UM Study: Tech Companies Thrive in Montana

April 01, 2019

MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research recently found that high-tech companies continue to be a critical component of Montana’s economy. After generating more than $2 billion in revenue in 2018, the industry is growing up to nine times faster than the statewide economy.

According to a BBER survey, given to the 7,500 members of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance, high-tech jobs pay more than twice the median earning income for Montana workers and the industry is the third highest-paying sector in Montana.

The survey found that the Montana High Tech Business Alliance membership continues to grow, and members earn a salary 60 percent higher than the average Montana worker, at about $65,000. That wage also is expected to increase by 5 percent in 2019, which is significantly faster than the 3.2 percent growth of all Montana employers, according to BBER. Survey respondents also expect to add 1,700 new jobs in 2019 and contribute at least $125 million in capital investments in Montana, a 45.3 percent increase from 2018.

“We continue to see tech’s influence on Montana’s fastest growing cities,” Patrick Barkey, BBER director.  

Christina Quick Henderson, executive director of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance, said 2018 was an outstanding year of growth for Montana's high-tech industry.

“With a record $2 billion in revenue, substantial acquisitions and the largest investments the state has ever seen with PFL and onX, the past year was very successful for Montana,” Henderson said.  “Five years in, we are more committed than ever to responsible tech growth that helps Montana companies create engaging, high-paying jobs while celebrating and sustaining our incredible quality of life."

Montana-based Blackmore Sensors and Analytics received large out-of-state investments in 2018.

“Blackmore’s 2018 Series B with BMW iVentures and Toyota AI Ventures demanded rapid growth,” said Blackmore Sensors and Analytics CTO Stephen Crouch. “Montana’s quality of life was key to attracting new talent as we nearly tripled in 2018. The High Tech Business Alliance is an outstanding outlet for sharing this growth experience and learning from companies facing similar challenges.”

Companies who took the survey cited coding, programming, marketing and technical skills as the top skills sought after in new employees and listed software developers and sales managers as their most hired titles. Survey respondents also said they hire about 75 percent of new employees from within Montana and for the fifth year in a row, the BBER survey found that Montana’s quality of life provided significant advantages to doing business in the state.

The survey found industry impediments to growth are skilled technology workers and securing capital.

The full 2019 Montana High Tech Industries report can be viewed at www.bber.umt.edu.

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Contact: Katrina Johnson, Marketing Director UM Bureau of Business and Economic Research, 406-243-2714, katrina.johnson@mso.umt.edu.