Business briefs

2014-05-01T00:00:00Z 2014-05-01T09:31:21Z Business briefs The Billings Gazette
May 01, 2014 12:00 am

State startup rate leads nation

Montana again led the nation in the rate of business startups last year, although the nation’s overall business creation rate fell in 2013, in part because of a lower unemployment rate.

Among states, Montana had the highest entrepreneurial activity rate, with 610 per 100,000 adults creating businesses each month during 2013. That’s double the national average.

According to the annual Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, released in April, the rate declined slightly from 0.30 percent of American adults per month starting businesses in 2012 to 0.28 percent in 2013.

That translates into approximately 476,000 new business owners per month in 2013 compared with 514,000 the year before.

For the first time in the 18 years this report has tracked entrepreneurship activity, the 2013 index includes new data on trends in entrepreneurship among new entrepreneurs who are not coming directly out of unemployment (sometimes called “opportunity” entrepreneurship).

The research indicates that the share of new entrepreneurs who are not most recently jobless was much higher in 2013 than at the end of the Great Recession.

“The 2013 business creation rate signifies a return to levels that we haven’t seen since before the recession,” said Dane Stangler, vice president of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation, which conducts the annual study.

The latest data indicate that 2013 was the second consecutive year to show an entrepreneurial activity decline in the United States.

The Kauffman Index reported last year that the new business creation rate had declined from 0.32 percent in 2011 to 0.30 percent in 2012.

The construction industry attained the highest level of entrepreneurial activity among industry groups in 2013, with a rate of 1.27 percent. The service industry had the second-highest rate, 0.37 percent.

The decline in business creation rates in 2013 was due primarily to a drop in business creation rates among men, but also stemmed from a slight drop in business creation among women.

As they did the previous year, the entrepreneurship rate for all races and ethnicities declined from 2012 to 2013.

For Latinos, the business creation rate declined from 0.40 percent in 2012 to 0.38 percent in 2013.

The Asian entrepreneurial activity rate decreased from 0.31 percent in 2012 to 0.28 percent in 2013; the African-American rate slid from 0.21 percent in 2012 to 0.19 percent in 2013; and the rate for whites dropped from 0.29 percent in 2012 to 0.27 percent in 2013.

Most age groups also experienced declines in business creation rates. The exception was the group aged 45 to 54, whose rate increased from 0.34 percent in 2012 to 0.36 percent in 2013.

Business creation was lowest among the youngest group, aged 20 to 34, whose rate declined from 0.23 percent in 2012 to 0.18 percent in 2013.

Business creation by veterans declined from 0.28 percent in 2012 to 0.23 percent in 2013. The share of all businesses created by veterans declined sharply over the past 18 years as the working-age veteran population declined over this period.

“Related to the findings for race and ethnicity, entrepreneurial activity among immigrants also decreased sharply in 2013, although the business creation rate among immigrants remains nearly twice as high as the native-born rate,” said Robert W. Fairlie, the study’s author and chair of the Economics Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

From a geographic standpoint, entrepreneurial activity rates declined in all regions of the country.

Rounding out the top five states were Alaska (470 per 100,000 adults), South Dakota (410 per 100,000 adults), California (400 per 100,000 adults) and Colorado (380 per 100,000 adults).

The states with the lowest entrepreneurial activity were Iowa (110 per 100,000 adults), Rhode Island (140 per 100,000 adults), Indiana (160 per 100,000 adults), Minnesota (160 per 100,000 adults), Washington (170 per 100,000 adults) and Wisconsin (170 per 100,000 adults).

‘Play’ the subject of meeting

Local business representative Kirk Link of Play It Again Sports, 1005 24th St. W. Suite 3, recently returned from the franchiser’s annual conference and trade show at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif.

This year’s conference reinforced the brand’s determination to be the sporting goods store of choice — every day, for every customer with the launch of the “Everybody Plays” initiative. Play It Again Sports recognizes that “play” is at the core of all athletes at all levels of play, and that most brands cater to only the high level performers. Said Link: “Play It Again Sports knows ‘play.’ We realize every athlete plays first and foremost because of the love and passion they have for the game, regardless of their skill level. Play is without boundaries, there’s no age limit on play and no skill level required, which is why from high-end sports gear to back yard games, we want Billings-area families to think of us first when they need to buy or sell new or used sporting goods for their children.”

This year’s conference included a keynote speech by Dennis Snow, a former Disney executive and world-renowned expert in customer service and the customer experience. His message to all franchisees reinforced that a consistent and positive brand experience was critical in today’s business environment to increasing loyalty and life-long customer retention. “We all know that our individual store success depends on the reputation of the brand itself,” said Link. “And the most effective brand ambassadors are satisfied customers.”

