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Montana’s high-tech sector will gain 940 new jobs this year, paying an average annual salary of $57,000, double the median wage of a Montana worker, University of Montana researchers reported Wednesday.

Researchers at the university’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research reported that employment and revenues for high-tech companies grew seven times faster than other businesses, and the industry overall is growing 30 percent faster than the rest of the state.

It’s the second year the research group has compiled the study, commissioned by the Montana High Tech Business Alliance. The chairman of that group is Greg Gianforte, founder of Bozeman-based RightNow Technologies and Republican candidate for governor.

Membership in the high-tech business alliance has more than doubled over the past year to 250 firms, which could account for the size of the year-over-year growth, Patrick Barkey, director of the UM economic research department, said in a written statement.

Researchers compiled the study through surveys of tech businesses. 

High-tech companies are also attracted to the quality of life in Montana, and out-of-state firms are adding offices here, according to the researchers.

They cited Ames, Iowa-based Workiva (offices in Bozeman and Missoula), Memphis, Tenn.-based Helix Business Solutions (Dillon and Bozeman), Missouri-based Advanced Technology Group (Missoula) and San Francisco-based SoFi (Helena).

“Montana has a vibrant, growing tech sector that is changing the state's economy. This tech boom isn’t just hitting the university towns like Bozeman and Missoula — it’s happening in Lewistown and Big Timber. If we can work together as a state to help these high-tech and manufacturing companies meet their urgent needs for workforce and capital, Montana is poised to become a national high-tech hub,” Christina Henderson, executive director of the business alliance, said in a written statement.

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