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Cenex Harvest States will move its three Kalispell area businesses into the Glacier Rail Park. They have purchased over 11 acres in the Rail Park.

 

Government officials are moving to block new gold mining claims in the mountains north of Yellowstone National Park. They have released an analysis of the mining’s effects on the environment. The plan is to withdraw more than 30,000 acres of public lands in the Absaroka mountains from new claims for gold, silver, platinum and other minerals The plan is driven by gold exploration projects on private lands in the area.

 

Job growth around the cities of Billings, Missoula, Bozeman, Kalispell and Helena compared to the rest of the rural areas in the state is much more explosive. A report for the Legislature’s Subcommittee on the changing statewide economy and impacts to the state’s tax structure was released recently. From 2000 to 2015, personal income grew in Montana by 49 percent and per capita income grew 30 percent,

 

The Miner’s Hotel has finished its expansion of rooms to the first floor. The hotel has a new ground-floor lobby and four new rooms on the ground floor. The expansion was because the stairs up to the hotel’s eight rooms on the second floor were a challenge for some guests.

 

Ridge Run, a drive thru grocery, is expected to open in Bozeman on April 2. The inventory, while subject to change,  includes fresh produce, dairy and meat, as well as over-the-counter medicines, baby items and household goods like toilet paper and trash bags. Customers will use drive up to order. Items will be gathered and delivered through the window.

 

Costco in Bozeman has received permission to expands its location by 24,000 square feet if the business solves its traffic problems at the intersection in front of the store.

 

The Belgrade Chalet Market has been named the Retailer of the Year by the Montana Department of Commerce. The store sells a variety of meats, sandwiches, ice cream and made in Montana products was honored at the recent Made in Montana tradeshow.

 

The Montana portion of TransCanada’s $8 billion pipeline will begin construction next year. The 36-inch pipeline has been approved to run through Phillips, Valley, McCone, Dawson, Prairie and Fallon counties. The pipeline will run from Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas.

 

Glendive has a strong claim to being the middle of nowhere. A recent study shows the towns involved by size. For towns with a population of 1,000 or more, it turns out Glasgow, Mont. is the ‘middle of nowhere.’ Towns with a population of 5,000 or more has Glendive in second place to Colby, Kansas. The study is based on the time it takes to travel from a community to the closest city of at least 75,000. Glendive clocks in at over 3 hours.

 

Montana now has a pea that is adapted to the state and its short growing season. The MSU Eastern Agriculture Research Center has designated the variety as MT457. Top of the list of its  advantages, the pea matures a few days earlier than other varieties.  The pea also has a heavy seed weight, plus a bright color, which could make it ideal for several markets.

 

The Bakken is leading the way to an economic upturn, as indicated by the latest statistics for taxable sales and purchases in North Dakota. Williams County was 24.3 percent higher on an annual basis, while Mountrail posted a 25.9 percent increase. Mckenzie County increased 25.77 percent, Dunn County 45.19 percent, and Stark county 14.58 percent. The North Dakota cities, showed annual increases up to Williston’s 24.45 percent increase, and Dickinson’s 14.67 percent increase.

 

Merdian’s Davis Refinery has attracted protests to its plans to build its plant in Billings County. The plants plans to process North Dakota’s oil into gasoline, kerosene, low sulfur diesel and low sulfur fuel oil. The plant will initially produce 27,500 barrels per day, but can be expanded to 49,500. Davis Refinery will hire an initial 200 people. Most of the permits for Davis Refinery have been issued.

 

Judge Stephen Reinhardt, 87, of the Ninth Circuit Court died March 29, 2018, after suffering a heart attack. Judge Reinhardt, who lived and maintained chambers in Los Angeles, served as an active judge of the court for more than 37 years.

 

A proposal written by researchers at Montana State University’s Western Transportation Institute has resulted in a $10.3 million federal grant for improving safety and traffic flow on the road leading to the Big Sky community. The funding comes from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, known as TIGER.

