• As the old year waned and the new year dawned, Montana lost a legendary businessman and one of agriculture’s greatest innovators and entrepreneurs.It’s hard to think of anyone who, single-handedly, left a greater mark on Montana business.Throughout rural Montana, on the farms and ranches across the state, Pat Goggins is a household name, and has been for over a half
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  • Recently someone on some television program announced that “Americans are takers.”Americans are extremely fortunate in the quality of life we have and in the wealth of resources available to us. It is unparalleled in all the world and in all history. But, how did it get there? It is not a matter of luck.
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  • As the population bubble of babyboomers begin aging the demand for all kinds of healthcare and quality- of- life care services is expected to increase significantly. Two couples in Billings, all of whom are closely aligned with the healthcare profession, are launching a new business that will address that growing need.Rob and Laurie Gagnon and Dean and Lisa Sukin have
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  • Arch Coal Inc. joined the ranks of bankrupt coal miners, last week, following a number of other bankrupt coal companies because of changing markets and burdensome regulations.Arch Coal owns Otter Creek Coal in southwestern Montana near Ashland. The company has been a major player in coal regions across the U.S., including Appalachia and the Powder River Basin. In the Northwest,
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  • In an effort to attract people in pursuit of jobs and careers to the Billings area, where there is a labor shortage, BillingsWorks has launched a recruiting website – www.yourdreamcareerishere.com.The website focuses on providing job seekers with information about what makes Billings a great place to live and work, explained Brittney Souza, Director of BillingsWorks, a coalition of area business
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  • Proposed designs for roundabouts at the Johnson Lane Interchange and how they could impact Lockwood’s truck traffic was the primary topic of discussion at the Lockwood Business Group (LBG) meeting on Dec. 15.Concern that roundabouts could negatively impact the life-blood of about half of Lockwood businesses quickly put the issue on the front burner for those attending one of the
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  • (Editor’s note: Watchdog.org has been featuring a series of articles on the “nanny state.” They have named Missouri as Nanny State of the Year, after reporting on Pagedale, MO. Pagedale demonstrates the run-amuck potential of regulations because of the legal premise upon which they are based. But, Pagedale actually isn’t all that extreme, there have been Montana cities that have
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  • The Montana Farm Bureau has expressed dismay with Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s decision to allow for the presence of bison year-round in Montana on the perimeter of Yellowstone National Park (YNP). Bison will be permitted to occupy suitable habitat in Montana outside of the park within manageable confines and subject to seasonal limits on numbers.
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  • 2015 was a sobering year regarding the prospects of oil for Montana and Yellowstone County. Billings businesses were saved from the worst of the Great Recession, and were rapidly growing and expanding, in direct contrast to the rest of the country, because of the Bakken Boom in western North Dakota. But other things must also have been going on to
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  • For all the angst that Presidential Candidate Donald Trump is causing the Republican establishment, they should certainly understand that he is a creature of their own making.Donald Trump is just as much a creation of the Republican establishment as was President Barack Obama. The emergence of both should have been seen as the logical consequence of a half century of
    Read More
  • The holiday party season is here, and the Small Business Legal Center at the National Federation of Independent Business is advising its members to keep celebrations safe by watching out for two problem areas – drunk driving and harassment.An increasing number of states require employers to exercise reasonable care to prevent injuries by intoxicated employees. To minimize the risk of
    Read More
  • When it comes to attracting companies, Billings and the surrounding area is most attractive to manufacturers and to businesses in western Canada.Those are two conclusions that Big Sky Economic Development (EDA) has reached after two or three years’ experience in courting businesses, according to Allison Corbyn, EDA Business Recruitment and Outreach Program Manager. Corbyn reported on the organization’s recruitment efforts
    Read More

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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