A recent survey of 250 Montana manufacturing companies by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research shows that plants of all sizes gave 2016 mixed reviews, but according to Economist Paul Polzin expectations are different for 2017.

“What do you anticipate is going to happen to your plant next year,” said Polzin. “Across the board manufactures were much more optimistic about their future than they were about their assessment of 2016. I think that is the take away. As a whole, manufacturers are much more optimistic about their future than they were about their immediate past.”

Polzin says the average manufacturing plant in Montana employs just four people in industries of all kinds ranging from component production to beer making. Though things look good for most, Polzin says there is one big concern.

“The one area where we are not particularly optimistic is in terms of exports,” Polzin said. “The rest of the world is not doing as good as the United States. The value of the dollar is increasing which makes our exports in the rest of the world much more expensive. Two of our biggest firms REC Silicon and Applied Materials up in Kalispell are major exports.”

When asked what his expectations were for 2017, Polzin says he would be optimistic too, and that at seven years into a post-recession recovery he expects the economy to pick up steam.