onXmaps charts a faster route to growth
It was mid-2012, and Eric Siegfried was headed into unexplored territory. His young company, onXmaps, had established itself as the leading provider of land ownership maps for GPS units. Siegfried, a thoughtful 30-year-old from rural Eastern Montana, had built the business from the ground up, without ever taking a dollar in outside funding. But he knew that if the company was to remain at the forefront of an emerging technology sector, he needed to invest in additional employees, new equipment — and a new building to house it all.
While his destination was clear enough, Siegfried needed help mapping the most expedient path to get there. That’s when he met James Grunke, CEO of Missoula Economic Partnership. After chatting briefly about the company’s circumstances, Grunke asked Siegfried if he was aware that he could qualify for up to $7,500 in grant money per new employee hired.
“I had no idea what he was talking about,” Siegfried recalled. “As an entrepreneur, you don’t necessarily think of all those avenues for growing your business; you’re thinking about your product and your market.”
Siegfried began working with Brigitta Miranda-Freer, the Partnership’s director of business development, to sift through the many business assistance programs available through state and local agencies. Soon, several of those opportunities bore fruit.
Through a joint application process with Missoula County, Siegfried’s company qualified for a $220,000 grant from the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund to support the hiring of 40 new employees. OnXmaps also has been approved to receive $65,000 in tax increment financing to defray construction costs for its new building on Brooks Street.
Through Missoula Job Service, onXmaps also received Work Opportunity Tax Credits to hire veterans, and Incumbent Worker Training dollars to train existing staff.
Siegfried and members of his staff have also become familiar faces at the Innovation Initiative, a program that presents professional development roundtables and lunches led by local business experts. The Innovation Initiative is co-organized by the Partnership, Hellgate Venture Network and the Montana Technology Enterprise Center.
“The Partnership really helped me take a step back and actually evaluate some of these programs that are available to businesses in Missoula,” said Siegfried, sitting in the airy conference room at onXmaps’ new, 6,500-square-foot headquarters. “We were able to find some great programs that fit for us and ultimately use them to speed our growth.”