More “storks”

The stork’s not the only game in town for delivering babies anymore.

Options for where moms can give birth in Missoula are varied between Community Medical Center, complete with the highest level of neonatal intensive care unit available; The Birth Center, with its relaxed, homelike atmosphere (and no epidurals); and having a midwife attend to your bedside (really with no epidurals).

This combination has worked to handle a steady number of  births for several years.

But health care in Missoula promises growth in the coming years.

Health care as an industry is Missoula’s No. 1 labor earnings generator (no pun intended, swear), and as soon as June 2015, Providence St. Patrick Hospital says they will join in OB, newborn and pediatric services.

Although they’ve been mum on details so far, they did say they’ll offer a Level II NICU, a level below Community’s.

Whether there are enough births to go around, without services and outcomes for moms and babies suffering, remains the question.

Babies will always be part of health care and while Missoula’s population isn’t growing quickly, it’s not declining either, said Bryce Ward, who heads up health care research at UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

“It will work itself out, particularly as long as Missoula continues to grow,” Ward said of the expanded services. “More babies will be delivered here and whatever capacity St. Pat’s ultimately creates will probably end up getting utilized over the long term.”

In the meantime, Missoula women still have a wide array of options for how to bring their babies into the world.

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Montana High School Business Challenge team winners announced on this blog at last!

We’re going to time-travel together back to last week, when the winners of the statewide High School Business Challenge were first announced.

That was back before all the work stuff and family stuff and school stuff and holiday stuff and stuff stuff waylayed me, and before I decided to just chuck it all and get back in my bloggin’ groove.

I still think it’s worth listing the winners of this totally cool competition. Here’s the 411 and the deets (yes, I can hear myself and yes, I know I sound like a huge nerd):

Congratulations to all Montana High School
Business Challenge Teams
Fall Semester 2013 Competition

Montana High School Business Challenge (HSBC) students completed the 8th and final week of the fall semester competition on December 11, 2013.  The 8 week competition saw the economic model begin with moderate growth followed by an economic downturn before rebounding the final two weeks (two business quarters).  The Montana Chamber Foundation with support from individuals, businesses and foundations offers the business education competition to any school in Montana interested in bringing their students a real life simulation that teaches business operations and management.  Since 2002 more than 18,000 students have learned business skills by competing in the program.

Teams are ranked at the end of the competition by the final stock price of the simulated business they manage in a competitive market place against other schools in the semester program.  Students on the First Place Team receive a $1,000 academic scholarship to any 2 or 4 year college.  Second place team members receive a $500 scholarship and Third Place team members a $250 scholarship.  Other scholarships are awarded for finishing in the top quartile of stock prices and for realizing the largest stock price rebound from the mid-point of the competition until the final week.  Teams are recognized at local awards ceremonies in their communities, during Business Days at the Capitol in January.

First Place Fall 2013 Competition

Billings Skyview High School (Team 6)-$99.45/Share

Second Place Fall 2013 Competition
Whitefish High School (Team 9)-$82.15/Share

Third Place Fall 2013 Competition (Tie)
Libby High School (Team 12)-$78.95/Share

Third Place Fall 2013 Competition (Tie)
North Toole County High School (Sunburst) (Team 7)-$78.95/Share

Random Team Draw for Finishing in the Top Quartile
Corvallis High School (Team 3)

Largest Stock Price For Quarters 4-8
Helena Capital High School (Team 9)-$42.67 Gain/Share

For more information regarding the Montana High School Business Challenge go to or contact Kerry Schaefer (HSBC Coordinator) at 406-463-2370 or

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Blackbird Kid Shop going out at half-off

The Missoula Independent and Mamalode (via Facebook) are reporting that Missoula’s Blackbird Kids Shop is selling off everything – down to the hangers and shelves – at a deep 50 percent discount before closing its doors for good.

There’s no word yet on what the expected closure date is, but the retail store has been in business for about three years, offering the cutest locally made kids’ clothes you ever did see among its array of child-friendly items.

According to the Independent blog, store owners cite the ongoing economic slump as the No. 1 reason for the closure.

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BBB has back-to-school shopping tips for parents and students

Less than one month to go before school starts! And I’m already more nervous and excited than my soon-to-be first-grader.

The way she’s growing, we’ll be waiting until the last minute before we do any back-to-school clothes shopping. In the meantime, our regional Better Business Bureau is sending out five tips and other advice geared toward back-to-school shopping parents and older students – such as those in the market for computers and credit cards.

The tips include asking about refunds and returns, asking about restocking fees, carefully vetting businesses and their deals, being a smart online shopper and keeping all items in their original boxes. Check out the tips in detail, as well as more information, here.

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‘Mompreneurs’ – not necessarily moms – targeting infant market

While I am waiting to see if the pregnant cat we are fostering from the Humane Society is going to have any more kittens – she has given birth to three so far today, and has been laboring since 4 a.m. – I’ve been going through the short list of unread mom-related business articles I save for occasions just such as these.

