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Supporting the home team


Last updated 5/29/2020 at 9:44am

Montanans, especially those of us who live and work in rural areas and small communities, are a hearty bunch. We literally and figuratively weather storms, we help our neighbors when they need a hand, and we also enjoy a quality of life that is second to none — one in which our urban counterparts are often envious. While this may all seem nostalgic or old-fashioned, we know it’s true.

In northern Montana, we live, work and raise our families in communities that are full of small businesses who also support our communities in myriad ways. It’s an understatement to say these small businesses are the lifeblood of our local and regional economy. Not only do they employ our neighbors and family members, pay taxes to fund our schools and build our infrastructure, but are at the very core of our area’s vibrancy and attractiveness.

The current COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented and certainly the biggest economic disruption most of us have experienced. The impact on our area’s small businesses is real and, in many cases, devastating.

As Montana prepares to emerge more fully from the shutdown that was necessary to slow the spread of this virus, let’s assure as individuals that we smartly follow all necessary guidelines so it won’t be necessary to take a step backward, with the result being more restrictions on commerce and even more economic disruption.

Secondly, let’s commit to support the home team like never before. This health crisis and economic calamity impacts all of us, but as we start to once again engage in commerce, let’s especially remember our local business owners who have hopefully weathered the storm. These Main Street entrepreneurs are our neighbors, sponsors of area sports teams and perhaps who we sit next to at church on Sunday. Every dollar we spend locally is a vote of confidence for our area’s economy and a thank-you to those local businesses who are such a vital part of our community.

We’ve just gone through a tough couple of months. But in rural Montana, we’re tough, too. Please join me in thanking our local business community for the contributions they make regularly to assure that this special part of Montana remains a great place for all of us.


Paul Tuss is executive director of Bear Paw Development Corp., a federally certified economic development district in northern Montana. He is past president of the Montana Economic Developers Association and serves as a member of the board of directors for the National Association of Development Organizations.


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