Economic Outlook Seminar will visit 10 Montana towns

“Finding Good Workers: New Challenges, New Solutions.”
Posted at 10:41 AM, Jan 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-13 12:41:27-05

The Bureau of Business & Economic Research (BBER) at the University of Montana is about to kick off its 45th annual Economic Outlook Seminar series.

The half-day seminar highlights the latest economic trends for local economies and the state of Montana.

“It’s time to take a step back and think about where economic growth is heading across the state,” said BBER director Patrick Barkey in a news release.

Every year, industry experts give their outlooks for Montana’s important sectors, including health care, forestry, travel and tourism, real estate, manufacturing and agriculture. This year, the seminar also will include the outlook for high-tech and start-up industries.

The theme of the 2020 seminar tour is “Finding Good Workers: New Challenges, New Solutions.”

After more than a decade of economic growth that has featured strong hiring and steadily falling unemployment rates, many Montana businesses are struggling to find a supply of suitable workers for their job openings, Barkey said. Some businesses even are questioning how they can continue to fill orders, let alone capitalize on new opportunities.

“As economic problems go, this may be a good one to have – too many jobs,” said Barkey. “But finding solutions to Montana’s workforce shortages will require creative thinking. While boosting worker salaries may address some of the workforce issues, it won’t solve the problem.”

Among the featured speakers:

  • Katy Spence is communications director for the Montana High Tech Business Alliance.
  • George Haynes is an agricultural policy specialist with the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University.
  • Norma Nickerson is director of the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research.
  • Kate Binzen Fuller is an assistant professor and extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University.
  • Brandon Bridge is an economist and director of forecasting at the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.

Registration costs $90. For Montana University System faculty, staff and students, registration is $25. Continuing education credits are available, and groups of five or more can receive a discount. The seminars will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Here is the schedule:

  • Tuesday, January 28, Great Northern Hotel, Helena
  • Wednesday, January 29, Hilton Garden Inn, Great Falls
  • Friday, January 31, Hilton Garden Inn, Missoula
  • Tuesday, February 4, Northern Hotel, Billings
  • Wednesday, February 5, The Commons, Bozeman (includes live webcast)
  • Thursday, February 6, NorthWestern Energy General Office, Butte
  • Tuesday, February 11, Hilton Garden Inn, Kalispell
  • Tuesday, March 17, MSU Northern, Havre
  • Wednesday, March 18, Central Montana Education Center, Lewistown
  • Thursday, March 19, Lone Peak Cinema, Big Sky

For more information or to register, click here to visit the website or call 406-243-5113.