I want to extend my gratitude to all who assisted with and attended the 2009 Rural Community Conference. Your contribution made the conference a great success! More conference follow-up will be made in the coming weeks as we evaluate the previous effort and make plans for the 2010 Conference. Many thanks again for a great event!
MACDEP Happenings/Member News
Over 200 Attend the 2009 Rural Community Conference
By all accounts, the conference was a great success with over 230 registrations and excellent media coverage including KBZK TV evening news and the front page of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle Big Sky Section. We web streamed the entire conference and you can watch video of the keynote speakers, listen to breakout session speakers, and download presentations. We would also appreciate your comments on our Conference Evaluation to help make next year's Conference even better. Additionally, we will be creating 10 Issue-based Blogs (on the topics such as Community Foundations, Housing, and Health and Wellness). Sign up for the Blogs here.
Community Development Society Conference Registration Due June 25
The CDS Conference will be held in Memphis, TN July 26-29, 2009. This is a great opportunity to connect with an array of researchers, faculty, and practitioners from across the globe that are also working on community and economic development issues. The conference includes numerous sessions (general and breakout), mobile learning workshops that will take you into communities that have addressed unique community and economic development challenges. The closing session will feature two excellent leaders: Phil Baldwin, CEO of Southern Bancorp, and Claiborne Deming, former CEO of Murphy Oil. The early bird deadline is June 25th, 2009.
Small Business Development Center 2008 Annual Report
The mission of the Montana SBDC is to guide existing and start-up businesses toward profitability in order to create jobs and economic wealth in Montana. The graphics below show some of the accomplishments made by the SBDC in 2008. See the full report at the Montana Department of Commerce website for more details.
Global Auto Industry Slams on the Brakes As Fuel Economy Takes Center Stage
The global financial downturn has driven an auto-industry crisis that saw production and sales of passenger cars and light vehicles decline by 4 and 5 percent respectively in 2008. Projections suggest that both production and sales will drop even more dramatically in 2009, with 10 million fewer vehicles rolling off assembly lines than in 2007. This in-depth look at the global auto industry includes production data from 1950 to the present as well as projections through 2009.
Community Development “In the News”
Montana Department of Commerce Tourism Campaign Invests in Eastern Montana: Launches New Montana High Plains Campaign
Montana truly has treasures all across our vast landscape said Governor Brian Schweitzer. I am excited to see our distinctive 'High Plains' receive this added attention and encourage Montanans to venture out and discover this impressive part of our great state. MATR; May 28
Home Sales up in the West
In 13 western states and in cities throughout Montana, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Washington, low prices on foreclosed homes have driven home sales up 16 percent from May, while nationally sales only increased slightly, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. Arizona Daily Sun; May 28
Residents Onboard With Train Service
The Bozeman City Commission meeting room couldnt hold all the people wanting an update on passenger trains possibly coming back to southern Montana with the crowd spilling out into the hall and gathering around a TV broadcast of the meeting. Bozeman Daily Chronicle May 27.
Cascade County Will Test Wind-Energy Storage Battery
A U.S. defense contractor is planning a major test in Cascade County of how well battery technology can capture and store Montana's wind-generated electricity. While the county will host the research, the $307,000 project is being privately financed by Helena-based Exergy Development, which built the Horse Shoe Bend wind farm outside of Great Falls, and NorthWestern Energy, the state's largest utility.. Great Falls Tribune; May 27
Learning How to be Clean and Green from Germany
Germany's experience in implementing environmentally-friendly concepts like green roofs, wind power and other renewables is pointing the way for many American decisionmakers. New York Times; May 27
More Cities Adding Rail Connections to Airport
USA Today reports on a growing trend of cities like Dallas and Seattle that are connecting their airports to their downtowns via rail. USA Today; May 26
Montana FWP Warns Alder Creek Dam Will Fail
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks closed the popular Vigilante Fishing Pond near Virginia City after determining that a dam upstream at Horseshoe Pond would likely fail and wipe out the fishing area. Montana Standard; May 22
SBA Small Business Recovery Act Workshop
June 5th, 8:30 AM, Missoula, Hilton Garden Inn. Especially for entrepreneurs, professionals, and prospective business owners. This event is sponsored by SBA and the Missoula Small Business Development Center. Information can be obtained by calling the SBA Montana District Office at (406) 441-1081.
