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Montana Chamber of Commerce March EYE on Business Chamber Newsletter- Special message from Sheila Stearns- Montana Commissioner of Higher Education

March 4, 2004View for printing

The Montana Chamber of Commerce is the advocate of business in Montana and the driving force in promoting a favorable business climate.

Here's one of the articles from this edition:

Montana Commissioner of Higher Educations, Sheila Stearns

Stearns presents Higher Education’s plan of “Shared Leadership for a Stronger Montana Economy”:


Note: Webb Brown, President/CEO of the Montana Chamber participated in the first public meeting of the “Shared Leadership for a Stronger Montana Economy. Brown has served on that effort since last June, when he was asked to present the Chamber’s viewpoints on the role of higher education in economic development at the Board of Regents meeting.


Montana’s Ambassadors recently listened to Commissioner of Higher Education; Sheila Sterns discuss the Board of Regents vision of helping to move Montana’s economy forward. During the Ambassador’s Annual Meeting presentation Stearns expressed a vision the Regents have approved to develop public/private partnerships that will embrace Business, Government and Education to create jobs and drive economic growth.

In her presentations Stearns commented “As Chairman John Mercer says, the University System does not see itself as taking over a leadership role from the Governor nor the Congressional Delegation and the many economic development agencies in the state. In fact, this project would hardly get off the ground without the full support and leadership of Dave Gibson, the Governor’s Chief Business Officer. We believe that by working with Dave and others, including interim committees of the legislature, that we can facilitate and coordinate many efforts already underway, especially those that relate to education. Chairman Mercer and the Regents emphasize that this is not just a university or government effort but an open-door shared leadership that includes private sector representation.”

The Board of Regents decided this past summer to attempt to help coordinate the state’s economic development efforts. It makes sense that the Regents are in the mix as the University System already brings in $140-$150 million dollars annually to the state in research and development opportunities. Many of these dollars have their origin from out of state but multiply quickly through University Research programs and future opportunities are expanding. Stearns and the Regents believe the Montana Education Engines can be accelerators for economic growth and they want to be proactive in their role.

Key areas that the Regents are exploring with suggestions from private business, public agencies and educators include:

• Access to 2 and 4-year education

• Technology transfer and commercialization

• Workforce training

• Entrepreneurship

• Small business development

• Supporting state government needs for policy and regulatory change

• Generating direct economic growth

A direct concern the Regents have is the potential downturn in out of state student enrollment which impacted university budgets recently to the tune of $70 million. One of the statewide economic buzzwords recently has been the term business “clustering.” A coordinated effort by key Montana economic drivers could fit well within the clustering strategy.

Stearns concluded, “We believe that Montana has great leaders in economic development, and that by working together, we can enhance the many fine efforts already underway, as well as devise new ones.”

Here's the link to their full current Newsletter: ... EYE2004.pdf
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