
The project started last year with Simkins and Johnstone holding meetings and conducting interviews and surveys around Montana to find out what people with their "boots on the ground" thought they needed from the state government.
"Your help got us this far," Bullock said, adding that he needs people from the state to continue helping drive the plan.
Other keynote speakers - Bullock repeatedly joked about being the third of four keynote speakers - were BNSF Railway Assistant Vice President Andrew K. Johnsen, Montana Public Service Commissioner Travis Kavulla and Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Regional Economist Toby Madden.
After organizer Ty Hedalen of Independence Bank and master of ceremonies Webb Brown of the Montana Chamber of Commerce kicked off the event, Northern Chancellor Jim Limbaugh and Havre Mayor Tim Solomon gave welcome addresses.
The next event was a business roundtable moderated by Independence Bank President and CEO Miles Hamilton. It included Jim Anderson of Northern Land and Realty Co., Ron Gleason, administrator of Northern Montana Care Center, Kati Purkett, manager of Northern Home Essentials, Chippewa Cree Tribe Chief of Staff Richard Sangrey and Hill County Commissioner Mike Wendland.
After lunch and Johnsen's keynote address about BNSF, Lt. Gov. Angela McLean moderated a panel discussion on education. Panelists were Blaine County Superintendent of Schools Terry Brockie, state Sen. Llew Jones, R-Conrad, Northern Dean of the College of Technical Sciences Greg Kegel, Northern Dean of the College of Education, Arts and Sciences, and Nursing Christine Shearer-Cremean, and Montana Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Dennis Parman.
The final event at the summit - which Brown tried to keep on time but ran a half-hour late - was an agricultural panel moderated by Bill Keller of Independence Bank. That panel included Curt Barnekoff, office manager of Havre's Galusha, Higgins and Galusha, Northern Agricultural Research Center Superintendent Darrin Boss, Montana Stockgrowers Association President Tucker Hughes, Montana Grain Growers Association Past President Ryan McCormick and Montana state executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency, Bruce Nelson.