States like Montana, Idaho and Utah have been growing at a faster rate than much of the rest of the country, which political and business leaders in Montana attributed to both the lifestyle, business environment and politics of the state.
“As people are looking for places to live, they’re looking for a quality of life, but also quality leadership from government officials,” Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., told Fox Business. “They see that in Montana.”
“When you see the increasingly heavy hand of big government in coastal states like California, New York, Washington, the American people are yearning for freedom, they’re yearning for a quality of life as well as quality of leadership,” he added.
According to Pew, Montana was the third-fastest growing state between July 2020 and July 2021, behind Idaho and Utah. Seventeen states saw population decreases over the year, including New York, California, Hawaii and Illinois.
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At the “Montana on the Rise” economic summit, co-hosted by Daines and the Montana Chamber of Commerce, Bill Moseley, the CEO of GL Solutions, said that the regulatory policies in Montana are “outstanding,” comparing them to policies in states like Oregon, where they “regulate everything.”
Will Lansing, the CEO of FICO, noted that “pro-business environment is huge, and it is not that way everywhere in the country.”
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“Montana is open for business with a pro-business policy,” Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte told Fox Business. “We have many entrepreneurs who are moving here. We are removing the friction, we’re lowering the taxes, we’re reducing regulations.”
Kevin O’Leary, known as Mr. Wonderful on the hit show Shark Tank, noted that states across the country were competing with each other for business, and places like Montana were winning.
“There’s a really interesting competition starting between states,” O’Leary said.
“New York: terrible for business. New Jersey: terrible for business. Massachusetts: horrifically terrible for business. California is not in business,” he added.
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As evidence of this, O’Leary, along with Daines, Gianforte, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Secretary Martin Charlo, and Bitzero CEO Akbar Shamji announced at the summit that a Bitzero data center to be built in Montana, using hydroelectric power.
Growth in states like Montana, though, is not without its pains. Former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat who represented Montana in the U.S. Senate for 35 years, said the feel of the state has somewhat changed.
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“The character of the state is changing a little bit,” he said. “There are growth pains. There are housing issues. And the character of walking down the street in downtown [Bozeman] has changed a little bit compared to what it was 50 years ago.”
Gianforte also acknowledged the workforce and housing challenges that have come along with a quickly-growing population.
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“We have an acute housing shortage in this country, particularly in states with net inflows of people, it’s even more acute,” Gianforte said. “We believe a free-market solution is the right solution. We have streamlined permitting… increase the supply so you can catch up with the demand in the housing space.”
Between August 2020 and August 2021, home prices in Montana rose the third fastest in the nation, behind Idaho and Arizona, a report from CoreLogic showed.