The Montana State University Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics and MSU Extension will host the 13th annual agricultural economics conference, “Managing Risk and Uncertainty in Agriculture” on Friday, Nov. 1. The conference is part of the College of Agriculture’s annual Celebrate Agriculture weekend. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Procrastinator Theater in the Strand Union Building, and the conference will run from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Register by phone at 406-994-3511 or online at  More information can be found at

The Montana Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual conference on Oct. 30 at the Hilton Garden Inn Missoula. Keynote speaker will be Boeing Helena Director Reyna Cardenas. Cardenas will share how Boeing Helena crafted a successful talent pipeline. For details go to Montana Chamber of Commerce website.

CTA | Cushing Terrell, an award-winning architecture, engineering, and interior design firm, announced that Alan Anseth, senior project manager; Dawn MacKenzie, senior interior designer; and Nick Bowers, AIA, NCARB, architect, have been promoted to associate. All three are based in the firm’s Billings office.

“Alan, Nick, and Dawn are talented and valuable members of our team who have been key in the growth and success of the firm,” said Scott Wilson, president at CTA | Cushing Terrell. “Each are passionate leaders who represent the culture and values the firm was founded more than 80 years ago, and we are thrilled to promote them to associate.”

Anseth, who has a degree in electrical technology and business management, has worked at CTA | Cushing Terrell for four years. He works with clients to implement energy-saving measures and projects. Anseth has served on the boards of the Billings Builders Exchange, Zoo Montana, the Montana chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association, and Moss Mansion.

Bowers has worked at CTA | Cushing Terrell for eight years. He works with clients in the California Bay Area and Austin, Texas, with a focus on the commercial design market and supporting tech clients such as Dell and Google.

MacKenzie leads the firm’s interior design service sector for Montana. She has worked at CTA | Cushing Terrell for 14 years and focuses on healthcare facility design.

Olivia Stockman has assumed the role of Staff Director for the Northern Plains Resource Council, a political activist group focused on conservation and agriculture, founded in 1972. Teresa Erickson preceded Stockman in the role and has retired from the position after thirty-three years of leadership. The Staff Director is the “Chief of Staff” position at Northern Plains and is responsible for overseeing Northern Plains’ entire program, directing all other staff, coordinating the organization’s leadership model of member-controlled grassroots democracy, and seeing to Northern Plains’ financial and organizational health.

Before taking over as Staff Director, Stockman previously served as Northern Plains’ Director of Organizing and Campaigns. She joined the organization in 2008, directing a team of community organizers that has doubled since then. Prior to joining Northern Plains, Stockman brought extensive nonprofit experience having worked for the New Mexico League of Conservation Voters, Service Employees International Union, Montana League of Rural Voters, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils.

Erickson has officially retired as Staff Director but will continue to work part time for the organization managing the organization’s History Project, which aims to document and preserve Northern Plains’ legacy.

Billings Clinic/Jones Construction, Inc, 801 N 29th St, Com Addition, $4,000,000

Lai, Khoon Eng/Borders, Schyler – General Contractor, 3131 Iron Horse Trl, Com Fence/Roof/ Siding, $7,800

Stevenson, Carol J/Highsmith, Charlie – General Contractor, 2001 Lakehills Dr, Com New 3+ (Multi Family),     $618,036

NA/V Properites Llp/Rasmussen, Brian – Service, 2111 4th Ave, Com New Other, $20,000

Kincaid Land Llc/Hale, Ben – Service, 2514 Shiloh Rd, Com New Other, $190,000

Tired Man Llc/Irish (Manager), Tyson – General Contractor, 1461 41st St W, Com New Other, $140,000

Peterson Quality Office/Irish (Manager), Tyson – General Contractor, 504 N 32nd St, Com New Other, $140,000

Kincaid Land Llc/Hale, Ben – Service, 2514 Shiloh Rd, Com New Warehouse/Storage, $60,000

Tired Man Llc/Irish (Manager), Tyson – General Contractor, 1461 41st St W, Com New Warehouse/Storage,  $60,000

