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Business leaders address ways to improve and create Montana jobs

By Grace Ditzler, KTVM Reporter, gditzler@ktvm.com
Published On: Sep 17 2013 06:07:11 PM MDT
BUTTE, Mont. -

It's been a productive two days here at Montana Tech.

Two major technology announcements from the main stage played perfectly together Tuesday.

Safra Catz knows technology and Montana.

Her company, technology giant Oracle, is making Bozeman the center of its cloud computing technology.

"We plan to grow in Bozeman," Catz said. "We also hope to be anchor tenants that attracts additional investment especially additional technology investments."

But we listened as she made another bold statement.

"Turns out, the cheapest labor isn't always worth it," she said.

And that could have major impact on not only the Montana economy, but the United States economy as a whole.

"We actually have a growing presence in, yes, the United States," Catz said.

That, in the long run, could mean better, higher paying technology jobs for cities that invest in technology like Bozeman.

They just need one thing: skilled workers to fill those positions.

"Last spring, Montana State University graduated nineteen computer science graduates. UM graduated eighteen. Tech graduated nine, for a statewide total of forty-four. That's forty-four jobs for 400 openings. We can do better," said Greg Gianforte, founder of RightNow Technologies, the company that Oracle bought in Bozeman.

He took the stage just before lunch Tuesday. His announcement was the answer to Catz's challenge; Code Montana.

"Any high school student in the state can sign up on this web address and access an online, self paced curriculum to introduce them to software development for 90 days," said Gianforte.

A way to get more teens interested in technology and computer sciences, and a way to ultimately fill those high tech positions.

Jobs that according to the Code Montana website, have salaries between $60,000 and $85,000 in Montana.

"Our goal is to expose high school students to computer programming in the hopes they will become interested and pursue computer science in college," Gianforte explained.

What everyone in the crowd witnessed at that moment was the point of a summit like this:  connecting businesses and innovating to create jobs that will drive Montana's economic engine.