• "We are an amazing community and have an amazing economy," said Jeremy Vannatta in addressing attendees of the Montana Economic Outlook Seminar, in talking about Yellowstone County. Vannatta, Director of Business Outreach, Recruitment & Marketing at Big Sky Economic Development was one of numerous speakers talking about the economic prospects for 2015. Vannatta underscored that Yellowstone County leads the state
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  • "Graduation Matters." Does it? When does it matter? Does it only matter for certain students? Does it still matter even when one district stands to lose money to another? Or, does not being part of the "right neighborhood" justify sacrificing the futures for some kids over others? Does it make sense that a community of some 8000 people might have
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  • The sale of Girl Scout Cookies, which begins this month, will move into the era of e-commerce with Digital Cookie 1.0. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas it was called the biggest "Next Big Thing." The sale of the very popular cookies not only supports the activities of Girl Scouts but provides them with an opportunity to learn
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  • Oil prices could dip as low as $27 a barrel by mid-summer predicts Eric Sharpe. The declining prices are already having profound impacts in the US, including the Bakken. It is hitting the service businesses especially hard, many will not survive. The low prices are triggering a consolidation of companies; a weeding out of the weaker companies, while others lay-off
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  • Hillary Stevenson, from Genscape U.S. shale producers may begin producing less as crude prices drop to five-year lows – with some North Dakota Bakken operators already treading water – as rig counts nationwide are poised to decrease by nearly 600 in the next six months, according to Genscape. U.S. oil rigs will fall below 1,100 for the first time in three years,
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  • by Evelyn Pyburn   For 27 years, a company in Forsyth has been manufacturing and marketing its product to the world proving, that "so long as you have UPS, the internet and a good product, it is possible to do business in a small town in Montana." There haven't been many drawbacks to building a business in Forsyth, said Celeste
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  • Billings and Yellowstone County will have to find living space for 70,000 people in the next 20 years. That's how much the largest community in Montana is projected to grow, according to Candi Millar, Director of the City County Planning Department, who is overseeing the development of an update to Yellowstone County's Growth Policy, which is a master plan of
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  • As North Dakota crude prices decline – latest prices are averaging $48 a barrel – there will be new pressure by producers to get better rates on rail shipping, which has varied from $9 to $15 a barrel. "Rail rates should come down especially since the fuel surcharge is off," said Houston analyst Andy Lipow. "The main effect will be from the
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  • Environmental groups are expected to be disappointed with a coming Environmental Protection Agency regulation for coal ash, a waste produced when coal is burned for electricity and which is used in many building materials. The EPA appears poised to label the ash a solid waste, rather than "hazardous," in the new rule. Environmental groups have pushed for the more stringent
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  • Passing state legislation to allow local option tax authority is the Billings Chamber's number one priority. The Chamber supports local option taxing authority as a mechanism for augmenting current revenues for municipalities. A "local option tax" is a local sales tax on goods and services.
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  • While it may be no surprise to locals, Billings is among the ten best beer cities in the US. Billings was ranked in tenth place by Livability, a company that explores what makes small to medium sized cities great places to live. The top beer town is Bend, Oregon. "Billings offers innovative and award-winning breweries, residents who consume beer at
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  • The Magic City Blues will be held a week earlier this year. After 14 years of holding the popular event the first weekend of August, the dates are being moved forward one week to July 31 – August 2 in 2015, according to Tim Goodrich, Magic City Blues owner and founder. Otherwise the venue will remain the same as last summer,
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shape upEntries are now being accepted for the 10th Annual Shape Up Montana program, a three-month team-based project of the Big Sky State Games that encourages Montanans to make healthier nutrition choices and be more physically active.

Since it began in 2003, over 43,000 Montanans have logged more than 10 million activity miles and shed 82,948 pounds! Organizers are working to reverse the progression of obesity and overweight trends in Montana.  This year’s program features a new user friendly website.

The early entry deadline is January 24. 

The “Shape Up Montana” program works with the business community, member organizations and families to engage their employees and members in a team format that spurs increasing physical activity and encourages healthy eating habits.  Past Shape Up Montana teams included businesses, church groups, organizations, friends, clubs, school staff and families.

 The team competition offers two categories:

  Accumulated Activity based on logging miles with the aid of an activity conversion calculator and Weight Loss due to healthful eating and physical activity. 

Teams of 4 to 10 individuals work together for three months (February 1 - May 1) helping each other and their team to either log mileage or lose weight.  Mileage is converted from regular daily activities (yard work, housework) and aerobic activity (swimming, running, walking, cycling, etc.). 

The cost for the three-month program is $15 and $10 for employees of Big Sky State Games (BSSG) program sponsors.  Everyone who enters will receive a Shape Up Montana T-shirt, weekly challenges, exercise videos, nutrition and physical activity tips/articles, access to numerous wellness calculators and free entry into the 27th Annual Big State Games Fitness Walk held July 20, in Billings.  Awards will be presented to the top three teams in each division.

Online registration, entry forms and more information are available at www.shapeupmontana.org or call (406) 254-7426.    Entry forms are also available at the Big Sky State Games Office in Billings (490 N. 31st, Suite 200).  

Shape Up Montana is presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana. Community Sponsors include Billings Clinic, Billings Gazette and Montana’s News Station (KTVQ, KBZK, KXLF, KRTV, KXLH, KAJ18, KPAX). 

Contributing partners include Albertsons, Eat Right Montana, Montana Chamber Choices, TwoMedicine, Montana Beef Council and Wendy’s.

The Big Sky State Games’ Major Sponsors are First Interstate Bank, Kampgrounds of America, and Montana Cycling and Ski.


 

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