DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

Economic Transformation and Stabilization and Workforce Development Programs and Advisory Commission

The Montana 67 th Legislature passed House Bill 632 which allows the use of $150 million provided by the Department of Treasury through the American Rescue Plan Act to be used for economic transformation, stabilization and workforce development. HB632 created a Commission to oversee programs that are developed, and proposals that are reviewed and recommended by the Department of Commerce.

The Commission held its first meeting on Tuesday May 4 th. Commission members include Governor Gianforte's Budget Director Kurt Alme, Governor's Chief of Staff Chris Heggem, Labor Commissioner Laurie Esau, Senate President Mark Blasdel, Senator Ryan Osmundson, Senator Ryan Lynch, Speaker of the House Wylie Galt, Representative Llew Jones, and Representative Kim Abbott. Commission meeting information and future meeting dates will appear on this website. Commerce is tasked with staffing the Commission.

The Commission's first grant was of $15 million to the Department of Labor & Industry, for the creation of a return-to-work bonus program that will help address a critical labor shortage stemming, in part, from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department is studying additional workforce development projects for the Commission's consideration. 

For more information on the Return to Work Bonus program, click here

Other agencies involved in the Commission’s work include the Departments of Agriculture and Public Health and Human Services. Specifically, the Department of Agriculture proposes using $50 million of the American Rescue Plan Act funds to launch a three-tiered grant program targeting expanded production and distribution of locally marketed Montana crops and livestock, added processing capacity to add value to and finish more raw goods in Montana, on-farm storage to help producers weather market volatility, and major supply chain infrastructure investments for Montana agricultural commodities.

Programs developed by the Department of Commerce and approved by the Commission may include grant and other programs for businesses, workforce development, and employee training. By law, the proposals recommended for funding by Commerce must be reviewed by the Commission, which will then recommend grants to the Governor.

Commerce, Labor & Industry and other agencies are in the process of developing recommended grant programs that will be submitted to the Commission for approval. Once programs are approved by the Commission, these agencies will provide more information on the grants available and process for applying and awarding the grants.

Please check this website often for updates, open applications, and deadlines.