San Francisco Chronicle: Foundation pledges $2M to promote entrepreneurship

The $2 million Blackstone Charitable Foundation grant will be bolstered by $600,000 from private businesses to run the three-year program. After that, the hope is the program will be self-sustaining as entrepreneurs who successfully go through put money back in, said U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, whom James said was instrumental in bringing the initiative to Montana.

The LaunchPad program will be housed in the student union buildings on the Missoula and Bozeman campuses, and will be open to all 30,000 students at the universities. A student with an idea will go to the office to be paired with a business through the program’s network that will coach the student and provide support to turn the idea into a sustainable venture.

Tester said he has been working to bring the program to Montana since last year, when James spoke about it during a small business workshop in Bozeman. It didn’t hurt that James has a ranch in Twin Bridges and is an advisory board member of the Montana Land Alliance.