The financial website Wallet Hub recently published two articles that featured Montana small business opportunities and challenges.

KGVO News reached out to Wallet Hub financial analyst Jill Gonzalez who said both Bozeman and Missoula scored high in the ‘Top 15 Best Small Cities to Start a Small Business’, where Bozeman ranked number three and Missoula came in at number 13.

“We looked at three main categories, which were the business environment, access to resources, and business costs,” said Gonzalez. “Bozeman and Missoula actually ranked well for different reasons. Bozeman ranked number three overall out of more than 1,300 small cities and Missoula ranks 13 out of so many businesses. That's great, and they really do well in that access to resources category. There are a lot of higher education assets that come there, which means really well educated people looking to start businesses there.”

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KGVO reminded Gonzalez that Missoula’s median home prices are over $400,000, while in Bozeman the median home prices are nearly $900,000, however, she said those numbers are not high enough to keep small business entrepreneurs away.

“It's still certainly cheaper than most large cities,” she said. “That's still a benefit to these small cities. But with more affluent people coming in, that means that there is a demand for more small businesses as well, and possibly some at an even higher price point. So it really lends itself to even more opportunity for small business owners.”

On the other side of the coin, Wallet Hub also released a study on Wednesday that Montana employers face the sixth biggest hiring struggle in the entire United States.

Gonzalez said Montana has too many job openings for small businesses that must compete for fewer employees.

“Just looking at the last month alone, Montana ranks the sixth highest number in terms of the job openings,” she said. “So that's not a good thing. You want to have fewer job openings here. Montana right now is at 7.2 percent over the past year, so it looks more like 8 percent today. Just to compare, the states that are doing really well right now, including New York, Connecticut, and a lot of northeastern states, they're down at around the five and a half to 6 percent level.”

Gonzalez said many of the people moving to Montana wish to work remotely at home while still having easy access to all the outdoor attractions that the state has to offer.

“It's more of a rural place,” she said. “It doesn't have as many work from home opportunities like a lot of these other states do. So because of that, it has a lot of jobs where you need to go show up and work, and that's not what a lot of people want. They want the work from home opportunities, those remote jobs. So, those are the jobs unfortunately, that are getting filled versus a lot of the ones that exist right now in Montana.”

The Wallet Hub website offered the following statement:

‘If we are going to spend so much of our precious time – and sacrifice that time that could be spent with family, pursuing hobbies, or otherwise exploring non-work-related goals – then that time and energy spent at work had better be worth it.’

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