Montana Chamber of Commerce announces 10-year plan

The Montana Chamber of Commerce recently released its 10-year strategic plan, which includes goals to increase wages, encourage business growth and improve the state’s infrastructure.

The plan, titled Envision 2026, outlines five central objectives that it hopes to tackle over the coming years, as well as specific strategies to achieve the goals and metrics to measure progress along the way.

The central objectives include training Montana’s workforce, improving the business climate, developing infrastructure, fostering entrepreneurial and startup growth and encouraging outside investment.

“We’re very excited about it,” said Montana Chamber of Commerce President Webb Brown. “It’s an opportunity for us to take the chamber to a higher level and the Montana economy as well.”

The plan’s main thrust involves improving the ability to start and sustain businesses, studying the current workforce and encouraging legal reforms in areas such as liability, Brown said. Some of the plan’s specific goals include boosting Montana’s per capita income to the top half of states in the country as well as raising the state’s infrastructure grade — currently rated a C-minus by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Much of the work, which includes reforming taxes and allocating various funds, will be done through legislative channels in coordination with groups such as the Montana Infrastructure Coalition, Brown added.

More than 30 business have invested $800,000 to fund the first half of the plan. A chunk of the money will go toward the chamber’s newly announced annual workforce analyses that will assess the issues facing Montana’s talent pool.

“The response has been good,” Brown said. “We did some focus groups and round tables and found that these are the topics that really excite folks.”

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“Achieving the overall goal of strengthening Montana’s business climate will not be easy and will not be free,” former First Interstate Bank CEO Ed Garding said in a news release. “It is gratifying to see Montana’s business leaders rally behind this great plan.”

Brown said the chamber plans to hold meetings leading up to the 2017 Legislature and encouraged members of the public to add their input through the organization’s website.

Founded in 1931, the Montana Chamber of Commerce represents and advocates for more than 1,200 members across the state.

From Bozeman Daily Chronicle