Business Technical Assistance Banner

The Business Assistance Bureau connects businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools to create and grow market opportunities and jobs.

Business Assistance Resources

Small Business CounselingSBDC Logo

Montana Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network
For an individual that is looking to start a new business or expand their existing business, the SBDC network is usually the best place to start. The SBDC network supports ten centers around the state, focusing on assistance in areas such as financial analysis, business planning, training and workshops and loan packaging assistance to help small businesses achieve their goals of growth, expansion, innovation and success.

Indian Entrepreneur Program (IEP)
The IEP collaborates with a network of Native American business organizations to provide business technical assistance to Native entrepreneurs and business owners. The IEP funds Indian Equity Fund application workshops and trainings for Native businesses. 

Indian Country Programs

Indian Country Programs
The family of grant program under Indian Country Programs awards funds to projects that strengthen Montana’s economy through the development and enhancement of business opportunities on reservations, in tribal communities, and for Native American businesses. The grant program offers funding in three categories:

Native American Collateral Support (NACS) Program
The NACS Program addresses the lack of access to capital for Native American-owned businesses.  This program was developed from the feedback of a diverse set of stakeholders that prioritized the development of a financial product and pathway for Native businesses to access financing and capitalize the launch and growth of their businesses.

State Tribal Economic Development Commission (STEDC)
The State Tribal Economic Development Commission (STEDC) works in a government-to-government relationship to expand and improve economic prosperity opportunities for each of the eight tribal nations through business expansion, capital access, manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and community development. The Governor appoints 11 members, including one from each of the eight tribal nations in Montana.

Marketing

Commerce Tradeshow Assistance Program
The Department of Commerce Tradeshow Assistance Program assists Montana-based companies to explore new domestic and international wholesale markets by encouraging first-time exhibition at new tradeshows.

Montana / Regional Wholesale Trade Shows:

  • The Made in Montana Wholesale Tradeshow, Montana's premiere Made in Montana wholesale tradeshow, takes place annually in Helena.
  • The Billings Market Association hosts a wholesale merchandise show three times a year in Billings, MT, and features Made in Montana products.
  • Spanning 240,000 square feet with 800 exhibitors, Las Vegas' ACRE (American Craft Retail Expo) features American and Canadian hand made products in a full range of price points. Product lines include stationery, tabletop, jewelry, furniture, decorative accessories, seasonal and garden, toys, fashion and fashion accessories, and more.

Montana hosts many retail shows including arts and craft fairs, farmers markets, and home and garden shows. These are great selling opportunities for businesses that aren't ready or don't want to enter the wholesale market but still want to reach buyers. International Trade and Gift Shows can help expose your product to buyers all over the world.

International Marketing Assistance Program
A state-federal partnership providing financial assistance to qualified Montana small businesses for international marketing efforts in beginning exporting or market expansion.

It is designed to help increase the number of small businesses that are exporting and to raise the value of exports for those small businesses that are currently exporting so they can grow and create more jobs. 

Export Trade

Export Montana, through the Office of Trade and International Relations, is committed to helping Montana companies pursue commercial opportunities abroad.

An export specialist provides technical export assistance to Montana companies with information and training to address issues such as:

  • export regulation and compliance;
  • methods of shipment;
  • methods of payment;
  • market research;
  • responding to trade leads; and
  • follow-up communication with overseas clients.

Export Montana coordinates the state's protocol and foreign relations with foreign diplomatic office representatives. This includes providing briefings, scheduling meetings and arranging receptions for visiting dignitaries. Maintaining good relations with the various foreign diplomatic missions that serve the Montana region is essential to assisting Montanans with international business connections.


Finance Assistance Resources

Business Planning and Feasibility

Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF)
The Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) program provides state funds to aid in business development as well as economic development planning.

Applications that support a critical activity to move an economic development project forward and directly assist a basic sector company are the highest priority of the Department of Commerce. Local economic development organizations apply on behalf of the business.

Planning projects funding can also be used to support other economic development planning activities, such as the creation and maintenance of community profiles or support for business improvement districts.

