It’s been less than a year since I first announced a potential run for governor of the great state of Montana. Since that time, I’ve driven over 46,000 miles across the state, meeting with Montanans in cafés from Ekalaka to Eureka and seeing my own bed only once or twice a week. One of the greatest joys has been staying with folks in their homes, rather than staying in hotels, because it has allowed me to really connect with families all across the state.
During one visit, a young man in the Flathead told me his story. He was the first in his family to ever graduate from high school. He is married with two little girls. Then, with evident pride and determination, he told me he was learning to weld so that he could earn a living to put a roof over the heads of his young family. This is the kind of opportunity that needs to extend to every corner of our state and to every Montanan. He was able to pursue his education thanks to one of the Gianforte Manufacturing Scholarships that my wife Susan and I started several years ago.
That’s why, last month, I announced that after I’m elected governor I won’t hold on to a salary from the state. Instead, I’m going to dedicate it toward manufacturing scholarships just like this one. I want every Montanan to have the opportunity to thrive here and provide for their families. Plus, we need more focus on trades education.
Susan and I first started the Gianforte Manufacturing Scholarships program via the Commissioner of Higher Education’s office a number of years ago. Since that time, over 300 veterans and lower income Montanans have benefited. The scholarships provide 50 percent tuition assistance for welding and machining certificates at Montana’s public two year campuses.
You may be familiar with our story. Back in the 1990’s, my wife Susan and I started a software business out of our home in Bozeman called RightNow Technologies. That small business grew to over 500 Montanans, with an average salary nearing $90,000 per year. Now, Montana’s high-tech industry is almost 15 percent of our state economy and growing seven times faster than the rest of the economy, while creating jobs with wages double the state median.
This is also why we are such strong supporters of education, and the great teachers all across Montana. Thanks in part to our efforts with CodeMontana, which offered computer science training to all Montana high school and middle school students, college enrollment in computer science is up over 50 percent at MSU and Tech, and over 25 percent at the UM creating brighter futures.
It is absolutely essential that we have an education system that is affordable and prepares students for the high wage jobs of the future. But, if we want to be able to pay for a great education, we’re going to need a strong economy. Unfortunately, due to a lack of leadership in Helena, our state revenues are declining rapidly, our state’s GDP has declined for the last two quarters, and we are seeing high-wage job layoffs across the state. It is time to grow our economy again.
Throughout my career starting and growing five different companies, I have learned that satisfaction comes from understanding and focusing on how our work serves others. The greatest satisfaction for me, being a business guy, has come from creating challenging and worthwhile jobs for others and seeing them prosper. I want to pair Montana’s awesome way of life with a vibrant economy to build better outcomes for all Montanans.
It’s time we send leaders to Helena who have a proven track record of getting the job done. I humbly ask for your vote on election day. I am ready to go to work and serve Montana.
Republican candidate for governor
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