Philipsburg is looking for a few good families. The tiny Montana Silver Rush town (pop. 840) is seeking its next wave of pioneers, this time the New Millennium kind. The local Rotary Club and other community leaders have launched a yearlong media campaign targeting the growing members of the new economy who can "telework" anyplace they choose. Those workers include dot-com employees, freelancers and sellers on sites like eBay. People who need only broadband, UPS and perhaps occasional trips through the nearby Missoula International Airport to make a living. The town believes its blue ribbon trout streams, a 9-to-1 student/teacher ratio in its schools, a low-traffic hospital, hiking, hunting, skiing, zero crime and a perfectly preserved jewel of a mining town are an unbeatable combination for open-minded young families. Men's Journal recently named Philipsburg "America's Coolest Town to Live in the Past" and many of the town's residents, new and old, think it is a perfect place to live in the future.
Kevin Donlan, President of the Philipsburg Rotary Club and himself a 10-year Philipsburg transplant who raised a family here and logs nearly 50,000 air miles annually in his work as a pharmaceutical industry consultant said, "I moved here because I realized I could not only provide more for my business clients than I did from a base of a big city, but I could also do so without the associated big city distractions and stress." He continued, "It's really humorous, because when I explain to my typical clients (Fortune 500 Companies) why I moved here, their initial reaction is one of 'I wish I could do that'.
The universal follow up questions from these same people are how they might do the same. Minor logistics questions about travel, connectivity, production, etc., never about the rationale because the reasons are obvious to them. They just need to trust that they can take the leap as well and I always ask them - when have you ever heard of someone moving their family and business to a place of their dreams when they regretted it? Conversely, how many people do you know who regret raising a family in a crowded city who long for the dream that we have here in Philipsburg?"
Philipsburg Rotary Club prides itself on regularly tackling bold projects.
It built an NHL-sized ice skating rink and activity center (complete with a Zamboni) funded entirely from donations, it annually hosts a summer concert series and is constantly seeking ways to improve and advance life in Philipsburg. Other Rotary Club board members spearheading the effort include Ed Lord, former President of the Cattlemen's Beef Board responsible for the famous "Beef, It's What's for Dinner" campaign in 1986, and Jim Jenner, a former Montana State Senator and documentary filmmaker who has filmed around the globe, traveling as far away as China, but always returning to his Philipsburg home.
"All of us involved in the project have our own love of Philipsburg and the Granite County area and would like to share that with like-minded people," said Ed Lord. "We'd love to see Philipsburg bloom into its full potential as a town and felt the time was right to embark on a strategic media campaign."
"Doing business here gets easier and easier," said Jim Jenner, who moved his documentary production company to Philipsburg in 2003. "With high speed broadband I can share film data with support people anywhere. If I need something delivered, it's a day away by UPS and we ship our DVDs worldwide using the local post office. I just wish I'd been able to start my company here in the 1970's instead of on the West Coast. I would have gotten a lot more fishing in!"
It's evident that Philipsburg, already a tourist destination, has a great opportunity to attract new permanent residents thanks the explosion of telework as more companies recognize its efficiency in terms of both cost and employee satisfaction. It has been projected that by 2020, 30% of all employees will be hired and work online (http:// gigaom.com/ 2012/03/27/ elance-predicts- the-future- of-online- work).