About 21.4 percent of the cigarettes consumed in Montana are smuggled in from states that tax their cigarettes lower than Montana, where a pack is taxes $1.70. The tax on a pack of cigarettes in North Dakota is 44 cents; in South Dakota $1.53; in Wyoming its 60 cents; and 57 cents in Idaho.

The Tax Foundation estimates that Montana experiences $17.6 million in “foregone” revenue  due to smuggling. An estimated 10.3 million packs are smuggled into the state annually.

Tobacco is the most highly taxed consumer product in the United States.

Cigarettes are taxed at the federal, state, and sometimes even local levels. These layers of taxes often result in very high levels of taxation. Taxes make up nearly half of the retail price of cigarettes nationwide. In New York and Washington, D.C., more than 60 percent of the price paid by consumers comes from taxes.

Taxation varies greatly from state to state, and large differences in prices drive smuggling. Low-taxed products commonly find their way into high-tax states. For instance, in 2020, New York was the highest net importer of smuggled cigarettes. 53.5 percent of cigarettes consumed in New York were purchased illicitly or from other states. New York also has one of the highest state cigarette taxes at $4.35 per pack, and New York City levies an additional $1.50 cigarette tax per pack.

Layers of taxation force state and federal governments to consider each other’s tax policies. Because consumption is impacted by price, a federal tax hike, which would increase retail prices and shrink consumption, would impact revenue generated by state governments. In other words, federal tobacco tax increases decrease state tax revenue by driving down legal consumption.

More recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed product standards that would further restrict the kind of tobacco products that can be legally sold. In 2022, the FDA proposed a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. In 2020, menthol cigarettes accounted for 37 percent of the cigarette market. A menthol ban would decrease tax collections by more than $6 billion per year.

Even more impactful would be a very low nicotine (VLN) product standard. The FDA could propose a product standard that would limit the (naturally grown) nicotine levels in tobacco. The result could be a de facto prohibition on cigarettes. The consequences of such a ban would be greater in magnitude than any tobacco regulation or tax implemented to date.

Finally, excise taxes on tobacco are highly regressive. This means that low-income Americans pay a greater share of their income in tobacco excise taxes than higher-income groups. Consumption taxes are almost always regressive, but cigarette taxes tend to be the most heavily burdensome on low-income households.

The negative impact to Montana from the $1 federal excise tax is $3.3 million. Negative impact due to the federal flavor ban is $8.6 million. Negative impact of a VLN product ruling would be $79.3 million for Montana.

By Joe Mahon Director, Regional Outreach, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Strong commodity prices continued to benefit agricultural producers in the opening months of 2023, but inflation has taken a bite, especially looking forward. “Cash flows are positive, but due to higher inputs, interest rates and family living, there is some concern,” said a Minnesota banker in a comment from a recent Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis survey.

According to lenders responding to the Minneapolis Fed’s first-quarter agricultural credit conditions survey, conducted in April, farm incomes and spending increased over the opening three months of 2023. Growing incomes also led to increased loan repayment rates, while loan demand decreased, and renewals and extensions also edged lower on balance. Farmland values increased on average from a year earlier across the district, and cash rents climbed as well. But the outlook for the growing season is less bullish, as respondents on balance expect declines in farm incomes and a mixed picture for spending.

Expectations heading into the growing season are somewhat cautious. Across the district, 48 percent of lenders predicted that farm income will decrease in the second quarter from the same period in 2022, compared with 17 percent forecasting increases. The outlook for capital spending is also down on balance, with 38 percent expecting declines, while a third of respondents expect farm household spending to increase. Expectations call for an uptick in borrowing in the upcoming quarter—37 percent think loan demand will increase, compared with 21 percent who think it will fall. The outlook for loan repayment is positive on balance, though two-thirds expect no change in repayment rates. Survey respondents overwhelmingly indicated they expect no change in renewals and extensions to decrease on balance. Nearly all anticipate no change in required collateral, though 10 percent expect collateral requirements to increase.

An additional question on the first-quarter survey asked lenders about their biggest concerns for agriculture this year. By a large margin, commodity price volatility is the most common concern, selected by 52 percent of respondents. Rising interest rates, at 27 percent, is next, followed by input cost and/or availability.

Half of district bankers surveyed indicated that farm incomes increased in the first quarter of 2023 compared with the first quarter of 2022. By contrast, only 15 percent of respondents reported decreased incomes from a year ago. Similarly, 53 percent of lenders reported seeing an increase in household spending. Capital spending by farming operations was flatter, as 44 percent of respondents reported no change. A slightly higher share of those remaining indicated increases than those who reported decreases. Some lenders noted that due to higher interest rates, many equipment purchases were being paid for in cash rather than through loans.

