Thanks to strong business lending and low unemployment, Billings was recently named a top area for entrepreneurs by a national finance firm.
SmartAsset.com identified Billings as the eighth best small-to-mid-sized area for entrepreneurial spirit in a December report.
The New York-based financial technology company looked at rates of small business loans, percentage of employees who work for new businesses, percentage of new and small businesses in a metro area and the unemployment rate.
Billings had the best rating of any Montana city, one spot ahead of Missoula. Provo, Utah, took the top spot, followed by Cheyenne, Wyo., Greeley, Colo., and Bismarck, N.D.
Billings’ high ranking came as no surprise to John Brewer, director of the local chamber of commerce. About 80 to 85 percent of the roughly 1,300 businesses in the area qualify as small businesses, and access to capital and human resources are big priorities for startups, he said.
“One appealing attribute of our community is the ability to network and form relationships. As a large small town, or a small city, there is typically one degree of separation between the entrepreneur and the connection they are wanting to make,” Brewer wrote in an email.
Researchers at SmartAsset reserved their study to metro areas with fewer than 1 million people. They found an average of seven small business loans per 10,000 residents last year and the fourth-lowest unemployment rate of 4.5 percent in Billings.
“Montana has great cachet and national draw. People can choose a location they want to live then develop their business. That said, Billings is in a competitive environment with cities around the world to attract entrepreneurs and young talent. Billings must continue to broaden its appeal and build our quality of place,” Brewer said.
Big award for CTA
Billings-based CTA Architects was recently named Intermountain Design Firm of the Year by industry magazine Engineer News-Record.
In its profile of CTA, the magazine highlighted the firm’s many impressive building designs, philosophy of simple but elegant and wide range of expertise.
CTA has designed several high-profile buildings locally and region-wide, including the Billings Clinic Cancer Center, the Scentsy Commons campus in Meridian, Idaho, Stockman Bank locations throughout Montana and facilities for Dell Inc. worldwide.
CTA was founded in 1938 by two Montana architects and now has 17 offices in the United States and Canada. Its corporate office is at 13 N. 23rd St. in Billings.
Haikus from the valley
Merry Christmas to everyone. I'm enjoying mine with family, and I'm hoping you all find love in whatever you're doing.
A cold day outside
Tempered by warmth, cheer inside
Time for joy and cheer