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Alaska and Montana are the “most outdoorsy states,” as ranked by The National Recreation Economy Report , based on the percentage of the population of each state that participates in outdoor recreation activities, from camping and trail-related activities to off-roading and snowsports.

In both states 81 percent of their population are involved in outdoor recreation. Idaho is third and North Dakota ranked fourth, and Wyoming, fifth – with 79 to 73 percent of their populations involved in outdoor sports.

 

Tiffany Lach, owner of Red Tractor Pizza, Sola Café & Market, and Sola Café Jabs Hall at MSU, is opening Compass Café by Sola, in Big Sky’s Town Center at 25 Town Center Avenue. Offering house-baked goods, traditional, gluten free, and vegan menu options, local art and merchandise, and espresso bar offering Treeline Coffee Roasters, as well as a tea tap wall. Lach was named Small Business Person of the Year in 2014 by the Montana District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

 

The First Interstate BancSystem Foundation and First Interstate Banks of Billings and Miles City are donating a total of $20,000 to the Garfield County Fire Foundation, a fund of the Central Montana Foundation. These funds will be used to support local farmers and ranchers impacted by the Lodgepole Complex Fire, which has burned more than 270,000 acres of land in Garfield and Petroleum Counties. The Garfield County Fire Foundation will distribute the funds to individuals affected by the fire through an application process.

 

In May, Pima Medical Institute’s Dillon graduated its first cohort, with seven Veterinary Technician students completing the program.  A new cohort of students, who were previously enrolled in the Veterinary Assistant program are now working toward their Veterinary Technician associate degrees. Pima Medical’s Veterinary Technician program is the only one in the state of Montana. In May it, also, received its American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accreditation. Pima Medical offers the veterinary assistant certificate and veterinary technician associate degree programs in Dillon. The programs’ classrooms and labs are located on the University of Montana Western’s campus.

 

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center at Montana State University has hired Shane Cantrell to lead MMEC’s Missoula office. As business adviser for MMEC’s western Montana region, Cantrell will help businesses in that area become more profitable and achieve competitive advantage. Cantrell plans to establish a Society of Manufacturing Engineers Lean Bronze training program in the Missoula area.

 

For the first time in a single month, more than one million people visited Glacier National Park in July with 1,009,665 visitors, up 23 percent over last July. Park officials are developing new management strategies to deal with the increased traffic. Glacier Park is on track for another record year. Year to date, 1,894,566 people have visited the park, an 18.7 percent increase over last year when 1,596,027 people visited. Yellowstone National Park has seen about 5 percent fewer visitors. More than 2.31 million people have visited Yellowstone so far this year.

     

The University of Montana is hoping to see a 3 percent enrollment increase this fall, based upon the number of incoming freshmen. Enrollment at UM dropped about 24 percent since 2010. Last year, 1,409 freshman registered for orientation, compared to 1,883.

 

Smurfit-Stone pulp mill in Frenchtown auctioned off hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment. Profits from the auction will go to pay off a portion of the $1.2 million in back taxes owed by the company, M2Green Redevelopment, LLC. The mill which employed hundreds of workers closed seven years ago.

 

Four new alcohol licenses are being made available to Gallatin County by the Montana department of Revenue.because of its growth. The licenses include two all-beverage floater licenses, one beer license and one restaurant beer and wine license. A floater license is one that can be transferred outside the area where it was issued. Additional licenses were also made available in Broadwater County and Missoula. Over the last five years, more than 40 licenses have been bought and sold in Gallatin County at an average of $320,000 — with a high of $800,000 for a single all-beverage license.

 

Of Montana’s 56 counties, Big Horn County is ranked last for employment. Between March and June of this year, the local unemployment rate has gone up 2 percentage points – from 11.3 to 13.3 percent. Last summer  the July 2016 rate was more than two-fifths smaller at 7.4 percent. Glacier County takes the next highest unemployment rate for June at 8.8 percent, one-third smaller than Big Horn County’s. Statewide the average rate of unemployment for March was 3.8 percent, rising to 3.9 by June. Big Horn County’s high unemployment rate is likely attributable to the layoffs to local coal mines, such as the Decker, Spring Creek and Absaloka mines.

 

 

A Bozeman couple, Drew and Cailley Tonn, are preparing to launch a new product, FlasKap, a tumbler lid that acts as its own mixer. With the press of a button, the lid dispenses a half-ounce of liquid from a five-ounce reservoir into the tumbler below. The product currently fits most 20- to 24-ounce tumbler brands, including Yeti and Hydro Flask. Drew Tonn said he has plans to build a bigger model that would fit 32-ounce mugs, as well accessories such as a ball ice mold and drinking straw. The product will be available in December for less than $30.

 

With about 40 percent of Montana experiencing drought, grain harvest in the state looks dismal. With prices at a break even point, farmers report varying degrees of yield across the state.

 

Wisetail a Bozeman tech firm, has been purchased by a corporation from Texas, Alchemy Systems, a learning software business based in Austin. New ownership is not expected to affect Bozeman employees. It employs 42 people. Wisetail’s software helps train employees at a list of companies, including Shake Shack, Jamba Juice, Einstein Bros. Bagels, The Cheesecake Factory, Bonobos, and SoulCycle. Alchemy Systems has two offices in Canada and creates similar learning software.