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Annual Economic Outlook Seminar to highlight higher education, state budget

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The Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana will begin its 43rd Annual Economic Outlook Series with presentations in nine Montana cities, including Bozeman on Jan. 31, with a live broadcast in Big Sky.

This year’s keynote address, “The Future of Higher Education in Montana,” will be presented by Montana University System Regent Vice-Chair and Glacier Bank Market President Robert Nystuen. He will discuss the five primary challenges impacting higher education in Montana: enrollment, funding, student completion, student debt and traditional mindsets.

“For 125 years, Montanans have chosen to invest in accessible and affordable high-quality education that allowed generations of students to find jobs, make sizeable economic, social and cultural contributions, and create the one-of-a-kind fabric of our state,” Nystuen said. “But the public’s perspectives on the value of education—most notably higher education—have certainly become more varied, and not necessarily in a good way.”

Also in the program, BBER Director Patrick Barkey will discuss some of the issues with the state’s budget and provide insight into why lagging revenue collections required a recent special legislative session last November.

“The popular perception that the state’s economy is strong and thriving will be discussed during the program,” Barkey said. “What is the role of higher education in the state’s economy? Does Montana have a housing affordability problem? Where is the growth coming from in Montana? These and other questions concerning all Montanans will be addressed throughout the program.”

The seminars will also present the U.S., Montana and local area economic outlooks, as well as outlooks for other important economic sectors, such as real estate/housing, health care, manufacturing, energy, tourism and the wood products industry. The programs will also feature a local expert reporting on the local economy.

Established in 1948, BBER is the main research unit of the University of Montana’s College of Business. It informs Montanans about the economic climate in which they live and work. In addition to conducting its Economic Outlook Seminars across the state each year, BBER researchers engage in a wide range of applied research projects that address different aspects of the state economy, including survey research, economic analysis, health care research, forecasting, wood products research and energy research.

Registration for this year’s seminar includes the “Montana Economic Report 2018,” a book of the black-and-white PowerPoint presentations, lunch and a one-year subscription to Montana Business Quarterly, BBER’s award-winning business journal. Continuing education credits are available and groups of five or more can receive a discount.

The Bozeman seminar runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Commons at Baxter and Love. A live version of this presentation will be screened in Big Sky at Lone Peak Cinema.

For more information or to register, visit or call (406) 243-5113.

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