Gianforte receives Spirit of Enterprise Award

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Rep. Greg Gianforte speaks with visitors before a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event on Thursday. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday presented Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., with its Spirit of Enterprise Award for his work to promote economic growth and Main Street businesses.

The presentation was made during an event at Hagadone Digital in the Daily Inter Lake office in Kalispell, hosted by the U.S. Chamber, the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce and Hagadone Digital. Gianforte’s stop in Kalispell was part of his small-business tour during the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Week.

U.S. Chamber Executive Director Christopher Eyler said the organization reserves the award for lawmakers who vote in favor of legislation the Chamber supports at least 70 percent of the time. During Gianforte’s short time in Congress — he has served for 11 months — he has voted 100 percent of the time in favor of pro-growth, pro-job legislation, Eyler said.

Gianforte, himself a successful technology entrepreneur, has long been an advocate for technology development in Montana. He reiterated his support of the state’s high-tech industry during his stop in Kalispell. He said he sees high-tech businesses as a “new cylinder on the engine” of economic growth. The congressman was the founding board chairman of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance, an organization that now has 338 members since launching four years ago. Hagadone Digital, which is one of the alliance’s members, is part of Hagadone Montana Publishing, which also owns the Daily Inter Lake.

“There’s no reason Montana can’t be at the center of high-tech” industry, he said. “Opportunity has always been the cornerstone [of small business].”

He pointed out that Montana’s 120,000 small businesses employ about two-thirds of the state’s workforce. As he has stopped around the state during Small Business Week, Gianforte said he has been hearing support for the recently enacted federal tax cuts. Businesses such as Westland Seed in Ronan — another stop on Gianforte’s tour — said they are hiring more employees because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Gianforte said he’s pleased to be working with President Trump on rolling back regulations that can hamstring small businesses.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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