The Sustainable Business Council Blog

Agencies offer incentives, financing and other help for employers
November 30, 2010, 10:20 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

Agencies offer incentives, financing and other help for employers

A Business Boost, if You Know Where to Look

Casey Stratton, center, places small pieces of hard plastic into a large lathe while working at Precision Engineering in Kalispell. – Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon

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Since launching in 1996, Precision Engineering has been doing a tidy business in Evergreen crafting parts used by Applied Materials, and before that, Semitool, among other firms.

“We’re basically a job shop that manufactures mechanical components,” Andy Upton, Precision’s quality manager and shop foreman, said. “Parts we build go together to build a larger component.”

Employing nine people at present, Precision Engineering is a good example of the type of “small business” politicians tend to refer to when arguing over tax policy and economic measures. Because it operates in such a specialized field, the company has highly specific needs.

“In this type of industry, we have a few complex pieces of equipment,” Upton said. Precision Engineering recently acquired a coordinate-measuring machine (CMM), which can precisely measure a part to ensure it matches the original design. But training on such a tool can be tough.

“Without that specific training, it’s such a complex piece of equipment, that we just didn’t have time to learn it ourselves,” Upton said.

That is, until Bill Nicholson, a field engineer with the Montana Manufacturing Center’s Kalispell extension office, informed the leadership at Precision they would likely qualify for the Incumbent Worker Training Program. Administered by the state Department of Labor, the program provides matching grants of $4 for every dollar put up by a business to pay for training that increases skills, productivity and wages – at up to $2,000 per full-time employee.

Incumbant worker grants

The Montana Manufacturing Center

Read More:
For more information on the programs available, contact Parson at 758-2802 or Jackson at 758-6252.


Missoula & Montana both rank high in best commuting practices!
November 30, 2010, 9:57 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

How Does Your City Get To Work?

Posted by Eric de Place

10/07/2010 09:30 AM
More commute rankings than you can shake a walking stick at.

There’s a heap of new Census data out, showing that Seattle is the Northwest’s clear leader in commute-trip alternatives. I thought it was interesting so I ran the commute-by-mode numbers for every city there’s data for in the Northwest states — and I bring it to you now for your reading pleasure.

So how did the residents of Northwest cities get to their jobs in 2009?

If you’re a two-wheeler, the real action is in Eugene, which puts every place else in the shade, likely owing to a big university and a stellar network of bike paths:


If you want to go by sidewalk, on the other hand, you’ll find more compatriots in Bellingham than anywhere else.

That’s thanks in part to a centrally-located college campus, as well as an urban landscape that never fails to tug at my heartstrings:

When it comes to public transit, on the other hand, the big cities in King County, Washington are way out in front:


If you’d rather work in your PJs, you’ll have more cyber-company if you live in Oregon, home to 6 of the top 7 cities in the region for working at home:


Carpooling tells another story, however. As a general matter, driving-centric cities tend to do better in this category, and none better than Kennewick in Washington’s Tri-Cities region:


Butte Supercomputing Company to Help Site Wind, Solar Farms
November 30, 2010, 9:52 PM
Filed under: Uncategorized

Butte Supercomputing Company to Help Site Wind, Solar Farms

Great Falls Tribune
November 16, 2010

A new collaboration between the Rocky Mountain Supercomputing Centers in Butte and the global security firm, Northrop Grumman Partners, will boost wind and solar projects in Montana, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said.

The Maximizing and Optimizing Renewable Energy POWER initiative will leverage the RMSC on-demand supercomputing resources and Northrop Grumman’s unique site-selection tool to help identify the most efficient and productive networks of wind and solar farms for renewable energy projects.

“Max’s Economic Development Summit in Butte this past September helped make our MORE POWER partnership possible,” said Earl J. Dodd, executive director of Rocky Mountain Supercomputing Centers. “At the Summit we were able to bring the right people together, kick discussions into high gear and turn our ideas into real business opportunities.”

“I support any effort to bolster Montana’s position as a national leader in the renewable energy sector,” Baucus said. “This is a great example of teamwork to move us closer to our goal of creating good-paying jobs in Montana. It’s important to continue to draw upon our resources – like the Rocky Mountain Supercomputing Centers – to develop new opportunities in renewable energy.”

The MORE POWER initiative aims to lower the cost of operations by identifying an optimized network of wind farm locations and maximizing the ability to sell energy produced.

Northrop Grumman and RMSC are collaborating to provide MORE POWER services for the state of Montana to help establish governance guidelines for the state’s expansion of wind generation.