About Us

The Governor's Office of Economic Development serves to advise the Governor on policy issues related to economic development; lead the state's business recruitment, retention, expansion, and start-up efforts; and serves as the state's primary economic development liaison between federal, state, and local agencies, Montana tribal governments, private nonprofit economic development organizations and the private sector.

We work directly with Local Development Organizations, Certified Regional Development Corporations, and Tribes toward the retention, recruitment, and expansion of businesses. We help structure deals making maximum beneficial use of state programs and resources.

In the process, we also focus on workforce development, infrastructure development, technology development and permitting/regulatory issues. Additional areas of activity include economic development finance and tools, information tools, sector development, and cluster support.

The office is headed by the Chief Business Development Officer and also includes a senior economic development specialist (project development/administration), four economic development specialists (workforce development, Indian development, energy development and value-added agriculture development) and an office manager/technology specialist.

Evan Barrett
Evan Barrett

Chief Business Development Officer

Eric Stern
Eric Stern

Energy Specialist and Senior Counsel to the Governor

Jackie Williams
Office Manager

Chris Aageson
Chris Aageson

Economic Development Specialist

Pat Wise
Pat Wise

Economic Development Specialist

Shannon Hughes
Economic Development Specialist

Evan Barrett - Chief Business Development Officer
Evan D. Barrett, 62, was appointed by Governor Brian Schweitzer as Chief Business Development Officer in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development in January, 2005 and has served since that time.

Prior to joining Governor Schweitzer, Barrett spent 18 years as the Executive Director of the Butte Local Development Corporation, a highly successful economic development organization that had the largest economic development revolving loan fund program in the state, helped create and retain thousands of jobs and participated in some of Montana’s largest industrial recruitment efforts. For many years, his activities as Legislative and Public Policy Chair for the Montana Economic Developers Association put him in the forefront of the development of statewide economic development policy.

Prior to working in economic development he worked for former Governor Forrest Anderson’s Executive Reorganization project and served a stint as Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party. Barrett later held senior positions with former Governor Tom Judge, former Congressman Pat Williams, and former U.S. Senator John Melcher.

Barrett is a graduate of Red Lodge High School. He attended Montana State University, St. John’s University where he received his bachelor’s degree in Government and the University of Montana Graduate School in Political Science. Barrett and his wife Gail live on the Butte hill with their son and youngest daughter. His two older daughters and two grandchildren live in Las Vegas.

Chris Aageson - Economic Development Specialist
Chris is a fourth generation farmer and rancher from Gildford, Montana. In 2000, he earned his Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Finance from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. He has served as President and CEO of Air Solutions, Inc. in Sammamish, Washington, and most recently as Bureau Chief of Agriculture Marketing and Business Development for the Montana Department of Agriculture. He and his wife Cherstin live in Helena with their two children, Reidar and Anika.

Eric Stern - Energy Specialist and Senior Counsel to the Governor
Eric Stern was Schweitzer's campaign manager and is an attorney and business consultant. He is a native of Teaneck, NJ, and attended Connecticut College and Columbia Law School. He worked after college at CNN in Atlanta, and then went on to serve in the Clinton Administration as a political aide to the Vice President of the United States, directing the Vice President's international and political trips; and also as a policy aide to the U.S. Secretary of Education, overseeing the political elements of important education reforms of the 1990s. He also worked on the national staff of three presidential campaigns. Stern moved to Bozeman, Montana in 2001 to do non-profit legal and environmental work, and business consulting. Prior to taking over Schweitzer's campaign, Stern directed the bid by Mexico to lure a Major League Baseball franchise, the Montreal Expos, to the city of Monterrey.

Pat Wise - Economic Development Specialist
Pat got her feet wet in workforce development as a councilor for at-risk youth in Helena in 1981. She went on to work with dislocated workers throughout Montana as the Director of the Montana State AFL-CIO’s Project Challenge: Work Again. Pat worked for ten years with a wide array of local, state and federal workforce development programs at the national AFL-CIO’s Working for America Institute where she served as a Disability Specialist and the Midwest Regional Coordinator for the Institute. In her capacity as a regional coordinator, she facilitated the development of state and regional partnerships between public programs, employers and organized labor to benefit dislocated workers in states from Michigan to Missouri. As the Executive Director of the California Labor Federation’s Workforce and Economic Development department, Pat coordinated the advancement of High Roads Partnerships providing skilled workers and training to employers throughout California. Just prior to coming to the Governor’s office, Pat worked for the Montana Nurses Association as its Labor Director.

Jackie Williams - Office Manager
Jackie Williams has joined the Governor’s Office of Economic Development as Executive Assistant and Office Manager. Prior to joining the Office of Economic Development she worked as Policy Advisor and Executive Assistant to Lt. Governor Bohlinger.

Jackie was born and raised in Conrad, Montana and received a B.S. in Political Science from Carroll College. She currently lives in East Helena.

Shannon Hughes - Economic Development Specialist
Shannon Hughes has joined the Governor’s Office of Economic Development with a focus on marketing and recruitment. Prior to joining the Office of Economic Development she worked on policy and constituent service issues in the Governor’s Office.

Shannon was born and raised in Lynnfield, Massachusetts and received a B.A. in English from the University of Vermont in 2002. She currently lives in Helena with her fiancé, Justin.