Due to statutory limitations on how we are required to split job creation and planning grants, Commerce will not accept BSTF Planning applications until July 1, 2020.

Job Creation

Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF)
The Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) program provides state funds to assist eligible businesses that are expanding their company.

The Job Creation awards reimburse the businesses for eligible expansion expenses and the awards are based on the number of BSTF eligible net new jobs created. Local or tribal governments apply on behalf of the assisted business.

The BSTF program promotes long-term stable economic growth in Montana through Job Creation awards.

The Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund program will be accepting job creation applications on a quarterly basis. Those application due dates are: July 10, 2018October 3, 2018December 19, 2018, and April 3, 2019.

Montana Wood Products Revolving Loan Fund (WP RLF) 
The Montana Wood Products Revolving Loan Fund (WP RLF) Program assists businesses in the wood products industry affected by the downturn in the economy. The program provides a long-term affordable lending tool to assist businesses in retaining or creating jobs providing a long term economic benefit to the State of Montana.

Workforce Training

Primary Sector Workforce Training Grant (WTG) Program
The WTG Program provides grant assistance to primary sector businesses that are creating new jobs and have a need to train the new employees.

The primary sector business could receive a grant up to $5,000 for a full-time job and $2,500 for a part-time job. All necessary and direct costs of providing workforce training for new jobs are an eligible use of the funds. Primary sector businesses are defined as those having 50% or more of their sales outside Montana.

The primary goal of the WTG Program is to increase year-round and permanent job opportunities.

Applications for funding are accepted on an open-cycle basis.

Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) Program
The BSTF Program provides grant to assist companies creating net new jobs with job training costs.  Businesses may apply for up to $5,000 per new qualifying employee for eligible costs associated with training, or up to $7,500 per net new employee in a high poverty area.

Applications are accepted on an open-cycle basis.

Economic Development Revolving Loan Funds

MicroBusiness Finance Program (MBFP)
The MBFP administers funding for the MicroBusiness Development Corporations (MBDCs) located across Montana. MBDCs work with Montana-based businesses with fewer than 10 full-time equivalent employees and gross annual revenues of less than $1,000,000. Certified MBDCs:

  • Provide loans up to $100,000 to qualified microbusinesses;
  • Provide training and technical assistance to qualified microbusinesses;
  • Underwrite and service their microloan portfolios. 

Montana Wood Products Revolving Loan Fund Program (WP RLF)
The WP RLF Program assists businesses in the wood products industry affected by the downturn in the economy. The program provides a long-term affordable lending tool to assist businesses in retaining or creating jobs providing a long term economic benefit to the State of Montana.

Research and Development

Montana SBIR/STTR Matching Funds Program
The SBIR/STTR Matching Funds Program assists technology-based Montana companies by providing additional funding that can be used for technology development or other uses during the time that the company is working on a Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) project with a federal agency. This additional funding increases the likelihood that technology-based Montana companies will be able to develop products and services that can be successfully marketed. Grants of up to $30,000 are available on a yearly basis.

Wood Products

Montana Wood Products Revolving Loan Fund (WP RLF)
The Montana Wood Products Revolving Loan Fund (WP RLF) Program assists businesses in the wood products industry affected by the downturn in the economy. The program provides a long-term affordable lending tool to assist businesses in retaining or creating jobs providing a long term economic benefit to the State of Montana.

Regional Economic Development

Certified Regional Development Corporations (CRDC)
The Certified Regional Development Corporations (CRDC) program supports a regional approach to economic development, facilitating an efficient delivery of economic development programs by supporting regional capacity.

The CRDC program supports each of the CRDCs with annual funding for economic development services supporting their region, including personnel and operating expenses, and any other expenses deemed necessary to maintain the organization’s certification as a CRDC.

A CRDC must be a private, non-profit corporation, and apply for certification through a competitive state Request for Proposal (RFP) process.


MONTANA OFFICE OF TOURISM AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT | MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
301 S. PARK AVE. | P.O. BOX 200533 | HELENA, MT 59620-0533 |  T: 406.841.2870 |  F: 406.841.2871 | TDD: 406.841.2702