In addition to workshops on managing inventory and individual business and operational consultations with Play It Again Sports corporate staff, attendees benefited from in-depth sessions on staff development and coaching, time management, and marketing. Market previews on a wide variety of sports offered tips and trends to help individual stores stock the right equipment at the right time and the right price to meet current, local market demand.

For more information contact Kirk Link at 406-652-3662 or

MFBF wants tax changes

Farmers and ranchers need tax certainty to thrive in a modern economy, and making permanent the deductions that expired in 2013 is a good first step, the American Farm Bureau Federation told the House Ways and Means Committee.

“One of the major goals of tax reform should be to provide stable, predictable rules for businesses so that they can grow and create jobs,” American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said. “Farm Bureau believes that Congress should end its practice of extending important business tax provisions for one or two years at a time. This practice makes it very difficult for farmers and ranchers to plan and adds immense confusion and complexity.”

The Montana Farm Bureau Federation shares that sentiment. “So many other aspects of farming and ranching are variable: weather, commodity prices, input costs and so on, that having a predictable tax structure from year to year would be a tremendous benefit to farmers and ranchers,” noted Nicole Rolf, director of National Affairs, MFBF.

Stallman addressed the committee as part of a hearing addressing the economic disruption caused by the end of a series of tax deductions over the past several years. Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) recently introduced a discussion draft of the Tax Reform Act of 2014 in an effort to stimulate discussion of how the tax code could be simpler and fairer, while at the same time aiding economic growth, job creation and wages.

In written testimony submitted to the Committee, Stallman called for extensions of several now-expired deductions to benefit the economy as a whole, including:

n Section 179 expensing, which allows small businesses to write off immediately capital investments of as much as $500,000 instead of depreciating them over several years;

n Bonus depreciation, which is an additional 50 percent bonus depreciation for the purchase of new capital assets, including agricultural equipment;

n Cellulosic Biofuel Producer Tax Credit: a $1.01 per gallon income tax credit for cellulosic biofuel sold for fuel plus an additional first-year, 50-percent bonus depreciation for cellulosic biofuel production facilities;

n A $1 per-gallon tax credit for production of biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels;

n The Community and Distributed Wind Investment Tax Credit, which gives the option to take an investment tax credit in lieu of the Production Tax Credit and

n A provision encouraging donations of conservations casements.

Stallman reiterated the importance of Section 179’s immediate expensing to farming. “Farming and ranching is a capital intensive business,” he said. “In order to remain profitable and be competitive, farm equipment, buildings, and storage facilities must be continually upgraded and replaced.”

“ This provision allows agricultural producers to reduce maintenance costs, take advantage of labor-saving advances, become more energy efficient and adopt technology that is environmentally friendly.

“Smart business planning that anticipates and budgets for annual capital improvements proves challenging for farmers and ranchers because they operate on tight profit margins. The immediate expensing provided by Section 179 allows farmers and ranchers to cash flow purchases that otherwise might be delayed or incur debt expense that impact profitability.”

Western tour makes top list

The editors of National Geographic Traveler announced that Austin Adventures’ “Montana Family: Great Western Adventure” has been selected as one of National Geographic Traveler magazine’s ninth annual “50 Tours of a Lifetime.”

This trip will be featured in the May 2014 issue and listed on a special Tours of a Lifetime landing page on National Geographic Traveler award-winning website.

“Southeastern Montana is a gem of a region right here in our own backyard,” said Dan Austin, founder and president of Billings-based Austin Adventures. “It’s been overlooked by adventure travelers far too long. That’s why we took great care in building what we think is a captivating tour itinerary that takes in all the best activities and places. There’s a huge satisfaction in knowing the editors of National Geographic Traveler agreed.”

The magazine’s selection process looked for 2014’s most authentic, most innovative, most immersive, best-guided and most sustainable tours offered worldwide.

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of “National Geographic Traveler, which has always looked at the world through the lens of culture, nature and history. The tours we selected go beyond destination to add meaning and context,” said Norie Quintos, executive editor. “They open the mind to new possibilities, new connections, and new ways of thinking — all critically important given the world’s complex issues.”

For more information please see

Montana Family: Great Western Adventure is a six-day/five-night program that begins and ends in historic Billings and is priced at $1,998 per adult double and from $1,598 for children. Departure dates are June 22 and 29, July 20 and Aug. 17 and 24. See:

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