Party Time Plus is permanently closed as a result of COVID-19 economic impacts.

From the very first day of the Governor’s enactment of an emergency status regarding COVID-19, Party Time Plus felt the full brunt of distancing and stay-at-home orders. “One hundred percent of our bookings cancelled as of March 17,” said Lynae Gilbert, COO for the family owned business. Up until then business had been strong for Party Time Pus, a special event company at 3138 Gabel Road, Billings. Business was 15 percent ahead of last year’s first three months, and they were looking at a solidly booked summer.

May through September is normally the busy season for Party Time Plus. They did about 75 percent of  their business during those months because that’s when people really gather and plan for parties, weddings, trade shows, graduations, business conferences, concerts, family reunions, etc.,  for which for 30 years Party Time Plus has been the go-to place for tents, tables, chairs, serving ware and linens. But this summer, very few such events were held as people responded to county health mandates and faced fear and uncertainty about the coronavirus.

While having struggled through their busy season with but a trickle of their normal business, now that they are facing what is typically their slow season with still more mandates prohibiting events and gatherings, there is simply no way to continue business. “People aren’t gathering,” said Gilbert, and “that’s what a special event does.”

“We would be at less than 50 percent of gross revenue,” explained Gilbert, “We can’t make up that difference.”

In the first round of closures, CARE Act funding helped keep their doors open, but that funding is long gone and no more seems likely.

Faced with continued restrictions and an uncertainty that Gilbert called “complete and utter chaos,” Gilbert said her family had to decide how deep into debt they wanted to go to try to save the business. Deciding that they wanted to make sure that they could pay “all to whom we owe in a timely manner”, the decision was made that they wanted to “navigate” their exit while they could, rather than be “complete victims of it.”

“It was a heartbreaking decision,” said Gilbert.

Caught up in the tragedy of it all were eight full time and one part time employee whose jobs are no more, and that is not including the 20 employees that are normally hired during the busy season but were not this summer.

“Clients have been kind and gracious,” said Gilbert, who expressed her family’s gratitude for all the support the community has given them over the years.

Party Time Plus was founded in 1986 and Gilbert’s family purchased the business in February 2006.

A liquidation sale is planned but details have not been determined and will be announced later.

PacificSource Health Plans has named Erik Wood as vice president and Montana regional director. In this role, Wood will serve as a member of the organization’s executive management group with responsibilities for all health plan activities in the state of Montana, as well as executive leader for issues related to media, legislative, regulatory, business, key provider interactions, and community activities.

Wood comes to PacificSource with more than 17 years of health care leadership experience. He most recently served as the vice president of ancillary services at Billings Clinic where he was responsible for the overall operations, quality, and growth of the ancillary division. Prior to that, he served as the CEO of Pioneer Medical Center in Big Timber and in several leadership roles with Community Medical Center in Missoula from 2003 through 2012.

“We are pleased to welcome Erik to our Montana team,” said Ken Provencher, president and CEO of PacificSource. “He brings to this position a deep understanding of the health care needs of Montanans and extensive experience in leading teams to success. I am confident his leadership will serve our members well.” 

Wood graduated from the University of Montana with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration. Outside of work, he enjoys skiing, snowshoeing, rafting, hiking, and camping with his family.

PacificSource Health Plans is an independent, not-for-profit community health plan serving the Northwest. Founded in 1933, PacificSource has local offices throughout Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Washington

While COVID restrictions on businesses in Montana, earlier this year, hit few industries as hard as tourism, hospitality and recreation, it may be that Montana’s abundant outdoor recreation opportunities will provide deliverance for the state going forward.

Outdoor recreation was identified as the second most hard-hit business sector by The US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) last spring, but as people continue to try to deal with the impacts of COVID, it seems more and more are finding escape in outdoor activities and Montana has become one of the top destinations because of the opportunities it offers.

In a survey conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association’s trade magazine, as financial impacts begin to ease the options for outdoor recreation outweigh more conventional entertainment and vacation avenues, which remain limited. Said Lise Aangeenbrug of the Association,  “A recent poll showed 69% of Americans have gained a renewed appreciation for the outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic. People want to get outside for their physical and mental health.”

