Skip To Content

2022 Big Sky Business Insight Summit

Big Sky Business Insight Summit
May 18 – 20, 2022
ALI Auditorium | UM Campus


Download Presentation Slides:

Bryce Ward Presentation
Danielle Bergner Presentation
Edie Willey Presentation
Laura Seyfang Presentation

The Big Sky Business Insight Summit convenes cross-sector leaders to define big problems, identify Montana’s strengths to address them, and offer insight into ways we can strengthen our statewide economy and improve our overall quality of life.

The 2022 Big Sky BIS will address housing and childcare as specific challenges to cultivating and sustaining a healthy workforce. We’ll hear from local and regional experts on how these challenges impact the availability of skilled labor and explore ways to respond through innovation and collaboration. We’ll kick off the Summit with a welcome reception and networking social before two days filled with speakers, panels, and interactive discussion.

Featured Speakers

Danielle Bergner

Danielle Bergner is an attorney and shareholder in the Real Estate practice group at Hall, Render, Killian, Heath, and Lyman, the country’s largest healthcare focused law firm. Danielle is a nationally recognized real estate expert with specialized expertise in economic development, affordable housing and housing finance. Her clients include large corporate employers, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies. Before joining Hall Render, Danielle served as General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer for a high-growth regional real estate development and investment firm, and as Deputy City Attorney for the City of Milwaukee where she developed and implemented catalytic, award-winning housing and community development strategies. Danielle has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America and Chambers USA. She has also been selected to the Milwaukee Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, Women of Influence, and Power Broker lists, and as a Business Journal National Influencer.

Caitlin Jensen

Caitlin Jensen is the Executive Director of Zero to Five Montana, and is passionate about making Montana the best place for children and families with young children. She began her career in early care and education at a Seattle Head Start classroom 19 years ago, and has since dedicated her career to early childhood systems and policy. Her experience working with young children and families, both locally and internationally, led her to pursue her Master’s in Social Work with an emphasis on Policy & Advocacy at the University of Washington. While in graduate school, she also completed a Maternal and Child Health Leadership fellowship through the UW School of Medicine/Seattle Children’s Hospital, and last summer earned a Certificate in Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Social Sector from Babson College. She enjoys connecting with policy makers, parents, employers, child care providers, community leaders, and other critical partners to find common ground work towards solutions.

Bryce Ward

Bryce Ward is the founder of ABMJ Consulting and a research associate at the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities at the University of Montana. He has a PhD in economics from Harvard University and BAs in economics and history from the University of Oregon. He has expertise in urban and regional economics, labor economics, health economics, public finance, social economics, real estate economics, environmental and natural resource economics, and statistics/econometrics. He taught classes at Harvard University, Lewis and Clark College, the University of Oregon, and Portland State University. He has published dozens of scholarly articles and economic reports, and he has provided expert testimony in dozens of court cases and legislative proceedings. His research has been featured in places like the New York Times, the Associated Press, PBS NewsHour, NPR, and ProPublica.


Featured Panels

Employer-Led Approaches to Housing Challenges

Housing cost and availability is a major factor in the ability to recruit and retain skilled employees. As the housing market continues to tighten, employers have taken initiative and begun exploring creative solutions to housing challenges. This panel features business owners and industry experts who will share their insight into different models for employers to support housing efforts.

Danielle Bergner, Hall Render
Edie Willey, Bozeman Health
Laura Seyfang, Big Sky Community Housing Trust

Moderator: Julie Lacey, MEP

Housing Innovations from the Public and Private Sectors

Our housing challenges require innovative approaches and unprecedented collaboration between the public and private sectors. In this panel, community and business leaders will discuss their experiences working to expand the production of housing in Montana and share insight into tools that provide opportunity to expand and expedite increased capacity in the housing market.

Eran Pehan, City of Missoula
Dawn McGee, Ravara
Hannah VanWetter, Foothold
Heather Grenier, Bozeman HRDC

Moderator: Kaia Peterson, NeighborWorks Montana

Family Forward Business Practices

Family-friendly workplaces have a competitive advantage: they attract and retain more top talent and their employees are more productive and committed. Employers benefit from reduced employee health care costs, a healthier work environment, and fewer employee absences. Hear from four Montana businesses who have implemented family-friendly business practices.

