What I’ve Found BY ELI BOWE

February 13, 2019


When setting out, pack light. What you anticipate isn’t what you find, and what you need is what you’ll forget; so in this case, less is more. When I departed Wisconsin for Montana, I fit my entire life into a Honda Civic, made the Fargo-Billing’s run in nine hours, and subsisted on a protein bar and a package of Corn Nuts. Along the way, I enjoyed a break at Teddy Roosevelt National Park. AmeriCorps called me because industry seemed droll. I went west because it seemed the thing to do.

More or less, that’s the story of how I arrived in Bozeman, MT one warm, dry morning in July.


The ensuing months were educational. I learned to live without a microwave and how apply for SNAP benefits. I studied small business, and how to spell the word enterpeneur entreprennure entererpernoreENTREPRENEUR! I brushed up on audio editing.

That’s because the work I’m doing in Bozeman is unique. Broadly speaking, I promote small business and entrepreneurship. Narrowly speaking, I produce a podcast for the Office of Economic Development  while also creating a business center at the Bozeman Public Library. But it’s the podcast that always grabs people’s attention.

The show is called micromegas, named after a short story by Voltaire. No need to dust off your French Literature Anthology; the title is meant to capture the fact that Bozeman is a micropolitan area able to punch above its weight, and that entrepreneurs are individuals who exercise an outsized impact. After all, they create more new jobs in America than all the established corporations combined.

Micromegas tells the stories of local business owners, whoever they are: Two Arizonan brothers who moved north for the skiing and stuck around to open a mac’n’cheese food truck. Or a Cambodian immigrant and business founder— who’s only lived here five years. And then there’s the young algae enthusiast developing a system to harvest Omega-3 fatty acids. The residents of Bozeman deserve the chance to be inspired by these stories so that they, too, can pursue their own business aspirations.

That’s where the Library comes in. It’s all well and good to be inspired, but without guidance, even a great venture can flounder. So, following in the footsteps of libraries across the nation, the Bozeman Public Library is working to get innovators and bold souls the resources they need to succeed. 

Bozemanites are fortunate for the caliber of entrepreneurial ecosystem that already exists here. So many local groups offer business mentoring and services that I don’t dare write a list for fear of leaving someone out. Of course, this makes my life easier because it means that I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, I have the opportunity of working with people who know more about running a business or planning a start-up than I could ever learn in a year.

I spend my time finding ways to work with local organizations for the benefit of all. Case in point, the consultation hours being put on by the Small Business Development Center and the MSU Blackstone LaunchPad. The Library is able to offer an accessible location and recognized name to complement their extensive business knowledge and venture coaching experience. By working together, we can reach more people and achieve everyone’s missions.

So what’s the moral of my journey? It’s truly a pleasure to be here, residing in a state that I might never have visited, honing skills I might never have learned, and meeting people who would otherwise be strangers. There’s a lot of value in that, and although I don’t expect to change the world through my national service, I do hope to change a few lives. If everyone gave that a shot, the world would change