Laurel Outlook 100 Years Old --Westers Consider Next 100 Years
This week marks the 100th Anniversary of the Laurel Outlook, a weekly newspaper in Laurel, Montana, owned by Gloria and Milt Wester. The anniversary comes at a time when the future of print media, and most especially small town newspapers, hovers under a huge question mark. In this computer age of a paperless society, what does the next hundred years hold for an industry whose very essence is paper?
The Westers are very optimistic about the future for newspapers; but then they tend to be very optimistic people. They have to be, considering their entrepreneurial ventures in the publishing business over the past four decades, the highlight of which is undoubtedly their acquisition of the Laurel Outlook, 25 years ago.
Back when Laurel was little more than prairie with a railroad track passing through, The Laurel Outlook was established by a consortium of local businessmen on July 14, 1909. Laurel had only been founded as a city the year before.
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 62 percent of households reported using Internet access in the home in 2007, an increase from 18 percent in 1997.
Sixty-four percent of individuals 18 and over used the Internet from any location in 2007, while only 22 percent did so in 1997.
Among households using the Internet in 2007, 82 percent reported using a high-speed connection, and 17 percent used a dial-up connection.
“As access to high speed connections have become more prevalent, so too have the number of people that connect to the Internet at home,” said Thom File, a statistician with the Census Bureau Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division. “These data give us a better understanding of who is using the Internet and from where.”
Alaska and New Hampshire had among the highest rates of Internet use in 2007. Mississippi and West Virginia had among the lowest rates of Internet use at about 52 percent.
Brightsun Releases New Software
Brightsun Technologies, Inc., a Billings-based firm, has announced the commercial release of FormPro, a unique software product for life care planners and for attorneys who deal with personal injury cases. Nearly three years in the making, FormPro is designed to support defensible, evidence based medical opinion by providing customizable medical provider input forms with research-based content.
Medical opinion is a key factor in personal injury cases, and the more thoroughly physicians consider a client’s needs, the more valuable their opinions are. FormPro was created to facilitate comprehensive consideration of all needs that clients with a particular injury may have. Users can quickly create provider input forms with injury-specific content based on peer-reviewed research. A wealth of detail helps minimize the possibility that errors or omissions will be made in the reporting of a client’s needs.
Julie Marcovitz has moved her business, Cutie Patootie, to Rimrock Mall. The store originally opened at West Park Plaza over 11 years ago and has grown from its original 600 square foot store to 3,200 square feet.
The store began as a holiday season project for Marcovitz, but she soon realized the store could be successful year-round. The store was sold and operated under the name “Putting on the Glitz” for two years while Marcovitz was in Las Vegas, but she returned to Billings, bought back her store and has been back in business in Billings for the past four and a half years at West Park Plaza. Cutie Patootie’s location at West Park will go away as part of that shopping center’s redevelopment.
With the move to Rimrock Mall, Cutie Patootie will grow slightly to 3,300 square feet and will be located across from Herberger’s next to The Buckle. Marcovitz says her store focuses on a wide variety of specialty clothing and accessories including bridal, infant, toddler, women’s, juniors, shoes, jewelry and more.
When asked about the relocation, Marcovitz said she was very excited. “I believe this is a great move for my business and I have every confidence that my loyal customers will follow me here,” she said.
Remember the paperless office promised to us at the beginning of the computer age? While not yet a reality it is increasingly possible to reduce your paper use in the work place.
James Knox of KBS Computers stated that you can achieve significant savings and reduce your paper use by analyzing your office work flow and concentrating on the areas where technology can give you a hand.
By using a new product called X-paper, customers can fill out a form, sign it and have it downloaded into the record system. The special paper allows the pen to always know where it is on the page so it can fill in each blank as the customer did. This technology is targeted toward medical and dental offices, plus other users of forms. The paper, software and pen are helping offices to increase their work flow by up to 20% and reducing the amount of paper used.
Another hardware item to help with work flow is a tablet PC. These are the ones where the screen rotates 360 degrees to allow someone other than the writer to easily view the screen and sign a document displayed onto the screen. This type of PC is generally smaller and lighter than a traditional lap top. They usually have software similar to the type used by major shipping companies to have the customer sign the computer screen to acknowledge delivery of a shipment.
One more item can help your company toward more efficiency and that is VoIP (voice over internet phone) systems. These systems can help the business centralize their work flow while not centralizing their people.
The first step is a survey of your business and its special needs. The employees are interviewed as well to get their point of view on opportunities and obstacles to improving your work flow. The survey also asks which way do you want your business to go? Toward paperless? Toward more portable? Or toward less centralization?
For more informastion contact KBS Computers Solutions at 406-896-0200.
“There’s no recession in Huntley,” says Becky Tescher-Robison as she looks happily upon a reception room packed with ladies animatedly talking to one another and nibbling on small sandwiches and salads.
These ladies have all come to tea. And, not a political kind of tea party, but a real tea with tea and coffee, lunch and dessert, and a style show, featuring the apparel available at R & R Trading Post in Huntley, located just northeast of Billings.
Becky holds teas and style shows twice a year – just before Mother’s Day and another before Christmas. With a forenoon tea and an afternoon tea, both are sell-outs, seating some 50 guests for each event. Their success is evidence of the broader success of a thriving business in Huntley called R & R Trading Post, a boutique and antique store that has come to be a destination shopping experience.
It’s a unique, thriving store that has grown on its own terms. And, it has grown counter to prevailing trends. In a day when centralized, ever bigger national chain stores, concentrated with shopping malls and thoroughfare traffic are marginalizing local “moms and pops,” this kind of out-of-the-way, niche, independent retailer isn’t supposed to have a chance. But not only is this business of Becky’s doing well, it’s one of three businesses in Huntley owned by Becky and her husband, Pete Robison, that are doing well – even during a recession.
The Big Sky Business Journal
P.O. Box 3262
Billings, MT 59103