Montana’s senior U.S. senator, Max Baucus, visited Boeing Helena Wednesday afternoon, where he announced the company’s CEO, Jim McNerney, will be among the top-tier business leaders headlining the sixth Montana Economic Development Summit this fall in Butte.
“I think these are extremely important for our state,” Baucus said of the economic summit as he addressed a group of about 30 local business and community leaders inside the Boeing Helena plant. “They help us get more good paying jobs for Montanans.”
He said the summit will provide an opportunity for Montana business people to connect with out-of-state companies and business leaders, which should spark job creation in the state.
“We’re an outdoor state. We’re lucky to be Montanans. We hunt, fish, backpack. We love our state … but to enjoy the Great Outdoors, you’ve got have food on the table, you’ve got have jobs.”
Baucus has been on his “Montana Solutions Jobs Tour” this week, visiting towns around the state announcing other speakers who will be at the summit, which will take place Sept. 16-17 in Butte.
Other headliners Baucus has announced so far include ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance, who graduated from Great Falls High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from Montana Tech University. Safra Catz, the CFO and president of software juggernaut Oracle, is also scheduled to be a keynote speaker.
According to Baucus’ staff, he will announce another speaker during visits to Missoula and Butte Thursday.
The last summit, which took place in 2010, drew more than 150 businesses and 2,500 participants, according to the senator’s office.
“The main point of all this is to get the best paying jobs in Montana that we can possibly find and to do that we need to get really good people outside the state of Montana to come and really pick their brains about how we do this and that and see what’s adaptable for us in Montana,” Baucus said.
Baucus said he helped connect Boeing with Summit Aviation, which the multi-national company bought out several years ago. Boeing Helena has since grown to have more than 200 workers and has hired a number of graduates from Helena College.
“Boeing is perfect example of how connecting the country’s top companies with Montana businesses creates jobs right here in our state, and having Boeing’s top brass on hand at our summit lets the world know Montana is a great place to do business,” Baucus said. “Jim’s wealth of knowledge and experience at Boeing and across the business world will go a long way toward helping us find Montana Solutions for Montana Jobs.”
McNerney is also chairman of the Business Roundtable and serves on the board of directors at Proctor and Gamble and IBM.
Webb Brown, the president and CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce, which is partnering with the senator to put the summit on this fall, has also been touring the state with Baucus this week.
“Thanks to Boeing for being a big part of our economy,” Brown said Wednesday afternoon. “Thanks to hosting us today and thanks for providing a speaker. We did a little Googling to see what Mr. McNerney has talked about in the past, and it is pretty rare that he speaks.
“You’re talking to one of the most powerful senators in the United States Senate,” Brown said of Baucus. “And when he calls people, they pay attention. It makes a difference and it opens the doors for us to get people we would not have otherwise.”
Both Brown and Baucus encouraged business people to suggest topics and speakers to include in the summit by contacting the senator’s office.