If you’re like most people, you do a Google search, find nothing, then shrug your shoulders and give up. Oh well…you tried.
If you’re not like most people, you might forgo giving up in favor of finding that answer. If you’re smart, you’ll quickly realize that the best place to find obscure Montana information is at the Montana Historical Society.
So…how do you go about that?
In this post I’d like to introduce you to the Montana Historical Society Research Center. This is where new reporters can go to learn about old and current politicians. It’s also a place for regular people to find out a bit more than is on the computer.
More than that, however, it’s a place research is done. That research leads to books and those often lead to TV shows and films. It’s the latter two especially that draw tourists to the state, and that’s why our research institutions are so important.
Let’s explore this today, and how it affects our economy.
The Montana Historical Society Research Center
From the buffalo you turn right coming off the stairs you’ll see the doors to the Research Center.
What I really like about this section, however, are the legislative records.
You’ll also find the microfiche machines in this general area of the Montana Historical Society Research Center. If you need to look up an old Montana newspaper, this is the place to find it. Personally I like finding old Montana newspapers in the appropriate folder in the subjects section, however. Alas, many of those are sorely out of date.
Across from the biographical files are the subjects and places files.
But…why do that? What benefit does it have? And gosh darn, isn’t it just a big waste of time? I mean, you could be out there making money in a real job!
The Power of Film in Montana
That Montana HBO miniseries is expected shoot for 76 days. It’ll have a 200-person crew that will stay in 100 hotel rooms and rent 75 cars. Altogether, that’ll bring $50 million to the local Bozeman economy. Here’s a look at that production and a few others:
Or is it? This table right here shows that commercials are quite big in the Treasure State:
Many states, including Montana, use incentive programs to negotiate favorable terms and secure film production. Between 2006 and 2012 Montana provided approximately $632,299 in incentive benefits to film productions. Monies spent by these productions while in Montana generated an economic impact of $13,520,000 resulting in Montana receiving $21 back in revenue for every $1 it paid out under the incentive program.
Assumption 1: This analysis assumes that 2.5% of non-resident visitors traveling to Montana are influenced by film media. The Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research (ITRR) at the University of Montana reports that in a survey of travelers who indicated “vacation/recreation/pleasure” as their main purpose of visiting, 2.5% said a movie filmed in Montana influenced their decision ‘a lot’. Another 14.2% said that a movie filmed in Montana influenced their decision ‘some’. Further, surveys indicate that 11.1% of all visitors to Montana either were ‘some’, or ‘a lot’ influenced by a movie filmed in Montana.
Assumption 2: It is assumed that 2.5% of Montana’s tourism impacts, totaling $2.64 billion, are attributable to film and moving pictures. The ITRR 2012 Montana Nonresident Traveler Expenditures and Economic Contribution Report3 indicates that $3.2 billion in local spending directly supported $2.64 billion of economic activity in Montana. Assuming conservatively that 2.5% of the $2.64 billion in tourism travel makes up ‘a lot’ of the visitor decision, then $66 million of visitor economic benefits are also attributable to film and moving pictures’ influence on travel decisions.
Many times, this means business for Montana, and more money to local communities. That’s the power of history and the imagination, and dusty old places like the Montana Historical Society make that happen.