Peterson Quality Office/Irish (Manager), Tyson – General Contractor, 504 N 32nd St, Com New Warehouse/Storage,  $60,000

Lowe, Barbara L/Lapin, Mitchell S – General Contractor, 2747 Enterprise Ave, Com Remodel, $145,000

Windmill Properties Llc/King, Charles D – General Contractor, 1540 13th St W, Com Remodel, $20,000

RC Property Holdings Llc/Pinnacle Remodeling, 4007 Avenue B, Com Remodel, $15,000

NA/V Properties Llp/Rasmussen, Brian – Service, 2111 4th Ave, Com Remodel, $20,000

Watson, Gerald W/Irish (Manager), Tyson – General Contractor, 1005 Main St, Com Remodel, $20,000

Sisters Of Charith Of Leavenwo/Alberts (Sr Vp/Cfo), Dave – General Contractor, 1233 N 30th St, Com Remodel,      $45,000

Underriner, William B/Freyenhagen Construction, Inc., 104 N 28th St, Com Remodel, $45,000

Prospect Investment Llc/Prospect Investment, 670 King Park Dr, Com Remodel – Change In Use, $15,500

MC Real Estate Holdings Inc/Roberts/Clemons, Misty/James – General Contractor, 5875 Whispering Woods Dr,   Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $75,000

River Otter Properties Llc/Roberts/Clemons, Misty/James – General Contractor, 284 Westchester Sq N, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $9,700

Johnson, Kristin K & Scott E/Ray E, Mehrer – General Contractor, 1502 Miles Ave,  Com Fence/Roof/Siding,   $12,000

Link Properties, Llc/Empire Roofing Inc – Roofing Contractor, 2041 Harnish Blvd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $53,000

Homestead House Inc/Harvey, Brian L – Service, 450 S 20th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $2,400

Homestead House Inc/Harvey, Brian L – Service, 450 S 20th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $7,800

Homestead House Inc/Harvey, Brian L – Service, 450 S 20th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $5,100

Homestead House Inc/Harvey, Brian L – Service, 450 S 20th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $7,400

Homestead House Inc/Harvey, Brian L – Service, 450 S 20th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $10,700

Homestead House Inc/Harvey, Brian L – Service, 450 S 20th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $4,800

Homestead House Inc/Harvey, Brian L – Service, 450 S 20th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $7,500

Homestead House Inc/Harvey, Brian L – Service, 450 S 20th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $5,600

Homestead House Inc/Harvey, Brian L – Service, 450 S 20th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $6,000

Homestead House Inc/Harvey, Brian L – Service, 450 S 20th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $13,500

Lnd & M Family Limited Partners/Hiroberts Roofing, 337 Quaking Aspen, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $24,000

Lnd & M Family Limited Partners/Hiroberts Roofing, 338 Quaking Aspen, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $24,000

City Of Billings/Knife River-Billings – General Contractor, 260 Stewart Park Rd, Com New Other, $230,000

Bach Land And Development Llc/McLaughlin, James – General Contractor, 3040 Central Ave, Com New Other,     $14,280

GMD Development Homeword/Thornton, Orion – Service, 230 Starner Ln, Com New Other, $208,400

City Of Billings (Airport)/Sletten Construction Companies, 1901 Terminal Cir, Com Remodel, $25,000

15th Street Investors LLC/Magic City Custom Taping, 1500 Broadwater Ave, Com Remodel, $8,000

Kevin Cremer/Cucancic Construction Inc., 316 S 24th St W, Com Remodel, $150,000

Himmelberger, Dennis L/Rambur, Dale – General Contractor, 225 E Airport Rd, Com Remodel – Change In Use,    $153,000

J & S Properties Inc/Cayton Excavation Inc – General Contractor, 1617 1st Ave N, Demolition Permit Commercial,  $180,000

Johnson, Kristin K & Scott E/Ray E, Mehrer – General Contractor, 1502 Miles Ave, Com Remodel, $8,000

