• The very nature of the oil and gas industry is undergoing a fundamental transformation. It has become a manufacturing process – no longer one of exploration, according to one entrepreneur and manufacturing expert. For that reason the subject of oil production played a feature role in the recent Compete Smart Conference in Billings, produced by the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC)
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  • An area near the convergence of interstate highways, I-90 and I-94, east of Lockwood has the greatest potential for a future industrial park in Yellowstone County. But that doesn't rule out the prospects for two other potential sites, one in Billings, the BN Industrial Subdivision, and another, Spurling Siding west of Laurel. The prospective sites were unveiled during a meeting,
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  • Since going into full production, in July, with the new addition to their plant, business has been booming for Aspen Air. In fact, said Joe Hickey, manager of the Lockwood plant, "we have been selling more than we can produce." Sales have been beyond their greatest expectations, Hickey told a group of Lockwood business leaders during the group's regular monthly
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  • One of the most dynamic businesses in Lockwood hosted the Lockwood Business Group meeting in September. Vu Pham, General Counsel and director of operations for Weave Management Group, explained to some two dozen Lockwood business people who attended the luncheon, that the company is actually six companies which have spun-off from Warren Transport, which has been located in Lockwood since
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  • When asked to describe the state of American manufacturing, many say it has been "hollowed out." When asked why, they point to the decline in manufacturing jobs, note the few "Made in America" products on retail store shelves, and identify importing and offshoring as the culprits. Although many of these reasons appear persuasive, they're not accurate. U.S. manufacturing employment, no
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  • Montana's wholesale electricity prices are projected to increase 26 percent as a result of the EPA's proposed regulations requiring states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, according to an analysis conducted by Energy Ventures Analysis for the National Mining Association. The report warns that those prices increases will be passed on to Montana consumers and businesses. "This new report sheds light
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  • As Williston Basin operators accelerate the use of sand for hydraulic fracturing – as much as six million pounds per well in some cases – there is an even bigger ramp up in new sand mines in Wisconsin and unloading terminals in North Dakota. EDG Resources, for example, uses 1000 pounds of sand per lateral foot – about 2.5 to 5 times higher
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  • Most Montana manufacturers have plans to continue to grow their enterprises following three consecutive years of improvement, in terms of both earnings and output. Montana manufacturers have outpaced prior years of 2011, 2012 and 2013, according to the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER), which recently reported on a survey conducted of Montana manufacturers regarding the state of their
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  • Entrepreneurship and self-employment endeavors – the nucleus of new business and future business growth — are at record lows, according to many analysts. The decline has long term consequences, which has Ray Keating alarmed. Keating is the Chief Economist for the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council. The SBE Council has been reporting on the weak state of entrepreneurship in the US for
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  • The American shale gas boom has the potential to revitalize domestic manufacturing, and a new report from a University of Michigan-led panel recommends steps to make that happen in a responsible manner. Those steps include increasing public trust of hydraulic fracturing; monitoring and reducing methane emissions; and using shale gas profits to advance renewable energy technologies, among other efforts. The
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  • Manufacturers and suppliers will gather to celebrate the magic in manufacturing and the many ways it enriches lives during the biennial Compete Smart Manufacturing Conference to be held Oct. 9 and 10 at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana in Billings. The event, co-hosted by the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC) and NorthWestern Energy, will feature speakers, local plant tours and
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  • Wood's Powr-Grip is celebrating 50 years in business. Theirs is the quintessential entrepreneurship success story – all the more amazing given their worldwide presence and yet, so low-key, locally, that many people in Yellowstone County don't even know they exist. The organization is a third generation, family-owned manufacturing company whose name is most readily recognized in the glass industry. They manufacture
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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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