Friday, July 19, 2024

Annual economic outlook seminar focuses on state economy and green energy

| January 21, 2024 12:00 AM

Montana emerged from the pandemic as one of the clear winners among the 50 states in the strength of its economic recovery, but those hectic days of booming growth are behind us today, according to a University of Montana economist.

“The development was not unexpected,” according to Patrick Barkey, UM’s director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research. “The outsized economic stimulus — three separate spending bills, in fact — that were rolled out in 2020 and 2021 were not repeated.  Enhanced and extended unemployment insurance benefits were terminated, generous loans and grants to businesses were not repeated, and even suspended student loan payments were reinstituted.”

Barkey and a team of BBER economists and industry experts are going on a nine-city tour to provide the economic forecast for the state and national economies. 

The seminar stops in Kalispell on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at the Wachholz College Center. The seminar is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

In addition to an in-depth look at Montana’s economy, the 49th annual seminar features a keynote roundtable on this year’s theme – “Implementing the Green Energy Transition: What Would it Take?” 

Keynote speakers are Suzanne Tilleman, Dean College of Business, University of Montana; Heather McDowell, VP Legal and External Affairs, Sibanye-Stillwater; Chris Dorrington, Director, Montana Department of Environmental Quality; Sonja Nowakowski, Administrator, Air, Energy, and Mining Division, Department of Environmental Quality; and Michael Freeman, Montana Governor’s Office.

The keynote speakers will discuss the opportunities and challenges Montana will face with transitioning from fossil fuels to less carbon-emitting energy.

“Re-engineering the global energy production infrastructure that currently produces 595 quadrillion BTU of energy, all but 13% percent of which use fossil fuels, in a mere 25 years is an undertaking without precedent,” Barkey said. “And Montana is a state with a bigger stake in this game than you may realize.”

Webcast streaming live from the Bozeman seminar on Jan. 31 is available in addition to in-person options. 

For more information and access to the online seminars visit or call 406-243-2782. Registration is $95 and includes lunch.

Visit to learn more about BBER’s seminar or to register to attend.