Erving Properties LlC/Furlong, Steve – General Contractor, 1525 1st Ave N, Com Fence/Roof/Siding/$4,200

Moducs LLC/Kohlman Lennie – General Contractor, 2823 6th Ave N, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $70,000

Trail Creek Properties LLC/Lennick Bros. Roofing & Sheetmetal, 302 N 11th St, Com Fence/Roof/Siding/$5,500

City Of Billings/Empire Roofing Inc – Roofing Contractors, 2251 Belknap Ave,        Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $59,868

City Of Billings/Sunleaf, Steve – General Contractor, 1601 St Andrews Dr, Com New Other, $21,407

Waggoner Real Estate, LLC/Knife River-Billings – General Contractor, 5220 Midland Rd, Com New Parking Lot/Non-Building Structure, $135,050

Corning Companies/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., l711 Henry Chapple St, Com New Store/Strip Center, $1,754,584

GDM Development/Murphy (General Manager), Beverly – General Contractor, 230 Starner Ln, Com New warehouse/Storage, $16,000

Mazabuka Llc/Reddi Electric, Inc. – Electrical Contractor, 310 N 13th St, Com Remodel, $6,000

Weber Properties LLC/Sunset Construction Llc – General Contractor, 3335 Conrad Rd, Com Remodel, $16,498

Beatrice Food Company/Dietz, Troy L – General Contractor, 109 S 28th St, Com Remodel, $8,500

Peterson, Jeffrey J & Pamela K/Horizon Retail Construction, 1645 Parkhill Dr,  Com Remodel, $26,000

Shiloh Crossing Partners Llc/Jones Construction, Inc, 851 Shiloh Crossing Blvd,   Com Remodel, $30,480

Charter Communications Inc/Jones Construction, Inc, 1860 Monad Rd, Com Remodel, $45,000

Big Sky Floral Supply Llc/Bonini Enterprises Llc, 3024 2nd Ave N, Com Remodel – Change In Use, $125,709


Pritchard Family Revocable Trust, 185 Annandale Rd, Res New Single Family, $275,788

Big Time Construction/Langford, Aaron – General Contractor, 5301 Clemson Dr, Res New Single Family,    $219,582

Big Time Construction/Langford, Aaron – General Contractor, 5307 Clemson Dr, Res New Single Family,                   $224,63

Hellekson, Douglas/Hill, Jeff & Tammy – General Contractor, 362 Cherry Hills Rd, Res New Single Family,             $420,212

McCall Development/Mccall James, – General Contractor, 6101 Norma Jean Ln, Res New Single Family,                 $353,727

Felton Associates Inc/Parks, Trenton – General Contractor, 1509 Columbine Dr, Res New Two Family,               $363,330

Trent Parks/Parks, Trenton – General Contractor, 1513 Columbine Dr, Res New Two Family, $363,330

Classic Design Homes Inc/Classic Design Homes, 1030 Yellowstone Ave, Res New Two Family, $265,800 Hagstrom, Daniel F, 932 N 22nd St, Res New Accessory Structure, $27,648

Oakland Built Homes, Inc/Leep (Vice President), Landy – Service, 1440 Rancho Vista Ave, Res New Single Family, $207,240

Oakland Built Homes, Inc./Leep (Vice President), Landy – Service, 1448 Rancho Vista Ave, Res New Single Family, $194,836

South Pine Design/Blatchford, Kevin – General Contractor, 2513 Strapper Ln, Res New Single Family, $301,266

South Pine Design/Blatchford, Kevin – General Contractor, 2705 Hanover Cir, Res New Single Family, $208,942

Harold Larson/Thompson, William – General Contractor, 1363 Watson Peak Rd, Res New Single Family, $240,020

Diverse Construction/Hill, Brendon – General Contractor, 2245 Gleneagles Blvd, Res New Single Family, $204,970

Tom & Kathy Meszaros/Hill, Jeff & Tammy – General Contractor, 981 Siesta Ave, Res New Single Family, $363,971

Coppock, David G & Renee L/Dirk Arnold Construction, 641 Beverly Hill Blvd, Res New Single Family, $366,990

Huck, Dale M, 3932 1st Ave S, Res New Accessory Structure, $126,192

James E & Lavaun Marie Black L/Brocklebank Dan – General Contractor, 933 Delphinium Dr, Res New Accessory, Structure, $50,000

Montana leads the nation in the growth of its outdoor recreation business, exceeded only by Hawaii.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports that the U.S. outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.2 percent ($427.2 billion) of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017. 

The Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) also shows that GDP for the outdoor recreation economy grew by 3.9 percent in 2017, faster than the 2.4 percent growth of the overall U.S. economy. Real gross output, compensation, and employment all grew faster in outdoor recreation than for the economy as a whole.

In Montana the sector grew at 5.1 percent of its GDP, the second highest percentage of total state production in the nation, except for Hawaii which grew 5.4 percent. They were followed by Wyoming, then Utah and Colorado.

Activities included in the three outdoor recreation categories are conventional core activities (such as camping, hiking, boating, and hunting); other core activities (such as gardening and outdoor concerts); and supporting activities (such as construction, travel and tourism, local trips, and government expenditures).

Conventional outdoor recreation accounted for 30.6 percent of the outdoor recreation economy nationwide in 2017, other recreation accounted for 19.3 percent, and the remaining 50.1 percent was supporting activities.

The industry grew least in Washington C at 1.2 percent and in Connecticut at 1.4 percent.

Other value added by industry highlights reported upon by the BIA include the following:

* Retail trade had the second largest sector contribution to outdoor recreation nationally, accounting for $95.7 billion of current-dollar value added. Retail trade was the largest contributor to outdoor recreation value added in 17 states, including Texas ($8.5 billion), Washington ($2.8 billion), and Ohio ($2.7 billion).

* Manufacturing contributed $51.7 billion nationally to the outdoor recreation economy in 2017 and was the third largest outdoor recreation sector. At the state level, manufacturing was the largest sector for outdoor recreation value added in Indiana ($4.7 billion), Wisconsin ($2.0 billion), Louisiana ($1.6 billion), and Kansas ($684.2 million).

Montana State University announced that its newest residence hall will open in fall 2020, to be named Hyalite Hall. Construction on the $50 million project began in May 2018. Hyalite Hall will house up to 510 students. It is being funded by student room and board fees; no taxpayer dollars are being used.

A Columbia Falls company started a year ago making bikes specifically for use in Montana mountains. Called Esker Cycles the company is owned by Tim Krueger. The bike features a dual link suspension and the frames are made in Taiwan and then assembled at the warehouse in Columbia Falls. Most of the bikes go to dealers, but the company also sells direct to consumers.

Kalispell economic developers are optimistic about the potential for properties that have been vacated by major businesses in the community. The unincorporated area of Evergreen near Kalispell was home to Shopko and Kmart, Green Hyundai and OfficeMax, but recent closings and relocations have left large vacant spaces. But located as it is along the highly trafficked U.S. Highway 2, Montana West Economic Development President Jerry Meerkatz says interest in the area is sure to materialize. According to U.S. Census data, Evergreen’s population was 7,552 in 2017, up from 6,283 in 2013.

Only 2.7% of Gallatin County’s employees work in agriculture, according to a 2019 Prospera Business Network report.

The state of Montana received $19 million from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to support a statewide health information exchange that will give providers access to patient data in real time. Governor Bullock tasked the Governor’s Council on Health Care Innovation in 2015 with looking for ways to establish a statewide health data center to improve patient care, save time and resources, and reduce costs. A coalition established the nonprofit organization Big Sky Care Connect to develop and administer the information exchange, to begin operation in 2020. The system will connect records from pharmacies, labs and imaging, urgent care, specialists, doctor offices and hospitals and other providers such as dentists and optometrists. The funding is provided through a 90/10 federal match. CMS provided $19 million and the state’s 10 percent share is comprised of an appropriation from the 2019 legislature and private funds Big Sky Care Connect has raised. Big Sky Care Connect is working with data privacy and security experts to select a technology vendor that specializes in creating secure systems to manage health care data.

