The Associated General Contractors reports that Montana joins just 13 other states and the District of Columbia in job losses in the construction sector over the last year. Montana ranks fourth in the real number of construction jobs lost (-1,900) and second in percentage of construction jobs lost over the past 12 months (-7.2 percent). While several factors are at play, the lack of a consistent and reliable flow of infrastructure projects has resulted in layoffs and relocations.

The city of Bozeman is hiring a lobbyist to advocate for local sales taxes during the 2017 legislative session. Also sometimes called a local option tax, the legislation would give municipalities the authority to ask their voters to impose a sales tax within their boundaries on goods and services. Counties would also be allowed to institute voter approved gas taxes for road upkeep.

Spectrum Aquatics of Missoula has launched a brand new Pop Up Anchor for deck level pools. This new Pop Up Anchor has been designed and built with the user in mind. Fully constructed of 316 stainless steel, the anchor also locks open for ease of attachment to the lane line rope. The Pop Up Anchor can be used on leisure pools or pools with water polo and cross course swimming.

A group of Montana State University researchers have been awarded a $1 million National Science Foundation grant to study a previously unexplored lake buried deep beneath Antarctica’s ice sheet. Researchers will travel to a remote part of Antarctica, where they will drill through roughly 4,000 feet of glacial ice to reach one of the continent’s subglacial lakes to sample water and sediment. The three-year project could significantly advance understanding of Antarctica’s sub-ice ecosystems.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded $941,238 in federal aid to help pay for repairs, debris cleanup and protective measures of public properties damaged in the June tornado in Baker, Montana. The aid represents 75 percent of the $1.2 million total costs resulting from the tornado. The State of Montana, Fallon County and Baker are responsible for funding the other 25 percent of the cost to reclaim several public properties.

FICO, a Silicon Valley analytics pioneer, plans to expand their Bozeman office and add another 50 jobs. The company will move from Main Street to a new office downtown.

At a time when most schools are reporting a decline in their enrollment Montana State University-Northern’s enrollment is holding strong. MSU-Northern reported that it has 1232 students attending classes. This is also the third consecutive year that Northern has increased its number of freshman students. Growth programs are diesel, plumbing, electrical, and criminal justice. They hope to expand into a four-year psychology major.

Local resident and entrepreneur Casey Meadows has been named franchise owner of Montana’s first Chick-fil-A restaurant. With the restaurant slated to open for business Nov. 17, hiring for approximately 120 full- and part-time employees has begun. Meadows, a Georgia native who previously owned a Chick-fil-A franchise in Corona, Calif., is no stranger to a new frontier. In 2004, Meadows and his wife Jan moved to California where they have witnessed Chick-fil-A grow from four to more than 100 stand-alone restaurants in the state, during their 12 years of operating the Hidden Valley Parkway Chick-fil-A.

The long-awaited start of the Williston Basin International Airport is finally here as the official groundbreaking of the $250 million facility was held on Monday, October 10 on the approximate site of the eventual terminal. FAA, state and local elected officials presided over the special ceremony, which was also open to the public. “This is an historic chapter in the history book for Williston and we couldn’t be more excited,” said Howard Klug, long-time mayor of Williston. “Many people have worked very hard to bring us to this point in time and I thank them one and all.”

Dr. Jon Kolstad has opened a new eye clinic in Sidney. He has existing clinics in Wolf Point, Glasgow, and Scobey, and has been serving the region since 1995.

Owners of Capital Hill Mall in Helena are pondering whether to remodel or raze the building and redevelop. The property has been for sale for $2.9 million since October 2014. It is owned by Kimball Investment Co. Potential anchor which have indicated interest include Trader Joe’s, a chain of specialty grocery stores; Whole Foods Market, Ross Dress for Less and Kohl’s department store company. One of the owners, David Kimball said there isn’t much interest in Helena because the market is small. Also retail stores are being impacted by the tendency of millennials, those aged 18 to 34, to shop mostly on line.

Market Update

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