Local mall exception to grim national trend

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By CULLAN STAACK/ Montana State News

Shopping malls are losing some of their most valuable tenants—department stores—at an alarming rate. Retailers like Sears, JCPenney and Macy’s have been closing hundreds of locations over the last several years, leaving dead or dying shopping malls in their wake as they try to remain profitable amid the growing threat of e-commerce.

The slow death of the American shopping mall is not evenly distributed. A disproportionate number of recent high profile store closure announcements have been in communities that are already struggling, according to Conor Sen, a Bloomberg View columnist and portfolio manager for New River Investments. Bozeman does not fit the profile of a struggling community, and as a result, the Gallatin Valley Mall is not currently exhibiting any signs of future foreclosures. More

Big Sky bar entertains locals in off season

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By CHELSEA ANDERSON/Montana State News

The Gallatin Riverhouse Grill in Big Sky is hosting its fourth semiannual series of free bingo nights for this upcoming spring off-season.

Twice a year, Montana’s bustling Big Sky Resort closes down for five weeks and transforms the ski destination from a town filled with ski bums and mountain bikers into a quiet, sleepy borough.

When the time comes for the resort to close for the season and the tourist inflow slows to a halt, Big Sky’s population falls drastically. As a result of stagnant business, several stores and restaurants close down for the slow five weeks until the resort re-opens and the tourism picks back up.

While the town is bereft of tourists for those five weeks, the locals remain, and a handful of businesses stay open to service the year-round residents. One such business, the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill, will stay open for the whole off-season to serve the local population. More

Mystery Ranch develops paratrooper backpack

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By TYLER BARTON/Montana State News

For decades, technology for parachute deployment has remained relatively stagnant. However, thanks to the efforts of local backpack manufacturer Mystery Ranch, that has changed. In March, Mystery Ranch released a new line of high-altitude jump packs that significantly reduce the baggage on military parachutists.

Mystery Ranch employee Liz O’Brien said, “The design for jump packs hasn’t changed much since Vietnam. This is the first major shift since then.”

With the inclusion of several carefully placed loops, Mystery Ranch’s efficient new design supplants the need for additional equipment that ensures lines connecting the chute deploy properly.

The new design will make U.S. military parachutist operations smoother and will free up space for mission-critical items.

Though the U.S. military has contracted Mystery Ranch packs for over a decade, beginning with Navy SEAL prototypes in 2004, they produce a variety of backpack styles for many different situations, including mountaineering, climbing, hunting, everyday use, and even heat-resistant packs designed especially for firefighters. More

Computer-generated news on the increase

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By JORDAN SPARR AND CULLAN STAACK/Montana State News

Algorithms are quickly taking the place of traditional human journalists in many news sources across the industry.

According to a case study done by Automated Insights, an industry leader in producing algorithms for news organizations, the Associated Press is now generating quarterly earnings reports at twelve times the rate previously achieved without employing the use of algorithmic journalists.

The same report states that AP generated only 300 earnings reports per quarter before utilizing the new computer generating journalist bot. After using this new technology, AP started generating 3,700 earnings reports each quarter using the new software developed by Automated Insights called Wordsmith.

Wordsmith, along with similar products produced by competitors such as Narrative Science, are algorithms that scan massive amounts of communication on a given subject to replicate human language within the context required. More

Reactions mixed to MSU beer-branding proposal

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By JARED MILLER/Montana State News

A new proposal to brand local microbrews with Montana State University on local has caused controversy and mixed feelings throughout campus.

Recently, the idea to permit the school to put its logos and trademarks on various alcoholic beverages has been suggested.

If the proposal passes, the university would have to change its standing policy of prohibiting the use of school trademarks on firearms, tobacco, recreational drugs, and alcoholic beverages, according to MSU’s website.

The proposal has caused mixed feelings among students and community members alike. While several view the potential policy change as associating the school with alcohol in a negative way, some don’t see any issue. More

Workforce housing efforts considered in Big Sky

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By MICHELLE BURGER/Montana State News

A brand new housing opportunity for the workforce in Big Sky may just be the answer to the employee-housing crisis.

The new proposal, Penny for Housing, conquers employee-housing head on. This new bill outlines three major options Big Sky could go with in order to succeed, according to the Chamber of Commerce in Big Sky.

The first, allocating a sum of money every year from the 3 percent resort tax to pay for the new housing, is already in the works.

Second, a single lump sum of the funds goes directly to the new housing project.

Third, raising the resort tax to 4 percent and allowing 1 percent to go towards employee housing every year.

As information on this proposal arises, there are some who wish to stop it right away. Businesses already having to pay with the 3 percent resort tax are against the tax increase of 1 percent. More

Demand drives up liquor license prices

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By EMMA HAMBURG/Montana State News

 The cost of liquor licenses have skyrocketed in the last five years, prices have averaged anywhere from $320,000 to $800,000 in Bozeman city limits.

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the growth in Bozeman, increasing demand, and low supply of licenses is creating a secondary market for buying and selling license.

 In light of recent issues, multiple conversations have taken place regarding liquor distribution in the Gallatin County.

Obtaining a license is becoming increasingly difficult, especially for those looking to start a business on a smaller budget. In comparison, according to the Idaho Press, a liquor licenses in Boise, Idaho on average goes for $140,000.

A recent remodel of a historical downtown building, The Taproom on the corner of Rouse and Mendenhall, has again brought attention to the licensing scene in Bozeman. More

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