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Montana Made: Made in Montana helping businesses, producers sales

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HELENA - Shop local takes on a new meaning in the Treasure State. 

The Montana Department of Commerce is working to help grow from within thanks to the little "Made in Montana" logo stamped on tags.

It's a symbol only certain business in the state can bear -- like Notice Snowboards in Whitefish, Trailhead Spirits in Billings and cleaning supply manufacturing company Diamond Products in Helena -- just to name a few. 

The Made in Montana idea was born in 1983 by former Governor Ted Schwinden

“To identify Montana products to not people not just in Montana, to people not just in the United States - but actually globally," explained Made in Montana program manager Lonie Stimac.

Stimac told MTN News that being a member of the Made in Montana program has many benefits, "once they join our program, we feed them into the pipeline of programs that the Department of Commerce has" -- including financial programs and even social media.

"We have a much farther reach than we ever had before with advertising," Stimac said.

The program has over 3400 participants creating hand dipped candies like The Parrot in Helena or growing Kracklin Kamut in Big Sandy.

They have a real pride in what they’re doing and that shows up in their work," said Stimac, who added that Montanans aren't the only one who take pride in their products -- so do the 30 million visitors every year. 

 "We know from the research -- and from the spending surveys that we do -- that they spent $70 million just on things that were tagged with Made in Montana," Stimac said.

The Montana Department of Commerce is preparing for the annual Made in Montana trade show. 

Stimac says this year's event is bigger than ever with more vendors and visitors expected, with all of them hoping to create new relationships with community members as well as other Made in Montana producers. 

"We’re going to also tell you at the trade show where you can buy them around the state," Stimac said. "And all of a sudden we’ve got the people who are making Bloody Mary mix talking to someone who roasts nuts and they say, ‘you know what, let see what happens when you mix the two together'?"

As these products and business continue do well they aren't the only things expanding. 

"If you can create another job, and it’s for your son or daughter, or for your neighbor’s son or daughter, that’s helping our small communities to grow," Stimac pointed out.

The trade show will be held March 23 and March 24 in Helena with the Public Showcase Day -- which is open to the public -- set for Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Over 170 booths will be on display at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds in Helena.

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