Helena has been added to the list of eight new communities to which The U.S. Small Business Administration will offer e200 Emerging Leaders executive-level training initiative. The program has been expanded to include 27 communities in 2011.
“Over the last few years e200 has been a catalyst for expanding opportunities for many promising small businesses in underserved communities – in particular those who have been most impacted by these tough economic times,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said. “Graduates of the program have increased their revenue, created jobs and helped drive local economic growth in their communities. Adding eight new locations builds on this success and provides even more entrepreneurs in underserved communities with the support, resources and skills to succeed.”
Update from Helena
A newly crafted workers’ compensation bill cleared a legislative hurdle Wednesday, but not without criticism from opponents who said it was unfair to employees and undermined a bill much longer in the making.
House Bill 334 by Rep. Scott Reichner, R-Bigfork is one of two major proposals for workers’ compensation reform working its way through the Legislature. Montana is ranked as having the worst workers’ compensation rates in the country and paid nearly $400 million in workers’ compensation rates last year, officials said. Lawmakers say while on the campaign trail they consistently hear from business owners that the high rates are keeping them from expanding their business, paying employees better or forcing them to move out of state.
The Governor’s Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) is accepting nominations for the 2010 Montana Tourism Awards. Nominations for Tourism Person of the Year, Tourism Community of the Year, Tourism Event of the Year and Tourism Partnership of the Year will be accepted.
“The success of Montana’s tourism industry is a genuine testament to the dedicated and hardworking Montanans within this industry that continue to steer it forward,” said Governor Brian Schweitzer.
As the legislature considers repealing Montana’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), a study by the American Tradition Institute and the Montana Policy Institute says that the state’s alternative energy mandates will be costly to citizens. The RPS is the criteria by which state government permits Montana utility providers, as they purchase energy and enter into production contracts.
Training would become mandatory for those who serve alcohol if a new law is passed.
Last week, members of a Senate committee heard from nearly a dozen supporters of the bill. The law would require alcohol sales training and set a $200 fine for violations.
Those trained would be certified for a period of three years. And they could take the certification with them from job to job. Supporters said training would help servers better identify when someone should no longer be served and increase compliance with the state’s prohibition against serving people under age 21.
The Montana Policy Institute has launched a new website (www.opengovmt.org) that allows visitors to see the salaries and benefits of state employees.
The new open government website is separated into two areas and will allow people to view both state employee salary information and detailed budget data on Montana's K-12 school system.
"Transparency is an issue that unites both left and right, and MPI is happy to be on the cutting edge of bringing detailed information to Montana residents about how their money is being spent," said MPI President Carl Graham. "Publication of this information on our new website continues in the MPI tradition to promote government transparency and accountability."
The Open Government initiative follows publication this winter of the "Montana Pork Report: Wasted Treasure in the Treasure State," a collaboration between the Montana Policy Institute and Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW). That publication outlined wasteful spending and proposed cuts in state spending.
Because state officials have refused to release actual compensation figures for public employees, the information provided at opengovtmt.org only provides a snapshot in time, but one that can be used to compare and contrast public compensation levels across the state.
"In time, we believe the state must be more forthcoming and provide specific spending information to the public," Graham said. "In the meantime, we are happy to provide the limited information state officials have decided to released and will continue to be a leading advocate for truly transparent state government."
The Big Sky Business Journal
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Billings, MT 59103