The Clock Is Ticking Montana

Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity (come on you four)..knows that I’m a huge fan of capitalism, Rich Karlgaard, and Geographic Arbitrage (cashing out of the coasts and moving to somewhere cheap but nice).  Well, my good friend and blog material supplier, forwarded me a piece today,

Software from Montana and social enterprise by ZDNet‘s Tom Foremski — An interview with Greg Gianforte, head of Montana’s largest tech company. (and uber-geo-arbitrageur)

The piece discusses Mr. Gianforte’s distaste for Venture Capital and his somewhat confrontational attitude about the media and his competition.  Rich Karlgaard profiled Gianforte in his book Life 2.0. where I first saw real glimpses of "in-sourcing" and attracting local college talent that stays in town reducing the severe brain drain that often accompanies places that get cold or have humidity. As I write this from my home office in Des Monies (after leaving So-cal), I feel that I am in the "Middle American Country Club" and feel comfortable commenting about what I see in store for us down the road.

I’m waiting…waiting for throngs of Montanans to rise up (there’s less than 1 million people in the state) and pull the same "You’re ruining my state" business that residents of Colorado and Washington pulled over the last 30 years.  "It’s not the same with all of you rude Californians with all of your cash, your BMW’s, and your tans."  Just give it some time.  Gianforte and Governor Schweitzer (possibly the yang to the Schwarzenegger   yin) will be defending the growth of business while residents hold town hall meetings and creating collaborative WIKI’s predicting the state’s ruin.  There has already been NIMBY (not in my backyard) groups rise up in the Northeast to protest the placement of Ethanol plants in their cities.  As the Midwest gains velocity from the Ethanol boom, I would not be surprised to the more metropolitan cities suffer the same fate.  Here in Iowa, I think the deep rooted agrarian mentality will at least put off our NIMBY feelings for quite some time.  There’s enough land and willing workers here to supply the world with Ethanol…at least that’s how it feels driving across I-80 while studying the curvature of the earth on the horizon. 

Sure there’s such a thing as smart growth…and that’s where things typically breakdown.  Sales tax revenue drunk local politicians are usually willing to allow super-rapid(rabid) development and incredibly large tax incentives (redistribution of your tax dollars to attract business) because it makes them look good.  Too bad you can actually see their good sense fly out the window of their tax payer provided Chevy Suburban (Does that run on E85 Madam Councilwoman?). 

We’ll likely be searching for the next Bozeman, Montana or Des Moines Iowa in a few years after they’re "ruined".  But if being ruined means housing appreciation, economic prosperity, and a massive talent pool that competes for great jobs, I’ll take some of that and pack up when the kids go to college.

Please under no circumstances read How To Be Silicon Valley…then we’re all doomed. 




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