Allen Lloyd, Executive Director and Molly Holahan, Communications Director, set out to meet with our rural members and get to know them and the communities they live in. It was a quick trip, but each stop gave us a unique opportunity to sit down and visit places we might not otherwise get the chance to see.
We enjoyed listening to each of our members talk about what they’re facing in their rural communities. We also learned what they loved about their community. They shared their WHY with us. Why they chose to live there and what makes their town special and unique. The one thing these areas have in common is the strong ties to the community and the way they all support each other. It was echoed in every visit; it’s the people.
Montana is a big state and our rural areas are struggling to not only find CPAs, but other professions as well. We heard this common theme throughout the trip. While I wish we had easy solutions, we are aware of the problem and trying to help. We’ve launched an initiative with the MSCPA Young Professionals Group: Raising the BAR to find ways to introduce students to the opportunities in these communities. The BAR group is visiting a minimum of 10 high schools this year and we’ve started to do career days in middle schools as well. We know the earlier students are introduced to the profession, the more likely they are to have interest in it and try classes in high school and potentially select accounting as a major when they enroll in college. We are also exploring different technological avenues to see how remote access is working for firms with remote employees to serve rural communities.
While we may not make this trip for another two years, we’ve added several items to our to do list for next time (including the underground tour in Havre and somehow timing it to see a production at the Fort Peck Theater!).
We really enjoyed meeting those of you that were able to join us while we made stops in your town! Look for additional information on future trips and visits to your hometown.