“Renewal season is progressing and we are seeing decent earned net worth gains for the most part,” commented a South Dakota banker. While 69 percent of lenders reported no change in the number of loan renewals or extensions, 22 percent said renewal activity decreased. The rate of repayment on agricultural loans increased, according to 40 percent of respondents. Most of the remainder reported that repayment rates were unchanged.

Given improved income for farmers, loan demand fell. Nearly half of bankers in the survey reported a lower loan demand in the first quarter relative to the same period a year earlier, compared with 13 percent who noted increased loan demand. The amount of required collateral saw no change at 92 percent of agricultural banks. Interest rates on farm loans continued to increase, following a year-long trend. Average fixed and variable rates on operating, machinery, and real estate loans each increased in the first quarter by at least 25 basis points or more from the end of 2022.

The growth in land values seen over the past several years continued but tapered off, and cash rents also grew. Ninth District nonirrigated cropland values increased by more than 11 percent on average from the first quarter of 2022, though compared with the most recent quarter they actually fell slightly. Irrigated cropland values also rose, by 10 percent from a year ago, while ranchland and pastureland values edged up 3 percent. The district average cash rent for nonirrigated land rose by almost 8 percent from a year ago. Rents for irrigated land increased 10 percent, while ranchland rents increased 7 percent. Changes in land values and rents were generally consistent across district states.

The International Franchise Association (IFA) today released its 2023 Franchising Economic Outlook report, showing that Montana will add 7 new franchised businesses in 2023, creating 435 new jobs. These local businesses continue to deliver jobs and business ownership opportunities, despite economic uncertainty across all industries and in daily life.

“Even with today’s economic headwinds, franchises in Montana continue to grow, provide career-building jobs for their employees, and give back to their local communities,” said IFA President and CEO Matt Haller. “After an historic year of growth during the post-pandemic recovery, franchising is predicted to exceed pre-pandemic growth levels – showing the power of the business model and its distinct advantages for prospective business owners.”

In Montana:

* Franchise establishments will increase by 7 units, at a rate of 0.2%, to a total of 3,073 units.

* Franchising will add approximately 435 new jobs in 2023, to a total of 33,174 franchise employees.

* Economic output by franchises increased to $3.2 billion in 2022, or 2.4%. Output growth is expected to continue into 2023 by 2.5% to $3.3 billion.

Key highlights on the national level include:

* The overall number of franchise establishments will increase by almost 15,000 units in 2023, or 1.9%, to 805,000 units.

* Franchising will add approximately 254,000 jobs in 2023. Growing at 3.0%, total franchise employment is forecasted to reach 8.7 million.

* From $825.4 billion in 2022, the total output of franchised businesses — the measure of total economic activity in nominal dollars — will increase by 4.2% to $860.1 billion in 2023.

* Franchises’ GDP share of the overall economy will remain stable at 3%. Compared with 2022, franchises’ GDP — the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within U.S. borders — will grow at a slightly slower pace of 4.2% to $521.3 billion.

* Service-based industries and quick-service restaurants will witness higher growth than other industries.

While 20 European countries that use the euro fell into a recession at the beginning of the year, the broader European economy avoided the downturn. Overall the European Union gross domestic product ticked up 0.1 percent in the first quarter after falling -.2 percent at the end of 2022.

High inflation curtailed consumer spending in the 20 countries, however, and their government tightened purse strings. Economic output in the eurozone dropped 0.1% compared with the previous quarter. In the fourth quarter of 2022, output also dipped 0.1%, the figures showed.

Normally, recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of economic contraction – in which production declines.

But it could have been worse, given the magnitude of the “shock” to incomes once they are adjusted for inflation, according to officials. Overall consumer prices in May were 6.1 percent higher than a year ago.

Both the eurozone and the whole of the EU are lagging the US economy. GDP in the US rose 0.3% in the first quarter after a 0.6% increase late last year, according to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The US grew its economy 1.3% in the January-March period compared with the previous quarter.

European analysts foresee another contraction in the second quarter as the effects of monetary policy continue to tighten.

From National Manufacturers Association

Two-thirds of the U.S. is at risk of energy shortfalls this summer—and that share is only going to grow “[u]nless reliability and resilience are appropriately prioritized,” the North American Electric Reliability Corporation warned the Senate at a recent hearing, according to CBS Austin.

In most of the country, “there is the potential of running low on resources including electricity,” CBS reports. “The causes include an overwhelmed electric grid, the slowing use of fossil fuels like coal and natural gas to balance the use of the grid and new regulations like a lengthy permitting process that makes developing new energy take too long.”

