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$41M in "tech hub" funding announced for Montana

Headwaters Tech Hub
Posted at 10:38 AM, Jul 03, 2024

HELENA — The federal government has announced more than $500 million in grants to help support “tech hubs” across the country – including one in western Montana.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration announced the Headwaters Tech Hub is set to receive about $41 million, though it will be several months before the grant amount is finalized.

The Headwaters Hub is a consortium led by Accelerate Montana, centered on Missoula and Bozeman, but also including Kalispell and Butte.

It’s focused on the “smart photonic sensing” industry, which supports automated monitoring systems in applications like agriculture, construction, disaster prevention and defense.

Montana leaders say the state already has a concentration of more than 1,000 jobs in the photonics industry, and that number could grow to 6,000 in just ten years.

This latest grant would go toward training workers, increasing educational opportunities in related fields, attracting Native and rural students, and supporting testing of these technologies.

The 2022 CHIPS and Science Act established the Tech Hub program to encourage innovation and jobs in high-tech industries. Last year, the Biden administration announced the first 32 hubs, including Headwaters. This latest round of implementation funding is going toward 12 of those.

Montana's U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester both supported the CHIPS and Science Act in Congress, and both released statements Tuesday celebrating the grant announcement.

“Montana is a big state that can do big things, and we’ve proven that we have what it takes to lead the nation in technological innovation that will ensure America can continue to outcompete countries like China,” said Tester. “That’s exactly why I fought to secure this major $41 million investment for the Headwaters Tech Hub, and it’s why I’ve served as a leading voice in the Senate advocating for the untapped potential of rural America. Bringing good-paying jobs back to the United States, securing our domestic supply chains, and developing next generation technology starts with investments right here in the Treasure State, and I will continue to partner with the Headwaters team to make sure they have the resources they need to succeed.”

“Montana is leading the country in tech innovation, which will help us win the race against China, create good-paying jobs here at home and further boost our economy,” said Daines. “From optics and photonics to quantum computing, I am grateful to help advance Montana’s ability to contribute even further to the important research, development, and jobs that will help strengthen our national security and help the country stay competitive globally.”