David Beasley | The Center Square contributor
(The Center Square) - Montana's economy saw significant growth last year that outpaced the country's growth rate, according to federal data.
The Treasure State's economy grew by 6.7 percent last year, the country's seventh-largest economic growth rate. It's also the fastest in more than 40 years, according to Gov. Greg Gianforte's office.
Personal income in the state also increased by 8.5 percent, the fastest in 15 years, Gianforte's office added.
"Thanks to hard-working Montanans, our state had an economic boom last year, despite inflation and the pandemic," the governor said.
Montana continues to attract new businesses, particularly in technology, bioscience and advanced manufacturing, Montana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd O'Hair said.
"We're juggling a number of rather large, national companies that are exploring Montana for a research and development branch or a manufacturing plant," he said.
Montana's "Western lifestyle" is part of what's attracting new businesses to the state, according to O'Hair.
"We've got wide-open spaces," he said. "Even in our biggest towns, you can be out on a trail or river in rural Montana in 15 minutes. Outdoor recreation is not a day's drive away in heavy traffic. We've got winter sporting opportunities. And the summers are among the best in the country. Low humidity. Warm days. Cold nights."
The state also offers a supportive business climate, O'Hair noted.
"Montana is consistently ranked as one of the top entrepreneurial states in the country," he said. "That's attractive for companies that are pursuing cutting-edge technology. There's a population here that is already very entrepreneurial minded."
Last week, Hyundai Motor Group announced it will locate a new research and development lab in Bozeman, a $20 million investment, the governor's office said.
Gianforte said the announcement "is a testament to our business-friendly environment, booming hi-tech sector, unmatched quality of life, and Montanans' strong work ethic."
O'Hair said the ultimate advantage of attracting new investment into Montana will be to retain young people.
"Those of us who are lifelong Montanans are seeing an economy developing here that we've been yearning for," he said. "These are good-paying jobs, giving our kids a choice. They can either stay in Montana or you can go explore the world."
"Before, we just didn't have that sort of choice," O'Hair added.