Austin Hobza, Paradise Dental Technologies
Robert Farmer, Clearwater Credit Union
Katie Stevens, Stevens & Co.
Rebekah Nelson, Zoot Enterprises

Moderator: Grace Decker, Zero to Five

Exploring Community and Cooperative Models of Childcare

The pressing need for childcare providers has prompted parents, educators, employers, and communities to create new structures and methods for the development of childcare programs. In this panel, we’ll hear from community and business leaders on their progress towards collaborative solutions for childcare. Following the panel, join an interactive, facilitated discussion about barriers faced by communities working to implement collaborative childcare models and resources available to overcome them.

Carly Wheatley, Snowy Mountain Development Corp
Meghan Ballenger, RAISE Montana
Heather Foster, Missoula YMCA

Moderator: Nicole Rush, MEP


Subject to change

Wednesday, May 18

AC Hotel | 175 N Pattee St

5:30 – 7:00 pm Welcome Reception

Thursday, May 19

ALI Auditorium / UM Campus

9:00 – 9:30 am Registration Check-in
Coffee and continental breakfast
9:30 – 9:45 am Welcome
Intro – Grant Kier
Messages from Congressional Delegation
9:45 – 10:30 am Define the Issue: Workforce
Bryce Ward, Economist
10:30 – 11:45 am Panel: Employer-Led Approaches to Housing Challenges
Julie Lacey, Missoula Economic Partnership
Danielle Bergner, Hall Render (Milwaukee, WI)
Edie Willey, Bozeman Health (Bozeman, MT)
Laura Seyfang, Big Sky Community Housing Trust (Big Sky, MT)
11:45 am – 12:45 pm Lunch
Interactive poll and table talk
12:45 – 2:00 pm Panel: Housing Innovations from the Public and Private Sector
Kaia Peterson, NeighborWorks Montana
Eran Pehan, City of Missoula (Missoula, MT)
Dawn McGee, Ravara (Missoula, MT)
Hannah VanWetter, Foothold (Butte, MT)
Heather Grenier, Bozeman HRDC (Bozeman, MT)
2:00 – 2:15 pm Break
2:15 – 3:15 pm Discussion Groups: Housing
Interactive discussion and collaborative brainstorm
3:15 – 3:45 pm Discussion Groups: Report Back
Facilitated talk-back session
3:45 – 4:00 pm Day 1 Recap and Close
Wordcloud and interactive poll
4:00 – 5:00 pm Happy Hour Reception
Networking social with hors d’oeuvres and beverages

Friday, May 20

ALI Auditorium / UM Campus

8:30 – 9:00 am Registration Check-In
Coffee and continental breakfast
9:00 – 9:45 am Welcome and Fireside Chat
Grant Kier and Bruce Tribbensee
9:45 – 10:15 am Table Talk
Childcare issues and impacts
10:15 – 10:30 am Break
10:30 – 11:00 am Define the Issue: The Case for Family-Forward Business Practices
Caitlin Jensen, Montana Zero to Five
11:00 am – 12:15 pm Panel: Family Forward Business Practices
Grace Decker, Zero to Five
Austin Hobza, Paradise Dental Technologies (Missoula, MT)
Robert Farmer, Clearwater Credit Union (Missoula, MT)
Katie Stevens, Stevens & Co. (Missoula, MT)
Rebekah Nelson, Zoot Enterprises (Bozeman, MT)
12:15 – 1:00 pm Lunch
Interactive storytelling activity
1:00 – 2:15 pm Panel: Exploring Community and Cooperative Models of Childcare
Nicole Rush, MEP
Carly Wheatley, Snowy Mountain Development Corp (Lewistown, MT)
Meghan Ballenger, RAISE Montana (Lolo, MT)
Heather Foster, Missoula YMCA (Missoula, MT)
2:15 – 2:30 pm Close of Program
Reflection, Wordcloud activity, close of Summit



Thank you to our sponsors!


Presenting Sponsor



Supporting Sponsors


We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.

Sign up for our newsletter

#mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own Mailchimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */
* indicates required
(function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';fnames[1]='FNAME';ftypes[1]='text';fnames[2]='LNAME';ftypes[2]='text';fnames[3]='MMERGE3';ftypes[3]='text';fnames[4]='MMERGE4';ftypes[4]='text';fnames[5]='MMERGE5';ftypes[5]='text';fnames[6]='MMERGE6';ftypes[6]='text';fnames[7]='MMERGE7';ftypes[7]='text';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true);