Few eastern Montana projects in $258 million broadband proposal

A committee advising Gov. Greg Gianforte on a massive state grant program billed as a historic effort to enhance broadband connectivity across rural Montana has plowed into rocky ground as it considers a list of recommended projects this month. An initial ranking of proposed grants to private telecom companies, produced by the state Department of Administration, recommended that nearly half of the Connect MT program’s funding, $126 million, be awarded to projects proposed by telecom giant Charter Communications — an amount that has drawn the ire of smaller, Montana-based companies that want more support for their own…

Exploring Montana’s economic future

Montana, as the saying goes, is one big small town with really long streets. The Long Streets Project aims to cover it like that, focusing on the economic trends and issues that shape the opportunity Montanans have — or don’t have — to make a decent living.

Funding for Long Streets is provided by The Greater Montana Foundation — encouraging communication on issues, trends and values of importance to Montanans.

How higher interest rates are stifling Montana homebuyers

Higher interest rates may be cooling off a housing market stoked to record temperatures by pandemic-era demand the last two years — but they aren’t necessarily providing relief to would-be homebuyers who’ve seen their aspirations stymied by Montana’s great housing crunch.

Governor focuses housing task force on regulatory relief

As Gov. Greg Gianforte described the job facing his newly convened housing task force Wednesday, he made a point of asking the group’s 26 members to think outside the box as they spend the next several months working to identify the root causes of Montana’s housing crunch and propose solutions for consideration by the governor…

Gianforte announces housing affordability task force

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte issued an executive order Thursday creating a “housing advisory council” tasked with suggesting ways for the state “to increase the supply of affordable, attainable workforce housing.” In a release announcing the task force’s creation, the governor acknowledged that housing has been a long-term affordability issue for Montanans and blamed the state’s…

Dept. of Revenue puts limits on tribal marijuana cultivation licenses

Montana lawmakers have worked extensively with the state Department of Revenue to ensure that automatic marijuana growing licenses for Montana’s tribes can scale up to allow production of more marijuana, just like any other cultivation license. But the department’s director, Brendan Beatty, recently sent a letter to lawmakers insisting those licenses be capped at the…

Yellowstone Co. trounces marijuana repeal effort

In the five months since Montana legalized adult-use marijuana, sales have outpaced expectations. As Tuesday’s primary election results indicate, municipalities are keen to take advantage of the tax revenue generated by cannabis sales. The dynamic was especially pronounced in Yellowstone County, where residents shot down a repeal effort by a margin of 58-42.

‘Come Home Montana’ push collides with housing angst

The Department of Commerce has spent $700,000 trying to encourage Montana college grads to return to the state as part of its “Come Home Montana” campaign. Some recipients interviewed by MTFP reported that the outreach sparked feelings of fondness for their former home, but others wondered where they would live amid Montana’s surging popularity and…

Study argues pro-duplex zoning would ease Montana housing crunch

A new report by the conservative Frontier Institute says Montana cities should roll back development restrictions to allow more mid-density housing in existing neighborhoods. It also calls for the state Legislature to step in if they don’t.

The initiative that could upend Montana’s tax system

CI-121, inspired by California’s Prop 13 tax revolt, would cap residential property tax growth in the name of keeping Montanans from being priced out of their homes. The fiscal consequences could ripple across the state for generations.

State unveils broadband access map, solicits grant applications

Data presented by the state broadband office indicates two-thirds of Montana addresses have current or pending 100 mbps service. Private internet providers who want to reach underserved areas can apply for help from a $266 million fund.

¾ of Montana’s return-to-work bonus funds went unclaimed

Gov. Greg Gianforte’s Return to Work bonus program, announced last year as he scaled back expanded pandemic unemployment benefits, ultimately paid about one-fourth as many bonuses as the state had initially funded, according to a new post-program report from the state Department of Labor and Industry.

Growing home in Ekalaka

Eastern Montana’s Carter County is bucking longtime trends toward population declines in rural plains communities, adding 255 residents according to the 2020 census. How? Oil money, dinosaurs and family.

Stimulus infrastructure funds headed to water and sewer projects

The awards, totalling nearly $127 million, were formally announced Thursday by Gov. Greg Gianforte. They follow an allocation process that was outlined by the Montana Legislature this spring in which project applications were submitted by local government entities, ranked by staff at the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and reviewed by an advisory committee…

Labor Department touts economic rebound

Montana’s economy is rebounding quickly from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Department of Labor & Industry economists write in a report released Wednesday.

The town that turned its stimulus money down

Montana towns and cities have been allocated a total of $86.4 million in local COVID-19 relief from the American Rescue Plan Act. The mayor of Ismay, the 17-person town that once renamed itself Joe, says his community doesn’t need it.

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