• What’s to happen to the vacant former federal courthouse – the old Battin Building — in downtown Billings? Are there future options for the downtown Billings post office building other than being a post office? Is it possible to extend the lending services of Big Sky Economic Development?These are among some of the issues discussed during the meeting of the
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  • Is a new power plant fired by natural gas in Northwestern Energy’s future in Montana?A very preliminary plan, which the utility is required to develop every two years, projects a natural gas fired plant, producing up to 250 megawatts, as a possible solution to fulfilling the company’s energy needs. The 2015 Electricity Supply Resource Procurement Plan, which was submitted in
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  • Montana has an estimated 508 middle market companies ($10 million-$1 billion in annual revenues), which make up .62% of all firms in the state according to the latest Middle Market Power Index from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet.
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  • As a participant in the February amicus brief of 166 business associations in support of the US Chamber’s legal challenge to EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), The Montana Chamber of Commerce has provided an update on the case. As of the last week in May, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals decided to bypass oral arguments scheduled before a three-person
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  • Caterpillar Oil & Gas announced that it has signed a worldwide marketing agreement with GTUIT, a manufacturer of field natural gas treatment systems, based in Billings. Caterpillar will assist GTUIT with entering into marketing agreements with targeted Caterpillar Dealers worldwide to sell, market and service GTUIT products.GTUIT and Caterpillar have already initiated the process of working together by establishing direct
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  • While the decline of activity and jobs in the Bakkin have given Yellowstone County employers a little breathing room, demographics are stacking up to predict that finding qualified employees will become an even bigger challenge for employers in the future, reported Brittney Souza, Director of BillingsWorks.
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  • This comes from someone who often objects to the federal government poking around in local affairs, but there is a time now when they have a legitimate role to play — and, that is to clean up a mess which is wholly of their own making. The feds need to clean up their former property. They need to restore the
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  • Montana bankers, property owners, attorneys, developers, farmers, recreationists or anyone with an interest in water rights have a new resource at their disposal to help negotiate their way through the complicated world of water rights and water law.
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  • A new federal regulation that doubles the threshold for overtime pay is throwing employers and employees into turmoil and will increase the cost of doing business, say business organizations.
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  • Montana Family Business Awards sponsored by Montana State University’s Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship and State Farm Insurance is seeking nominations for its annual family business awards. The deadline for nominations is June 10.
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  • The theme of the Montana Chamber Foundation’s 2016 Economic Update Series is “The Competition for Talent.” The annual program, offered by “Montana University (a subsidiary of the Montana Chamber Foundation), kicks off Thursday, July 28 in Kalispell and ends Thursday, August 11 in Missoula with five other stops in between.The seminar will be presented in Billings on Tuesday, August 9
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  • Brian Brown has been promoted to President of First Interstate Bank’s Downtown Branch.A Columbus native, Brown joined First Interstate Bank in 1998 as part of the Management Trainee Program. Since that time, Brown has held a number of positions within the Bank, including Credit Review Officer and Commercial Loan Officer. Most recently, Brown served as Senior Vice President and Banking
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Montana State University set an enrollment record this fall, with 12,764 students attending classes, MSU officials announced.

MSU has set enrollment records in three out of the last four years. The 2009 headcount is 395 more students than the previous record, set in 2008.

Significantly, the university has a record number of freshmen enrolled, 2,281. The previous record of 2,225 was set in 2005.

"A big freshman class is a vote of confidence. Both Montana residents and out-of-state students are choosing us," said MSU President Geoff Gamble.

A 20 percent increase in Native American freshmen helped set the record. The number of Native American freshmen rose from 54 students in 2008 to 65 students this fall. Overall, Native American enrollment is at a historic high of 377 students - a 79 percent increase since Gamble took office in 2000. Increasing Native American enrollment has been one of his primary objectives.

"All our students receive a great education here, with hands-on opportunities to do cutting-edge research or explore creative endeavors in the humanities - both preparing them well for their careers after college," Gamble said.

Not only is it MSU's largest entering freshman class, but on average, it is also the brightest.

The average ACT score of this fall's, full-time, entering freshman is 25.14. A common measure of a student's academic accomplishment in high school, the ACT scale is from 0 to 36.

This fall's full-time freshmen have an average ACT score 0.7 higher than the university's previous record holders, the entering class of 2008. Since 1998, the university has never seen a jump in ACT scores greater than 0.3 from class to class.

 

"This is remarkable. MSU is seeing an unprecedented jump in the quality of its entering, full-time freshman," said Allen Yarnell, vice president of student affairs.

Additionally, 58 entering freshmen scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. One freshman had a perfect score. Together, they make up the largest group of top-scoring ACT students ever in an MSU freshman class.

"We have committed staff; we have superb faculty; and we prepare our students for great success. Quality students recognize that," Yarnell said.

Since 2006, MSU has been the only university in the five-state region of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and North and South Dakota to meet the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's criteria for the highest research classification. Since 2000, research funding earned by the university has grown 61 percent, from $61 million to $98.4 million in fiscal year 2009.

Last year, MSU's research directly provided $7.76 million in undergraduate and graduate salaries, benefits, scholarships and fellowships. Additionally, two MSU students won Goldwater Scholarships last year, the nation's premier scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences and engineering. MSU is ranked 11th nationally for Goldwater winners, just behind Yale and MIT.

"On top of all we have to offer academically, MSU students get to live in this beautiful setting that is the Rocky Mountains. That's part of our message and we believe it's being heard," Gamble said. "We are Trout U and the University of the Yellowstone. That's very appealing to students."

In the past six years, MSU has been ranked No. 1 in the country by Fly Rod & Reel magazine for undergrads angling for an education near trout streams; No. 5 in Outside magazine's "40 Best College Towns;" No. 4 ski town by Skiing magazine, and in the top 10 hunting and fishing universities by Outdoor Life magazine. Bozeman was named one of top three cities for an adventurer to start a family in the October 2009 issue of National Geographic Adventure.

MSU also has a good reputation among employers, which translates into opportunities for graduates, Gamble said.

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