The NERC recently released its 2023 Summer Reliability Assessment, in which it details how, in the current push toward greater use of renewables, “the pace of change is overtaking the reliability needs of the [transmission grid] system,” NERC President and CEO James Robb told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“The hearing comes as more and more Americans are expected to rely on electricity, even being rewarded by switching to electric cars,” according to CBS. “‘When electricity is unreliable, the potential consequences are catastrophic, including loss of human life,’ said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., the committee chairperson.”

Given the past few years of escalating property values it probably won’t be a surprise for most people when they get their Real Estate Assessment Notices and see an increase in their property values  – but then again – it may be quite a shock for some and alarming to many people as to what it means regarding their property tax bill.

At the very least, the Montana Department of Revenue (DOR) anticipates that there will be a lot of questions about what the increased values for both commercial and residential properties will mean.

The Montana DOR is mailing property classification and appraisal notices to all owners of residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural land properties on June 30. These notices are not tax bills. They include the department’s determination of market or productivity value and the taxable value for property that will be used by your county treasurer to determine the property taxes owed for tax year 2023 and 2024.

In order to meet those questions head-on the agency is planning to hold two informational meetings in Yellowstone County in July.

Paula Gilbert, DOR’s Appraisal Manager for Yellowstone Count said, “People are going to see large changes in their values. Because the market in Montana has been so strong these past several years, most values have gone up dramatically. Some people will look at those assessments and panic.”

It is hoped that the informational meetings will help to “relieve some of that panic.” Ideally, if property values go up, mill levies go down. What mill levies will be won’t, of course, be known until the fall when property tax statements are issued.

The first meeting will be at the Billings Library on Thursday, July 6, 4-7 pm.

A second one will be held on Tuesday, July 11, 9:30 am in conjunction with the country commissioners regular weekly meeting, 3rd Floor of the Stillwater Building. Gilbert said that at that meeting there will be knowledgeable experts on hand to answer questions of taxpayers.

DOR wants people to understand that if they believe their property valuation is incorrect or if they want to file a protest, they must do so within 30 days of receiving their Real Estate Assessment Notices. Waiting until the tax bill comes is too late.

 “It’s important that Montana property owners review this information,” said Brendan Beatty, Director of the Montana DOR. “If property owners wait until property tax bills are sent in November, it will be too late for the department to correct property characteristics and make adjustments that may impact the value of the property for Tax Year 2023.

Recipients are urged to review the notice as soon as possible and contact the DOR, if they have questions. If property owners disagree with the department’s determination of value for their property, they may submit a Request for Informal Classification and Appraisal Review (called Form AB-26) within 30 days of the date on their notice.

Owners can electronically submit the form, download it, and find more information on the informal review process at MTRevenue.gov. In July, public meetings in cities and towns across the state will be held to help taxpayers understand the property valuation process and how the department determined the new values on their appraisal notices.

From National Assoc. of Manufacturers’

As job growth has risen in industries that don’t require college degrees, high school graduates are increasingly going directly into the workforce, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“The college enrollment rate for recent U.S. high school graduates, ages 16 to 24, has declined to 62% last year from 66.2% in 2019.”

—At the same time, the unemployment rate for teenage workers fell to a 70-year low of 9.2% last month.

High school graduates are turning toward jobs that offer competitive wages, particularly in industries like manufacturing, without requiring a pricy degree beforehand.

—For example, machinists earn $23.32 an hour, above the national median wage of $22.26 an hour.

—“If you can get [a job] without a B.A. and with decent wage growth, why go get a B.A.?” as ZipRecruiter Chief Economist Julia Pollak put it.

Meanwhile, more young people are pursuing other forms of job training.

—“The number of apprentices has increased by more than 50%.”

—The changing economy has led to wider acceptance of forgoing college, as employers’ interest in hiring high school graduates has grown, according to Steve Boden, a supervisor at Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools.

—The Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s 501(c)3 workforce development and education affiliate, has been training students so they can enter rewarding career paths that do not require degrees.

By Tu-Uyen Tran,Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota

This year’s construction season is expected to be leaner for a significant number of construction firms in the Ninth District compared with last year’s, according to a recent Minneapolis Fed survey.

About half of homebuilders and a third of firms in other sectors of the industry said they think profits over the next six months will be lower than in the same period a year ago

“Interest rates have taken a large portion of our buyers out of the market,” said the owner of a Wisconsin home construction firm. “Only higher end cash buyers don’t seem to be fazed.”

Nearly half of construction firms reported fewer new projects out for bid—known in the industry as requests for proposals (RFPs)—in what is normally a very busy season for them. Some respondents said more projects were delayed or canceled than normal.

