Montana Made: Shop local takes on a new meaning in the Treasure - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Montana Made: Shop local takes on a new meaning in the Treasure State

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It’s a symbol only certain businesses in the state can claim.

Like Notice Snowboards in Whitefish and Trailhead Spirits in Billings.

Or even cleaning supply manufacturing company Diamond Products in Helena.

Those are just a few of the businesses branded by a program to help Montana producers and growers launch their products.

With the little “Made in Montana” logo, stamped on tags, the Department of Commerce is working with businesses from an idea born in 1983 from former Gov. Ted Schwinden.

Made in Montana Program Manager Lonie Stimac said the goal of the program is simple.

“To identify Montana products to not people not just in Montana, to people not just in the United States but actually globally,” Stimac said.

Stimac said being a member of the Made in Montana program has many benefits.

“Once they join our program, we feed them into the pipeline of programs that the Department of Commerce has,” Stimac said.

Like financial programs and even social media.

“We have a much farther reach than we ever had before with advertising,” Stimac said.

The program has more than 3,400 participants, creating hand-dipped candies like The Parrot in Helena or growing Kracklin Kamut in Big Sandy.

“They have a real pride in what they’re doing and that shows up in their work,” Stimac said.

Stimac said Montanans aren’t the only ones who take pride in their products - so do the 30 million visitors every year.

"We know from the research, and from the spending surveys that we do, that they spent $70 million just on things that were tagged with Made in Montana.”

The Department of Commerce is preparing for the annual Made In Montana Tradeshow.

Stimac says this year’s event is bigger than ever, with more vendors and visitors expected, all hoping to create new relationships with community members as well as other Made in Montana producers.

“We’re going to also tell you at the tradeshow where you can buy them around the state,” said Stimac.

There may be even some new products created at this year’s show.

“All of a sudden we’ve got the people who are making bloody Mary mix, talking to someone who roasts nuts and they say, ‘You know what, let's see what happens when you mix the two together,’” said Stimac.

As these products and businesses continue to do well, they aren’t the only things expanding.

“If you can create another job, and it’s for your son or daughter, or for your neighbor’s son or daughter, that’s helping our small communities to grow,” said Stimac.

The trade show will be held Mar. 23-24 in Helena. The public showcase day is Saturday and open to the public 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

More than 170 booths will be on display at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds.

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