Jim Wright, former chair and current member of Montana State University’s Montana Manufacturing Extension Center Advisory Board, has been named to the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board. Wright is the current vice president of operations for Proof Research in Columbia Falls, a company that designs and manufactures carbon fiber composite firearms for both military and commercial applications


The Livingston-based company, The Rib and Chop House has opened another location in Montana at the Clarion Inn Copper King Hotel & Convention Center on Harrison Ave. in Butte. The company has nine locations in Utah and Wyoming.


Communities with paddlefish sites along the Missouri River have used the process of selling paddlefish eggs – caviar – as a community fundraiser, but one of those communities in North Dakota, Williston,  has given up the venture because of a glut of caviar on the market coming from China.


A longtime faculty member in the Montana State University Department of Health and Human Development has been selected as dean of the MSU College of Education, Health and Human Development. Alison Harmon, a professor of food and nutrition and sustainable food systems who has also been serving as interim dean of the college since July 1, 2015, was named dean after a national search.


“The Gallatin area real estate market remained strong through March,” said Steve Candler, CEO of the Gallatin Association of Realtors. “The numbers are strong on all fronts: new single-family listings and closed sales are up, while the inventory of available homes and the months’ supply of available inventory are both down. The number of new single-family listings in Gallatin County rose from 176 in March 2016 to 185 last month, a 5.1% increase. The number of closed sales jumped from 106 to 118, an 11.3% increase, while pending sales decreased slightly from 157 to 155, a 1.3% drop. The average number of days on market dropped slightly from 88 to 87, a 1.1% decrease. The inventory of homes for sale fell from 510 to 405, a 20.6% decrease, and the months’ supply of inventory dropped from 4.1 to 3.1, a 24.4% decrease. The average sale price dropped from $457,918 to $443,539, a 3.1% drop. 


NAI, a commercial real estate marketing firm with offices in Billings and Missoula, has been engaged by Butte-Silver Bow County to market Butte’s old NorthWestern Energy building. The county is paying the firm $17,820 to help the area’s Community Development agency to market the 110,000-square-foot complex at 40 E. Broadway St.


Nearly 50 students in Montana State University’s accelerated undergraduate program in nursing will receive financial support after the MSU College of Nursing won a grant from the Hearst Foundations. The $100,000 grant will provide all 48 students beginning this spring in the accelerated bachelor’s program in nursing with $1,750 each for tuition, books and fees. It will also award a total of $16,000 to students for additional living expenses and emergency needs through an application process.


Premier Industries of Missoula is considering building a plant to process slag at the site of the former Washoe Smelter in Anaconda. The slag will be made into proppant which is used in fracking oil and natural gas. The county leased Premier 1.5 miles of Mill Creek property along Highway, for $100 per year for 99 years, with an option to purchase the property for $1. One spokesman said he hopes to have a plant built by September 2017.


Earthjustice has a suit challenging the advancement of a proposed mine in Montana, near Libby, by Montanore Minerals Corp. which would extract copper and silver. Its proposed underground activity would eventually extend beneath the nearby Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. Joining Earthjustice in its suit are other environmental groups including Save Our Cabinets and Defenders of Wildlife. They want to overturn a decision by The US Fish Wildlife Service, which reviewed the project and gave a biological opinion that says it’s OK. Kootenai National Forest officials have also approved the project because of the company’s extensive mitigation plans, including acquiring 6,000 acres of new habitat for grizzly bears. While the environmental groups want to halt the project, attorneys for the US Department of Justice argues that the project should be judged based upon its actions as the project goes along. It’s an adaptive management program, which means if other problems arise the company must adapt to them.


Brandon Bridge has been named Economist and Director of Forecasting at the Bureau of Business and Economic Research. He holds an MA in economics from the University of New Mexico, where he is currently completing his PhD, he holds a BA in economics from Brigham Young University. Brandon’s research interests include econometric applications, regional economic modeling, natural resources economics, and international development. He has published articles in Energy Economics and the Social Science Journal.


A chef with more than 20 years of industry experience has been named the director of Gallatin College Montana State University’s new culinary arts program. Bill Baskin, who previously worked as executive chef at Open Range in downtown Bozeman and as executive chef and food beverage director at Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, will lead the new program, which was approved in 2016 by the Montana Board of Regents. As director, Baskin will teach culinary classes and act as the program administrator.


Montana ranchers and feeders are experiencing an improving market as cattle futures rise and corn prices drop. Pork prices, however, have collapsed.


The Montana Department of Labor and Industry is closing Job Service offices in Glasgow, Livingston and Shelby due to federal budget cuts.


First Interstate Bank has announced plans to acquire the Bank of the Cascades in Bend, Oregon. The move extends the territory served by the company from its current footprint in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota, in which it has about 80 branches. The $589 million transaction is expected to close by the end of May.


Britt E. Ide and Linda G. Sullivan have been elected to NorthWestern Corporation’s Board of Directors. Ide is president of Ide Energy & Strategy. Sullivan is an executive vice president and CFO of American Water.


The Montana Department of Agriculture recently unveiled the 2017 edition of Grown in Montana, a magazine and web program that promotes and educates how the food and agriculture community contributes to Montana’s economic well-being. Articles focus on Montana’s top-quality grains, the benefit of local Montana products and how Montana distilleries are boosting the agriculture industry. Find more at www.farmflavor.com/montana-agriculture.


Hoffman York, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin – the company that got the controversial $7 million state tourism marketing contract a year ago – is opening an office in Helena. The contact was awarded by the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development amid charges of favoritism and questions about why an out-of –state firm should get the contract.