Searle owns and operates Montana Bunkhouses, a company that connects travelers with hands-on ranch vacations, but after seeing the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on health-care workers in other cities, she put her hospitality business on hold to launch a grassroots mask-making effort.
Montana banks have issued roughly $500 million in the paycheck protection loans to the small businesses since the federal program rolled out five days ago. Interest in the newly created, $349-billion program has been high in Montana as businesses look for way retain employees, rather than sent them to the unemployment line.
While there’s no official count on the collective effort so far, some of the region’s largest companies have stepped in to help, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, which is contributing $1 million to support healthcare across the state in response to the pandemic.
Instead, Harris wanted to know if Big Sky needed hand sanitizer, a product in high demand during this COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Haas, owner of Haas Builders in Big Sky and founder of the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation, jumped at the offer.