Dena Johnson, MBA, SBDC Regional Director | Entrepreneurial Development
Dena Johnson is the Regional Director for Entrepreneurial Development and Small Business Development Center powered by Big Sky Economic Development. She is the lead strategist and co-founder for Rock31 which launched to deliver a hybrid approach to entrepreneurial development. The program is already underway with meetups and programming to engage a community of innovators and entrepreneurs (in all industries) hungry for development. Her team ascertained capital and support from Higher Education, Private Industry, Federal grant agencies, and other community-focused groups to seed and support the program. Her team is partnering with Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists through a state-wide initiative, “Early Stage Montana”, to deliver acceleration and programming to Early Stage tech companies. She holds a Master’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in Leadership, a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, is an accredited small business consultant (AASBC), a certified Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP), a certified Business Incubation Manager (BIM), and a certified NxLevel trainer. Some of her accomplishments include: co-author of the TriStart Matrix, recipient of 2015 40 under 40 awards, was named Yellowstone Valley’s Enterprising Woman in April of 2015, was named America’s SBDC State Star in 2016 and was featured as one of Yellowstone Valley’s top 10 women building up her community in 2017. She brings a robust background in consulting, adult education, program management, banking, business ownership, small business management, and a passion for helping her clients and team with strategies to elevate their pathway to success.
Lorene Hintz, SBDC Program Manager | Senior Business Advisor
Lorene Hintz is the Program Manager for the Small Business Development Center at Big Sky Economic Development. She also manages the Rock31 Expert Mentor Network, the Big Sky Trust Fund Job Creation and Worker Training grant assistance program to provide capital and workforce training to basic sector businesses. As an Accredited Business Consultant, Lorene is a passionate advocate and champion for small business owners and entrepreneurs. She provides one-on-one consulting, business technical and marketing assistance, financials analysis, business planning, and workshop facilitation.
Lorene was named America’s SBDC State Star in 2010, is a member of Montana Economic Developers Association (MEDA), Accredited Business Consultant (AASBD), Certified Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP), certified Nxlevel trainer, Profit Mastery consultant, accredited Business Planning Advisor, Intuit QuickBooks trainer, and a certified Core Four trainer. Past experience includes 16 years of retail business ownership, co-owner of Hintz Trucking, and 14 years of SBDC business consulting. Lorene strives to recognize needs, promote opportunities, and inspire growth in start-up and existing businesses.
Kevin Scharfe, Rock 31 Program Manager, SBDC Senior Business Advisor
Kevin Scharfe is a product designer and entrepreneur whose innovative camping line was nominated for the global innovation awards in 2014, and featured on the "I Want That!" show, CBS New York, and in the Nikkei Marketing Journal. He also spent 3+ years working as a creative director for a neuroscience based tech startup developing a web and mobile corporate wellness app before coming to Big Sky Economic Development. He now runs an entrepreneurial development center, Rock31 designed to help entrepreneurs transition from concept to commercialization.
Kevin is a proud owner of a U.S. Utility Patent, is a certified Neurozone associate, and licensed as a class 4 (Vocational) educator in the state of Montana.
Kayla Vokral, SBDC/Operations Project Support Specialist
Kayla is the Small Business Development Center/Operations Support Specialist at Big Sky Economic Development. Kayla joined the Big Sky Economic Development team in July 2019. She is the first point of contact for clients; providing clients with customer service by assisting with intake requests, scheduling appointments, general start up questions and provides administrative support to the Director.
Having previous experience in running a small business helps her understand the obstacles and roadblocks entrepreneur’s face so she can provide support while they are on their journey.
Austin Trunkle, SBDC | Operations Support Specialist
Austin is an Operations Support Specialist for the Billings SBDC team as well as the Big Sky Economic Development Administration team. Austin joined Big Sky Economic Development as an intern in 2016 and worked his way into a full-time position. Austin is currently finishing his finance degree at Montana State University Billings.
Austin works extensively with the BSED Board of Directors in addition to organizational projects such as grant work, accreditation and re-accreditation, and technical writing.
Trainings Provided at Center:
- Pre-business Workshops
- Custom Trainings in Marketing, Cashflow and Accounting