Montana Ethic Project: How to foster high-tech industry


Joey and Libby Early

Greg Gianforte talks about how to foster high-tech industry in Montana.

This is the 24th chapter of the 32-part video series “The Montana Ethic Project.” This chapter features Greg Gianforte, who was still with RightNow Technologies when this interview was conducted and who is now, of course, the Republican candidate for governor. He discusses the subject of “High Tech in Montana.” You can watch the whole video below. Here is an edited transcript of how it begins:

“I’d like to talk to you about Montana’s economy and how we can create more good-paying jobs here.

“If you think of Montana’s economy as a combustion engine, it has three cylinders that have traditionally provided power. One cylinder is agriculture, another is tourism, and a third is resource extraction of lumber and mining. I firmly believe that high technology can be a fourth cylinder on that engine.

“RightNow Technologies is a software company that I started in Bozeman 13 years ago. We now do over $200 million a year in revenue with over a thousand employees around the world. Forty-five percent of our employee base is MSU and UM graduates, so we’re keeping kids home and bringing them back from out of state. In addition, our average wage in Bozeman is $86,000 a year, making us one of the better employers here with wages that are two to three times the average local wage.”

Here is another, edited excerpt from Gianforte’s presentation:

“Montana is one of only eight states in the country not to have any school choice legislation. I would encourage the legislators in our audience to consider this and look at some of the other successful models that are working in other states.

“Educational choice should be available to families of all income levels. In a certain sense we already have school choice in the state of Montana, if you have money to pay for it. What we need is school choice for families of low income. If you want to pursue this further, both the Montana Family Foundation and the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice are both very active in educating and working to get school choice adopted across our country. We need to act here in Montana, too, so we can produce the kids we need for a high tech economy.

“The internet and high tech are this generation’s gold rush. Just as this state benefited from the last gold rush, we have an opportunity in our current generation to increase our economy, to put Main Street right next to Wall Street and Silicon Valley.”

PERC_Logo_MontanaEthicPERC—the Property & Environment Research Center—is a proud sponsor of the Montana Ethic Project. To learn how PERC’s ideas can help us honor one another’s rights to land, water, and wildlife,visit

First week: Project introduction.

Second week: Richard Drake on “Terrorism and the Consolation of History.”

Third week: Mike Gear on “The Value of Athletics.”

Fourth week: Franke Wilmer on “Gender Equity.”

Fifth week: Gordon Brittan on “The Founding Fathers.”

Sixth week: Jim Posewitz on “Montana Sportsmen and the Hunter’s Ethic.”

Seventh week: The Rev. Jessica Crist on “Religion and Politics: Can They Co-exist?”

Eighth week: Chuck Tooley on “The Montana Character.”

Ninth week: Steve Bullock on “Citizens United v. Montana.”

10th week: Carol Williams on “The Imperative for Female Government Participation.”

11th week: Bob Rowe on Technological Development.”

12th weekGeorge Metcalfe on “Economic Development in Africa and Its Relationship to Montana.”

13th weekBruce Smith on “Montana’s Food Economy.”

14th week: Peggy Beltrone on “Montana Wind Energy—Business and Politics.”

15th week: Mark Solon on “Creating an Intermountain West Startup Economy.”

16th week: Bill Yellowtail on “Futuring and Native Leadership.”

17th week: Judy Martz on “Trust in the Lord and He Will Direct Your Path.”

18th week: Bob Brown on “Teddy Roosevelt’s Shadow in Montana’s Big Sky.”

19th week: Gordon Belcourt on “A Montana Native Perspective.”

20th week: Dorothy Eck on “The Montana Constitution and the Right to Know.”

21st week: Pat Barkey on “The Montana Wage Disparity.”

22nd week: Thomas Power on “Valuing Montana: An Economist’s Observations.”

23rd week: Larry Simkins on “The Culture of Safety.”

24th week: James Shanley on “Education Reform.”

Next week: Jakki Mohr on “The Corporate Model for the 21st Century.”

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