Governor visits teachers, businesses, and healthcare facility on Hi-Line tour

Governor visits teachers, businesses, and healthcare facility on Hi-Line tour
Posted at 8:36 PM, Apr 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-02 12:17:54-04

MALTA — Governor Greg Gianforte continued his cross-state tour on Friday, April 29, 2022, kicking off the day in Malta with a group of entrepreneurs. They had heard the expression there’s no place like home, and they took heed.

One by one, Malta residents and business leaders told the governor why they decided to come back to Malta. Their reasons ranged from yearning for small town security to taking over the family business, which is what Julie Snellman did.

“I just don’t think you know the value of a small town until you come back,” said Snellman, who owns Art’s Furniture and Carpet.

After going to college in Bozeman and running a business in Whitehall, she and her husband moved back 15 years ago and she eventually took the reins of her parents' furniture and carpet store.

“It was the best decision,” said Snellman. “My husband loves his job. We have two children they are in 5th grade a boy and a girl. They can walk home from school, they can walk down to the furniture store. We have support with our family and the friends we’ve made here, it’s a great community of people our age. I just could not have thought it would be as good as it is.”

The community spirit was evident when J.C. Penney closed and a group of civic leaders formed a co-op in hopes of keeping a high-quality clothing store in Malta. It was the beginning of Family Matters, and despite a pandemic, business is booming.

“Last year was a record year, 2021,” said store manager and buyer Avery Sorensen. “Our sales were up 25% from 2020 with covid. That includes being shut down. In 2020 because of covid for six weeks.”

During the pandemic, Family Matters business plan shifted to facebook lives, which they still do. In April 2020, the online marketing technique generated 40-thousand dollars in sales according to Sorensen.

Gianforte also went to Glasgow where he heard emotional stories from consumers at a mental health clinic.

He also toured the Valley View Nursing Home where he met with high school students participating in work-based learning at the facility.