According to BEA, the outdoor recreation economy accounted for $459.8 billion of the country’s national gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, or 2.1%. Combined with new data from 2018, the burgeoning industry’s two-year contribution to the country’s economic output is $788 billion, supporting 5.2 million jobs.

Montana ranks among the highest of states for its outdoor recreation economy. It contributed $2.5 billion and employed 31,598 people, while making up 4.7% of Montana’s total economy. The state places third behind Hawaii (5.8%) and Vermont (5.2%) in the percentage its outdoor recreation sector contributes to its overall economy.

Montana is one of 11 states in which outdoor recreation accounted for 3.1% or more of a state’s economy.

In real gross output, compensation and employment grew faster in the outdoor recreation economy than the national economy as a whole, the report states. Average compensation per wage-and-salary job in Montana’s outdoor recreation industries was $36,506 in 2019, compared with $56,278 for all salaried jobs in the state.

According to the BEA, “Outdoor recreation activities fall into three general categories: conventional activities (including activities such as bicycling, boating, hiking, 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).”

The activities will have spill-over into other sectors including sales of recreational equipment  and gear — from bikes and boats to bows and arrows.

The most popular attraction is boating and fishing, both nationally and in Montana. Nationally, the sport contributed  $23.6 billion in 2019 and in Montana, $164.5 million.

As any business selling recreational vehicles this summer will testify, the second most popular outdoor activity is RVing. Nationally it contributed $18.6 billion and in Montana it contributred $132.3 million.

For some states, such as Colorado, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming, snow activities rank the highest. Montana ranked 21st overall, with snow activities contributing $63.3 million.

Other value added by industry highlights for 2019 include:

* Retail trade made the second largest sector contribution to outdoor recreation nationally, accounting for $98.6 billion in current-dollar value added. At the state level, retail trade was the largest contributor to outdoor recreation in 13 states and the second largest contributor in 32 states.

* Manufacturing, the third largest sector, contributed $55.0 billion nationally to the outdoor recreation economy. At the state level, this sector was the largest contributor to the outdoor recreation economy in Texas and Indiana.

By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square

President Donald Trump and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a new drug payment model a week ago that will significantly lower the cost of Medicare Part B drugs, in a move the president said was a threat to “Big Pharma.”

Beginning in early January, the Most Favored Nation Model will test an innovative way for Medicare to no longer pay high-cost, physician-administered Medicare Part B drugs than the lowest price charged in similar countries.

Following the president’s recent Executive Orders to lower drug prices and improve access to life-saving medications, the MFN Model will protect current beneficiary access to Medicare Part B drugs, make them more affordable, and address the disparity of drug costs between the U.S. and other countries, Trump said at a White House news conference at the White House.

The program is being administered through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and is estimated to save American taxpayers and beneficiaries more than $85 billion over seven years.

The model “will be the most significant single action any administration has ever taken to lower American drug costs,” HHS Secretary AJ Azar said.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the president was taking on “the entrenched special interests that have stymied patient-centered reforms in Washington for generations” and that the new model will protect seniors, not the middle men.

“The current system creates incentives for drug manufacturers to price Medicare Part B drugs as high as they can in the U.S. system because the program pays doctors more when they prescribe more expensive drugs, even when a lower cost, clinically-equivalent alternative is available,” Varma said. “The Most Favored Nation Model will lead to lower drug prices for seniors.”

She also noted that premiums are down in Medicare Part B from 34 to 60 percent. In the last three years, the Trump administration has lowered premiums across the board on the exchange, increased price transparency, enabled portable digital records, reduced regulatory burdens, and afforded more options for patients, she said.

As of November 2020, patients have more than 1,600 plans offering insulin at 66 percent less the cost than they did three years ago, she said.

Historically, Part B costs resulted in taxpayers paying “whatever drug companies wanted to charge,” Varma said. “It’s no wonder that American seniors are paying twice as much as seniors in other countries are paying.”

A new rule change, the American Patients First drug pricing blueprint, released in May 2018, addressed high out-of-pocket costs, foreign subsidies plaguing Medicare Part B, Azar said.

