A University of Montana professor says Montana is in the midst of an entrepreneurial and technological renaissance that's creating jobs and saving money.
Professor Cameron Lawrence points to the growing adoption of a new technology called Square Inc. for evidence of this change.
Square Inc. replaces old, expensive point of sale and transaction systems with a compact scanner attached to an iPad or iPhone.
“There are a lot of really smart people in Montana that are learning about those tools, using them, and employing them in really cool ways,” said Lawrence.
Missoula's Five on Black Brazilian Restaurant is one of the new businesses that uses a Square POS system.
"Square is such a seamless, simple, easy operation,” said Five on Black owner Tom Snyder.
Snyder estimates the system has saved him $15,000 in his first year of operation.
"The startup expenses for Square are hardly anything,” said Snyder. “You grab an iPad and Square register for a couple hundred bucks, opposed to a traditional POS system that can cost thousands of dollars."
Libby Wilson, manager at Le Petit Outre and another Square user, says customers like the system too.
"It's been great,” said Wilson. “People love it. It's fun for customers because they get to use their finger and push something on a screen, and they don't have to use a pen to sign credit card receipts.”
Wilson says Square has also changed the way people tip.
"When some people use to sign the paper receipt, they would just skip over the tip line,” said Wilson. “But now it's right in their face. It says no tip, one dollar tip, two dollar tip. We've definitely seen a lot more tips."