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Oct 18, 2013 11:41 PM by Judy Slate - KBZK News

Teachers conference in Belgrade helps local businesses flourish

BELGRADE - Thousands of teachers from across the state were in town for the teacher's unions conference. The teachers are giving the local economy a boost while learning to become better educators.

Anaconda teachers, Sara Novak and Candice Vauthier, are part of the roughly 3,000 educators from across Montana attending the MEA-MFT conference in Belgrade on Friday.

"Its a huge opportunity for teachers all across the state to collaborate," Novak said.

And not just teachers, but the conference is also a huge opportunity for local businesses like Rio Sabinas restaurant.

Kari Martin, from the restaurant says, "It's been really good. We're normally not open for lunch but due to the conference and the large quantities of people coming into town for it, we decided to open up."

And it's not just Belgrade businesses benefitting from thousands of out of town guests.

Front Desk Manager at the Days Inn, Marsha Wardrop said, "This weekend, we're full with teachers from all over our state."

The Days Inn in Bozeman offers teachers and schools special rates. Events like the conference help local hotels and other businesses make through what's called the shoulder season - the time between summer and winter.

Daryl Schlem with the Chamber of Commerce says, "For four to five days our hotels are filled, our restaurants are filled and also the shopping centers are filled."

The Bozeman area does well during the peak seasons but for the entire year, the hotels are only about 60 percent full.

"That's what we mean by the shoulder season is that we want to bring that 60 percent number up get it closer to 80 percent," Schlem said.

Events like this teachers' conference and the local volleyball tournament next month, are exactly the way to get that done.

"We love our school, great relationship with kids, great relationship.. Teachers are great," Wardrop said.

Schlem says all of the hotels in town are sold out and that many people in town for the teachers union conference ended up staying in Livingston.

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