Over the last five years, Medicare Part B drug costs increased at an annual rate of 11.5 percent, accounting for 37 percent of the change in Medicare Fee-for-Service Part B benefit spending from 2015 to 2019. Medicare Part B drug spending of $30 billion in 2019 made up 14 percent of total Medicare Fee-for-Service Part B spending, up from 11 percent in 2015.

Medicare Part B drug spending has also grown faster than drug spending in Medicare Part D and the U.S. as a whole, HHS notes.

In a new report, the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation found that between 2006 and 2017, Medicare Part B Fee-For-Service drug spending per enrollee grew at 8.1 percent, more than twice the per capita spending on Medicare Part D (3.4 percent), and nearly three times as high as overall retail prescription per capita drug spending (2.9 percent).

While state Medicaid programs and Medicare Advantage plans have tools in place to reduce certain drug costs through price negotiations, current law requires the Medicare Part B program to pay for most drugs administered by physicians at the average sales price in the U.S. in addition to a percentage-based add-on payment. Manufacturers have largely been able to set these prices independent of market forces, which has resulted in Americans paying more than double in other countries, according to the study.

“This anti-competitive system leaves taxpayers and American seniors on the hook for paying the highest drug costs in the world,” HHS said in a statement.

The model payment will include two parts: a drug payment amount that will phase in the lowest price in other similar countries by blending it with the average sales price, and a flat add-on amount per dose that will be the same for each model drug, HHS reports. The model will accelerate the phase-in of the MFN Price if drug manufacturers increase U.S. prices faster than inflation and the lowest price in other similar countries. The model’s flat per-dose add-on will remove the incentive for participating physicians, hospitals and other providers to furnish high-cost drugs, HHS says. Beneficiaries’ cost sharing on this add-on payment will be waived.

The CMS will test paying based on the MFN Price for 50 Medicare Part B drugs and biologicals with the highest Medicare Part B spending. These 50 drugs and biologicals account for approximately 73 percent of Medicare Part B drug spending although they only represent less than 10 percent of Medicare Part B drugs.

Under the new model, all Medicare-participating physicians, hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers in the U.S. and territories will be paid through this new payment system instead of the current average sales price plus 6 percent add-on.

Billings has partnered with the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) of Montana for a new REAL ID campaign in 2020-2021.

As the extended deadline of REAL ID approaches, a 2021 REAL ID campaign is being created by MSUB students and faculty members. Less than a year away, on October 1, 2021, domestic travel and entering federal institutions will no longer be accessible without a REAL ID or passport identification.

This academic year, MSUB students enrolled in Integrated Marketing Communications and Research Methods participated in a study similar to that of 2017-2018, to design the “Real Me” campaign featuring historical figures Lewis and Clark. Marketing Instructor, Dr. A.J. Otjen of the College of Business and Dr. Sarah Keller of the Department of Communication lead the courses.

Campaign work began by sending a survey on the effectiveness of the campaign, to 5,000 registered Montana voters. An analysis of these results showed that people exposed to the Real Me ads on TV, radio or social media were more likely to have a REAL ID, or intend to get one in the near future. People who saw or heard the ads were also more likely to believe that the REAL ID process was easy to understand.  Students enrolled in these courses have crafted new messages to further clarify how to get a secure driver’s license or identification. Production of the new REAL ID campaign is underway.

In 2017-2018, MVD partnered with students and faculty of MSU Billings to create and promote the REAL ID campaign. The award-winning campaign was produced to inform Montana citizens about the costs, benefits, and requirements of the REAL ID, with a Lewis and Clark theme.

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Mountain States Legal Foundation’s newly-established Center to Keep and Bear Arms jumped right into the fray, by moving to intervene in Syracuse v. ATF on behalf of its clients. This case will have profound implications for how the federal government defines firearms as well as Americans’ liberty to self-manufacture firearms for personal use.  

Several progressive-run US cities and anti-gun groups earlier this year sued the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), claiming the ATF violated the Administrative Procedure Act by employing an objective test based on the actual manufacturing process involved to determine if an item is considered a “firearm” under the Gun Control Act of 1968. 

The objects at issue are often colloquially referred to as “receiver blanks,” “frame blanks,” “partially-manufactured frames,” “partially-manufactured receivers,” “80% frames,” “80% receivers,” “unfinished frames,” or “unfinished receivers.” While these objects vary widely, what they all have in common is that they are not “firearms” as defined by the Gun Control Act, nor can they be readily converted into firearms.

