A Study of the funding landscape for entrepreneurs and small business

Part 2: A Study of Small Businesses (Coming Soon)









Genesis of this Initiative: Accelerate Montana, Catalyze Global Impact LLC, and the Women's Entrepreneurship & Leadership Lab launched an initiative on Access to Finance for Small Businesses in Montana in 2022. This initiative aims to better understand who provides small business finance, which businesses receive what type and volume of financing, what are the financing needs expressed by businesses, and how to ease market bottlenecks in the flow of small business finance across Montana. To achieve this goal, the project team, guided by a deeply experienced advisory committee from across Montana, designed and implemented a quantitative survey and qualitative interviews in 2022-23 of lenders, investors, state and federal agencies, and foundations that fund Montana’s small businesses.

Of the 112 lending and investing organizations invited to respond to this survey, 36 (32%) participated. In addition, the project team contacted over 125 people and interviewed over 45 people through qualitative research to explore the initial survey findings and delve deeper into the challenges and opportunities facing small business funders.

This report provides quantitative information, views of specialists across the state, and recommendations that state and federal policymakers, lenders, investors, and economic development organizations can use in shaping small business programs. We hope the study findings will generate discussions to pursue new opportunities that will increase the flow of financing to early-stage and small businesses in Montana.

In the coming weeks, a second report is forthcoming on Montana’s small businesses, including information on business demographics, experience with financial services providers, use of financial services to start and grow, and business constraints and opportunities.


Project Co-Lead and Technical Advisor:

Catalyze Global Impact logo

Financial Sponsors:




Montana Dept. of Commerce Logo

Quantitative Data Partner:

Bureau of Business and Economic research BBER logo

Institutional Support:

AMRII_EDA UC Progam Logo


Project Team:

Dr. Jennifer Isern, Catalyze Global Impact LLC, Co-Lead and Technical Director

Morgan Slemberger, Women's Entrepreneurship & Leadership Lab, Co-Lead

Karl Unterschuetz, Accelerate Montana, Co-Lead

Kassi Strong, Strong Marketing & Strategy, Project Manager

Connor Mostek, Accelerate Montana, Public Data Research

Carolyn Crowder, Accelerate Montana, Content Curation and Report Layout

John Baldridge, Bureau of Business & Economic Research, Quantitative Survey Director

Janet Stevens, Bureau of Business & Economic Research, Survey Collection Coordinator

Study Advisory Committee Members:

Lad Barney - USDA Montana State Office

Marcy Allen - Missoula Community Foundation

Jenn Ewan - SOVA, PLLC

Kelcie Bates - Great Northern Development

Angie Main - NACDC

Steve Clairmont - Mission West Community Developmen

Maria Valandra - Island Mountain Development Group

Luke Robinson - Commerce - Indian Country Programs

David Rook - Clearwater Credit Union

Liane Taylor - Montana Department of Commerce

Tim Schreiber - Montana Independent Bankers and Farmers State Bank

Jenny Nygren - Wells Fargo

Scott Kessler - Northwest Farm Credit Services

Brian Cooley - Stockman Bank

Chad Robinson - First Bank of Montana

Rena Carlson - SBA

Looking to Raise Capital in Montana?

Know the laws before you start. See the Securities and Insurance Office for a complete guide. Don't let the name scare you, they are very helpful. 


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