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Montana Business Expansion and Retention


The Governor's Office of Economic Development, Montana Department of Commerce, Montana Department of Labor and Montana Economic Developers Association (MEDA) formed a partnership that allows Montana to be one of several states to make the BEAR (Business Expansion and Retention) program available statewide. The Montana BEAR program is supported by local community entities that provide staff and financial support so that local business owners and operators are able to access much needed resources allowing them to improve and/or expand their businesses.

The BEAR program pulls together local business and community leaders to form a volunteer assessment team to address local needs. Assessment team members are trained in both the assessment process and in interviewing. Local area businesses who request the free service are visited by interviewers from the Assessment Team to conduct on-site surveys of the issues and needs of their local business. After reviewing the confidential survey the Assessment Team connects the client business to state, area, and local resources that that will assist with the identified needs and issues.


Montana BEAR Teams Contact Points

Need a BEAR visit?  Contact Statewide Coordinators: Mike and Gloria O'Rourke,, 406-563-5259  


Northwest Montana

Tracy McIntyre, Eureka, 406-297-7374, Eureka Rural Development Partners,, Lincoln County 

Mike Jackson, Kalispell, 406-758-6230, Flathead County 

Bonnie Haun, 406-827-8112,, Sanders County Job Service                                                                            

John Balsam, Kalispell, 406-756-3351,, Flathead County Community College


Western Montana

Marie Hirsch-Mahugh, Ronan, 406-676-5901 x 117,, Lake County Community Development Corporation 

Lynn Lagerquist, 406-833-7882,, Lake County Job Service

Brigitta Miranda-Freer, Missoula, 406-541-6461,, Missoula Economic Parternership

Angie McDonald, 406-542-5748,, Missoula County, Missoula Job Service

George Palmer, 406-542-5746,,  Missoula County, Missoula Job Service

Vickie Steele, Hamilton, 406-375-6045, Bitterroot Job Service, Ravalli County,


Southwest Montana                

Jim Davison, Anaconda Deer Lodge County, Anaconda Local Development Corporation, 406-563-5538,

Dale Mahugh, Butte, 406-497-3756,, Silver Bow County and Southwest Region,

Zack Medina, Dillon, 406-683-4259,, Dillon Job Service, Beaverhead County 

Bob Toole, Deer Lodge, 406-846-2094,, Powell County Chamber of Commerce

Deb Chouinard, Helena, 406-447-3202,, Helena Job Service

Brian Obert, Helena, 406-266-4370,, Montana Business Assistance Connection  

Warren Vaughan, Bozeman/Gallatin County, 406-582-3130, County Planning and Community Development 

Meagan Lannan, Livingston, Livingston Job Service, 406-222-8904,

Katie Weaver, MSU Park County Economic and Community Development Extension Agent, Park County, 406-222-4156,


North Central Montana

Carol Lamey, Havre, 406-265-5847, clamey@mt.govHavre Workforce Job Service Center


South Central Montana

Marissa Hauge, Columbus, 406-322-8050, County 

Chad Moore, Billings, Yellowstone County, 406-869-8404,, Big Sky Economic Development 


Central Montana

Karen Sweeney, Fergus County, Golden Valley County, Judity Basin County, Musselshell County, Wheatland County, 406-535-2591,, Snowy Mountain Development Corporation

Kristin Rutten, 406-535-1562,, Lewistown Job Service


Eastern Montana

Martin DeWitt, Wolf Point (Valley County, Garfield County, McCone County, Daniels County, Roosevelt County, Sheridan County), 406-653-1840,, Great Northern Development Corporation

Jason Rittal, Prairie County, Dawson County, Wibaux County, Falon County, Carter County, 406- 698-3255,