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Business Buzz: Business assistance clinics, down payment assistance, new beer

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Mann Mortgage Julie Lapham

Julie Lapham, second from left in back row, holds her award from MoFi.

Here's some business news in the Missoula area:

Businesses looking for guidance about resources to improve their operations can attend the upcoming Assistance for Business Clinics sponsored by the Missoula Chamber of Commerce and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

Assistance for Business Clinics provide new and established employers, accountants, bookkeepers, human resources professionals and attorneys the opportunity to meet with state workforce development experts to learn about state and local resources available to businesses, including:

  • Montana minimum wage
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Workers’ compensation law
  • Using independent and construction contractors
  • Overtime regulations
  • Labor law posters
  • Using labor market data
  • Montana registered apprenticeship
  • Job Service Montana

“The State of Montana offers a variety of resources and tools for employers to grasp a better understanding of their requirements and opportunities,” said Department of Labor & Industry Commissioner Laurie Esau. “We’re excited to work with our partners across the state to provide this information to Montana’s workforce.”

These clinics also provide continuing education credits for attendees.

The clinic will be held Tuesday, Oct. 4, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Missoula College, 1205 E. Broadway St. in Missoula.

Julie Lapham of Mann Mortgage in Missoula has received the HomeNow Top Producer award from MoFi, a local nonprofit.

Lapham earned the award because she helped connect the highest number of Montana home buyers to MoFi’s HomeNow down payment assistance program in 2021.

HomeNow helps increase access to home ownership among Montanans who have good income and credit, but who need help with the down payment.

Lapham has received the award five years in a row since 2016, when HomeNow down payment assistance was first offered. She has helped more than 100 Montanans with over $1.1 million in down payment assistance, which resulted in over $25 million worth of home purchases in the state.

Buyers can access HomeNow down payment assistance through a participating mortgage lender. It comes in the form of a 0% interest-deferred loan. Buyers can receive up to 5% of their total loan amount, and the assistance can go toward both down payment and closing costs. The program is not limited to first-time home buyers. Since the program started in late 2016, MoFi has helped nearly 600 Montanans become homeowners.

“Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s important to have as many options as possible to help buyers close on their mortgage and the HomeNow down payment assistance is definitely one tool I suggest to any who might qualify,” Lapham said. “Even with rising interest rates and home prices, I’ve been able to structure mortgages so buyers can benefit from the program. MoFi deserves thanks not only for offering a great program, but for making it easy to help get buyers in the best position possible.”

For more information about the HomeNow program, visit

“Down payments can be a big hurdle to homeownership for Montanans, even for those who hold a steady job and have decent credit, saving can still be difficult,” said Dave Glaser, president of MoFi. “Julie continues to excel at helping buyers who have everything they need to qualify except a down payment access resources like HomeNow. We’re proud to work with her and other loan officers across the state, making homeownership a reality.”

Bell’s Brewery of Michigan announced that it will expand its distribution network into Montana. Bell’s beer will be available at retailers, including stores, bars, and restaurants across the state.

“I’m thrilled to finally share our exceptional brews with craft beer drinkers throughout Montana, a key market in our industry,” said Carrie Yunker of Bell’s Brewery. “Broadening into these regions marks an important milestone on our journey to become a nationwide brand, allowing more opportunity for people across the U.S. to enjoy Bell’s beer.”

Cambie Taphouse and Coffee on South Higgins in Missoula will host a launch party for the beer on Sept. 26 from 5-8 p.m. and they'll have Oberon Ale and Two Hearted Ale on tap.

"Reps will be on hand for you to ask questions, chat them up, and also the chance for you to get some great swag," Cambie's owner Chris Goble wrote on Instagram. "Join us for a fun evening and some excellent beverages."

A big decision is expected from the federal reserve -- they're planning on another substantial interest rate hike to address inflation.

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