Business, government leaders highlight why people are moving to pro-growth states like Montana

States like Montana, Idaho, and Utah have grown faster than much of the rest of the country, attributing political and business leaders in Montana to the lifestyle, business climate, and politics of the state.

“As people look for housing, they are looking for quality of life, as well as high-level leadership from government officials,” Senator Steve Daines, R-Mont., told Fox Business. “They see that in Montana.”

“When you see the increasingly heavy hand of big governments in coastal states like California, New York and Washington, Americans crave freedom, they crave quality of life as well as leadership,” he added.

According to Pew, Montana was the third fastest growing state between July 2020 and July 2021, after Idaho and Utah. Seventeen states saw population declines over the course of the year, including New York, California, Hawaii and Illinois.

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View of Missoula, Montana

Home prices in Missoula, Montana have risen significantly in recent years. (iStock)

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 the regulatory policy in Montana is “excellent” and compares them to the policies in states like Oregon, where they “arrange everything.”

Will Lansing, the CEO of FICO, noted that “the business environment is huge, and it’s not like that everywhere in the country.”

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“Montana is open to business with a pro-business policy,” Montana Governor Greg Gianforte told Fox Business. “We’ve got a lot of entrepreneurs moving here. We’re taking the friction out, we’re lowering taxes, we’re reducing regulation.”

A road up a mountain in Montana

Zimmerman trail as it winds up the rim rocks on the west side of Billings, Montana. (iStock)

Kevin O’Leary, known as Mr. Wonderful on the hit show Shark Tank, noted states across the country vying for business, winning places like Montana.

“A really interesting competition between states is starting,” O’Leary said.

“New York: terrible for business. New Jersey: terrible for business. Massachusetts: terrible for business. California is not in business,” he added.

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As proof 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 will be built in Montana, using hydropower.

Greg Gianforte, Governor of Montana

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (Getty images)

However, growth in states like Montana is not without pain. Former U.S. Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat who represented Montana in the U.S. Senate for 35 years, said the feeling of the state has changed somewhat.

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“The character of the state is changing a bit,” he said. “There are growing pains. There are housing problems. And the character of walking on the street in the center [Bozeman] has changed a bit from what it was 50 years ago.”

Gianforte also recognized the staffing and housing challenges associated with a rapidly growing population.

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“We have an acute housing shortage in this country, especially in states with net inflows of people. It’s even more acute,” Gianforte said. “We believe that a free market solution is the way to go. We’ve streamlined permits… increase supply so you can catch up with housing demand.”

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 found.

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