GREAT FALLS - Anything tech-related, including tech-related work, may seem like all the rage these days.
"Most of this work right now is being done in Silicon Valley and the northeastern part (of the country), MIT and those universities," said U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT).
But Tester believes there's a lot of untapped potential in rural areas like Montana. That's why he's a proponent of bringing a tech hub to the state.
"A tech hub is where people come together with a common goal in mind, both from education, private sector, financial industries, to develop technology that the country can use," said Tester.
As of May 22, a group of people in Montana was working on developing a proposal to submit for federal funding from the CHIPS and Science Act.
"We had a tech hub roundtable in Missoula in February. There was probably 75 people there, maybe a hundred people there; college folks, business folks, economic development folks to start on the planning," Tester explained. "They've been planning what we're going to do, what kind of proposal we're going to put forth to the Department of Commerce to try to get a tech hub to Montana."
If the proposal is approved, it will receive $500,000.
"Montana is essentially a medium-sized metro area with a very long main street. So what benefits one part of Montana benefits the entire state," said Brett Doney, director of the Great Falls Development Authority.
Doney is very familiar with the tech hub concept. He believes Great Falls and the surrounding area are well-positioned if a tech hub comes to Montana.
"We have some really exciting companies and research being done in Great Falls and the Golden Triangle using high technology. Particularly in food and Ag processing and healthcare now that the McLaughlin Research Institute has been boosted with some major grants and being the research arm for Touro University. There's a lot of opportunity there."
The deadline to apply for funding for a tech hub is Aug. 15, 2023. Tester anticipates learning near the end of 2023 if Montana's application has been approved.