Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC with a group of other local businesses representing an organization called Business for Montana’s Outdoors. We were part of a larger group of business leaders from several Western states meeting with various government representatives to discuss the value of public lands to our businesses.
You might wonder why public lands and access to public lands would be important to a software business, but there’s actually a very strong connection. For many members of society, quality of life is becoming the primary factor in determining where to live and work. I can say, without a doubt, this is the case for most of us at Foundant Technologies. I know Shelby and I would choose to live elsewhere if Bozeman wasn’t in as beautiful of an area with access to public lands, within literally minutes, any direction we travel from town. It’s not a stretch to say that Foundant Technologies would not exist without public lands since I’m confident that the outdoors and quality of life were critical factors that brought those of us that founded the company to Bozeman. Our public lands playground continues to be a huge asset for all of our great team members that choose to live in Bozeman.
Our group and our message was graciously accepted by everyone we met with during our trip. Montana’s Senator Jon Tester and Congressman Steve Daines took time to meet with the BFMO group directly and, although he had a personal time conflict, Senator Max Baucus arranged for us to meet with senior members of his staff. The entire group of Western business representatives also had important meetings with the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality and Business Council as well as with a large group of leaders from the Department of the Interior. I have a name badge with the White House logo and nobody needs to know that I actually wasn’t quite inside the White House for these group meetings!
It was great to hear stories about how public lands are having significant economic impact on companies and communities around the West. It’s fairly easy to quantify the economic benefit of public lands from a tourism or resource extraction standpoint but it’s more challenging to analyze the many other economic benefits that were cited by our group and I’m glad I could help make the case. Special thanks to Marne Hayes of Business for Montana Outdoors as well as Jeff Welch, CEO of Mercury CSC and John Frandsen, CEO of Old Town Creative for helping make the trip enjoyable and for representing Montana so well.
-Daren Nordhagen, President