Atlas Network’s Smart Bets Impact Award recognizes one organization from the year’s class of Smart Bets whose accomplishments over the past 12 months rise to a new level of excellence. At Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner 2023, Montana’s Frontier Institute was announced as the winner of the 2023 Smart Bets Impact Award and its US$25,000 prize for their outstanding work to implement a market-based approach to making their state an affordable place to live.
Frontier Institute’s Big Sky, Big Opportunity project focused on reforming the state constitution and regulations to slash the bureaucracy surrounding land use and housing construction. These reforms loosened restrictive zoning rules, strengthened landowner’s rights to build more housing on their property, and sped up the permitting process to get home builders to work more quickly. Their plan was embraced by Governor Gianforte and a sweeping bipartisan coalition in the state legislature, who implemented many of the organization’s recommendations. Frontier Institute’s success garnered attention across the United States and even internationally.
The Big Sky, Big Opportunity effort was not restricted to housing reform, however. Frontier Institute also saw wins in healthcare and education policy reform, and they successfully created Montana's first regulatory sandbox program to reduce red tape and encourage innovative entrepreneurship.
Through their newly established Center for New Frontiers, the organization will lead the way toward even more reforms in the 2025 state legislative session.