Greg Gianforte Montana Politics

Why Doesn’t Greg Gianforte Believe in Montana Tech Firms?

Written by Don Pogreba
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Last week, I noted that Greg Gianforte, the Bozeman tech guru and presumptive GOP candidate for governor, had made the peculiar decision to hire out of state firms for his campaign’s web, graphic, and media work, spending over $50,000 not in Bozeman or another Montana community, but in firms across the country.

After I posted, I received some feedback from Bozeman-area designers about the message Gianforte’s decision sent about the quality of Montana work. While none wanted to use their names, I spoke to three members of the web and graphic design community in the Bozeman area, all of whom were surprised to learn that Mr. Gianforte chose not to use a local firm for this work.

One local designer told me that Bozeman is loaded with the talent necessary to have done the work, writing in an e-mail:

And, with MSU here, we have creativity and talent pouring out of the university and students eager to start their careers and test out their skills. So, I am completely confident in saying that Bozeman has the talent Gianforte needed, and with the countless options available to him in Bozeman alone, we have the prices to match that any out of state source.

Another spoke about the message Gianforte’ decision to outsource sent, telling me:

Bozeman is building a reputation for itself as a tech center, something Greg is taking a lot of credit for. For him to not use the local tech businesses he says he champions is a slap in the face to those of us who have chosen to stay here in Montana to work.

A Bozeman graphics artist said that choosing local could have made a difference for a local company:

Graphic design is such a competitive market, and every job helps. The $750 spent on that logo, plus the benefits of being associated with a high-profile campaign, would have helped a local artist immensely.

I also spoke with Jeff Milchen, the co-director of the Bozeman-based American Independent Business Alliance (Amiba), an organization whose mission is to help communities become more resilient through supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs. While not commenting specifically on the outsourcing of work by the Gianforte campaign, Milchen told me that a local firm “absolutely” could provide the web services and graphic work a candidate would require. He noted that there is “no shortage of talented designers in communities across Montana,” and said that, given the “incredibly talented designers in Montana it was hard to imagine” how someone would need to hire web or graphic work out of state.

In our conversation, Milchen talked about the value of using a local business, noting that local designers are more responsive, can work more efficiently, and have the kind of local knowledge that will improve the product. In addition, he noted the importance of businesses and individuals patronizing local businesses, which he said will both “create wealth locally” and encourage more entrepreneurial development in that local community.

Amiba  notes that decisions to purchase goods and services locally results in a significant multiplier effect, with “48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses [being] recirculated locally.” When a business or individual or political campaign buys locally, the money stays in the local community, enriching us all.

Milchen also noted a potential concern about using a firm out of state—it makes it far more difficult to tell if the work has been outsourced, which is a real concern for web development and graphic work. There are countless overseas shops producing cheap web and graphic work, and using a local developer best ensures that local designers are doing the work—and getting paid for it—from beginning to end.

The message seems clear: if you want to ensure high-quality work, encourage local businesses, and prevent outsourcing of jobs, you hire locally. If you’re a candidate who is running on a platform of high-paying tech jobs, you hire locally. If you tout the benefits of telecommuting, which can definitely facilitate overseas outsourcing, you absolutely hire locally.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

13 Comments

  • Threatening the American people??? Really, stewie?? Geebus, dude. Quit that. You just gave stevie Danish and Slinky the Barking Seal a woody! Martial talk makes lil’ stevey Danish swoon!

    http://www.rawstory.com/2016/01/militia-head-warns-feds-dont-waco-the-oregon-occupiers-unless-you-want-a-bloody-brutal-civil-war/comments/#disqus

    It’s time to put an end to this nonsense once and for all. I mean, really, what the hell is the difference between THIS so called occupation and any others? Easy answer. Assault rifles! SO, my friends, if you want lil’ stewie at your protest next time, BRING ASSAULT RIFLES!

  • MSU hired a graphic design firm from Texas to design the new logo. Where’s the outrage for that decision? That was $25k that could’ve gone to local businesses, but they either weren’t adequately skilled or their bid wasn’t competitive.

    • I wasn’t aware of that, but there certainly may be bidding guidelines in place that required them to accept that bid. I’m happy to look into it if you have any more information.

      Gianforte, on the other hand, had no obligation to use any kind of bid process. He chose not to employ the very people he says will fix Montana’s economy, the very kids he’s encouraging to go into tech fields.

      And have you seen his logo? I’m pretty sure he could have found a Bozeman firm that would have done a much better job.

  • I think the question should rather be: “why doesn’t Montana believe in Montana tech firms?” Bullock’s website was built by a WashingtonDC firm. Bullock’s Department of Commerce (which is tasked with building Montana jobs) hired a Chicago website firm to build its visitmt.com site at a cost of nearly $1.5 million dollars– that’s a lot of good Montana jobs outsourced to the city. I wonder if the “Made in Montana” site is actually “Made in Montana” or if that is outsourced also. It isn’t that there aren’t qualified Montana firms for the business — it’s just that there is a general attitude that technology is something big city people do. Here in Montana we dig coal and cut trees like good rural folk. Gianforte’s whole “telecommute” jobs bandwagon is itself sort of offensive. It is saying “work for a big city company and move out here to the colony because we can’t build world class companies ourselves…”

    Now Bullock’s Department of Commerce has ended its contract with its only in-state agency. All of the advertising work to promote Montana will likely also go to a big city agency. The job of promoting Montana will be left to people in San Francisco or New York (who obviously are so much more talented that us rural bumpkins left back here on the frontier).

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