There are a variety of factors that led us to live in Montana and enabled us to build our businesses. We believe strongly that those factors are key to the success of the technology industry and of other businesses in this state. But those conditions will not survive if unless we and others who agree with us work and fight to preserve and even enhance them.
At the top of the list are the four Principles we’ve already mentioned: Education, Public Lands, Diversity and Infrastructure. Here is a fuller explanation of what we mean in each case, why they are important and what is needed to preserve them.
We all have children in the public school system and we all believe in public money for quality public schools, from pre-K through University. We also support community colleges which provide qualified job candidates for roles that are vital to building strong communities and businesses. These are critical factors when we try to recruit and retain employees from out of state. They also are critical because the public school system is educating the future workforce of Montana. We know this because we all have hired Montana university graduates and find them to be among our finest employees.
There are some in the state who want to divert our public education funds to private schools without any accountability to curriculums and quality of teaching. We oppose this as we fear this will undermine the existing strong public education system. Currently Montana is one of only a few states that don’t sponsor Pre-K programs. We feel strongly Montana’s school programs should be expanded to the Pre-K level as this has been proven to lead to stronger performance in later school programs and beyond graduation.
We all enjoy and cherish the natural beauty of Montana and our state’s legacy of open space, public lands and public access. Our public lands, state and Federal, are a key asset and a major factor in recruiting and retaining employees for our businesses. Access to public lands contributes to the quality of life of every resident. These lands belong to all Montanans and all Americans and are part of what make our state and country unique.
Diversity means including and respecting people of all types regardless of gender, sexual preference, gender orientation, religious preference, ethnic affiliation, race or any other distinction. First and foremost this is a moral question, and we do not see any grounds for prevarication on the topic: We welcome diversity. Second, diversity is good for business. Having a state and culture that welcomes diversity is critical to employee recruitment and retention for our businesses. It is critical that we have elected officials who understand this and will maintain laws and policies that promote and protect diversity in the state.
Montana must have modern and advanced infrastructure to compete in national and international markets. This means (1) sound roads and bridges to support efficient and safe ground-based commerce, (2) a robust communication system that includes access to high speed internet connectivity in order to support interaction with customers, partners, suppliers, and investors from outside the state and to spread economic opportunity to more remote parts of the state and (3) efficient air transportation systems, with access to more metropolitan areas outside of the state in order to support growth of businesses that depend on direct interaction with investors, suppliers and partners from outside of Montana.
Montana’s current infrastructure is good now and has allowed the state to grow and compete in emerging industries with good paying jobs. But for Montana to continue to grow and compete its infrastructure needs to be better. An ongoing, serious commitment by the state to maintain its roads and bridges, to expand the speed and reach of the internet, and to support an increase in the air cargo and transport services, is essential. In addition, projects to strengthen our infrastructure provide jobs right now.