BUTTE, Mont. -

Montana economic researchers say Butte is growing, slowly. That was the bottom line message at the Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research Seminar Thursday.

Economist John Kasperick broke down economic data for Silver Bow County with Butte leaders. He told us despite recent closings and layoffs, this year Butte saw slow but steady growth.

"The market doesn't always seem fair," Kasperick said. "But business really have to work in order to compete."

Bureau of Business and Economic Research's Paul Polzin told us he doesn't think the recent layoffs are a preview for the future.

"For the most part, changes in retail trade and those industries reflect what has happened in the past," Polzin explained. "Not necessarily what's going to happen in the future."

Polzin told us the most important industries to look at in Silver Bow and Deer Lodge counties are the mining and state government. The two biggest concerns are copper prices and silicon.

"They don't look like they're going to go up," Polzin said. "And we're unsure of the long-term outlook at what the REC silicon's going to be."

Despite concerns, Director of University of Montana's Bureau of Business and Economic Research Patrick Barkey said Silver Bow and Deer Lodge counties survived the recession better than most.

"There have been a number of developments in manufacturing that's helped this area and there has been an end to the decline that has occurred for quite some time," Barkey said.

Montana technology entrepreneur Greg Gianforte told Butte leaders that continued growth depends on bringing high tech businesses to their community.

"We really need to encourage entrepreneurship," Gianforte said. "And also focus on education to get our young people ready to fill these jobs."

Economists told us they want to see city leaders take away this information so they can make realistic decisions for their economic future.

The Bureau of Business and Economic Research has been doing yearly updates for Montana cities for more than 30 years and will travel to Northwest Montana to deliver the details on the Flathead Valley next week.