 

Big Sky Resort will bring the first eight-seat, high-speed chairlift to North America. The new eight-seat, high-speed D-Line chairlift, “Ramcharger 8” will be the most technologically advanced lift ever built. A fully integrated high-resolution LED screen at the lower terminal will provide up-to-date guest information. Big Sky Resort has plans to transform the upper level of the Mountain Mall, creating a modern ski lodge food hall and event venue large enough to service more than 700 guests. Indoor fireplaces and an elevator will be added. New, curated coffee, wine and beer bars are planned with mountain views. Lunch capacity will grow by roughly 350 additional seats.

 

Margit Baake has been named membership director for the Montana Chamber of Commerce. She will be responsible for member engagement, retention and recruitment. Baake worked as the director of membership at the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce. She was the membership development manager for the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce. Before entering the chamber world, was a member representative for the National Federation of Independent Business.

 

Industry leaders say construction in the Bakken is expected to increase in 2018 in response to the infrastructure needs and stronger oil prices. Several projects were recently announced, including a natural gas liquids pipeline and expansions of natural gas processing plants. Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, projects the state will need an additional 1 billion to 1.5 billion cubic feet per day in natural gas processing capacity, beyond the projects currently in development. Until new gathering pipeline systems get developed, Kringstad expects there may be an increase in truck transportation. The Dakota Access Pipeline, which began commercial service in June, was about 85 percent full in January. Kringstad projects oil production will exceed pipeline capacity in the next 12 to 18 months.

 

If North Dakota could fill its available job openings, it’d be like adding another city the size of Jamestown. That’s the comparison Gov. Doug Burgum made during the recent Main Street ND Summit to emphasize the unrealized potential as thousands of jobs wait to be filled. “This is actually a gating factor, which is slowing down our growth and our potential as a state,” Burgum said.  

 

Whitefish Mountain Resort has surpassed last season’s record year of 346,859 total skier visits.

 

Montana State University’s TechLink Center has landed a $500,000 contract to continue quality assurance testing on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers software. The one-year award will fund eight computer science student internships at MSU’s TechLink Software Engineering and Analysis Laboratory or TSEAL. TSEAL provides MSU students with real-world experience improving the Sustainment Management System, a software application created by the Corps’ Construction Engineering Research Laboratory to improve upkeep of hundreds of thousands of federal facilities by helping managers decide when, where and how to best conduct maintenance.

 

North Dakota’s State Census Director Kevin Iverson said he expects northwest North Dakota’s period of out-migration has run its course, based on demographic and economic indicators. The census estimates from the year that ended last July 1 reflect a continued effect from the slowing of oil activity in the Bakken. The population of Williams County declined nearly 2.5 percent, although Mountrail and McKenzie counties each saw a bit of an increase.  The three counties remain significantly more populated than in 2010, however. Williams is up nearly 11,000 residents to 33,349 and McKenzie’s size has doubled to 12,724.

 

Nixon Peabody advised Eagle Bancorp Montana, Inc. (Eagle), in its acquisition of Ruby Valley Bank in Twin Bridges, Montana. Eagle is a bank holding company and the holding company of Opportunity Bank of Montana, which serves small businesses and consumers across 15 branches in the region. Through the acquisition, Eagle will grow its number of bank branches to include Ruby Valley’s two retail branches in addition to $78M in deposits, $55M in gross loans and $90M in assets. As a result of the transaction, Opportunity Bank became the fifth largest bank headquartered in Montana with total assets in excess of $800 million. The acquisition was valued at $18.9M.

 

Two major oil and gas projects approved by the North Dakota Public Service Commission aim to improve pipeline safety, meet local demand for diesel and reduce natural gas flaring. Commissioners approved a project from Cenex Pipeline LLC that will upgrade a portion of a refined fuels pipeline in northwest North Dakota, and approved the Arrow Bear Den gas plant near Watford City. The two projects total more than $250 million. The pipeline is owned by Cenex, a subsidiary of CHS, and transports refined fuels from Laurel, Mont., to Fargo. The Arrow Bear Den Gas Processing Plant II will process up to 120 million cubic feet of natural gas per day about 7.5 miles southeast of Watford City.