Design plans for Montana State University’s new Norm Asbjornson Hall have been finalized, and construction of the new facility is scheduled to begin this fall. The approximately 110,000 square-foot building will house parts of the MSU College of Engineering and the MSU Honors College. It will feature nine classrooms, 17 laboratories and a presentation hall called “Inspiration Hall” that will seat approximately 300 people, according to Walt Banziger, director of MSU Campus Planning, Design and Construction.

July, always a busy month in Yellowstone National Park, was even more so this year as it set a new monthly visitation record. 995,917 people visited in July, topping the previous record set last July by 1.5 percent. Tourism for the first seven months of 2016 is up 6.5 percent compared to the previous year.

Wheat prices are at $2.16, which means many farmers will be losing money. They are in the process of cutting right now. Montana farmers are growing 600,000 fewer aces of wheat, but still the wheat is being piled on the ground at elevators, where product is slow to move.

Sasquatch Fuel, a new Bozeman-based business recently put its new product on the market – dehydrated camping meals packaged in biodegradable materials. Developed when the company’s father and son team, Andrew and Sandy Schroeder became disgusted with finding liter from pre-packaged meals in the wilderness, their meals come packaged in Omnidegradable bags, a patented material that breaks down using microbes in the ground and water. The meals sell for $11.99, can be found online, or at Schnee’s in Bozeman, or at Bob Ward’s stores across the state. The Schroeders hope to eventually get the brand on shelves at the Bozeman REI, as well as with Yellowstone National Park operator Delaware North.
In the small town of Laurin, south of Sheridan, Mont., the Poor Orphan Creamery has opened. It offers a tasting room to sample its feta, brie and fromage blanc, with their selection of wine and beer. The business is owned by Lark Gilmer, a cheesemaker from Minnesota

The Chippewa Cree Tribe is celebrating the centennial anniversary of the establishment of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation. Since 1916, when the Chippewa Cree settled on the reservation, they have worked to observe and pass their heritage from one generation to the next. “This celebration plays a key role in both preserving tribal culture and educating non-members about our values and customs,” said Plain Green staff member, Steve Parker. As an online lender that is wholly owned by the Chippewa Cree, Plain Green functions as the economic development arm of the Tribe.

Three Havre families, Dave Clausen, Tom and Carolyn Patrick, and Pat and Alita Newton, came together to contribute $200,000 toward Montana State University-Northern’s new Diesel Technology Building. “This gift means a lot to Northern because this gift comes from local people who are very committed to the ongoing success of Northern,” explained Greg Kegel, MSU-Northern Chancellor. MSU-Northern’s new Diesel Technology Center is designed in keeping with today’s training techniques and will be equipped with the latest equipment and instrumentation, surpassing anything previously offered to our students. The proposed facility is 7,000 square feet larger than the existing structure, meets all code requirements, can incorporate future technological advances, and will attract and accommodate more students.

The latest gross domestic product (GDP) numbers confirm that the U.S. economy remains mired in slower-than-desired growth despite recent signs of progress in some data points. Real GDP grew just 1.2 percent in the second quarter, well below the consensus estimate of 2.6 percent, with first quarter growth revised down to 0.8 percent. The growth reflects a rebound in consumer spending, but there were significant drags on activity from fixed investment and inventories. Manufacturers and other business leaders continue to be quite cautious, and as a result, they are holding back on capital spending and hiring, waiting for better signs of traction in the economy. The U.S. economy has averaged 2.2 percent growth annually since the end of the Great Recession, and with this release, real GDP is likely to expand 1.8 percent in 2016.

According to Western Ag Reporter the Montana Farmers Union has formed a partnership with the Montana Poultry Growers Co-op to open a co-op run poultry processing facility near Hamilton, on Homestead Organics Farm. Official license to operate from the State of Montana was recently conveyed to co-op members and managers Laura Garber of Homestead Organics Farm, Beau McLean and Chris Greene of Living River Farms and Jan Tusick with Lake County Community Development. Construction of the facility began in December 2015. It will be able to process upwards of 500 chickens a day.

Bozeman’s well-known Rainbow Motel is being remodeled by new owner, Dean Folkvord, founder of Wheat Montana. The 1960’s era motel is distinguished by its iconic vertical neon sign. Folkvord plans to retain the style of the motel but convert it into a more boutique-style lodge.

A survey conducted by the Montana Chamber Foundation reveals that 58 percent of business owners say labor availability will negatively impact their business in 2016.

Montana State University has completed an agreement to license a new variety of hard red spring wheat to Montana-based Northern Seed LLC. Licensing the variety to Northern Seed means the Montana-based research company will lead the market development, data collection and production plans for this new Clearfield line. Northern Seed has the capability to continue evaluation of this variety in their extensive research program with plots located throughout the state.

Missoula is experiencing record-breaking home prices. Since the beginning of the year, the median sale price of homes has surged up 4 percent from $239,500 to $249,900 – an increase of over $10,000 and a $53,000 increase since 2011. Industry experts say it’s “the law of supply and demand,” there are more buyers than houses. From 2012 to 2016, the median price of a home in Missoula rose from $209,700 to $249,900

The USDA is projecting record-breaking yields for corn at 175.1 bushels per acre and soybeans at 48.9 bushels per acre – if so it will be the largest corn and soybean crop in US history. Record yields are not necessarily good for prices. As of a week ago, soybean prices dropped 21 cents per bushel, and corn fell to the lowest level in almost seven years.

Market Update

1 DOW 20,448.71
-148.01 (-0.72%)    
2 S&P 2,331.22
-12.76 (-0.54%)    
3 NASDAQ 5,805.45
-23.29 (-0.40%)    
4 MDU 26.82
-0.35 (-1.29%)    
5 SWC 17.40
0.00 (0.00%)    
6 EBMT 19.85
-0.05 (-0.25%)    
7 FIBK 38.15
-1.00 (-2.55%)    
8 GBCI 32.10
-0.83 (-2.52%)