The CEO of a Twin Cities architecture firm that works primarily in the commercial sector estimated that a third of the firm’s projects have been paused “based on lack of financing and financial stress of owners and developers.” The number of paused projects is still growing, she said.

Despite the gloomy forecast, however, many said they are optimistic about the future as they adapt to new conditions and seek out new markets.

The survey, conducted throughout April, included 254 respondents.

The construction industry has struggled with customer demand in the past year. A growing number of respondents have reported lower gross revenue since April 2022. In November, more than half of respondents reported lower RFP activity from private-sector customers in recent months compared with the same time period in 2021.

The hardest hit sector then was residential construction.

Up to that point, the industry had coped for several years with a tight labor market and supply chain disruptions resulting in higher project costs. 2022 added a new challenge with a sharp increase in interest rates. Benchmark prime loan rates exceeded pre-pandemic levels about midyear and kept rising. That made it harder for customers to afford the higher costs, especially homebuyers.

2023 could be déjà vu all over again for the industry with nearly half of respondents reporting lower RFP activity from private-sector customers in April. Residential construction was again the hardest hit.

“We simply are not getting the same amount of work we did three years ago,” said a Wisconsin homebuilder. “We have to bid more for the same amount of work.”

Outside of the residential sector, would-be customers are also trying to make sense of a changing economy . . . developers are trying to figure out what the market needs…

There’s also uncertainty about the direction the economy is going with so much speculation about a possible downturn and its timing.

All of which seems to have resulted in more hesitation among developers.

“There are projects being bid but not a whole lot of movement on them,” said a respondent from a Greater Minnesota subcontractor in the commercial sector. “Owners seem to want to ‘wait the storm out’ on a lot of projects.”

Projects that do get the greenlight, the respondent said, are mostly from large corporations, such as fast-food chains and big-box retailers.

Respondents are reporting elevated levels of project cancellations and delays. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they had seen more cancellations recently compared with three months ago; respondents in the industrial and residential sectors were more likely to report cancellations. More than half of respondents said they had seen more delays, again, with higher rates in the industrial and residential sectors. In the past, delays have often been associated with late delivery of construction materials. But responses in the April survey suggest that many customers are changing their minds.

While interest rates are a top concern for many firms, especially those in the residential sector, for the rest of the construction industry, this concern pales in comparison to labor availability and price increases for construction materials and other inputs. These emerged as the top two concerns for the industry as a whole outside of customer demand, according to respondents.

Even in the residential sector, interest rates were less commonly cited compared with input costs.

A Greater Minnesota architect in the residential sector said none of her clients understand how much higher prices are. “Disbelief causes numerous restarts on projects that come in significantly over budget [compared with] when preliminary cost-per-square-foot estimations come in from contractors. We advise but are not always believed.”

She said the average cost of a home has gone up from $350 per square foot to $500 or even $550. “It is shocking to all of us.”

About a third of respondents said they had experienced price increases of 5 percent or more just in the past three months, and another third said their prices increased between 1 and 5 percent.

These rapid price increases have led to changes in how builders do business.

The Greater Minnesota residential architect said she has to constantly request new bids from suppliers to find the best prices because those prices seem to change every week to two weeks. “This is exhausting.”

A Twin Cities subcontractor in the commercial sector said the firm focuses more on projects that can start immediately because material costs in the near future are easier to estimate. For projects that are further out, the subcontractor said, the firm errs on the side of caution and submits bids that assume high increases in material cost even if it means the bids aren’t competitive. “We’re unwilling to hold the bag on far out contracts that include materials. If we’re bidding work that’s out six months, we are severely marking up our bids to reflect past material uncertainties that cost us millions of dollars.”

Hiring remains a challenge for many firms. Of those that have hired or planned to hire, 57 percent described the labor market as very tight with most of the rest saying it was slightly or moderately tight. Only 3 percent said it wasn’t tight.

That’s put more pressure on wages. About a third of firms said they had increased wages by more than 5 percent in the past 12 months. About a fifth said they planned to increase wages by more than 5 percent in the next 12 months.

“It seems most employees are fishing for other jobs to get more money causing us to pay more to keep them,” said a respondent from a Twin Cities subcontractor involved in the residential and commercial sectors. “New applications are asking for $25 to $30 an hour with little experience.”

With higher costs and more competition for fewer projects, some respondents said they’ve had to absorb the higher costs themselves.

“We’ve had to reduce our profits and margins in order to secure jobs,” a Wisconsin homebuilder reported. “This is not a sustainable practice as the cost of doing business keeps increasing and our gross proceeds are decreasing.”

