By Martin Kidston/MISSOULA CURRENT
A technology firm that has created 60 new jobs in Missoula over the past five years plans to add 30 more positions over the next two years, making it one of the fastest growing startups in western Montana.
With growth in mind, Advanced Technology Group is asking Missoula County to support a new grant application for the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund program to help cover certain expenses that come when adding new positions.
Commissioners agreed to support the grant request on Wednesday.
“We want to do a new job creation application so we can hire folks to work in Montana straight out of the colleges,” said Carey Davis, director of operations and employee services with ATG. “We propose hiring an additional 30 jobs over the next two years. We’re already on track to achieve that. I just hired two folks this morning.”
ATG is one of several startups based in Missoula that has received job-creation grants from the Big Sky Trust Fund. In recent years, Agile Legal Technology, LGT Sustainable Energy Systems and Rivertop Renewables have received job-creation grants through the program, as have others.
“We’re growing no matter what, but the support of the grants helps tremendously,” Davis said. “If we can do it, we know other companies can do it as well and really give back to the economic development of Montana.”
While ATG was created in 2000, the Missoula office didn’t open until five years ago, and it did so with two employees. Based in the Studebaker Building downtown, the local office is now the company’s largest. It employs 61 people.
The firm provides consulting in what Davis described as “quote to cash” solutions. In layman’s terms, she said, employees connect company systems to help them optimize the billing procedure.
“In the next five years, we’d love to get up to 100 people and just keep building in Missoula and stay in the community and be a part of that as a growing business,” Davis said. “You get to work where you want to live and do quality work in a place you want to be.”
Missoula’s growing reputation as an emerging technology hub bodes well for students at the University of Montana who want to stay in the state. In the last two years, the school has added new programming – from cyber security to data science – to help students land jobs in the local workforce.
Kelly Yarns, development director for the Bitter Root Economic Development District, said the success of local startups offers kickback benefits to the community at large. BREDD helps manage the job-creation grants on behalf of Missoula County.
“One of the real advantages of having a company like ATG in our community is that it’s real workforce enhancement for us,” said Yarns. “They do extensive training and the people who work for them get a lot of really great experience. Some of those people, if they ever do leave ATG, they’re going out into this community and starting their own businesses.”