Montana Public Radio: Montana state earns a new federal designation as a regional tech hub

by Shaylee Ragar

Research at Montana’s largest universities and burgeoning laser industry helped earn the state a new federal designation as a regional tech hub. That designation comes with an immediate $450,000 federal grant.

The Headwaters Tech Hub is made up of 17 partners from different sectors across Western Montana – the Montana University System, government, private companies, economic development, workforce development and venture capital.

It is one of 31 tech hubs nationwide. The U.S. Economic Development Administration has granted funding to those hubs to advance next-generation electronics research and manufacturing. That’s part of a broader effort to decrease U.S. dependence on foreign manufacturers and add more high paying jobs.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester first announced the new designation. He was on the committee that negotiated the funding package and he pushed for an amendment that ensured rural hubs would be considered. U.S. Sen. Steve Daines also championed legislation to get the funding across the finish line, saying it will boost the economy.

Montana officials and business leaders alike celebrated the news.

According to the Montana Chamber of Commerce, a core piece to the puzzle is the ongoing research at the Optical Technology Center at Montana State University and the Montana Photonics and Quantum Industry Alliance and AccelerateMT at the University of Montana.