Montana innovation

Let Kalispell’s enterprising Montanans inform and inspire your meeting attendees.

Montana is big on mountains and open spaces and in the last few years has risen to the top of the innovation charts as well. The Kauffman Index has ranked the Big Sky state No. 1 in startup activity for four straight years, and in the northwestern corner of the state Kalispell-based entrepreneurs and service providers are driving innovation and employment in the region. We invite your meeting and conference attendees to see how by adding a facility tour to your Kalispell meeting or inviting a local guest speaker to participate in a session.

Below you’ll find a sampling of services and businesses representing just some of Kalispell’s active sectors — including health care, craft brewing, manufacturing and art. For additional tour or guest speaker ideas for your group, please contact Dawn Jackson at the Kalispell CVB.

Health Care

An operating room at Kalispell Regional HealthcareHealth care is one of Flathead County’s fastest growing sectors and employs the largest number of people in the county, according to a 2016 report by the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Kalispell Regional Healthcare is leading the efforts to provide health care in innovative ways to children and adults in the region. KRH recently completed construction on phase one of its new Emergency Services Center, and the second and final phase of the new center is expected to be complete the summer of 2018.

Then, by the fall of 2018, KRH and Kalispell’s Digestive Health Institute will open a new $13 million facility. The new facility and recent gastroenterology service expansion is an example of how Kalispell’s health care providers are recognizing the need for local medical services and meeting the challenge to offer preventative and modern care to urban and rural patients.

To meet the demand for gastroenterology services and help address Montana’s No. 49 ranking for colorectal cancer screenings in the country, in 2015 the institute began expanding — increasing both its capacity to see patients and its expertise in diagnostics and procedures. In a three-year period, the volume of gastroenterology patients has quadrupled and the number of services doubled. Now patients don’t need to be referred outside the area to see a specialist, and typical wait times for care dropped from four months to one week. When open, the new facility will allow providers to offer technologies not yet available in the state and a high caliber of care, comfort and safety for all its diagnostic and out-patient services. Program director Dr. Nicholas Costrini, former director of the Georgia Gastroenterology Group, is leading the expansion and regularly addresses groups on the topic.

And, its new 190,000-square-foot Women’s and Children’s Pavilion is expected to open in the spring of 2019 — significantly expanding the region’s services in neonatal and pediatric care. Pediatric surgeon Dr. Federico Seifarth, previously with the Cleveland Clinic, and other specialists have joined the KRH team to help make Kalispell a regional leader in pediatrics.

Craft Brewing

Kalispell Brewery tank roomThe national Brewers Association ranks Montana No. 2 in the country in microbrews per capita, and Kalispell is one of the latest small cities to jump on the craft brew scene. Downtown, Maggie Doherty and Cole Schneider, former telemark ski racers, turned a historic car dealership into craft brewery and taproom. In Kalispell Brewing’s 6,000-square-foot production space, the married pair and their team brew in the old German decoction tradition; this is one of only four breweries in Montana brewing in this time- and labor-intensive method that produces superior lagers with a depth and richness of malt flavors.

A behind-the-scenes tour of the Kalispell Brewing production floor puts you up close and personal with the 10-barrel-production facility and newly added canning line. You’ll learn the entire process from grain to glass and also the importance of quality ingredients — the brewery sources 60 percent of its grain from Europe to make the flavors as authentic to the brewing method as possible and 40 percent from the state’s sole malt plant for Montana-grown barley. You’ll also learn how Kalispell Brewing produces its seasonal Fresh Hop by Pop ale using hops grown right in the Flathead Valley.

Just as fascinating as brewing techniques is how Maggie and Cole have transformed a vacant building into a thriving community gathering spot — invigorating Kalispell’s downtown and inspiring more entrepreneurs to do the same. They’re also developing nontraditional community partnerships, like with the local library creating a Books and Brew Club and other events. Lots of creative ideas that may just prompt the light-bulb moment for your meeting attendees.

Skin care product manufacturing

Mixing ingredients at Kettle Care Organics skincareAs more and more people grow mindful of what they put in and on their bodies, the market for natural wellness products is growing more than ever. Sourcing fresh, local ingredients for its all-natural body care lines has always been a priority for Kettle Care Organics. Kettle Care has been around since 1982 but came under new ownership in 2012 when Annegret and Klaus Pfeiffer bought the company and moved it to a new production facility in Kalispell.

Kettle Care skin care products, made of high percentages of essential oils and botanical and herbal extracts, have long been a favorite of locals in the Flathead Valley and customers of arts and crafts markets in the state. From its new facility Kettle Care has been able to expand its business and focus efforts on its online, wholesale and private-label businesses — while the showroom at the front of the building gives local customers a retail space to continue to buy products.

The Pfeiffers strategically designed their manufacturing space to maximize organization, compliance with the Good Manufacturing Process and product integrity without the need of added chemicals for product stabilization. On a tour you’ll learn about their highly controlled formulation process and the rewards and challenges of selling high-end skin care, as well as visit the herb garden and experience product development hands-on. You can also arrange for your group to participate in a Kettle Care workshop, where you’ll make your own bath bombs and other products.


Painted map of Flathead Valley, by Lisa MiddletonFrom Bigfork to Whitefish and Kalispell in between, the Flathead Valley has become a mecca of great art. Along main streets you’ll find studios and shops selling local art, but finding a national customer base is not always easy. Lisa Middleton, Kalispell-based artist and cartographer, has found success painting historic and custom maps — a process that involves seven to eight layers of detail and eye-pleasing hues.

Lisa started painting replicas of historic maps in the Midwest, but it wasn’t until she moved to Montana and tapped a Western love for maps that her Great River Arts really took off. Lisa has found success in her partnerships with local graphic designers and printers. Today her Montana-made pieces cover all regions of the country and the world and are reproduced into prints, note cards, silk scarves and even wallpaper. Map lovers can find her products in shops from Seattle to Palm Springs and Manhattan to the Florida Everglades.

Ever expanding her business and trying new opportunities, Lisa has also begun creating custom maps of cities and regions as well as maps for corporations and individuals. If you want to remember a special family vacation route across the country or a sailboat adventure around the Caribbean, Lisa will create the most beautiful map you can imagine. For meeting planners Lisa makes an inspiring guest speaker, and she’ll even create a commemorative map for your group’s destination.

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