Harbor Freight Tools has opened in the Spring Prairie retail center in North Kalispell. The new store is located next to Costco. Harbor Freight Tools specializes in manufacturing tools and then selling them at retail locations. The company is based in Calabasas, California.


Glacier Bancorp Inc., a bank holding company headquartered in Kalispell, was awarded the 2017 Montana Lending Institution of the Year Award by the Montana & Idaho Community Development Corp. Montana & Idaho Community Development Corp. is a nonprofit financing company that provides capital to businesses, projects and communities that need help getting their projects financed. Glacier Bancorp’s operating divisions in Montana include Glacier Bank in Kalispell, First Security Bank of Missoula, Valley Bank of Helena, First Security Bank in Bozeman, Western Security Bank in Billings and First Bank of Montana in Lewistown.


Home 2 Suites by Hilton in Helena at 3325 North Sanders St. has opened for business. They are a pet-friendly motel with a heated indoor pool, 24-hour business center plus other amenities.


There is a new statewide radio station based in Helena called Treasure State Radio. They are totally digital and have a mix of music, news, and new programming from across the state of Montana. You can easily listen on your computer by visiting their website at www.treasurestateradio.com


Julius Lehrkind Brewing  began distributing beer locally to Bozeman customers recently. Owner Rob Lehrkind has released three beers: Stowaway IPA, Conniption Wit and Seven Sons Pale Ale. Rob Lehrkind is an alumnus of Bozeman High School. Lehrkind is also involved in the Big Spring Brewing Co. set to open in Lewistown later this year.


A new hearing date has been set for the Intake diversion dam’s summary in U.S. District Court in Great Falls. Judge Brian Morris has granted a one-week extension to Defenders of Wildlife, so that the environmental group can prepare a response to a recent court ruling vacating a preliminary injunction against construction of a fish bypass project proposed by federal agencies to make the submerged weir more fish friendly. The new hearing date is 1:30 p.m. April  26 in Great Falls.  


Montana State University has announced the development of a new pea developed specifically for Montana. Chengci Chen, superintendent of the MSU Eastern Agricultural Research Center in Sidney has spent the last 12 years developing pulse crops specifically adapted to Montana’s growing conditions. One successful green pea variety with high yield and protein, currently named MT457, will be commercially available in 2020. The new pea variety has a heavy seed weight and genetic resistance to  a widespread fungus that damages pulse crops. “What’s unique about this variety is that it’s bred specifically to perform well in Montana,” said Kevin McPhee, who holds a doctorate in plant sciences as MSU’s pulse crop breeder and professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology. “I’m not confident this variety would perform well outside of Montana, in fact.”


Montana’s personal income increased an average of three percent between 2016 and 2017, according to a recent report from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. Nationally, it grew by 3.1 percent on average.


Helena Industries of Helena has unexpectedly closed. The company provided career development and workforce training services to over 900 people with disabilities in Montana. The jobs included work involving wood and textiles, working in the organization’s thrift store and recycling electronics. The closure comes after cuts to the public health department budget, which had helped to subsidize the program for a monthly operating loss of about $30,000 .


The Butte Rescue Mission has purchased land and a vacant building for $185,000 for a homeless facility. A year ago the mission was forced to close its shelter because of fire code violations. The purchase of 1.6 acres and a vacant warehouse came one day after Town Pump said it was donating $200,000 to the mission for its planned shelter and a promise to match other donations up to an additional $200,000. The Gianforte Family Foundation based in Bozeman gave a $270,000 donation to the mission’s capital campaign. The mission still needs more funding to complete its project of moving portable housing units, purchased in North Dakota, to house up to 56 people.


Energy Transfer Partners LP launched a binding open season to solicit shipper support for its Dakota Access Pipeline system and storage terminals. The 1,915-mile, mostly 30-inch pipeline system moves crude oil from the Bakken/Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to a storage and terminal hub outside Patoka, Illinois, and/or south to additional terminals in Nederland, Texas. (From Oil Patch Hotline)



The North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a siting permit for the expansion of the Bear Creek Gas Plant in Dunn County.  Bear Creek is one of several gas processing projects under development in the state. ONEOK Rockies Midstream is planning to expand the capacity of its existing Bear Creek Gas Plant from 80 million standard cubic feet per day to 175 million standard cubic feet per day. The plant will process wellhead natural gas from local crude oil production wells. Once processed, the Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) product will be sold and transported via NGL pipelines. Residue gas, largely methane and ethane, will be transferred to the Northern Border Pipeline. The full expansion, including the costs to build the existing plant, will result in a total investment of approximately $250 million.



PREROGATIvE Kitchen, a new restaurant featuring locally sourced ingredients, recently opened in the former City Bakery in Red Lodge. Husband-and-wife owners Gena Burghoff and Chris Lockhart, who is also head chef, have established relationships with area farmers and food producers to obtain ingredients for their fresh, locally driven menu. Together, Gena and Chris have spent more than 40 years in the restaurant business, with experience in catering, food truck ownership, working as a chef and general management. Their most recent venture was a pop-up restaurant in Red Lodge called Ox Pasture, which featured a seasonal menu of locally sourced food that rotated every two weeks. Danny Mowatt, who also serves as a chef at PREROGATIvE Kitchen, collaborated with Gena and Chris on Ox Pasture. Now in a permanent location, PREROGATIvE Kitchen reflects that same farm-to-table approach.

Jonette and Kyle Spencer, owners of Allegra Marketing, Print, Mail in Helena, were recognized recently by the international franchise network Alliance Franchise brands for top sales volume for a single location, placing the company among the top 10 in the network in sales growth. The Spencers and their team were also honored with a Sales Excellence Award and the Three Star Award to recognize their record-breaking sales and customer support efforts.


An administrator and professor from Tufts University will be the next dean of Montana State University’s Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship. Mark Ranalli’s experience at Tufts University includes serving since 2014 as associate dean of the School of Engineering, as professor of the practice and as executive director of the Tufts Gordon Institute, which encompasses two graduate degrees, a minor, an entrepreneurial leadership studies program and the university’s entrepreneurship center In the realm of business, Ranalli co-founded and served as CEO of Basessix, an internet professional services agency. He later founded and led Helium, a crowd sourcing content marketing and publishing company, which was later sold to the marketing firm RR Donnelley, which Ranalli served as managing director of the company’s digital solutions group.


Julie Batty has opened Abbi’s Unique Boutique in Sidney. Abbi’s Unique Boutique features women’s clothing, girls clothing and home decor. She and her husband, Brandon, moved to Sidney from Utah and started their own oil field company, Triple B Services.


A new brewery has opened in Helena. Snow Hop Brewery, off McHugh Drive, was opened by Steve and Barbie Edwards. It is Helena’s fourth brewery.


Oil Patch Hotline reports that the president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, Ron Ness lauded efforts by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to rescind a last-minute regulation by the Obama administration, which imposed pages of venting and flaring regulations on oil and gas producers. “The oil and gas industry is fully supportive of capturing more natural gas, but this rule targeted North Dakota and the Bakken with a duplicative, burdensome, and costly paperwork that provided zero net benefit beyond what the state had already implemented a year or two prior,” Ness said. “As a result, the 2016 rule is not preventing waste—it is enabling it.” North Dakota officials have argued in the past that state regulations already cover flaring, and that additional federal rules are not necessary. Ness pointed out that since the BLM rule was adopted in November 2016, statewide flaring in North Dakota increased by 4%, 7% on tribal lands at Fort Berthold, and even higher at 9% on trust lands managed by the federal government.