A nonprofit dedicated to creating jobs and growing Montana's technology sector won the Growth Accelerator Fund competition hosted by the Small Business Association and will receive funding to expand its state programs.

Early Stage Montana, founded in 2018, also added Tracy Chadwell to its board of directors. Chadwell, a venture capitalist and founding partner of 1843 Capitol, has been recognized in both Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines.

Jenni Graff, executive director of Early Stage Montana, said recognition by the SBA will include $50,000 to help the nonprofit expand its reach. The prizes are awarded to accelerator programs working with fledgling companies in areas of research and development, and STEM.

“We are honored to receive this prize so we can expand our programming to better serve entrepreneurs across the state beyond just Missoula, Bozeman and Billings” said Graff. “The SBA recognizes the critical importance of effective accelerator programs that nurture a pipeline of high-potential and high-growth technology startups that drive economic transformation while creating high-paying jobs.”

Tracy Chadwell
Tracy Chadwell

Over the past four years, Early Stage Montana has helped train and mentor more than 80 start-up companies in the tech sector. Those companies combined have attracted more than $50 million in investment and created nearly 100 new jobs in the state.

The nonprofit has added Chadwell to its board of directors. The addition will help accelerate the tech ecosystem in Montana and attract more attention to the companies Early Stage Montana aims to foster.

“As we consider the next chapter for the state of Montana, building on the already vibrant tech community is critical,” Chadwell said. “I am excited to do my part in opening doors for Montana founders to help them build high growth companies.”