Matt Rezac from the Blandin Foundation just sent me a great article (Global Business Thrives in Small-Town Harlowton, Montana) from New West, an online newspaper from Colorado.
It features Elk River Systems, who runs TicketPrinting.com, a site that allows users to design their own tickets for events (performances, concerts, plays, sporting events, etc.) The company employs 14 people and serves 30,000 customers around the world.
The article sums up the reason Elk River Systems can and does locate in a small town in Harlowton, Montana (population 914). What they had to say and their experience seems so valuable to economic developers anywhere – but especially in rural areas:
Elk River systems exists in Harlowton thanks to four things, he says: the Internet (with a nod to Microsoft); the transportation network (a nod to UPS); the quality telecom network in Montana; and the expertise of TechRanch‘s economic development network.
Equally important, Trebesch says, are the people now working for him in Harlowton—“smart, high-quality, hard-working people that value their jobs.”
It sounds as if the founder did not necessarily have any connections to the area before moving it to Harlowton. They wanted to find an economically disadvantaged area. The people are good there; real estate if affordable. The Chamber of Commerce was very encouraging.