Public Input Webinar Meetings on Community Development and Housing Needs
June 10th, 10 AM; June 17th, 1:30 PM. Does your community have economic development, public facility and infrastructure, affordable housing, and other community development needs? This is your chance to provide input on your community needs and on Montanas draft Consolidated Plan (CP) Annual Action Plan for 2011 and the states Five-year Consolidated Plan (strategic plan) for 2015. Interested persons are encouraged to provide input.
MEDA Conference: Providing Leadership In A Challenged Economy
June 11th - 12th, 10 AM, Fairmont Hot Springs. The conference objective is to equip Montanas economic developers with up-to-date information on new recovery programs, new technology, and the tools necessary so they may serve as resourceful leaders in revitalizing Montanas economy.
1st Annual Planning in the West Conference
June 17th - 18th, Stueckle Sky Center, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho. The 1st annual Planning in the West conference, produced in partnership with Boise State University's, Department of Public Policy & Administration. Featuring leading planners, policy-makers, architects, developers, and landscape designers from around the Rockies, this conference aims to track planning and development trends, showcase best practices, and understand how thoughtful and place-inspired planning can help shape the region.
Working Forests, Managing Communities
June 18th - 19th, Flathead Valley Community College, Kalispell. The relationship between forests and communities is changing. The wildfires of recent years, as well as the recent closing of several mills have caused us to ask what policies need to be changed or enacted to create a sustainable future for this valuable resource. Break out sessions will allow for in-depth discussions of Montana's current situations and planning for a sustainable future.
Grants Encourage the Family Farming System
Deadline: August 1, 2009. The mission of Farm Aid is to keep family farmers throughout the United States on their land. Grants are provided in the following categories: Growing the Good Food Movement supports projects that increase the interest in family farm-identified, organic, or humanely-raised food. Range of grants: $1,000-$20,000, most from $3,000-$7,500.
PPL Montana awards Grants to 13 Civic Organizations Throughout the State
Continuing its program to strengthen communities, PPL Montana is giving $100,000 in Community Fund grant money this spring to 13 Montana organizations that provide programs ranging from energy conservation to services for children with learning disabilities. The deadline for applications is July 31.
Renewable Energy Consortium Accepts Funding Proposals
A public-private consortium of research institutions, energy sector companies and venture capital organizations is accepting funding proposals related to the commercialization of renewable energy technologies.
The Rocky Mountain Clean Tech Open
This is a regional competition with national reach, nurturing entrepreneurs from startup to success, a catalyst for building a sustainable economy, and a proven model based on the Clean Tech Open Competition. Three regional winners are chosen by a panel of expert judges and then are flown to California to compete for a national prize and honored at a major Awards Gala in October.
Rivers and Trails Assistance Deadline
The National Park Service helps partners plan successful locally-led outdoor recreation and natural resource conservation projects. August 1 is the deadline for the next round of assistance from the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program. Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss project ideas with RTCA staff before submitting an application.
Renewable-Fuel Push May Help Montana
Efforts to develop a viable oilseed fuel business in the state haven't met optimistic forecasts of the last three years, which included plans for in-state refineries and production of more than 100 million of gallons of biodiesel. Federal red tape and record-high commodities prices in 2008 are most often cited for slowing Montana biodiesel development. Billings Gazette; May 21
Montana PSC Approves Natural-Gas Fired Power Plant Near Anaconda
NorthWestern Energy's plan to build a 200-megawatt, $206 million natural gas-fired power plant near its Mill Creek substation south of Anaconda was approved Tuesday by the Montana Public Service Commission. Montana Standard; May 20
Coal Begins to Pile up at Montana Mine
Miners have begun pulling coal out of the Signal Peak Mine in Montana at the rate of about 3,000 tons per day, less than a year after Ohio-based Boich Cos. and FirstEnergy bought the property and began sketching out a business plan. Billings Gazette; May 19
GM to Pull 3 Montana Franchises
General Motors told Headwaters GMC in Three Forks and Livingston as well as Scarff Auto Center in Kalispell that their franchise agreements will not be renewed. Montana Standard; May 19
Railroad, Butte Trail Users Clash Over Old Track
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad told Montana land managers it plans to keep hikers off of the East Ridge track, a popular hiking trail near Butte. Montana Standard; May 19