Despite the many challenges respondents reported, a majority of respondents reported a positive to neutral outlook with 48 percent saying they are optimistic about the next six months and 29 percent saying they are neutral.

Even in the residential sector, 41 percent are optimistic and 28 percent neutral.

One reason respondents are more positive than their financial situation might suggest is they’re looking for opportunities in different markets and are feeling good about their chances of success. The owner of a Twin Cities residential subcontracting firm, for example, said that as fewer people look to build new homes, he’s focusing more on remodeling projects, where he believes he’ll have a better chance of winning contracts.

Most firms, including this subcontractor, are still hiring. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they had hired in the past three months, and three-quarters said they plan to hire in the next six months. Those figures are only slightly lower than a year ago but double what they were two years ago, when the industry was on the upswing and interest rates were much lower.

Immortal Construction, 1822 Island View Dr, 59101, 861-3892, Thomas Highsmith, general contractors

Tea City & Cupcakes, 1001 Shiloh Crossing Blvd #7, 59102, 652-1882, Amy Jensen, restaurants

JDS Woodworks, 21 Hemlock Dr #3, 59101, 717-5304, Joel D Sease, service

Brightside Therapy LLC, 1430 Country Manor Blvd, 59102, 534-9029, Desire Meismer, service

Doghouse Woodworks, 2914 4th Ave S, 59101, 530-5288, Thomas Giovanini, retail sales

All Stars Drywall LLC, 2030 Overland Ave Rm119, 59102, 272-6334, Van Thomas, service

J&H Contractors, 4234 Jansma Ave, 59101, 461-1672, Justin Peabody, general contractors

4 Seasons Tree Service, 207 Lewis Ave, 59101, 696-2924, Jonathan Martinez, service

Trejo Construction LLC, 1501 Butler Creek Unit A, Belgrade 59714, 539-74080, Ivan Trejo/Immer Menjivar, general contractors

Casey Tully – Fine Art, LLC, 711 Black Hawk St B1, 59106, 262-391-9593, Cassy Tully, retail sales

M-Proven LLC, 1674 Lakehills Dr, 59105, 218-391-9593, Melinda Provencher, retail sales

Yellowstone Modern, 4228 Vaughn Ln, 59101, 208-7767, Jesse Arstein, general contractors

Q7 Systems Inc, 2901 Monad Rd #187, 59102, 861-9191, Robert Espinoza, service

Elegant Spatula Bakery, 1139 N 27th St – Ste B, 59101, 894-2626, Jamie Conrad, restaurants

Pryor Creek Cuisine, 7420 US hwy 87 E, 59101, 698-3327, Stephanie roods, restaurant

Tanah Miah LLC dba Dickeys Barbeque Pit, 3911 Central Ave – Ste 1, 59102, 702-1114, Austin Schnizler, restaurants

Hair by Koree LLC, 3509 San Marino Dr, 59101, 855-7122, Koree Fox, cosmetology,

HMW Hauling LLC, 1755 Morocco Dr, 59105, 390-4637, Ryan Schnitzmeier, service

Double Header Design LLC, 2937 W Copper Ridge LP, 59106, 208-5324, Kevin Meyer, service

McKinley Flooring, 2525 Burlington Ave, 59102, 661-5864, Jeff McKinley, service

Denise Childs HR Consulting, 6302 Ridge Stone Dr N, 59106, 360-941-6245, Denise Childs, service

Favorite Finds, 1023 Quinella Dr, 59101, 861-5407, Lacey Wattles, retail sales

Communication Resources LLC, 5340 Momont Rd, Missoula 59808, 327-5013, Chris Richards, service

K2 Construction and Framing LLC, 5676 Broadwater Ave, 59106, 860-0373, Gabriel Konecny, general contractors

Therapeutic Massage Service, 1509 13th St W, 59102, 652-2633, Susan Carlson, solo practitioner

All Eyes on Me Esthetics, 4657 Pine Hills Rd, 59101, 845-3319, Roylynn Grant, retail sales

Corky Donnelly Construction, 248 Avenue F, 59101, 698-7675, Corky Donnelly,  general contractors

TLC Lawn Care, 618 Tanglewood Dr, 59101, 559-737-3916, Travis Carpenter, service

JR Cuellar Roofing LLC, 804 14th Ave W, Williston ND 58801, 504-205-2838, Joel Edwin Cuellar, roofing contractor

Carbon Cutters Lawn Service, 1240 Caroline St, 59105, 661-2191, Nathaniel Palmer, service

Sean Hammond GC, 2570 Keel Dr, 59105, 647-7218, Sean Hammond, general contractors

