MISSOULA, Mont. - A new crowdfunding portal is taking root in Montana, with the goal of helping Montana businesses.

Crowdfund Montana is a new investment platform, aiming to empower local businesses to raise capital in a non-traditional way.

It's similar to websites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe, but instead of just donating your money, you can invest it into a local business.

That means investors can earn a financial return and own shares of the company they're investing in.

The site was created through a partnership between Missoula's Center for Community Ownership and a national platform called Crowdfund Main Street.

While investors can earn a financial return and own shares of the company they're investing in, the Center for Community Ownership's Director, Andrew Conner, said it can help local businesses who are trying to recover from the hardships of the pandemic.

"This is a way to sort of strengthen our local economy and create a local economy that is more resilient against that kind of shocks and disruptions," he said.

Conner said it's like investing in Wall Street, but with personal connections. 

"This is a company you can have a relationship with. You can meet the owner you can have a direct, relationship as a customer," he said.

The site launched in October, and already has one business on the site: The Pacific Northwest Rural Broadband Alliance.

Company President Elvis Nuno said they already have two investors, thanks to the help of the website.

"They've been really incredibly helpful in guiding us through the process from start to finish. From everything from being able to put together materials for potential investors, how to approach investors, and how to pitch and ultimately lock down potential investments," Nuno said.

Conner said people who live in Montana, care about Montana and are willing to invest in places they love.

"They care about their businesses and so we think that people are going to be really supportive of the businesses and organizations that are seeking investment," he said.

If you want to get your business up on Crowdfund Montana or become an investor just visit their website.

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