Townley asks if Montana is open for business

University of Lethbridge Economics instructor/researcher Donna Townley is working in partnership with the Montana West Economic Development group and the Kalispell and Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureaus to produce a seminar for Flathead Valley businesses interested in improving and increasing relationships with Canadian visitors and neighbors.

At a free morning-long seminar on Friday, Apr. 29 at Kalispell's Flathead Valley Community College, Townley will give a snapshot of the Canadian economy, the purchasing power of the Canadian dollar and her research-based explanation of who visits the Flathead Valley and why.

While it may be common knowledge that there are a lot of Canadian visitors and residents in the area, the actual definition of 'a lot' will surprise many, and hopefully lead to an increased awareness of the impact that Canadians have on the regional economy.

"The ultimate purpose is to provide local business owners information about Canadians that they will be able to use to continue building strong relationships across the border and provide the best customer service possible," Townley says.

The seminar is sponsored by Glacier Bank and will cover the Canadian economy, currency exchange, international credit and debit cards, marketing, advertising, Canadian holidays and border regulations.

Of special interest is a short presentation on technology that allows businesses to track Canadian sales, as well as a panel discussion by local business owners who will discuss their current activities to build customer relations.

Local financial organizations will also be available to answer questions about banking and credit card practices and how to overcome obstacles.

"We hope to identify those businesses looking for opportunities for Valley-wide cooperation to attract Canadians to the area for entertainment, shopping, recreation, home purchase and business investment," adds Kim Morisaki, manager of Client Development and Resources, Montana West Economic Development.

Among other activities, Flathead Living and Lethbridge Living Magazine have come to an agreement to distribute one another's publications in the other's city.

A number of copies of Flathead Living will be available to a targeted market in Lethbridge, while Lethbridge Living magazine will also be available in the Flathead Valley area over the summer.