The prestigious Ambassador entrepreneurial award is given to businesses and individuals who have demonstrated leadership skills in the startup arena. Created in 1983, Montana Ambassadors was developed by the Department of Commerce in partnership with the Governor to assist startup businesses in staying alive longer than the typical average of five years.
Montana is a leader in new businesses, however over 50% don’t exhibit longevity beyond those five years. By being nominated for a Montana Ambassador award, successful long-term businesses can positively affect new businesses in the state.
New networking opportunities are created that combine the talents of award winners with assistance from regional government and education entities. Potential partnerships are also produced within communities through the program that are aligned the Montana State Governor’s office of Economic Development.
Once awarded, Montana Ambassadors work similar to government ambassadors, representing the state and region to influence legislative policy. Ambassadors can testify or oppose legislation to achieve desired outcomes. Positive marketing and outreach represent Montana business values to the nation. Ambassadors are responsible for inclusive events, meetings, fundraising and assistance in organizing help for struggling startups.
Ambassadors mentor and provide support both through these events as well as providing coaches and judges for Business Plan Competitions.
The award was recognized for the Congressional Record by Montana Representative Greg Gianforte who stated, "Mr. Speaker, for their service to our country, entrepreneurship, and dedication to their community, I recognize Jim Markel and Perry Jones for their spirit of Montana."
Red Oxx Congressional Letter by Greg Gianforte
Most recently, the Montana Ambassador program initiated an Innovate Montana Symposium.
"Montana’s signature annual business and networking event, the Innovate Montana Symposium connects innovative ventures from diverse industries with economic opportunity. Attendees receive insights, tools, and collaboration to foster thriving businesses and communities throughout the state. The Montana Ambassadors serve as the Fiscal Agent for the event and provide mentors for the Solution Lounge." ~montanaambassadors.com
Nominated for the award this year by Jeff Wright (former Apple GM) and Lynda Colucci, Red Oxx co-owners CEO Jim Markel and President Perry Jones attended the Awards Ceremony in downtown Billings. Said Jim of the award,
"Becoming an Ambassador allows us to spread the word about Montana’s inherent work ethics, labor pool, affordable housing, and available industrial real estate, especially available here in the EBURD (East Billings Urban Renewal District). I intend to travel to L.A. and talk about the advantages of entrepreneur startups in Montana.
My advice to a startup company is location, location, location… Montana is it. And with the incredible support network of Montana Ambassadors, someone with an idea for a business would be coming to the best place to get started."
Also in attendance was Red Oxx Customer Care Consultant Christian Hafer. Christian had this to say of the event:
"Recently I had the honor of attending the Montana Ambassadors Awards dinner where the insight presented by the winners was captivating. Jim shared that his business partner, President Perry Jones is 'the best bag builder he’s ever known!' These two military vets have built a thriving e-commerce business that equips folks with high quality gear across the globe."
Two extraordinary award winners that also stood out to Christian were: Jeff Wright and Eduardo Garcia. Jeff, a former Apple General Manager, was awarded the Montana Outreach Ambassador of the year.
"Outreach Ambassadors work to continually improve the perception of the State on a national stage as inclusive, forward-thinking, and business-friendly through positive outreach and opportunistic marketing. It is the duty of each Ambassador to identify, perform due diligence, and have initial conversations with companies, event organizers, and individuals that would be a good fit for the State…" ~montanaambasadors.com
"Eduardo Garcia is truly an entrepreneurial inspiration. Here is a man that while hunting, came across a barrel with a bear in it. He checked to make sure it was dead by stabbing it with a knife. Unbeknownst to him, the bear was on a rigged up electrical box which then sent 2,400 volts of electricity through Eduardo’s body. It damaged his leg, ribs, put a hole in his head and he had to have his arm amputated. He was featured in the documentary "Charged: The Eduardo Garcia Story“.
It took a lot of drive, dedication and strength overcome his injuries. Among his accomplishments he created CAF which stands for Challenged Athletes Foundation. Eduardo and his brother operate MontanaMex, a food manufacturer in Montana, creating Non GMO label sauces, seasonings and oils. He is also a chef, an outdoorsman, motivational speaker and TV personality.
Be sure to check out Montana Ambassadors/winners to read more amazing stories about Montana Ambassadors and their goals and achievements.