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Governor Bullock Announces Montana Ambassador Award Recipients

October 14, 2019

Governor Steve Bullock has announced the 2019 Montana Ambassador Awards, honoring individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to economic development in Montana.

“It’s my honor to recognize this group of hard-working Ambassadors who help ensure that Montana remains one of the best places in the country to live, work, play, start a business and raise a family,” said Governor Bullock. “This commitment to growing Montana’s economy, creating more good-paying jobs, and revitalizing communities across the state is vital to our continued success.”

The honorees, including University of Montana Western Chancellor Dr. Beth Weatherby, will be recognized at an awards ceremony and reception on Monday, October 14 in conjunction with the 2019 Innovate Montana Symposium in Butte from October 14-16.

Main Hall and Roe House

“I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of everyone at Montana Western. This is clear recognition of the great work our faculty, staff, and administrators do to create an excellent experience for our students,” said Chancellor Weatherby.

The complete list of the 2019 honorees is below:

2019 Montana Ambassador of the Year – Michael and Gloria O’Rourke

Gloria and Mike O’Rourke, from Anaconda, have contributed countless hours and thousands of miles to serve the state, whether that be helping to organize a statewide event, providing financial management, manning a registration desk, and staying to help clean up. Their company, Montana Economic Development Services, provided the administrative and financial services for Montana Ambassadors from 2006 to 2019 providing the support for the organization to thrive.

The Montana Ambassadors’ Plenipotentiary Award – Channing Hartelius

Channing Hartelius, from Great Falls, has dedicated four decades of professional and legal leadership for the state of Montana.

The Montana Ambassador Entrepreneur of the Year – David Erickson

In 2000, Erickson and two partners, Elizabeth Erickson and Josh Vincent, started Water & Environmental Technologies (WET).  From four employees in 2000 to over 70 today with offices in Butte, Anaconda, Bozeman, Kalispell and Great Falls, WET provides employment to many scientists and engineers and, more importantly, many young Montanans, keeping jobs and talent in Montana.

The Montana Ambassador Business of the Year – Montana Precision Products

Montana Precision Products (MPP) manufactures tube and duct assemblies for the aerospace industry.  It is the only aerospace facility in the US which provides investment casting, CNC machining, welding and assembly under one (expanding) roof. The company supplies critical components to the world’s largest commercial aerospace programs and employs 270 dedicated team members.

The Montana Ambassador Mike Malone Educator of the Year – Dr. Beth Weatherby

Dr. Weatherby became the 22nd chancellor of the University of Montana Western in 2015. Under her leadership, Montana Western continues to attract more students regionally and across the nation. Weatherby is a proven innovator with over 20 years in higher education and is a champion of the unique Experience One program provided at Montana Western. 

The Montana Ambassador Legislator of the Year – Rep. Jim Keane

Over his tenure in the Montana State Legislature, Jim Keane has been a persistent force when it comes to economic development while leading important policy changes with bipartisan support. His leadership was vital in passing HB52, which protects and continues the economic development programs that help businesses and communities across the state.

The Outreach Montana Ambassador of the Year – James Thompson  

James Thompson’s professional life has been in corporate finance and running companies as the CEO or CFO. He rejoined Alexander Hutton, a 33-year-old investment banking firm in Seattle where he had interned as a grad student 20+ years ago. Having grown up in Butte, Thompson is a tireless advocate for Montana and has been successful in connecting businesses with the innovative events hosted in Seattle. 

The Montana Ambassador Placemaker of the Year – Hell Creek Music & More

The brick and mortar business, Hell Creek Music & More, located in Glendive, began with $300 and a building in 2003. The business has crafted dinosaurs, comics, and musical instruments into an array of eye candy for any enthusiast. For four separate years, Hell Creek Music & More was listed as one of the top 100 music stores in the world by the National Association of Music Merchants.

For more information on these awards, visit

The Montana Ambassadors is a volunteer, not-for-profit organization of leaders in business, education, and local and state government with a common dedication to serving the Governor, doing business in Montana, and furthering the best interests of the state.