By Megan Paulson
Outlaw Partners COO

The companies featured in Outside magazine’s ‘Best Places to Work’ have a common thread: a love of the outdoors, having fun, and a casual, friendly workplace. One might not associate state government with these attributes, but for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, nature is a core value and a source of inspiration.

Seven Montana companies made Outside’s top 100 list this year, and on Sept. 17, Bullock invited them all to the capitol in Helena.

“I’ve always loved the outdoors and am proud Montana is not only a great place to play, but an amazing place to work,” said Bullock, who started his day with a six-mile trail run prior to heading into the office that morning.

Clad in Arc’teryx pants and a casual button-up shirt, the governor led a round table discussion on doing business in Montana. The group included leaders from each of the companies: Outlaw Partners (publisher of this newspaper), Seeley Lake Elementary, ZaneRay Group, Adventure Life, Ecology Project International, Mercury CSC and River Design Group.

The group discussed the nuts and bolts of doing business in Montana, and what special characteristics set each of the recognized companies apart.

Later that afternoon, they hiked up Mount Helena together, and then capped the day off with a tour of Blackfoot River Brewing Company and sampling of their locally crafted beer.

Bullock said he hopes the businesses recognized by Outside can set an example for other entrepreneurs and serve as ambassadors to those thinking about locating their company in Montana.
The attendees agreed that providing a high quality of life for employees has been critical to their success and is a potential asset for other businesses in Montana.

“There’s one thing you can’t replicate or reproduce, and that’s quality of life,” Bullock said,
He encouraged ongoing dialogue, and asked for input from the companies as the state evolves its economic development plan to create and retain jobs in Montana.