CDI Corporation

Is Montana the new high-tech hub?

A recently released study by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana revealed that the state’s tech sector is growing at a rapid pace.

According to the report, Montana’s tech workers make an average annual salary of $50,702 – more than two times the state’s median wage. Companies that identify as members of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance had a collective payroll of $139 million last year. The report explained that this number is likely much larger, but it does not encompass organizations not in the alliance.

Additionally, businesses in this industry are growing much faster than companies in other sectors. The report explained that they are expanding at nearly 10 times the projected statewide growth. Many of the companies based out of Montana are younger, smaller and more focused on growth. Currently, the largest obstacle reported by these businesses is finding, attracting and hiring qualified employees to achieve their desired levels of growth.

The report also indicated that despite the difficulty these businesses have when it comes to finding skilled workers, the high quality of life in Montana, which includes beautiful landscapes, work/life balance, recreation opportunities and overall lifestyle, has been a significant advantage when it comes to employee retention and happiness.

Greg Gianforte, chairman of the MHTBA’s board of directors, told The Bozeman Daily Chronicle that connecting higher education to these local businesses is likely the key to solving the issue of understaffed companies. While experienced tech workers might not look at opportunities in Montana because it has yet to gain credentials as a tech hot spot, recent graduates will be more eager to move there. This could ultimately help shape the state’s identity as an up-and-coming area for the industry.