Clean Site Solutions, 639 St John’s Ave, 59101, Heather Birr, service

Enchanted Fantasy Parties LLC, 2035 Meadowood St, 59102, 697-3849, Tina Hirschkorn, service

Flower Chappel Farm & Co, 1940 Avenue C, 59102, 570-204-2302, Elizabeth Chappel, retail sales, 59102

Rocky Mountain Vacation Homes LLC, 6028 Norma Jean Ln, 59101, 600-0449, Jerred Bies, real estate rental 

El Rodeo #3, 300 S 24th St W, 59102, 551-3463, Sergio Sanchez, restaurants

The Little Way, 1555 Province LN, 59102, 855-1070, Michaela Martinson/Danielle McMillan, retail sales

Cloud Peak Prep and Ship LLC, 1934 Miles Ave, 59102, 307-461-0862, Jared Bangerter, service

Gratitude in Action (517 5th St W), 517 5th St W, 59101, 694-5401, Richard Todd, service

Gratitude in Action (515 5th St W), 515 5th St W, 59101, 694-5401, Richard Todd, service

Western Carpet Cleaning, 7806, Neibauer Rd, 59106, 876-5704, Samuel Walter, service

Dirt in Dust Mobile Detailing Services, 511 1st St SE, Park City MT 59063, 855-0176, Lance Courtney, service

Howling Ridge Transportation LLC, 1481 Northern Apt E, Worden MT 59088, 402-6577, Jessie and Peggy Fredericks, service

Great Divide Commercial Concrete LLC, 17 Box St, Lavina MT 59046, 561-2525, Camron Maynor, general contractors

GSL Electric Inc, 8540 So. Parkway, Sandy UT 84070, 801-565-0088, Lance Capell, electrical contractors

Yellowstone Jewelers, 820 Shiloh Crossing Blvd Ste A, 59102, 661-1081, Matthew Bonner, retail sales

Madole Rentals LLC, 3440 Granger Ave S Unit 29, 59102, 855-2250, Desmone Madole/Alexis Tripp, service

Montana Roofing and Construction LLC, 864 Garnet Ave, 59105, 694-8496 Jade Goodyear-Anderson, general contractors

Kitchen-Man LLC, 6041 Elysian Rd Unit 101, 59101, 850-5334, Jeremy Evans, restaurants

Berry Clean LLC, 2411 Meadowood St, 59102, 561-9918, Pauletta Young, service

Fun Trade, 300 S 24th St W, 59102, 598-2544, Gibby Carlascio, retail sales

406 Cleaning, 506 Grand Ave, 59101, 598-4468, Keith Harold, service

Abrahamsen Distributing LLC, 720 Wyoming Ave, 59101, 671-7033, Joshua Abrahamsen, distributors

Guzman Homes, 8700 Fox Run, Shepherd MT 59079, 672-4125, Todd and Tami Guzman,  general contractors  

Annie Moon’s Backyard, 1001 Rimrock Rd, 59102, 861-0244, Gayle Lam, service

Northern Rockies Extreme Customs, 2727 Buffalo Trail Rd, Molt MT 59057, 694-4111, Brian Geffre, general contractors

XV Contracting,  627 N 13th, 59101, 366-2981, Xerxes Vodicka, general contractors

Impeccable Painting, 5318 Denali Dr, 59101, 969-9408, Kade Gies, service

Next Level Landscaping & Excavation, 4708 Farm Vista, Laurel 59044, 861-8744, Tanner Coomber, service

Solid Concrete Inc, 5444 Chicago Rd, 59106, 373-0053, Jennell Donnes, service

PDG Shippers, 836 Governors Blvd, 59105, 699-5016, Darla Edwards-Glibbery, service

The Massage Witch, 43 Wyoming Ave, 59101, 218-8104, Charlie Purcell, solo practitioner

Carmichael and Co, 2950 King Ave, 59102, 545-0440, Cassie Michael, service

Ray Dicken, 1542 Lakers Way #6, 59106, 200-5269, Ray Dicken, retail sales

Premier Air LLC, 318 Pronghorn Trail, Bozeman 59718, Chad Dammen, service

The Sparkle Shack, 12 E Almadin Ln, 59105, 939-3680, Sarah Carroll & Keera Stookey, retail sales

Woodfort Industrial Concrete Group, 1036 Landmark, Belgrade MT 59714, 570-7817, Joanne Marble, general contractors

Northern Rockies Therapy and Behavioral Health PLL, 902 Wyoming Ave, 59101, 696-7079, Kristi Lindell-Elliott, service

