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Friday, April 13th
9:00 AM

Montana Dog Food: A Value-Added Montana Product

Alyssa Komac

UC 326

9:00 AM - 9:20 AM

Today's pet food industry is notorious for its lack of transparency. Today's dog owners often do not know where the product they're feeding their dog is made, what's in it and where those ingredients were sourced. I propose to start a Montana company that addresses these customer pains one bag of dog food at a time. The research completed for this proposal has been conducted as a part of a business plan for The Montana Dog Food Company. The Montana Dog Food Company proposes to manufacture an all-natural, nutritious, affordable and convenient dry dog food that is sourced primarily from Montana. My research outlines the core components of a valuable business plan: product, management, target market, customers, sales and marketing strategy, business model, competitive advantage and financial pro formas. This presentation will highlight the feasibility of starting The Montana Dog Food Company. Furthermore, I will discuss the company's initial strategy of marketing a niche product for athletic canines.

9:20 AM

Employment Opportunities: Are They Equal?

Caitlin Schwinden

UC 326

9:20 AM - 9:40 AM

1. Title: My research paper and presentation involve a study regarding employment law and how it relates to establishments that require wearing uniforms and have hiring practices that are controversial. Here in Montana, these establishments include Hooters and Oh La Latte, but other cases around the US will be included. 2. Purpose: My rationale for this project is that certain establishments find ways around typical hiring practices and employment laws. I will examine these methods and draw conclusions regarding any potential for discrimination that takes place. 3. Methods: To carry out this project, I have researched employment law on both federal and state levels. I have met with the Equal Opportunity director at UM to discuss employment law and analyze past cases. I will also include insight into the hiring process of Hooters and Oh La Latte here in Missoula through an examination of their job applications. 4. Although the controversy surrounding establishments like Hooters is not new, my research will take a more “big picture” approach to employment law and also will examine how the economic downturn affects hiring practices. 5. The contribution of this project to my field of study as well as society lies in its exposure of unconventional hiring practices and the debate surrounding whether it is legal, or more importantly, ethical to practice such methods. Job hunters-particularly during a recession-rely on companies to offer them a fair and equitable chance of obtaining a position, thus examining possible discrimination in hiring practices is essential.

9:40 AM

Disruptive Innovation in Agribusiness

Tyler McGee

UC 326

9:40 AM - 10:00 AM

Purpose: To analyze how the process of disruptive innovation will impact the agribusiness industry, and how this transition will take place. This analysis will be demonstrated through scenario analysis, with three potential scenarios being demonstrated and explained. Methods: This project was developed using research from a broad range of sources over the course of several years, as well as studies conducted within the industry itself through first hand experience gained while working for one of the largest firms operating in this industry. Originality: While disruptive innovation has been a phenomenon studied in several industries and areas, it has not yet been applied to agribusiness. This approach looks at this well documented process, but analyzes it from the standpoint of the agribusiness industry, an area that has yet to be examined. Significance: Agribusiness affects every person on the planet. From the subsistence farmer in Africa, to the large scale commercial farmer in the American Midwest, to consumers, nearly the entire population relies on the agribusiness industry to manage, transport, and process simple crops into foods, ingredients, chemicals, and products that nourish our bodies and build our world. Any changes that occur in this industry will theoretically spread to impact every person who consumes food, and every industry that is, in any way, connected to the crops and other raw materials produced by agriculture.

10:00 AM

European Indexes: Do they behave like managed mutual funds?

Jon Marchi, The University of Montana

UC 326

10:00 AM - 10:20 AM

The financial metric “alpha” has been utilized in the past as a metric intended to describe whether a portfolio of an actively managed portfolio has under or over performed the market on a risk-adjusted basis. Using this measure, I intend to analyze a series of European indexes with the intention of discovering any statistically significant anomalies. Using modern portfolio theory as a guide, all indexes to be analyzed must have an alpha of zero. The presence of this situation signifies that there has been no active management of the securities that make up this index and that there are neither positive or negative performance results when compared to a broader measure of the market. This analysis will be conducted by performing a series of regressions with a four factor model brought forth by Professors Fama and French and later modified by Carhart. The monthly performance statistics will be regressed against the factors of: high minus low performance results, small minus big capitalized stocks, a momentum factor that measures the tendency of people to hold onto winners while selling the losers, and a measure of market performance minus the risk-free rate.

10:20 AM

The Value of Foreign Language Study within the U.S. Labor Market

Travis Vincent

UC 326

10:20 AM - 10:40 AM

The U.S. now faces new challenges in educating its citizenry to be competitive in an increasingly globalized economy and world. One facet of the U.S. education system that deserves particular attention is foreign language training. While all but two nations in the EU mandate foreign language education, in the U.S., fewer than half of all students are enrolled in language classes (Eurydice 2005). This study estimates the economic returns to language study within the U.S. labor market to give us a clearer measure of how the discipline is valued in American society. Although a few earlier studies touch on the value of language courses in high school, the majority of literature on the subject focuses on the returns to other subjects, namely mathematics and hard sciences. In contrast, my analysis focuses directly on foreign language study and draws on a more recent dataset, the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988, which follows a national cohort of eighth graders through high school to 2000, when most have settled into careers. In my model, the individual’s income in 1999 serves as the key dependent variable, while the number of years studying high school foreign language serves as the primary independent variable. I employ controls for the student’s family background and socioeconomic status, the characteristics of the high school, and the student’s private and professional circumstances at the end of the survey. Depending on the version of the model, I limit the sample to include only those with at least a bachelor’s degree and then add new variables in an attempt to account for each student’s prior ability. When faced with which educational programs to fund and support, it is important that policy makers and the public alike understand and not ignore the benefits of foreign language study.