The closure of the Smurfit-Stone facility in Frenchtown, with its 417 full-time jobs and about $45 million in payroll and benefits, will have significant short-term and long-term impacts on the Missoula-area economy. The University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research reports that the area’s largest industrial employer has significant linkages with forest products, trucking, rail and other important sectors of the local economy.
Discovering that Billings has a ten percent vacancy rate in office space was a surprise to Al Koelzer, Billings commercial Realtor of NAI Business Properties. “That’s not good,” Koelzer told attendees of the Montana Outlook Seminar for whom he had done the research. But while that is a market indictor of some concern, other categories of commercial real estate in Billings are holding steady, he said.
People in Montana’s tourism and recreation businesses are more optimistic about visitation to the state in 2010 than they were about 2009. The state is expected to experience a two percent growth this year, due in part to the fact that Montana will likely benefit from cost-conscious travelers. “Montana is considered a good value,” said Norma Nickerson, Director of the Institute of Tourism and Recreation Research, in presenting at the Montana Outlook Seminar.
An internal struggle over who will hold the greatest authority over how beef check-off revenues will be spent has prompted the Montana Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) to call upon the intervention of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). MCA President Kim Baker, Hot Springs, Montana, said that the MCA supports a stronger identity for the Federation of State Beef Councils and wants the USDA to intervene in an attempt to change the organizational structure of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). At question is the compliance with the Beef Act and Order.
Yellowstone County did not escape unscathed by the recession. It did suffer a decline in the rate of growth over the past year to a minus two percent, which is projected to be reversed in the next year to a positive 1.2 percent. But the really good news is that the worst is behind us, said Economist Paul Polzin, former Director of the Bureau of Business, as a guest presenter at the Montana Economic Outlook Seminar.
Montana agriculture had an average year in 2009, and it is expected to experience much the same in 2010, according to George Haynes, a professor of the Department of Agriculture Economics and Economics in Montana State University. Montana’s agriculture sector has weathered the recent financial crisis better than other industrial sectors, said Haynes.
Manufacturers in Montana are more optimistic about the coming year than they were a year ago, according to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER). Based upon that and other factors the bureau projects a modest improvement for manufacturing in 2010.
A forum focused on the issue of private property rights is set for February 18 in Bozeman featuring the author of the book “Gridlock,” Randal O’Toole, talking about “Property Rights for Rural and Urban Landowners.”
The Big Sky Business Journal
P.O. Box 3262
Billings, MT 59103