• It’s not without its critics. The tax abatement program that Yellowstone County and the City of Billings use to incentivize business growth, expansion and recruitment is often viewed as a “free pass” for some businesses, but it is anything but that according to city and county officials.“It’s an incentive to succeed,” described County Commissioner Denis Pitman.
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  • Stockman Asset Management, an independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) and a provider of integrated wealth management solutions has changed its name to Stockman Wealth Management. The change was enacted to better describe the company’s “client-first” service philosophy, detailed financial planning services and investment management focus. Stockman Wealth Management offers services in Billings, Helena, Missoula, and Conrad.
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  • Roughly half of all small business owners say regulations are a “very serious” or “somewhat serious problem,” according to new research made public recently by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
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  • Every year, thousands of participants fill the streets of downtown Billings, wearing the current Montana Women’s Run t-shirt. This year, the streets will be filled with walkers and runners wearing the 2017 berry shirt.
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  • The Montana Petroleum Association (MPA) testified in support of a bill recently to require full disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Last legislative session, MPA opposed a bill requiring full disclosure on the grounds that Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC) could not adequately protect trade secrets if the bill became law. Montana’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act protects
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  • The opening of new companies has been driving Montana manufacturing since 2010, keeping the rate of growth in manufacturing above the national average ever since the recovery of the Great Recession began in 2010. Montana manufacturing employment grew at 4 - 5 percent annually while the US was posting increases in the 2-3 percent range, according to economist Paul Polzin in
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  • Some days one has to wonder what we are doing to our children.At every turn young people are stymied in pursuing anything which might help them understand the world in which they live, get to know themselves or to build a future.
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  • State lawmakers heard several hours of testimony on a proposal to establish public charter schools in Montana.The House Education Committee held its initial hearing on House Bill 376, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy of Box Elder.
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  • Just in time to provide fodder in support of increasing Montana’s gas tax, The National Transportation Research Group has released a report called TRIP that concludes that Montana will face an $874 million annual shortfall through 2021 in improving road, highway and bridge conditions, traffic safety and modernizing its transportation system.“While the state will be able to address some needed
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  • The Montana Chamber of Commerce recently reported on what it sees happening during the first half of the Montana State Legislature, and what its experience has been in supporting and opposing various pieces of legislation. It’s a good insight for business people.
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  • Over the years in reporting on business in Montana, and as once more I see the dismal rating of Montana in the SBE study about the kind of environment in which entrepreneurs must function, I am struck at how little difference reality makes in political circles.
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  • For a state that has the highest ratio of entrepreneurs, Montana does not rank well in how it treats those entrepreneurs, and the impacts of those policies are far reaching for every citizen.
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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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