State CofC president speaks at Conrad Chamber meeting

30_webb1337CHAMBER PRESIDENT  — Montana CofC President/CEO Webb Brown addresses local Chamber members at a breakfast meeting at The Lobby on Wednesday.

By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor

Webb Brown the Montana Chamber of Commerce president was a special speaker at a breakfast at the Lobby on Wednesday morning.

Born in Spokane, he is a fifth generation Montanan raised on a family ranch in the northwestern part of the state near Trout Creek.

He attended Trout Creek elementary and Noxon High school but graduated from Lima High School in southwestern Montana.

Following his graduation, Brown went on to Carroll College, spent one at Chaminade University in Honolulu and earned a BA degree in Political Science from the University of California at Riverside in 1983.

During that time, he also served an internship with the Riverside CofC and one with Montana’s U.S. Senator, Max Baucus in Washington, D.C.

He chose to make ‘business promotion’ his career with a job as the Executive Director of the Lewistown CofC in 1991. Four years later, he moved to Billings as the VP of the Billings CofC and in 1999 Brown was hired as the President/CEO of the Montana CofC where a part of his duties include serving as the executive vice president of the  Montana Chamber Foundation.

As part of a trade mission, the CofC will be going to Brazil in March 2012. “It is one of the fastest growing economies in the world,” he said “and a great opportunity for Montana business.”

He said that the country is doing a lot of business with China, “but would refer to do business with us.’

Brown went on to add, “We need to be there, our presence needs to be there.”

This month the Montana CofC will be going to China for a special tour.

Brown says, “China is an immense market for American goods and services and a vital suppliers to American manufacturers and consumers.”

He also touched on an upcoming webinar, on Nov. 9 from noon-1 p.m. on how new medical marijuana laws will affect employer rights.

You can sign up for this by going to

Brown said that over the past few years, medical marijuana has exploded in Montana in a way which has had negative impacts in several areas, including schools, local governments and the workplace.

As the number of card holders peaked in 2010 to over 30,000, employers found themselves dealing with workplace safety issues, drug testing, discrimination lawsuits and questions over hiring and firing, he noted.

As he looked around the room at the Lobby, there were 30 people there for the breakfast, Brown said, “Chances are one person in this room has a card, that’s pretty sobering.”

He also touched on work that will be done to lower Workman’s’ Comp rates of which Montana is the highest in the nation while by contrast; North Dakota, our neighbor, has one of the lowest rates.