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Hardin lawmaker appointed state commerce director

Gov. Greg Gianforte taps Republican Rep. Paul Green to replace Scott Osterman, who resigned in December.
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Posted at 10:36 AM, Jan 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-12 12:36:30-05

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced this week that he has tapped Rep. Paul Green, R-Hardin, to replace former Montana Department of Commerce Director Scott Osterman, putting the eastern Montana lawmaker at the helm of the state’s primary economic development agency.

Osterman, a former Fortune 500 executive who had been appointed as Gianforte’s initial commerce director in 2021, resigned last month after an internal review found he had violated state expense policy, largely by billing the state for vehicle and lodging expenses related to traveling to the state capital in Helena from his home in Kalispell.

In a release, the governor’s office touted Green’s experience as a U.S. Navy veteran and business leader, reports the Montana Free Press.

“Paul has my full confidence, and he will make an outstanding director for the Department of Commerce,” Gianforte said in the release. “Paul shares my vision to make our state an even better place for Montanans to live, work, and raise a family.”

In a statement included in the release, Green said it had been a “privilege” to serve the people of his legislative district, House District 41.

“I’m honored by the confidence Governor Gianforte and his administration have placed in me to lead the Montana Department of Commerce and showcase the innovative industries, main street businesses, and hardworking people that make up our state,” Green said. “Together with the talented team at Commerce, we’ll continue to advance the governor’s priorities so more Montanans can grow their businesses, create good-paying jobs, and achieve the American dream.”

According to the release, Green’s experience includes service as the executive director of Two Rivers Economic Development Authority, a maintenance and engineering manager with BNSF Railway and an unspecified role with the Bureau of Land Management. It also says Green has for decades farmed and ranched near Hardin, has started a small business, serves on the board of directors for Little Horn State Bank in Hardin, has coached sports, and helped found Big Horn County Search and Rescue for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Persons.

Green, who is white, has represented a majority-Native district spanning Lame Deer, Busby, Colstrip and Wyola, since being elected to his first term in the Legislature in 2022. The seat is up for election this year and will be filled in the interim by the county commissions of the district’s counties from a pool of candidates nominated by local Republican central committees.

During this year’s legislative session, Green sponsored 10 successful bills, including a measure repealing Montana’s huckleberry product labeling law and one that emerged as the session’s main affordable housing spending package.

According to the release, Green’s first day as commerce director will be Jan. 16.