American Airlines plans to add a direct flight to Philadelphia on Saturdays, making it Bozeman’s 18th nonstop destination. Along with Philadelphia, the airline will add flights to New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Saturdays and Los Angeles daily, for the summer 2020 season. American will operate flights to Los Angeles using a 76-seat Embraer E175 aircraft from June 4, 2020 through Sept. 8, 2020. New York and Philadelphia flights will operate with 160-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft on Saturdays from June 6, 2020 through Sept. 5, 2020.

Because of the critical shortage of outbound crude oil pipelines in Canada, Enbridge Inc. is proposing an expansion of its older Express Pipeline. The current pipeline runs 731 miles from Hardisty, Alberta to Casper, WY, and then connects to the Platte Pipeline. Built in 1997, the pipeline now carries 193,000 BOPD, and has enough capacity to increase shipments to 280,000 BOPD. (From Oil Patch Hot Line)

Montana State University is experiencing its highest graduation and retention rates in a generation —  a stark contrast from the University of Montana – which continues to see a drop in enrollment. This year, with 16,766 students studying at the university, MSU has the second-most number of students that have ever been enrolled in a single university at one time in Montana (second only to last year’s enrolled students). It’s been Montana largest university for the past six years. The University of Montana has experienced about a 30% drop in fall enrollment since it peaked in 2011.

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that the Montana Community Development Corporation (“MoFi”)  has been awarded a $187,270 SBA PRIME grant to help low-income entrepreneurs gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses through the Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs PRIME.  The 2019 PRIME Grant will help MoFi offer training and technical assistance to strengthen economically disadvantaged businesses, particularly those that service entrepreneurs in Opportunity Zones, rural areas, and HUBZones.

“Montana has achieved a great amount of national attention for its innovative outreach efforts to rural communities and high-tech businesses,” said SBA Montana District Director Wayne Gardella. “This PRIME grant to MoFi will allow the organization to focus its lending outreach energies on mostly rural areas across Big Sky Country.”

“Entrepreneurs in rural areas face a unique set of obstacles when it comes to starting or growing a business,” said MoFi President and CEO David Glazer.  “The SBA PRIME award will enable MoFi to help even more of its borrowers overcome these challenges. This includes assistance with things like accounting and financial management, legal assistance, and marketing. We know that these support services can make all the difference between a struggling business and a successful one-particularly in a remote location. We’re grateful for our longstanding partnership with the SBA, and look forward to our continuing collaboration to help rural businesses thrive.”

October 1 is Manufacturing Day!

It’s a day that should bring pause to every community in the state, because almost every community has some kind of manufacturing and manufacturing is a pillar of every economy.

According to three reports recently released by the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center at Montana State University, the state’s manufacturing sector is strong and MMEC is helping manufacturers succeed.

The 2019 State of Montana Manufacturing report, along with survey results of Montana manufacturers, were prepared by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.

“Manufacturing is doing quite well in Montana right now,” said Paddy Fleming, MMEC’s executive director.

The report analyzes a variety of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources to give a comprehensive overview of trends in the state’s manufacturing sector. Highlights from the 2019 report include:

  • Manufacturing accounted for 16.9% of total statewide earnings in 2018, on par with tourism and ahead of mining and farming. The largest share of that, 17.1%, was from the petroleum and coal sector, followed by wood products at 13.2%.
  • There were a total of 1,643 Montana manufacturing establishments last year. Metal fabricators were the largest category at 256. Miscellaneous ranked second with 184, followed by food with 174.
  • Manufacturing supports 25,100 jobs in Montana, or 3.7% of the state’s total. That’s up from 3.2% in 2010. The wood products sector accounted for the most jobs, 3,193 in 2017, a decline of 35.6% since 2007.
  • Roughly 2/3 of Montana manufacturers were small businesses with fewer than five employees.
  • The fastest growing sector over the past decade has been beverages and tobacco, which includes breweries. The number of establishments in that sector has more than doubled, to 132, and breweries alone employed 979 people in 2018.
  • Sectors losing firms include wood, petroleum and oil, paper and primary metal.
  • Montana’s largest export market for manufactured goods is Canada, with $516 million in 2018 exports, followed by China at $90 million.

