HELENA – Public lands in the backyard are being credited with a strong economy in Montana.
A new report, “West Is Best,” looks at jobs, income and population changes in Montana and other western states - against the backdrop of National Forests, parks and other public spaces.
Ben Alexander, associate director at Headwaters Economics, which issued the report, says Montana’s biggest growth in jobs and income has been in high-wage service industries – such as health care and professional services – with companies relocating here because of the outdoors values.
“The state has grown its employment twice as fast as the rest of the U.S., and has grown personal income twice as fast as the rest of the U.S. over the last decade,” he said. “That’s a tremendous story for a state that is largely rural and micropolitan.”
The report finds that Montana and other western states, home to the largest share of public lands, have seen their economies fare better than the nation over the past 40 years.
Lance Trebesch owns TicketPrinting.com and related companies in Bozeman. He says outdoors recreation has long been a recruiting tool for his businesses.
“When you live in a great place that has hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands – skiing, hunting, fly-fishing, mountain-biking, running – you can attract great people and furthermore, you can retain the great people you already have in the state.”