KRTV: Tester advocates for creation of Montana Tech Hub

by Ryan Gamboa

Following the Montana-based “Headwaters Tech Hub” consortium submitting their application to make Montana a Regional Technology & Innovation Hub, U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) is urging the U.S. Department of Commerce to “strongly consider their application.”

Last year, Congress passed the CHIPS & Science Act that will invest in high-tech manufacturing across the country, strengthen technology supply chains, and bolster development of cutting-edge research in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

“Montana has responded to this opportunity as Montanans do, by rolling up their sleeves, pulling together, and developing a world-class proposal,” Tester said in a news release.

A regional tech hub in Montana would allow those in the public and private sectors to gather in a centralized location with financial and academic institutions to participate in tech innovations.

If Montana is approved, it would receive $500,000 in federal funding which would open up access to tens of millions of dollars.

Tester also said in the news release: “The Headwaters Tech Hub consortium assembles the state’s leading academic institutions, home-grown and globally prominent tech companies, successful venture capital firms, regional economic development organizations, and more. While these groups are often in competition with each other, they have come together in response to the Tech Hub opportunity, collectively recognizing how great its impact will be for our region.”

Brett Doney, director of the Great Falls Development Authority, said in May: “Montana is essentially a medium-sized metro area with a very long Main Street. So what benefits one part of Montana benefits the entire state.”

Doney is very familiar with the tech hub concept, and believes Great Falls and the surrounding area are well-positioned if a tech hub comes to Montana.

“We have some really exciting companies and research being done in Great Falls and the Golden Triangle using high technology. Particularly in food and ag processing and healthcare now that the McLaughlin Research Institute has been boosted with some major grants and being the research arm for Touro University. There’s a lot of opportunity there.”

Upon approval of the Headwaters Tech Hub consortium application, it would need to pass a second phase of the process to gain access to an additional $15 million in funding. The next application upon approval will open in late fall.