Bozeman one of the stars of Karlgaard book

Forbes publisher says Bozeman in good growth position
Source: Kayley Mendenhall of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine, seems to think Bozeman has what it takes to succeed in business.

In his new book, "Life 2.0: How People Across America are Transforming their Lives by Finding the Where of their Happiness," Karlgaard has devoted an entire chapter to telling the stories of Bozeman and Livingston entrepreneurs.

And after his boss, Steve Forbes, read a review copy, Karlgaard said, his like of Bozeman was so obvious Forbes jokingly asked when he was moving here.

"Bozeman is one of the stars of my book," Karlgaard told about 100 business executives Monday night at an event at the Montana State University Alumni Center.

"Bozeman has more to teach America than America has to teach Bozeman," he said.

The Bozeman economy is set to succeed for a number of reasons, Karlgaard said. It has a university with a strong science and engineering foundation, it has technology companies that have already made it on a national scale and it has a relatively inexpensive cost of living.

"I know that Bozeman is considered on the high end of cities in Montana," Karlgaard said.

But compared with housing prices on the East or West Coast, he said, Bozeman's cost of living is nothing. And it is partly because the urban housing prices have become so inflated that cities like Bozeman are attractive to entrepreneurs.

"The gap in home prices between the Silicon Valley and the heartland is the most it's been since the Great Depression," Karlgaard said. "The gap in home prices has grown historically large. Meanwhile, the sophistication gap has shrunk."

Thanks to increased cell phone service, overnight delivery and broadband Internet, people can work as easily in the technology field from Iowa as they can from California. Plus, he said, they don't have to deal with the stress of an hour-long commute.

Karlgaard's book tells the stories of people who have left big cities in search of a better quality of life and have managed to thrive. His examples from the Bozeman area include Greg Gianforte, founder of RightNow Technologies, and Andrew Field, founder of Printing For Less in Livingston.

"Greg will strike people as a superman," Karlgaard said, "and Andrew will strike people as an everyman."

The two men have different personalities, he said, both of which can be successful.

Field, a native of California, said he doesn't know if he's necessarily a role model, but he agrees with the philosophy behind the book.

"Live where you want to live because you want to live there and then try to make a living? Sure," he said. "Who wants to live in a rat race?"