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Prominent business leaders speak at Montana Economic Development Summit

By Grace Ditzler, KTVM Reporter, gditzler@ktvm.com
Published On: Sep 16 2013 06:24:05 PM MDT
Updated On: Sep 17 2013 01:23:39 PM MDT
BUTTE, Mont. -

Three prominent business leaders spoke about national issues affecting the USA economy and businesses at the Montana Economic Development Summit in Butte on Monday.

"The lineup of speakers this morning has been absolutely unbelievable," said Rehan Rashid, a summit panelist and energy analyst, "all of these big thinkers and innovators in one place."

Elon Musk spoke first. He's the CEO of SpaceX, a company that develops rockets and spacecrafts, and Tesla Motors, an all-electric car company.
 
"While things are going really well these days," Musk said, "I think it's always important to remember that when you're creating a company there are very dark times and its about getting through those dark times."

Musk spoke of his journey and struggles to become as successful as he and his businesses are now.

Next was Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. Sandberg spoke of the issues of gender inequality in the workplace, and how technology has changed the way businesses operate.

Sandberg explained, "the importance of measuring results, not face time. If you as a company reward face time, you will be rewarded with face time. If you talk about the people who are working really hard, rather than the people with the great results, people will work really hard and not focus on results."

Last was Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx. He spoke about how the United States was built on high-paying blue collar jobs, and that's something he believes we've started to lose.

"If you want to invigorate the American economy, its a very straightforward path to do so," Smith explained. "Reform our tax codes so it gets America back to business, and those types of sectors that empty the blue collar workers and middle income Americans that that have been so disadvantages by the tax codes we currently have."

People we spoke to after the speech said they're inspired and impressed that speakers like this are in Butte, Montana.

"There's people from all over the state and all over the country to try and learn from these folks who have lead extremely successful companies," said Cary Hegreberg, the Executive Director of the Montana Contractors' Association.

Park County Economic and Community Development Agent Katie Weaver said, "the speakers coming from these amazing companies and speaking very candidly, so it's been really great. Sheryl Sandberg was phenomenal; I had to come outside and sit down and write some notes...there was a lot going on in my head."

During the speeches, Senator Baucus said the theme of the economic summit is to "think big" and to "believe in yourself," and so far, we're told these prominent speakers have inspired that in the people at the event.