The University of Montana Blackstone LaunchPad is a free resource to students and alumni who want to start a business, or are looking for resources to expand their businesses,

Marketing and Operations Assistant Kelsey O'Donnell said the LaunchPad exists to help enterprising business people get a good start.

"You would find mentoring, books to read, and we have someone here who is very talented at bookkeeping if you have questions about finances. For the startup process, you would talk to our director, Paul Gladen. We're basically, a resource center for UM students, faculty and alumni."

O'Donnell said their most ambitious effort yet will be the 'Last Best Conference', on August 25 and 26, to be held at the Wilma Theater in Missoula.

"Even though it's officially a two-day event, it actually is a full week long," she said. "We're bringing in Seed Spot and they're discounting their price for a two-day boot camp. It's an accelerated program for anyone who really wants to start a business. How to start it, how to leverage resources, how to network and launch your business."

O'Donnell said August 25 and 26 will be taken up with major conference speakers.

"We're bringing in eight main stage speakers and they're coming in from all over the United States," she continued. "We're having two main speakers in the morning to really get people amped up and ready to go, After that we're having breakout sessions all over Missoula They can go hiking,.meet at a coffee shop and get together and do what they're passionate about. Then, they'll come back for the two other main stage speakers of the day."

O'Donnell said there is reason to contact the Blackstone Launchpad well in advance of the Last best Conference.

"We have early bird pricing", she said. "The price right now an till August 1 is $139, and then it will go up to $199 after August 1."

Get more details on the LaunchPad website.