By Dan Nordberg and Brent Donnelly

As leaders within the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), we have the privilege to partner with businesses and entrepreneurs pursuing their American Dream – even amidst extreme challenges. Last week, we visited Bozeman, Butte, and Belgrade to learn how local businesses are weathering the pandemic, and we were encouraged to hear about the ways so many not only kept their businesses viable but went above and beyond to support their community.

Take Bridger Brewing Company, for example. Known in the area for locally sourced pizza and brews, Bridger has made community partnerships a central component of their business model. When the coronavirus pandemic impaired their ability to continue business-as-usual, Bridger applied for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan through the SBA to supplement their income and keep their employees on payroll. Because of the financial flexibility provided by this loan, the restaurant committed to serving their community in one of the ways they know best: they delivered free pizza to fire stations, non-profits, and other first responders.

Mountain Hot Tub was also impacted by the economic challenges of recent months. An integral part of local tourism efforts, Mountain Hot Tubs experienced challenges based on the supply chains of national manufacturers. Though business was uncertain and they weren’t getting the inventory they needed, the hot tub retailer was able to bring back their entire staff through the help of a PPP loan. Kelly King, Mountain Hot Tubs’ co-owner and president, said the PPP allowed them to change their mindset from insecurity to innovation, and they utilized the time of reduced sales to dig into business strategy and consider opportunities for forward advancement.

These stories are just a few that demonstrate the incredible actions of your business community, and the SBA is honored to play a part in making them possible. In recent months, more than 30,000 Montana businesses have received over $2.2 billion in SBA loans. These dollars fueled local economies, made sure families continued to receive paychecks, and kept hometown businesses afloat.

Visiting your region, we were reminded that so much good is happening despite the challenges around us. People are giving back to the community. Neighbors are helping neighbors. Companies are going the extra mile. Yes, times are tough, but by investing in local businesses, we’re truly building a foundation for a stronger tomorrow.

We are profoundly grateful to your local business community for hosting us last week. Together, we’ll continue empowering Montana entrepreneurs to serve their hometowns and pursue their American Dream. To learn more about the PPP or other SBA programs, visit

Dan Nordberg serves as the National Director for Rural Affairs for the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Brent Donnelly serves as Director for the SBA Montana District Office.


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