Instead, just like a raw block of aluminum in the hands of a machinist, individuals can fully manufacture firearms from these non-firearm objects using their own experience, know-how, and machining equipment. Because they are not firearms, the ATF and the federal government lack any authority to regulate them as such.   

But these cities and gun control activists want to force the ATF to regulate raw materials of all kinds—materials that may possibly be used to manufacture a firearm in the future—simply because individuals, through their own knowledge, skill, and ingenuity, can manufacture them into firearms for personal use.

MSLF is intervening on behalf of our clients, Zachary Fort, Frederick Barton, 80% Arms, and Firearms Policy Coalition, in an effort to preserve the natural right and traditional freedom of self-sufficient Americans to legally build firearms for personal use, free from undue (and unconstitutional) government interference, surveillance, and regulatory control. 

“This case is about defending the ingenuity and self-sufficiency of Americans in the face of the culture of control and dependency that is taking over our Republic,” said Cody J. Wisniewski, Director of Mountain States Legal Foundation’s Center to Keep and Bear Arms. “The cities and gun control activists in this litigation are trying to force their own definition of a ‘firearm’ on the entirety of the United States, thereby instituting federal government control and quashing American’s ability to rely on their own skills and expertise.”

Adam Kraut, Director of Legal Strategy for Firearms Policy Coalition, believes intervention is necessary because the ATF represents its own interests, not those of grassroots gun owners. “For decades, the ATF has enforced a bright-line delineation as to when an object becomes a ‘firearm’ under the Gun Control Act. The plaintiffs in this case seek to pervert that longstanding definition,” Kraut explaned.

“Since our nation’s founding, Americans have self-manufactured their own firearms at home,” adds Zachary Fort, one of the citizens MSLF represents. “The ability to exercise one’s rights privately, without government intrusion, is a cornerstone of a free society. To arbitrarily change the definition of a firearm, to include non-firearm objects, would be a gross overreach of government and could expose Americans to criminal liability.”

Mountain States Legal Foundation’s Center to Keep and Bear Arms is intervening on behalf of our clients in this case in order to ensure that the court hears the voices of everyday Americans, especially those actively exercising the rights that the  cities and gun control activists want to eradicate.

Montana’s unemployment rate declined to 4.9% in October, down from 5.4% in September, due to strong job growth over the month.

Montana’s unemployment growth remains lower than the national rate of 6.9% for October.

Total employment, which includes payroll, agricultural, and self-employed workers, gained 3,700 jobs from September to October. Total employment has regained approximately 51,500 jobs since the April recession trough. Payroll employment also posted a gain of 1,200 jobs over the month. Employment growth in the leisure and hospitality sector has been the main driver of payroll employment growth over the month, adding 2,200 jobs.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) did not change in October, with energy commodities indexes decreasing while food indexes increased. The index for all items less food and energy, also called core inflation, also remained unchanged.

Acutech Metalworks of Columbia Falls has become a partner with Powerlift hydraulic Doors of Minnesota. The partnership is an extension of Acutech metal fabrication business throughout Montana and Idaho. Acutech is located on Montana Highway 40 in Columbia Falls.

Hecla Mining Co. has completed the first phase of the reclamation of the Troy Mine. If the DEQ lives up to their obligation they should release almost $8 million dollars in reclamation bond money to the mining company. The next step in the reclamation process is the mill site.

The Farm at River’s Bend near Whitefish is embarking on a plan to grow produce in storage units. The units are remodeled freight containers. The amount of water and nutrients used by the plants are computer controlled. The processes and remodeled container are products of Freight Farms located in Boston.

Cascade County Commissioners have abused their discretionary powers by changing conditions which a lower board placed on Big Sky Cheese processing facility being constructed near Great Falls. Cascade County Zoning Board of Adjustment placed some restrictions on the cheese plant.. The County Commissioners threw out 9 of 17 conditions. They were reinstated by Lake County District Judge James Manley.

Steps are being taken to repurpose the K-mart building in Glendive into a community fitness center. The projects planners will sublet the extra space in the building to other businesses who are looking for a community type location.

