Business opportunities for women take stage at Tester’s latest opportunity workshop

Senator also announces 14 jobs grants for Montana small businesses

U.S. SENATE) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today encouraged participants of his eighth Small Business Opportunity Workshop to “take advantage of all resources” available to create jobs, start and grow small businesses in Montana.

Tester, unable to attend the Billings event in person due to Senate votes, addressed the workshop via video teleconference.

“Montana is a small business state, and access to good information is part of the recipe for the success of our small businesses,” Tester said.  “This workshop is designed to provide that information to open up new opportunities for any businesses to grow and create jobs.”

More than a hundred Montanans attended Friday’s workshop, which specifically focused on women in business.  The free, public event featured two panel discussions with women entrepreneurs and organizations that foster new businesses and a presentation by the online business website

Karen Puckett, the Chief Operating Officer of CenturyLink, encouraged Montana entrepreneurs to stay involved in their communities because "small businesses are the heart of our economy" during her keynote address.

Tester’s wife Sharla told participants that access to good information and resources for success can make a difference between survival and failure.

“As farmers and small business owners, Jon and I know that if you go it alone, you won’t get much done,” Sharla Tester said. “Jon knows that small businesses are job creators.  They are innovators.  They are drivers of our economy.”

Tester plans to post video and other resources from today’s workshop online at

During the business workshop, Tester also announced 14 jobs grants for Montana small businesses through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant initiative. The grants are designed to finance and facilitate development of small and emerging rural businesses.

Businesses and organizations benefitting from Rural Business Enterprise Grants this year are:
• Emma’s Baking Company, Laurel
• Headwaters RC&D, Butte
• The Healthy Pantry, Red Lodge
• Montana West Economic Development, Kalispell
• Lake County Community Development Corporation, Ronan
• Laurel Trading Post, Laurel
• Lightfoot Cycles, Hamilton
• Little Red Hills, Ovando
• Montana Economic Developers Association, Anaconda
• Range Rider, Sweet Grass County
• Southeastern Montana Development Corporation, Colstrip
• Thermal Stud Company, Bonner
• Way Fare Foods, Bozeman
• Wild West Machine, Stevensville

More details about the recipients of today’s Rural Business Enterprise Grants are online HERE.