I’m a nerd.

One of the things I found interesting about this Crain’s New York article is that its headline about “Mompreneurs” immediately made me think the story would be about moms who start businesses, and the article does state that the infant good industry is “dominated” by women. But the two primary sources cited in the story are actually men – a father in one case and a man with no children in the other. So, duh, you don’t have to be a mom – or even a woman – to break into the newborn market.

And it’s an especially appealing market to cater to, apparently, because it is considered essentially “recession-proof,” and because there’s a thriving high-end niche in major cities like New York and Los Angeles.

Of course, there are plenty of baby-centric businesses that were started by new parents right here in Missoula, too.

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NRF says new credit rules will be hard on stay-at-home moms

I’ve been pondering this opinion piece I read last week from the National Retail Federation. It posits that the new Federal Reserve regulations that require specific income information for credit applicants could make it harder for stay-at-home spouses to get credit cards – because the new regs require businesses to ask for “income” rather than “household income.”

And as we all know, stay-at-home moms and dads don’t get a paycheck.

“The prohibition on asking for ‘household income’ was originally intended to keep individuals under 21 from claiming their parents’ income in order to obtain cards they could not afford on their own,” according to the article.

It goes on to explain that the NRF is worried that a lot of these folks will interpret this particular question narrowly, and answer by providing their individual income, which would be zero dollars. The Fed thinks otherwise.

What say you?


Barbie not a huge hit in China

The Associated Press ran a story yesterday on Mattel Inc.’s closing of its flagship Barbie store in Shanghai, China.

Apparently, the business model for the six-story building, complete with “spa, cafe, design studio, fashion stage and shelves and shelves of Barbies and Barbie products” never caught on with Chinese parents. The AP posits that this is due to the Chinese parental preference of spending their money on things like music lessons, rather than things like hot-pink fashion accessories for their kids’ dolls.

Personally, I would rather spend my money on a Butterfly House and Insectarium for Missoula. And yes, I am totally going to keep harping on this until the place opens.

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Local screen-printer hosting art contest for children and adults

Laura Simpson of Missoula screen printing shop Alpenglow Apparel sent me a note today about the business’s upcoming art contest for children.

“We’re asking for kids to send in drawings of Missoula culture and nature, and the winner gets their design printed on 20 organic cotton shirts in any sizes and colors they choose,” Simpson says.

Read all about the “I am Missoula” contest on the shop’s webpage at The contest is open to all artists in two categories: those 14 years and younger, and adults. Entries should emphasize “the natural environment or nature in and around Missoula.”


New mothers, prepare for a visit from Disney

It comes as no surprise to me that the Disney empire includes a line of baby products. This New York Times article about Disney representatives pushing those products in hospital maternity wards did come as a surprise, however.

As the article states, “in 580 maternity hospitals in the United States,” in exchange for the free stuff, mothers are getting bedside demonstrations of Disney Baby products and asked to sign up for e-mail alerts. Does this differ so much from the “free bags” of formula samples, diaper coupons and advertisements moms are already getting during their stay in the maternity ward?

Free clothes for newborns are great, I guess, but as the article notes, Disney has trod on sensitive territory in the past with its marketing of products for newborns and infants. “Baby Einstein,” for instance, was marketed with words like “developmental” and “educational,” even as most experts agreed that the best thing for baby’s development is to keep the TV turned off.

Time will tell whether this turns out to be a winning move for Disney – and for these moms and their babies.

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Montana congressman introduces Kids Just Want to Ride Act

Late last week Rep. Denny Rehberg, Montana’s Republican congressman in the U.S. House, formally introduced the Kids Just Want to Ride Act, or House Resolution 412. The act is meant to counter a Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act measure that banned lead in any products geared toward children – including children’s motorized vehicles, such as all terrain vehicles and motorcycles.

Here’s the press release I received from Rehberg’s office, in full:

Rehberg Introduces Legislation to

Correct Dangerous Youth ATV/Motorcycle Ban,

Save Jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today introduced bipartisan legislation to prevent enforcement of an overreaching prohibition of lead in youth-sized ATVs, off-highway motorcycles and snowmobiles. Rehberg’s bill, the Kids Just Want to Ride Act of 2011, ensures federal regulators won’t force children to ride more dangerous adult-size off-road vehicles.  It also protects jobs throughout the country by allowing dealers to continue selling and repairing the safer youth-sized ATVs, motorcycles and snowmobiles.

“Here again, a law meant to improve children’s safety is actually being enforced in a way that puts kids in more danger than ever, while destroying jobs to boot,” said Rehberg.  “It’s critical that we put to rest any confusion once and for all so kids can just get outside and ride.  There’s no excuse for continued bungling that only stops kids from using the very youth-sized off-road vehicles that are intended to keep them safe.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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