B.E. Satisfied Lawncare LLC, 2224 Highway 87 E – Trailer 187, 59101, 696-0745, Brenner Elliott, service

Warhammer, 111 S 24th St W, 59102, n/a, Games Workshop Retail Inc, retail sales

Mowing Montana, 909 Maywood Dr, 59102, 998-3211, Richard Romersa, service

Edward Jones (Grand), 2860 Grand Ave, 59102, 717-0774, Kelsay Pallarito, service

Aspen Meadows Health and Rehabilitation Center, 3155 Avenue C, 59102, 656-8818, Aspen Meadows SNF Operations LLC, service

Aspen Meadows Assisted Living, 3155 Avenue C, 59102, 238-5982, Aspen Meadows SNF Operations LLC, service

Les Schwab Tire Center #916, 1146 Shiloh Crossing Blvd, 59102, 541-416-5586, Stacy Irwin, service

Mollie Rose AirBNB, 6127 Mollie Rose Ln, 59101, 602-561-3625, Tanith Moore, real estate rental,

Painting Yellowstone, 3040 Central Ave #I-206, 59102, 702-2748, Sergio Arroyo, service

Kleinfelder Inc, 14710 NE 87th St – Ste 100, 425-636-7900, Redmond WA 98052, engineer

Big Sky excavation & Dirt LLC, 4316 Huckleberry Ln S, 59106, 623-1315, Jerry Brey, service

Precious Hart, 4303 Stone St, 59101, 623-1315, Brydget Hart, retail sales

Desjarlais Construction LLC, 2017 E Main St, Laurel 59044, 694-2982, Joshua Desjarlais,  general contractors

Heavenly Beauty by Katie, 1423 38th St W – Ste 1, 59102, 876-4510, Katie Tutokey, service

Ace in the Home, 11 Lakeview Dr, Roberts 59070, 425-4320, Laura Castro, service

Mom’s Kitchen, 922 S 28th St, 59101, 970-6169, Alfredo & Maria Hernandez, restaurants

Stateline Electric LLC, 3827 Galloway St, Bozeman 59715, 690-0736, Scott Nelson, electrical contractors

Elk Creek Landscaping, 1920 Belvedere Dr, 59102, 698-2776, Joshua Myrstol, service

TEF Renovations, 6240 Twelve Mile Rd, 59105, 697-9098, Ty Ferguson, general contractors

Country Grill, 401 Cottonwood, Laurel 59044, 440-417-6727, Jennifer Lesher & Ashley Winchell, restaurants

API Contracting, 2304 10th Ave N, 59101, 598-8820, Jamie Stradley, general contractors

Uncle Buck’s Gutter Cleaning LLC, 3006 4th Ave S #1, 59101, 720-3098, Dawson Buckalew, service

Marksman STR, 2416 Louise Ln, 59102, 690-1691, Mark Schiffner, real estate rental, 59102

Cross Tier K9 LLC, 3113 St John’s Ave, 59102, 855-4921, Daniel Richard, service

Oak Tree Designs LLC, 1525 Chesapeake Ln, 59101, 661-9151, Kevin Hof, retail sales

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission has voted to implement emergency fishing restrictions on three southwest Montana rivers. The restrictions on the Beaverhead, Big Hole and Ruby rivers come as the agency records declining trout populations. The restrictions generally address closures for spawning season, limiting some fish to catch-and-release, and implementing some gear restriction changes for fish hooks.

The EPA has released its proposed plan for cleaning up the Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. Superfund site. The main thrust is to contain the worst dumps by fully surrounding them with a slurry wall to stop contaminated groundwater from leaching out. The wells at the former wet scrubber sludge pond and the west landfill have the worst contamination. Test wells near them show very high concentrations of fluoride and cyanide. A public meeting will be held on June 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Columbia Falls Town Hall, City Council Chambers, 130 Sixth St. W., Columbia Falls, to describe the proposed plan and solicit comments.

Three generations of bike and adventure lovers have contributed to Montana E-Bikes and More. Josh Houser, whose parents owned a bike shop, has joined forces with his son Matthew Houser to provide unforgettable trips and a high-end e-bike shop. In addition to rentals, the shop also sells e-bikes and provides full service. The father-son duo will also rent e-bikes during the winter months. Montana E-bikes and More is the only shop to provide this service in the valley.

Mayor Jordan Hess of Missoula unveiled Missoula’s 2024-2026 Strategic Plan. Equity, housing and engagement all figured prominently in the guide for Missoula’s next three years. The plan looks at city operations through three lenses: climate resilience, equity and housing. Some of the priorities outlined in the plan include program ideas, partnerships and internal operations.

