One Montana city is quickly earning a reputation as a breeding ground for up-and-coming tech companies: Bozeman. And the expansion isn't expected to stop any time soon.
Bozeman's Cannery District, which used to hold the town's canning plants, now seems to be the incubator for some of Bozeman's newest tech companies.
From the outside looking in, people may see tech companies as relaxed environments, maybe with a bean bag or two, full of employees straight out of college... but how true is that stereotype? And what do these companies really bring to Bozeman?
Bozeman's branch of Figure Technologies, which creates software to streamline the home equity process, hopes to bring more than just tech to the Gallatin Valley.
As Director of Engineering Devin Gray puts it: "We're trying to disrupt the entire market, and that will require a lot of people and bodies to do that."
Specifically, that means bringing jobs to Bozeman. Figure opened in the city last April, and just over a year later, they're looking to double staff size.
"We're looking to hire software engineers that are excited about building stuff from the ground-up," adds Human Resources Business Partner, Nate Lambert.
The reinvention of Bozeman's tech economy came when now-Congressman Greg Gianforte created RightNow Technologies in the late 1990s. RightNow is now under the wing of Bozeman's largest tech employer, Oracle. RightNow's sale inspired former employees - like Andrew Hull of Bozeman's Elixiter, now Perficient Digital - to create their own businesses.
"He saw a need for services around the technology that we provide," says Perficient's Justin Bartels about Hull. "I think it was a natural progression and came out of the tech ecosystem here. He saw a need for services around the technology that we provide."
Bartels has been in Bozeman for ten years and has seen the company grow from one employee to the 45 (and growing) it now employs.
"Quality of life, low overhead, fueled by talent from the university, and talent from the other tech companies in town," lists Bartels, "and that's creating kind of a beautiful environment to build a tech company."
"The university and a lot of these other tech communities have caused this really good growth," Gray explains, "and I don't see it stopping anytime soon."
For those concerned about how tech jobs are changing Bozeman, Gray, who has lived in Bozeman for 19 years and employs primarily locals, suggests: "If you can control it, bring in the right type of people to this community to keep it the way we love it."