Outdoor recreation means big business in the Big Sky state. How big? The 12.3 million tourists who visited Montana in 2016 spent $3.49 billion, helping create 52,630 jobs along the way. All that in a state with a population of just over 1 million.

“The outdoors is our business,” said Norma Nickerson, the director of the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana during a recent webinar.

Read more and find a graphic snapshot of the study.

States across the West are making economic progress on a variety of fronts. Here are some highlights from our latest Western Economic Roundup:

Home values have been increasing in many cities, but they increased the most last year in Portland, Ore. See how much they grew and how values changed in your area. Story
Solar employment in Colorado rose 20% in 2016, from 4,998 workers in 2015 to 6,004. That growth places the state in 10th in the U.S., according to the National Solar Jobs Census. Utah ranks 14th. Story
Austin, Denver and San Jose top a U.S. News analysis of the 100 best places to live. Seattle (6) and Salt Lake City (10) made the top 10, with 5 more western cities in the top 20. Story
Arizona's economy is poised to grow a bit faster than the nation in 2017. A report by BMO Capital Markets Economics see the state's economy growing 2.6% this year, compared with 2.4 percent for the U.S. Story
The report, Autonomous Vehicles & Municipal Bonds, suggests the net positive impact of driverless cars on municipal budgets will be in excess of half a trillion dollars. Given the enormous amount of A/V development in the West, the region stands to gain from that evolution. Story
South Dakota's six public universities generate billions of dollars a year for the state's economy. A new study found that the state's $197 million annual investment in higher education generates $2.66 billion in economic impact. Story

Read more at: http://westgov.org/news/357-news-20...zona-universities-help-fuel-south-dakota

John Stewart
Editor, OutdoorWire.com
Vice President, BlueRibbon Coalition