• Because of cooling ag prices and low commodity prices, Montana’s economy so far this year is not shaping up to be as good as last, according to Patrick M. Barkey, Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, in reporting on the mid-year state of the Montana economy. And, Yellowstone County, where commodities and agriculture play a strong economic
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  • Last week Yellowstone County officials were asked to abandon an undeveloped public road right- of -way to make way for the expansion of a Billings area business.Town and Country Supply Association, a cooperative that serves area agriculture producers, has been searching for a location to expand its fertilizer facilities for a number of years, according to general manager, Wes Burley.
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  • In response to concern in the community regarding the level of air service that is available in Billings, a meeting to discuss Billings’ air service will be held on August 24 at the Crowne Plaza, 3d Floor Ballroom.Hosted by the Billings Chamber in partnership with the Big Sky Economic Development and Billings Logan International Airport, the program runs 11:30 a.m.
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  •   Trending right now is a debate about what makes entrepreneurs.It seems that the understanding that entrepreneurship is the basis of building a strong economy is finally being accepted as true, and there is a political interest in finding out where to get more of them. Montana becomes a point of focus because it seems the state has, for decades,
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  • The annual Callan Taylor Fund for Kidney Disease Charity Golf Tournament will hold its fifth event in Billings this year on Sunday, September 11 at Pryor Creek Golf Course. Previous tournaments have been held in San Diego, CA, where the fundraiser was first launched by the family of the little boy, who is its namesake.
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  • The Montana Petroleum Association (MPA) will hold its annual Petroleum Industry Appreciation Day Luncheon on Wednesday, August 31, as part of its annual conference which will begin on August 30.
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  • Registration is now open for the Compete Smart Conference, October 5-7, at Fairmont Hot Springs Hotel and Conference Center.The conference theme is “ 20 Years of Making It Happen Under The Big Sky.”
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  • Visit Billings in conjunction with Rocky Mountain College will once more make a bid to capture the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament. While an effort to win the event failed in 2013, Visit Billings Executive Director, Alex Tyson is optimistic that the community has a good chance to win the event for two years,
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  • In an effort to enhance the airport experience, Visit Billings and the Billings Chamber of Commerce completed a major upgrade to Billings Logan Airport. As passengers exit the secure area of the airport to head down the stairs to the baggage claim, the concourse is now a vivid and exciting welcome to Billings.
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  • While Montana has lots of its own regulations that curb small business and opportunities for making a living – everything from licensing bartenders and hair dressers to squeezing local food producers out of the market – perhaps there is some comfort in knowing that other states have it just as bad if not worse.Here from Watchdog.com are some recent Nanny
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  • One of the things that has made me question the claims of global warming is that all of the future predictions from the “experts” regarding its consequences all are dire. I know that that is just never the case. There will always be benefits as well as costs to change, in nature and otherwise. In fact, the age of enlightenment
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  • Billings has been ranked as the third best city in the nation in which to retire by Kiplinger.com. Amazingly, Kiplinger.com ranks the state of Montana as sixth in the “10 Worst States for Taxes on Retirees.”With the city of Naples, Florida ranked at the top, Billings is lauded for its outdoor amenities, health care and no sales tax, while chided
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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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