Living in Bozeman we take for granted the great amenities we have right out our back door. The stories and photos you see in publications like Outside or Powder Magazine truly reflect our lifestyle. We fly fish, backpack, hike, backcountry ski, rock climb, kayak, and so much more. It's truly a paradise for the outdoor enthusiast. The last couple of years there has been a buzz about Bozeman being a landing spot for businesses from the outdoor industry and I get it. Why not? Companies like Sitka, Simms Fishing Products, Mystery Ranch, Oboz Footwear, Duckworth, and West Paw Design are proud to call Bozeman home and the mountains around Bozeman their testing ground. This is by far the fastest growing city in Montana boasting an educated population with 57% of residents earning a bachelors degree or higher. It also offers a quality of life that is rarely matched by cities its size. More and more people are choosing the Montana life over the headaches, traffic and busy life of the major markets. Bozeman is ideal for the outdoor industry because of the easy access to incredible recreation, robust airport service and the great people that live here.
There are a lot of places with great views, great restaurants and a great night life, but few places offer access to all that Montana has to offer like Bozeman. On my lunch break I can leave my office downtown and be in the middle of nowhere within 10-15 minutes. I can go hiking, fly fishing, cross country skiing or climbing and be back at the office to finish out my day. I don't have to sit in traffic on the freeway or distance myself from the rat race. Bozeman is surrounded by the Gallatin National Forest, which means 1,819,515 acres of public land comprised of the Lee Metcalf and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area. Not to mention, Bozeman sits at the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park. Over the last 10 years Bozeman has set itself apart as the premier gateway city to Yellowstone. For outdoor companies looking to test products, develop a company culture and immerse themselves in whatever they are selling, it's a great fit. I can't think of a better way to inspire employees to believe in the products they sell than to send them out for an hour a day to play with those products in the Montana wilderness. Whether it is hiking boots, fly rods, ski goggles, sunglasses or outerwear, Bozeman is a great testing grounds for a business that is passionate about the outdoors.
Booming Airport Access
An often overlooked aspect of the Bozeman area is the booming Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, which has quickly become the busiest airport in Montana. It offers 14 direct flights to major markets like Los Angles, New York, San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, and Las Vegas; so traveling for business is easy. For a city with a population somewhere between forty and fifty thousand residents, this kind of travel access is unheard of. The airport continues to actively pursue more direct flights in the United States and potentially Canada. With total passengers sitting right around 966,000 in 2014, Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is on pace to eclipse one million passengers in 2015. The airport offers service from Delta, United, Alaska, Frontier, and Allegiant Airlines along with charter and private flights through Yellowstone Jet Center. The airport is a great amenity for the community and is playing a big roll in Bozeman's booming economy by eliminating the distance barriers that have isolated Montana in the past. The airport growth has had such a big impact on Bozeman that companies like Oracle and Apptus have taken notice and are currently operating offices here. And the rumor mill is buzzing about other Silicon Valley companies moving in as well. It's a fun time to be in Bozeman.
In Bozeman we value our outdoor lifestyle. Many of our residents have relocated to Bozeman from all over the country to take advantage of our quality of life and our recreational amenities. I am one of those residents. I grew up in a skiing family in Southwest Michigan and went to Montana State University to get an education and ski, and I never left. This town is filled with people who have similar stories or they have bucked the grind of big city life to life the Montana Lifestyle. We are passionate about outdoor activities and our town. We are the consumers buying the products produced by the outdoor industry. We use those backpacks, sleeping bags, down coats, headlamps, ski bindings, and fishing waders. We are an educated, active, healthy, and driven group of people and we are passionate about the outdoors. Bozeman is a place where you can grab a beer at the Rocking R Bar after a day of skiing and swap stories with your buddies about epic powder days or take your family for a Summer evening hike to help get some energry out of your kids. There is such an excitement here that I have not experienced anywhere else and it is contagious. Whether it is people like Bozeman local Conrad Anker pushing the limits in the climbing industry or entrepreneurs like Greg Gianforte who sold his start up company Right Now Technologies to Oracle for $1.5 Billion, the people that make up the fabric of this community are a huge resource and shouldn't be overlooked.
The Buzz About Bozeman
It's not just the outdoor industry either. Other people are starting to take notice of all that Bozeman offers as well. Magazines and websites continue to rank Bozeman as one of "The Best Cities to Raise an Outdoor Kid" (Backpacker Magazine), one of the "Ten Best Places to Live Now" (Mens Journal), and one of the "Best Places to Live and Work" (Sunset Magazine). Montana State University is also growing by leaps and bounds with record enrollment, a new building focused on entrepreneurship, a new building for the College of Engineering and the extensive research projects that are garnering national attention. The buzz about Bozeman is infectious and it's only a matter of time before more businesses in the outdoor industry take notice.