Housing Market in Billings Feels the Recession
A year ago, the folks in Billings thought their housing market was recession-proof. It had been sheltered from the past two economic recessions. They just blew right over us, says Twyla Best, president of the Billings Association of Realtors. USA Today; May 19
Montana Tribes Will Share $6.8M in IHS Federal Stimulus Funds
The Indian Health Service will send $6.8 million of its $500 million share of federal stimulus funds to Montana, where the money will be used to buy new medical equipment and to update medical clinics. Great Falls Tribune; May 16
Finding Use for Empty $27 Million Jail in Hardin
Given the fact that this jail is sitting empty, why is the state's Corrections Advisory Panel recommending that the Montana Department of Corrections add new beds to its existing jails and even build a new multi-million-dollar facility in the Billings area. Missoulian; May 15
Montana Facility Provides Important Step in Local Food Process
As demand for more locally grown food increases, Montana Food Products, LLC, stepped in and opened a food processing facility in Lolo to give local growers the option of putting up those crops for the off-season, and hopefully enticing more area farmers and ranchers to get into the local food business. NewWest.net; May 12
Small Towns Work to Keep Young Population
How do small towns keep more of their young? News-Journal; May 11
Transmission-Line Capacity a Barrier to Montana's Wind-Power Projects
Wind-energy developers are facing a bit of the chicken-and-egg situation in Montana, struggling with building wind-energy projects and the transmission lines needed to carry that wind-generated energy to market, with the Montana-Alberta Tie Line, a proposed transmission line between Great Falls and Lethbridge epitomizing the debate. Great Falls Tribune; May 11
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Marks 25th Year in Missoula
The view out the window of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation keeps changing. Twenty-five years ago, it was a pine forest out back of Bob Munson's trailer home/real estate office in Troy - and the vision of four men who thought their favorite animal needed a helping hand. Missoulian; May 10
Missoula and Great Falls Business Development Organizations Working Together to Get Loan Dollars to Small Businesses
“Montana needs creative ways to get financing to businesses right now, and this Great Falls-Missoula partnership is a good model.” MATR; May 6
Conserving Montana's Vast Horizon
A new program invites innkeepers to make subtle pitches for small sums that will help pay landowners who sign conservation easements -- binding agreements that limit property development. Toronto Sun; May 6
Montana Will Get $17.5M of BLM's $305M of Federal Stimulus Money
Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester said that the state will receive $17.5 million of the $305 million of federal stimulus funds allocated to the Bureau of Land Management, and that $1.4 million will be used for renewable-energy projects; $2.5 million for habitat restoration; and $6 million for abandoned mine cleanup. Helena Independent Record; May 5
Ametsbichler, Worries about Missoula Work Force, Wages and Economic Future
Up until the national recession hit early last year and the Missoula economy began its slowdown last fall, the city was enjoying 2 percent to 3 percent unemployment. The historic lows were certainly something to celebrate, said Wolf Ametsbichler, director of the Missoula Job Service. It meant, essentially, there were more jobs than people to work them. It also meant the worker shortage was in some cases driving up wages because employers were desperate for hired help. Missoulian; May 4
Bridger Photonics of Bozeman Signs Two Technology Licenses with MSU
These licenses are part of a strong push towards commercial product development and applications at Bridger Photonics. Bridger Photonics News; May 4
Good Earth Market in Billings, Montana has First Electric Car-Charging Station
I think that if we're going to have more people move toward that kind of a vehicle, either a plug-in hybrid or a pure electrical, we're going to have to have an infrastructure for it, said Rick Jones, whose electric Zenn was the first car to use the station. I commend the Good Earth Market for being the first in Billings. Billings Gazette; May 2
Fort Missoula Headlines Historical Sites in Montanas Cultural Mecca
Late author-poet John Updike called Missoula, Mont., the Paris of the 1990s. A decade of so later, Missoula remains the cultural mecca of the Treasure State. Spokesman-Review; May 2
Bye Bye Biofuels in Missoula
Missoulas biodiesel well ran dry this spring, leaving individuals and organizations thirsting for alternative fuels out of options. The supply cut is just one example of recent problems experienced by Missoula sustainable operations. Missoula Independent; April 30
Missoula, Montana Resilient During Recession
Although the full story of the national recession hasn't yet played out, one theme endures: Missoula - and the Rocky Mountain West - continue to be among the best places to live and work during this economic tumult. Missoulian; April 30