Montana, home of the entrepreneur

nyt_branded_product_size2The New York Times is reporting today that Montana “leads the nation in business creation.”

The Times attributes all the business-creation activity to the Bakken effect: so much money has been flowing out of the oil patch, and so many people have been flooding into the region, that new businesses are being founded to meet new demands.

The same study quoted by the Times lists Wyoming as second and North Dakota as third in start-up activity. What the story does not note, for some reason, though the study itself does, is that Montana was first last year as well, and North Dakota was, as it is this year, third. Only Wyoming’s status changed, jumping from sixth place to second.

The entrepreneur chosen to represent the trend was Travis Peterson, who opened Meadowlark Brewing in Sidney. He was quoted as saying:

“We’ve found that we can actually change people’s palates. Nobody ordered poutine for the first week it was on the menu. Now it’s one of our best sellers.”

I have to admit, I had never heard of the dish myself. Fortunately, the Times linked to one of its own stories, which should answer all your questions. It sounds like something invented in Butte. I can’t wait to try one.

Lastly, the article quotes none other than Greg Gianforte, “one of Montana’s best-known entrepreneurs,” who has been in the news lately. And he is quoted as saying:

“I think the thing that’s best about Montana is the work ethic. Most of the young people coming out of school have grown up on a farm or a ranch. When the tractor breaks, you don’t form a committee. You don’t call a consultant. You just fix the tractor.”

That’s a pleasing, romantic view of things, but I don’t think it’s true anymore. “Most”? But something tells me we’ll be hearing more such romanticism from Gianforte in the months ahead.

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