A second report summarizes the results of the 2019 Montana Manufacturers Survey, which BBER has conducted annually since 1999 to gauge manufacturers’ perspective on their economic performance and their outlook for the following year. Highlights include:

  • 51% of respondents said their gross sales increased over the past year; 30 percent said they were unchanged.
  • 54% said production increased at their business; 26% reported no change.
  • Half of respondents said their profits increased; 27% reported no change.
  • 32% said their number of employees increased; 56% reported no change.
  • 61% said they expected their production to increase during the next year; 33% expected no change.
  • 65% said that they expected their gross sales to increase during the next year; 28 percent expected no change.

The survey also invites Montana manufacturers to rank the issues most affecting their operations. The top-ranking issue, listed by 67% of respondents, was availability of qualified workers, followed by health insurance costs, at 60%.

“The lack of workforce is really concerning,” Fleming said. “We know companies are turning down business because they can’t find people to get the work done.”

That’s one area where Fleming said he hopes more businesses will take advantage of MMEC’s services. “We have a whole program to help companies attract, retain and develop workers,” he said, noting that MMEC business advisers can work with companies to develop worker training modules, craft promotional materials and identify a variety of other workforce solutions.

The third report provides an overview of how manufacturers and the state benefitted from MMEC’s services in 2018. The findings summarize 59 MMEC clients’ responses to a standardized questionnaire. Highlights include:

  • In 2018, MMEC’s work with manufacturers resulted in 421 new and retained jobs, $71.8 million in new and retained sales, $106 million in additional business investment, $8.9 million in avoided cost savings and $2.4 million in additional Montana income tax revenue.
  • Roughly 57 percent of the respondents said they relied exclusively on MMEC as a business service provider.
  • Clients’ return on investment for MMEC service fees was 9.8 to 1.
  • The state’s return on investment for tax dollars supporting MMEC was 7.9 to 1.

Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) presented oral argument in a federal appellate court in a case that has broad implications for the ability of city governments to restrict firearm ownership. 

The case, Caldara v. City of Boulder, originated in May 2018, when MSLF sued the City of Boulder on behalf of Boulder residents, a local nonprofit, and a small business, after city council members raised the age of legal gun ownership in the city from 18 to 21. Council members also banned some of the most commonly owned firearms in the United States, as well as standard capacity magazines. 

Plaintiffs include Jon Caldara, a well-known pillar of the community, the Boulder Rifle Club, Bison Tactical, a small business, and Tyler Faye, a member of the University of Colorado shooting team, and Mark Ringer, a part-time law enforcement officer and law student. MSLF’s clients seek to defend their rights and the rights of their fellow Boulder residents against the unconstitutional and discriminatory actions of the City of Boulder.

In a decision issued in August 2018, Judge Marcia S. Krieger of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado put an indefinite halt to the case. Instead of addressing the relevant federal constitutional issues, the court held that the State of Colorado should first decide, solely under Colorado law, whether the City of Boulder had the authority to enact sweeping new firearm and magazine regulations. 

“The Tenth Circuit was particularly interested in the chilling effect that Boulder’s Ordinance may have on the exercise of Boulder residents’ fundamental rights,” said Cody Wisniewski, MSLF’s lead attorney on the case. ”We are hopeful that the Tenth Circuit will follow the Supreme Court’s refusal to abstain in cases such as this one and will allow us to have our day in court.” 

Given recent opinions in Illinois and California, the outlook for courts stepping in to guard citizens’ fundamental right to keep and bear arms is looking favorable. MSLF is hopeful that the 10th Circuit will soon join this trend and vindicate Boulder residents’ constitutionally protected rights.  

Mountain States Legal Foundation is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system.