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New Economic Gardening Program in Western Montana

September 11, 2014View for printing

The BitterRoot Economic Development District, Inc (BREDD) is launching a new Economic Gardening initiative to help Western Montana businesses create jobs and build wealth.

"We are so excited to get this program off the ground, these small investment can have such a big impact ", said Marcy Allen, BREDD Executive Director. Economic Gardening (EG) is a leading economic development strategies which focuses on working with local, growth-oriented Montana companies, providing them with high-level market research and technical assistance. EG services play a central role in helping the companies grow more competitive and successful businesses that in turn create new investment, jobs and tax base.

These targeted "Market Intelligence" services enable growth oriented companies to ask better strategic questions about competitors, identify and pursue advantageous opportunities, make more focused market decisions, avoid costly mistakes, and more successfully grow their enterprises.

In 2011, BREDD received seed money from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to explore how EG can improve the business climate for area entrepreneurs in the greater Missoula region. BREDD enlisted expert consultants to help develop an Economic Gardening Strategic Plan, and concurrently ran a successful EG Pilot Program to test the concept and inform the strategy. Eight Missoula businesses successfully completed the pilot, listed below.

Michael Fitzgerald is the co-founder and CEO of Submittable, a wildly successful high-tech Missoulabased Software-as-a-Service company that participated in the EG Pilot last year. "The market research provided to us through the Economic Gardening Pilot resulted helped us identify and focus our limited resources on the best possible markets and resulted in over $100,000 in sales which immediately enabled new hires," said Fitzgerald. Submittable is rapidly becoming the world's leading cloud-based application and submission management system, and is committed to creating and keeping high-quality jobs right here in Missoula.

In BREDD's EG Program, participating business will be matched with professionals who conduct research, providing reports and recommendations on issues including: identifying consumer trends and emerging target markets; competitive analysis; marketing strategy; industry pricing; distribution trends; and search engine optimization. Each business is also served by a "Resource Team" -up to three trained regional professionals who guide the business through the process and provide insight on how to apply the research to the company's growth strategy.

BREDD is currently accepting applications from interested businesses. Those who are interested can learn more about the program, and access the application materials at http://www.bredd.org/services/econom ... -companies/ .

BREDD's EG project is guided by an Advisory Committee, partners listed below. These Advisory Team members also help participating businesses through the EG process. "A robust economic gardening program is a tremendous asset to our community and an impactful tool for savvy entrepreneurs. It's an important part of the support network Missoula provides to early stage businesses and a key infrastructure piece that will lead to increased innovation, new jobs and a stronger more diverse economy for the region, " said Brigitta Miranda-Freer, Director of Business Development at the Missoula Economic Partnership.

BREDD has received start-up grant funds from local foundations and partners listed below to support the launch of the Economic Gardening Program; these avant-garde community members have joined BREDD to focus limited resources on targeted high-growth companies.

Economic Gardening Advisory Team

* Blackstone Launchpad Entrepreneurship Initiative and the University of Montana * Hellgate Venture Network * Mineral County Extension Office and Economic Development Authority * Missoula Economic Partnership * Missoula Job Service * Missoula Public Libraries * Montana Community Development Corporation * Montana Manufacturing Extension Center * University of Montana - Technology Transfer Office

Economic Gardening Sponsors and Donors

* High Stakes Foundation * Women's Foundation of Montana * Missoula Federal Credit Union * Northwestern Energy * Montana Community Development Corporation * Mountain West Bank

Economic Gardening Pilot Project Participants (2012-2013)

* CM Manufacturing (http://www.cmmann.com) * HB Enterprises / MissoulaEvents.Net (http://www.missoulaevents.net) * Ironwood Manufacturing (http://www.ironwoodmfg.com) * Mamalode, LLC (http://www.mamalode.com) * Muzeview Research (http://www.muzeview.com) * QuantPost, LLC (http://www.quantpost.com) * Soft HIT Training Baseballs (www.softhitbaseball
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