Montana Voices: Time to honor Montana’s entrepreneurs

By Pam Haxby-Cote

Every day, Jenn Mayrand wakes up ready to “work hard and throw everything at my business.” She knew her job as a contractor wouldn’t last forever, and she didn’t want to keep working outside all year.

She knew it was time for a change, and this pushed Jenn to realize her dream of owning a small business. Jenn launched her jewelry line Badass Babe LLC to reflect her own personal style, all with the mindset that failure isn’t an option.

As a business owner myself, I know firsthand Montana is a great place for entrepreneurs. Like many small businesses, our restaurant in Butte is family owned and operated.

When my husband was laid up after surgery, my daughter stepped in to keep the place running. We pride ourselves on not only running a business, but building a community, too. I know we’re not alone in this, as business owners in every corner of the state play big role in building our communities.

Last month, the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurship published a series of reports that measure U.S. entrepreneurship. Montana again ranked number one in the U.S. for startup activity, and third in Main Street entrepreneurship. This report highlights and reinforces Montana as an undeniable entrepreneurial force.

Pam Haxby-Cote

As the new Director of the Department of Commerce, I am proud to work alongside folks who are passionate about helping businesses succeed all across Montana. Supporting companies like West Paw Design, a Big Sky Trust Fund grantee, will allow the business to grow and add four full-time jobs in the next two years.

Forward-thinking business Cowboy Cricket Farms, a recent Small Business Development Center (SBDC) program Shark Tank winner, will continue evolving their niche company in an underserved market.

Jenn’s company, Badass Babe LLC, a Made in Montana member, leveraged the brand and tradeshow to showcase jewelry in 50 Montana stores and other retail locations across the country. Even the rehabilitation of Helena’s Guardian Apartments created 70 jobs while preserving affordable housing to ensure Montanans have safe and affordable homes, a necessity for businesses. These are just a few examples of how we are working to grow Montana’s economy.

From industrious main street retailers, brewers, and restaurateurs, to creative filmmakers, adventurous guiders, and ranchers and farmers, every day people with good ideas are taking a chance and making investments in Montana’s future. Small business owners like Jenn Maynard prove Montana’s entrepreneurs aren’t born, they’re made, and no stranger to the hard work it takes to succeed.

During this Small Business Week, and every day of the year, we honor the backbone of Montana’s economy, our small businesses.

Pam Haxby-Cote is the Director of the Montana Department of Commerce. Her family owns Gamers in Butte. The Montana Department of Commerce has resources to help entrepreneurs start, grow and expand strong businesses.