Montana has long been known for its scenic beauty, for the quality of its higher education system, and for the entrepreneurial spirit and common-sense values of its people. These factors contribute to an unparalleled quality of life. A partnership for marketing Montana should be rooted in a combined approach of tourism, education, and business promotion.

A cooperative approach makes sense from several perspectives. First, over the next three years Montana will likely see a spike in its tourism numbers due to the Lewis and Clark Commemoration. Projections done by Montana, Idaho, and North Dakota tourism research agencies point to an increase in tourists from 2004-06 of nine million additional visitors. Utilizing this and other events can provide the opportunity for campuses to offer educational programs for those seeking Montana as their travel destination. Advertising these opportunities with tourism and economic development partners will not only enhance the tourist's experience, it will provide an important window to Montana campuses and business opportunities.

Falling numbers of in-state students during the next decade mean campuses will need to either increase the yield of in-state students, recruit more nonresident students, or a combination of the two. Partnering with Montana tourism providers and economic development professionals makes sense for increasing visibility of Montana campuses. It offers the opportunity to provide short-term classes to visitors, to increase enrollment during summer or mid-semester terms, and to improve the overall recruiting pool of full time students. Both entities send large volumes of information to non-residents often with the similar objective; to increase visitation, and eventually commitment to building their lives and productive futures in Montana. By combining these efforts and adding the education component, a joint effort can clearly improve prospects for diverse recruiting and marketing efforts.

Finally, campuses continue to develop internet offerings and their websites for different constituencies. In order to attract place-bound, nonresident or on-campus students to this form of learning, visibility for nonresident participants is an important component of success. In addition, internet offerings with the destination approach could link together the marketing message of large-scale Montana promoters, thus increasing contacts and benefits for all concerned.

In summary, Montana higher education faces an increased need to attract new constituents to its services. Tourists represent an important resource, which historically has provided a crucial base for out-of-state recruiting. Economic development includes recruiting of out-of-state businesses. Many campus nonresidents are on our campuses because of memorable family vacations or because alumni ambassadors convinced potential students to look at our campuses. In order to improve the base it only makes sense for the University System to examine ways it can expand the resource and partner with the tourism and business development industries for the benefit of the whole state of Montana.