110 health care workers who are part of an total of 200 to be deployed in the state until the end of the year have arrived in Montana. The registered nurses and respiratory therapists will help hospitals that are at or near capacity.  as part of a contract between the state and NuWest, which provides traveling health care workers. Benefis Health System in Great Falls, Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, and Kalispell Regional Medical Center are the main beneficiaries of the traveling nurses.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks saw their busiest Octobers ever. Yellowstone hosted more than 360,000 visitors, up 110% from 2019. The old record for October, set in 2015, was more than 252,000 visitors. The park has hosted 3,743,907 recreation visits so far in 2020 down 6% from the same period last year. The park was closed due to COVID-19 concerns beginning March 24, 2020. All five entrances have been open since June 1. Grand Teton National Park saw more than 351,000 tourists in October, up 88% from 2019. Glacier National Park also recorded a jump in October visitation. Glacier recorded more than 125,000 tourists compared to 78,000 in 2018 and an average of about 85,000 over the past three years.

Marijuana is set to become legal in Montana on Jan. 1. Marijuana becomes legal to possess, use and grow for personal use on Jan. 1. The Montana Department of Revenue will begin accepting applications from existing medical dispensaries to open recreational dispensaries by Oct. 1, 2021, and those existing dispensaries will have 12 months to apply for licensing before it opens up to the general public. A study from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research report predicted that the 20% tax on recreational marijuana will bring in over $200 million in tax revenue between 2022 and 2026.

Tumbleweed Teas in Big Timber, owned by Riza Gilpin and Laurie Rennie, recently received a grant from the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund to shift the manufacture of their company’s tumblers from China to Manhattan, Montana to be manufactured by Plastic Design & Manufacturing (PDM). The company markets a custom-blend of teas across the country.

The City of Belgrade is developing an urban renewal plan for its downtown that will allow the creation of tax increment finance district to revamp downtown city streets.

The Montana Department of Transportation is seeking public comment on a proposal to resurface about 7.4 miles of Secondary Highway 421, near Joliet.  The project starts at the intersection of S-421 and US 212, and extends northwest for 7.4 miles.  The project is tentatively scheduled for construction in 2022.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Montana currently holds the greatest decrease in the percentage of self-response rates in the latest Census. Montana saw a 4.2% decline in its self-response rates this year, down from 64.6% in 2010. The national self-response rate increased from 66.5% in 2010 to 67.0% in 2020. The Montana decline could mean a loss in federal program funding and a possible additional representative in Congress.

Mugs Coffee has opened for business in Fairview, by owner Jess Serafin, with the assistance of her father.

Gallatin County’s residential real estate market continued its recent pattern of strong sales activity in October, with increases in closed sales, pending sales and median sale prices in both the single family and condo/townhome markets.   Median sales prices increased 27.6%, from $458,600 in October 2019 to $585,000 in October 2020. Closed sales increased 59%, from 129 to 205, and pending sales jumped 78.1%, from 105 to 187. The number of new single-family listings increased 14.6% compared to October 2019, from 130 to 149. The average days on market increased 30.8%, from 52 to 68. Sellers received 98.5% of their list price last month, up slightly from 98.2% last year. 

Passenger boardings at airports in North Dakota have increased 47% as that  experienced during the same month last year. This is also the highest monthly demand in airline passengers that North Dakota has experienced since the pandemic began last Spring.

The Lower Yellowstone River Coalition reported that in August, “The governor announced that he is asking Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to identify $4 million in general license funding that could be applied to the creation and improvement of numerous recreational resources along the river. This investment could be matched by other sources of state and federal funding, which would bring the total investment in new recreational infrastructure along the Lower Yellowstone to $8 million. This commitment is an important first step in securing funding for recreation in eastern Montana, but it will require the Montana Legislature to approve the use of these funds in the next legislative session which begins in January 2021.” Plans include boat ramps, campsites, restroom facilities, access roads, parks, and hiking trails along approximately 170 river miles between Hysham and Sidney.

