Report: ATG’s economic impact on Missoula surpasses $21M, boosts overall wage growth

Advanced Technology Group in downtown Missoula has fueled the creation of 200 additional jobs in 2017 and created an economic output of $21.8 million. The company itself now boasts a payroll of 126 employees. (Missoula Current file photo)

One of Missoula’s fastest growing tech companies provided a significant jolt to the city’s economy in 2017, paying more than $8 million in wages while boosting receipts at other local businesses by more than $21 million.

Advanced Technology Group, which began with two employees at its Missoula location back in 2011, has grown to 126 workers – 22 more than when the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana conducted its ATG impact study just a few short months ago.

While the wall of employee photos at ATG headquarters in downtown Missoula is quickly running out of space, the company’s senior vice president of strategy and corporate development said it’s not a bad problem to have.

“It’s like ‘A Wonderful Life,’ where you wonder what value you’re bringing,” Tom Stergios said on Thursday. “The analysis looked at what the negative impact would be if we didn’t exist. It would be that many millions of dollars and many high-paying jobs wouldn’t be here.”

According to the new report, the company’s presence in downtown Missoula fueled creation of 200 additional jobs in 2017 and created an economic output of $21.8 million.

The average ATG employee now earns more than $77,000 a year, though the company’s mere presence in the community has buoyed the wages of other local workers as well.

“Since ATG operations make the Missoula economy larger, it’s not surprising to learn that the income received by Missoula households is higher as a result,” economist Patrick Barkey wrote in his report. “Total wages and salaries paid to Missoula workers are $11.1 million higher due to the activities of ATG.”

Stergios, who gathered with employees in September to celebrate the company’s 100th local hire, said at the time that ATG was ahead of its goals for the year. He expected to add as many as 80 new employees in 2018 and bring the total payroll to 250 by the end of next year.

The company has already picked up 22 new hires since September.

“We want to be known as good stewards in the community and attract people like that,” Stergios said. “We continue to march on our growth and meet or beat our growth expectations.”

While much of the new employment takes place within ATG itself, the company’s growth and presence in downtown Missoula has increased the demand for other goods and services across the city, creating 187 outside jobs in everything from retail trade to tech services.

Total wages and salaries paid to Missoula workers due to ATG’s activities are $11.1 million more than what they would be without the company’s presence, the study found.

“Missoula businesses realize higher gross sales of their products and services due to the operations of ATG,” Barkey wrote. “The operation of ATG creates an economy where these firms sell about $13.2 million more per year.”

ATG isn’t alone in growing Missoula’s tech scene. Across town, onXmaps has moved into a new headquarters on its growing tech campus and has added dozens of jobs, though it plans to fill many more this year.

ClassPass, an international tech-based fitness company, opened its third North American office in Missoula in January and is looking to add staff as sales grow. And while the city’s tech sector continues its upward trajectory, Stergios said ATG isn’t struggling to find qualified workers for most positions.

“We’re working closely with the University of Montana in teaching applicable skills,” Stergios said. “We’ve got a great training program and, so far, we haven’t had a shortage of talent.”

The company also hosts regular training sessions in Missoula, bringing several dozen people to the area from outside the state – most of them flying in and staying several nights in local hotels. Stergios said ATG’s reputation and strong pay is also bringing former Montanans back home.

“We’re starting to get people calling from out of state,” Stergios said. “I was just on the phone with a woman from Seattle wanting to move back. It’s definitely good. We used to be quiet and shy, but now that it’s working, we want to advertise and we want moms in Missoula to get the word out that we’re here, we’re for real, and we’re hiring.”