Butte Entrepreneur Returns Home, Finds Success

The Montana Standard, Butte

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) BDLC executive director Joe Willauer said selecting Cari Coe to be the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year was a “no-brainer.”

The Montana Standard, Butte

Recently named Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, Cari Coe originally couldn’t get far enough away from her hometown.

After graduating from Butte High in 1993 and earning a degree in anthropology from the University of Oregon, she went to Vietnam. She never expected to return to Butte.

Instead, she was “obsessed” with Vietnam and kept finding ways to return. She called her experiences there — riding a motorcycle across the countryside and interviewing villagers for academic research — life changing. She became fluent in the language.

Later, after several extended trips to Vietnam, she pursued a doctorate degree at the University of California-Los Angeles in political science so she could study political economy and development in Vietnam.

Expecting to spend her life in academia, Coe found it “very hard” when Lewis and Clark College in Portland denied her tenure in 2015, effectively ending her life as a professor of political science.

Now she calls that incident a “blessing in disguise.”

“I really struggled with the stress to publish in academia,” she said in a recent interview with The Montana Standard. “It didn’t come that naturally to me. I thrive more in my current circumstances.”

She opted out of a college teaching career because she was “tired of the limits” of academia and wanted to decide where she would live rather than go where another academic job might take her, she said. After a year in a real estate career in Portland, Coe realized she wanted to come home.

“With my academic career ending, I had to decide who I want to be. There was no place more meaningful to me than living in Butte,” she said.

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