The Montana Free Press reports that a plan to reduce Amtrak service to three days a week will cost Montana $38 million. The passenger rail line has been used by out-of-state skiers for decades as affordable and dependable transportation to reach Whitefish’s ski slopes.  It also serves many other Hi-line towns in Montana, which otherwise have limited transportation options. The plan, to reduce costs for the publically-funded Amtrak, is to make stops in Montana only on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays traveling westbound, and Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays heading east. COVID has drastically cut Amtrak passenger numbers prompting the request for an additional $1.4 billion last May in funding, which it has not yet received.

The Montana Department of Transportation is planning to resurface approximately 11 miles of US Highway 191, near Melville in Sweet Grass County.  The project begins south of the junction with Melville Road, at reference post  extends approximately 11 miles north ending at the Wheatland. The project is tentatively scheduled for construction in summer of 2021.

Montana Farm Bureau elects officers during virtual delegate session

The Montana Farm Bureau elected officers during its hybrid in-person/virtual voting delegate session November 10.

Hans McPherson, a diversified farmer from Stevensville, was re-elected as president of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation with Cyndi Johnson, a Conrad small grains farmer, re-elected as vice president.

Newly elected to the board were: Casey Mott, District 4, a cattle rancher from Custer; Don Steinbeisser, Jr., District 6, a diversified farmer from Sidney and Jim Willis, District 10, a cattle producer from Wilsall. Re-elected to the board were Rhonda Boyd, District 2, a cattle rancher from Alder and Ed Bandel, District 8, a wheat farmer from Floweree.

Carla Lawrence from Boyd was re-elected as the organization’s Women’s Leadership Committee Chair and JM Peck from Melrose was elected as Young Farmer and Rancher Committee Chair.

Following are the district chairs for the Women’s Leadership Committee and the Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee:

District Women’s Leadership Committee: 

District 1: Beth Blevins – Ronan / Lorena Erickson – Corvallis

District 3: Mary Hill – Raynesford/ Debbie Bricker – Moore

District 5: Lillian Ostendorf – Powderville / Cathy McDowell – Powderville

District 7: Joy DePuydt – Saco /Julie Reddig – Frazer

District 9: Bonnie Jones – East Helena / Pam Converse – Conrad

District Young Farmer/Rancher Committee: 

District 1: Jo-Hanna Lien – Ronan  / Neela Andres – Missoula

District 2: (Vacant Seat) Michael Walsh – Twin Bridges

District 3: Vic Lewis – Ryegate / Kevin Arntzen – Hilger

District 5: John Olson – Broadus/Fiona Mott – Miles City

District 7: Gwynn Simeniuk – Opheim / John Walker – Nashua

District 9: Rocky Forseth – Helena / Klayton Lohr – Devon

District 10: (Vacant Seat): Kat Taylor – Bozeman

Montana Farm Bureau Federation is thrilled that the Miles Community College’s meat processing program continues to advance, including the hiring of a coordinator for the program. The college, along with the Montana Meat Processors Association, had been working for four years to get a meat processing course in place. The Montana Farm Bureau was integral in building support for the program and working with MCC and MPPA make this program a reality.

“The coronavirus pandemic highlighted strengths and weaknesses in our food system. Farm Bureau worked to identify improvements that could be made for producers and consumers,” noted Nicole Rolf, national affairs director, MFBF. “Montana Farm Bureau was active in working on federal legislation to expand meat processing capacity nationwide, but also wanted to do something on a more local level. Knowing that there is a shortage of processing capacity in the state, we started exploring options to help get more workers trained to do this important job. That’s where involvement in this program started on the Farm Bureau side.”

Brian Engle, who owns Pioneer Meats in Big Timber, noted, “The Montana Meat Processors is very excited to be part of the training platform on the internship side. In Montana, three new plants are being built which will just add to the every-increasing demand for more employees. Having these small plants is vital business for our state and our economy. We really appreciate Kim Gibbs’ efforts at MCC and the state’s Montana Meat Processing Infrastructure Grant. We thank Montana Farm Bureau for their support; if their support wasn’t there, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Rolf welcomed the new meat program coordinator, Tina Rutledge, who is going to facilitate the course, providing students with knowledge on everything from fabricating meat to marketing strategies. The 29-credit remote course include classes on food safety, business math, elementary technical writing and biology. Small meat processing facilities across the state will provide hands-on internships.