It’s December and the “shopping season” is well under way! I’ve been out and about in the local Helena stores and they are well-stocked with all the items on your shopping list. Once more, I hope you will do your best to support our local stores so they can continue to support Helena and all of our philanthropic needs. Remember those businesses who donated to your cause, your organization, your child’s sports team, your event ... they can only continue to do that if you return that support. Think before you click to shop online, sending dollars far away from Helena!

Montana City Plumbing and Heating is excited to announce they have opened up their new building on 1196 Highway 282 in Montana City. After getting a solid footprint in the Helena new construction market they felt it was time to offer a better service for the customer on the plumbing side of new construction. The Helena area does not have a lot of places to look at plumbing fixtures and they offer a one-on-one experience about products with a knowledgeable staff. They are in the process of adding a small showroom to allow customers to be able to see quality products that are available around our area. They also have the capability to do remote conferencing for out of town customers or with larger showrooms from other areas you may be looking at.

The Chamber recently held a morning event at the new Robert Peccia and Associates (RPA) Engineering building just west of the South Interchange. What a magnificent building with extraordinary views! They now have great offices for their growing staff, lots of space to hold meetings and meet with clients, their surveying staff has a fabulous garage to keep equipment out of the weather and they have room to continue company growth. It is always a great thing to see a local company expand, invest in their company and also continue to invest in the local economy. Congratulations to all of the RPA staff and owners.

Pizza Ranch will be fully open tomorrow (Dec. 11) and I highly recommend you try them out! We were lucky enough to be included in their soft opening and it is really a special place. The food is top notch and always ready with pizza bar, salad bar, pressure-cooked chicken bar, dessert bar and the biggest playroom with many fun machines for all ages to enjoy. They feature party rooms for private events and throughout there are large screen TV’s to keep an eye on your children in the play room. It was all that and more than I expected! They also will have a drive-through where you can call ahead and then just pick it up on the way home — or home delivery is another option!

I mentioned a month or so ago that Helena has a new bank in town — Farmers State Bank. Farmers State Bank is headquartered in the Bitterroot, so although new to Helena, they have been serving Montana since 1907. They are located at 1040 Partridge Place #6 and you can check them out at www.farmersebank.com. Travis Brazille is Vice President for the Helena market. We recently held a ribbon cutting and open house and their new location is really well-done — I’m sure they’d love for you to stop by and check it out!

Ultra Vac Services — Best Cleaning Company has moved from their former location on Cedar Street to 2231 N. Montana Ave. (where Wiggles Pet Store used to be and just south of Taco John’s). Stop by and see Jim for all of your vacuum and sewing machine needs. They have something for every budget and every need. Call 406-495-1060. Jim would love to show off their new showroom!

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It is always nice to see local businesses investing in the latest and greatest of technology so they can better serve their customers. FASTSIGNS of Helena has an exciting new machine that slices and dices!

Their new Esko flatbed cutter allows them to CNC cut decals, acrylic, foam board and even aluminum into shapes automatically. They can also make custom store displays with this new technology. FASTSIGNS also has a really neat new laser cutter and engraver that can cut and engrave wood, acrylic, leather and more. They can make super personalized Christmas presents or ornaments with their new technology. Stop by and check it out at 2800 N. Montana Ave. — I’m sure owner Greg Painter and his crew would love to show you how they can create something just for you! Call 406-459-5531.

Keller Williams Realty has recently moved into the lower level of the former New West Health building on Neill Avenue just west of the Federal Reserve Bank. Keller Williams was formerly located on 11th Ave. near Planet Gyros. More on this move once they get settled.

March may seem like a long way off, however the Helena Chamber is already receiving many entries for the annual SWISH youth basketball tournament to be held on March 10-11. The past few years we have seen record numbers of teams. Local teams are encouraged to enter early so they don’t miss the deadline in mid-February. Mike Mergenthaler is the organizer and can be reached at 406-447-1941 or entries can be made online at www.helenachamber.com.

Cathy Burwell is president/CEO of the Helena Area Chamber of Commerce.

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