A modular home manufacturer from San Diego held a ceremonial groundbreaking at Butte’s business park recently to showcase a foundry the size of six football fields that could employ hundreds. Dvele (pronounced deh-VELL) hopes to get infrastructure hook-ups and other prep work done this year and begin construction on the factory next spring. The goal is to begin initial operations by January 2025. The Dvele facility will make modular homes that can be built in months. According to the company they can be built at 30% to 40% less cost than traditional houses.

Benefis Helena Specialty Center leadership reports that the 60,000-square-foot clinic will be built on 3.25 acres of the site that runs parallel to Prospect Avenue at a total cost estimated to be $50 million. Benefis Health System broke ground on the site March 10, 2022, and is expected to open in spring 2024. 

Businesses looking for guidance about resources to improve their operations can attend one of the upcoming Assistance for Business Clinics sponsored by the Montana Department of Labor & Industry, local chambers of commerce, economic development groups and Job Service Centers. The Glendive Assistance for Business Clinic will be held Wednesday, June 21 at Dawson Community College.

The Stockman Bank location in Whitefish opened recently, The new facility on U.S. 93 is equipped with a drive-up, ATM and night depository. The public is invited to attend grand opening celebrations featuring refreshments, prize drawings, and tours of the building. On June 13, at 4 p.m. a grand opening celebration begins with music from local singer Halladay Quist, refreshments, and door prizes,

Logan Health officials say plans to integrate with Billings Clinic continue, but some employees are questioning the advantages of creating a new health care organization amid a “significant staffing shortage. Members of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, 1199NW are skeptical that integrating is the right move for Logan Health employees and patients.

Citizens Alliance Bank has completed its acquisition of Granite Mountain Bank and its branches in Butte, Drummond and Philipsburg. Citizens, an independent community bank headquartered in Clara City, Minnesota, says the acquisition was completed June 2. Existing Granite Mountain Bank customers may continue to use their existing debit cards and check stock until Aug.5. Starting Aug. 5, customers will be transitioned onto Citizens Alliance Bank’s core system computer platform.

A local Glendive hotel that has gone through a series of rebrandings in recent years has rebranded once again. This time with a full renovation as it joins a national corporation. The establishment has joined the Best Western family of hotels and rebranded itself as the SureStay. The building was bought in 2021 by Alex Allgood and Stan Wang, investors based in Texas, who have been continued the renovation. They will continue to own the business as it operates under the Best Western umbrella.

In Montana, there are 8,549,170 acres of farmland. The county with the most acerage in production is Rosebud. It has 766 farms with 2, 342, 527 acres.

Dvele modular home manufacturing plant in Butte has opened with projections  to create nearly 500 good-paying Montana jobs. Representing an $80 million investment by Dvele, the new facility will support the production of affordable workforce housing in Montana. Founded in 2018, Dvele has designed, manufactured, and built over 270 modular homes throughout the U.S. and Canada. The homes are built and shipped out for placement in a shorter timeline than traditional housing construction, costing about 30% to 40% less.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced it has awarded $400,000 to the state of Montana in Railroad Crossing Elimination (RCE) Grant Program funding. The funds will pay for a study of the Whitefish Rail Corridor Crossing Study. It will study three at-grade crossings and one viaduct along a three-mile corridor of BNSF’s Kootenai River Subdivision. Possible upgrades would alleviate blocked crossings that might cause safety concerns and disrupt freight movements to and from BNSF’s Whitefish Yard. The City of Whitefish and BNSF railway are contributing funds totaling a 20 percent non-Federal match.

Two Montana Supreme Court Justices Mike McGrath and Justice Dirk Sandefur have announced that they will not run for re-election in 2024. McGrath will be concluding his second eight-year term; and Sandefur is in his first.

Felco Industries in Missoula expanded to a new 20,000 square foot manufacturing facility. Founded in 1983, Felco Industries manufactures excavator products for utility, infrastructure, and energy sector installation and replacement projects. According to Association of Equipment Manufacturers, the equipment manufacturing industry supports more than 850 jobs in Montana and contributes $79 million to the state’s economy annually.

Montana-Dakota Utilities, a subsidiary of MDU Resources Group, Inc. received approval from the North Dakota Public Service Commission on an electric service agreement (ESA) to provide power for Applied Digital Corporation’s data center near Ellendale, ND. At full capacity, the data center will require 180 megawatts of electricity, which is the equivalent of about 28% of Montana-Dakota’s generation portfolio. The Applied Digital load will be purchased from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) market and will not impact Montana-Dakota customers’ power supply. The project provides an array of benefits to the Ellendale area, the transmission grid, Montana-Dakota customers and MDU stockholders.