• Reilly Neill

A Career of Experience in Montana

Recently, the Missoulian printed a wonderful article on peace in the politics of the Montana Governor’s race regarding the high level of decorum between Democratic candidates. All the candidates in this race have exhibited basic kindness to one another. I think this attitude is the hallmark of nearly every Montanan and why so many of us choose to make this state home.

There was a statement that went unchecked in the piece and I want to make sure readers across Montana are not misinformed.

Candidate Whitney Williams states, “I’m the only executive, the only person who has built a company and made a payroll and understands the businesses which are the backbone of this state.” I am sure Williams, who has always exhibited respect for her fellow candidates, was simply was unaware of my business and professional background in Montana but her statement could be construed to indicate no one else in the race has such qualifications, which is not accurate.

I built my first company in 2004 in Livingston, the Livingston Weekly-Current (Livingston Current, LLC DBA Livingston Weekly) and we had a payroll of up to five employees over an eight-year period in Livingston. We paid all applicable state and federal employment taxes and worker’s compensation. We also provided full coverage health insurance for salaried and part-time employees and profit-sharing, both rare benefits in Livingston but ones I have always believed newspaper employees deserve.

I also employed many individuals on paid and unpaid internships from colleges and universities around the country. I worked as an instructor, for example, with St. John’s College in Sante Fe, New Mexico and Park High School in Livingston to mentor graded internships/apprenticeships in the industry and subsequently helped launch individuals in careers in journalism and education.

Nearly all of our interns have gone on to create commendable careers. Some even returned as paid employees. We had many employees over the years including photographers, writers, full-time reporters and managing editors, distribution staff and others.

In the 2018 fiscal year, Montana Press Monthly paid all applicable state and federal payroll taxes on employees and provided them with access to full coverage health insurance. 

Although I have only produced 12 monthly issues of Montana Press Monthly so far, I budgeted, edited, designed and published over 400 weekly/monthly issues of the Livingston Weekly-Current, building a company that I sold the brand rights to in 2012 to the Park County Community Journal, a community news publication that is still publishing the products they bought from my company to this day.

In 2018, I founded Montana Press Monthly, a statewide monthly arts and entertainment newspaper that is a full member of the Montana Newspaper Association and a pending member of the Association of Alternative Media, an organization my family and I have been involved with for over 25 years.

I have worked for the newspaper and alternative newspaper industry in many capacities for over 25 years, starting at The Memphis Flyer in Memphis, Tennessee in 1990 and continuing my career as a reporter/designer at smaller papers in Telluride, Ouray and Ridgway, Colorado. By 1998, I was working as Marketing Director and then Associate Publisher at The Ruidoso News in Ruidoso, New Mexico where I was responsible for long-term budgeting and managing human resources among many tasks, before moving to Missoula, Montana in 2000 to study climate change at UM.

In the early 2000s, I worked as a consultant for a few years for the Missoula Independent in Missoula before training to become a professional sous chef and managing staff and operations for commercial kitchens at the Double Arrow Resort in Seeley Lake and the Second Street Bistro in Livingston. I founded the Livingston Weekly-Current in 2004 and, after my State service as a Representative for Livingston in the Montana State House, I founded the Montana Press Monthly in 2018 after taking a four-year hiatus to devote to my then-young children.

In my experience, I have developed a keen ability to work on deadline and under pressure and bring projects to completion. My business experience also includes assignment of human and financial resources, effective quarterly and annual budgeting, managing individuals on a variety of levels and making sure employees are always well cared for and fairly compensated, ethically and under the law.

While all candidates in the 2020 Governor's race are unique, Whitney Williams and I do share a similar backgrounds in business, having both worked to make payroll, manage assets and run companies. We both bring a unique skill set to the job of Governor and, as the article in the Missoulian points out, have a genuine respect for our fellow candidates. Working concurrently to raise awareness of important Democratic issues in the primary, we can defeat the GOP in 2020 and keep the Governor's office in the hands of the Democrats.

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