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Gianforte announces new initiative to get Montanans back home

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Greg Gionforte unveiled his initiative at Rocky Mountain College. (MTN News photo) Greg Gionforte unveiled his initiative at Rocky Mountain College. (MTN News photo)
BILLINGS -

Republican Montana gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte says he wants to bring Montanans living and working out of state home.

Following a round table discussion on how to market Montana for businesses at Rocky Mountain College, Gianforte announced Tuesday an initiative to bring 1,000 Montanans working out of state back home during his first term, dubbed "Come home to Montana (and bring your job with you)."

The idea is based on telecommuting, giving the opportunity to work from home even if the business was located beyond the state. Gianforte said he also wants to cut regulatory taxes as incentive for businesses to move jobs to Montana.

"There's no silver bullet, it's a whole series of things," Gianforte said. "We need to look at the regulations on the books and consider getting rid of the ones considered excessive. I'm not proposing anarchy, I'm suggesting reasonable rules to protect health and safety, that's number one. Number two, we've had opportunities in the last legislature to lower the tax burden. We need to let more money stay in people's pockets."

Gianforte said he does not believe financial incentive packages work well to entice businesses to create jobs in Montana, "when you look at what we have to show for it, it's not much," he said.

When asked if Billings would be a focus to bolstering business for the state, Gianforte said each community would have a marketing plan tailored to its strengths. He used the MontanaFair as an example of a way to get the word out about the Magic City.

"As I understand it, [fairgoers come] from 45 different states to get here for the MontanaFair," Gianforte said. "That's opportunity to market Montana and the Billings community and everybody who comes back for that event. Why aren't we handing out these come home to Montana brochures to everybody who walks into the MontanaFair? I think all of our communities have opportunities like this, we have to find the ones that are unique to each community and then leverage them."

Gianforte will mail invitations out twice a year to alumni of each state university living out of state. He will also roll out radio and digital campaigns in Denver and Seattle with a come home to Montana message in larger cities.

According to Gallup data complied in 2015, 37% of U.S. workers say they have telecommuted, but "it is unclear how much more prevalent telecommuting can become because it is really only feasible for workers who primarily work in offices using a computer to perform most of their work duties."

The Montana Democratic Party responded to the proposed initiative.

"Montanans shouldn't trust New Jersey multimillionaire Greg Gianforte whose company made millions off of helping corporations outsource American jobs overseas," Jason Pitt said. "Gov. Steve Bullock has a proven record fighting to bring jobs to Montana, and our strong economy is proof of that."

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