Missoula's Asset Base for Business Is Solid, and Growing
Provided by the Missoula Economic Partnership, www.missoulapartnership.com, (406) 541-6461
From its historical roots as a Native American gathering spot and trading center, Missoula has grown into a vibrant, connected, educated and talent-driven community.
Encircled by mountains and national wilderness recreation areas, today Missoula is a community that offers a major state university; reliable interstate transportation by air, rail and truck; a respected public K-12 school system; fiber optic communications; and a highly educated and trained workforce.
Missoula maintains a full slate of business-oriented services, resources and programs created to help businesses not only succeed here but thrive and grow here. Missoula has grown up from a historical trading center to become the state-of-the-art regional hub for business, nonprofit operations and the people who live here.
Community Assets for Business
Education & Training:
The University of Montana. Located downtown, the state school provides undergraduate and graduate education, research and technical expertise, sports and cultural opportunities, and lifelong learner education. UM offers students many strengths including its education, training and research in forestry and wildlife, pharmacy and other biotechnology sciences. UM bioscience research efforts include ongoing work done in conjunction with the International Heart
Institute. The School of Business educates and supports both students and local businesses with specific entrepreneurial development programs and research, and technology research specific to managing a business in the 21st century. Significantly, UM manages the Montana Technology Enterprise Center, a business incubator and tech-transfer program, and an Office of Technology Transfer, which focuses on directly connecting UM as an idea and talent incubator to the area business community.
Missoula College UM. This expanding two-year college offers more than 30 programs leading to a career or transfer to the four-year campus. Founded on occupational and technical education, today some of its most highly enrolled programs are culinary arts, diesel technology, energy technology, information technology, nursing, paralegal studies and welding technology. To support local businesses, UM-COT also provides customized employer- or industry-specific workforce training. And the college is an active partner with Missoula County Public Schools.
Missoula County Public Schools not only educate the children of Missoula area businesses and families, the public school system supplies a steady stream of educated young adults ready to embark on higher education or professional/workforce training. To support its on-going commitment, the district
in 2010 partnered with local businesses and parents to form “Graduation Matters Missoula.” This Missoula-created initiative to help students stay in school and earn a diploma is now a statewide program. With its eye on the young learners as well as the future careers they will need, the district is implementing thematic academies in its high schools, beginning with a Health Science Academy, and an International Baccalaureate program.
These and other programs are part of the MCPS 21st Century Model of Education—with its communitywide goal to create a model of education that supports students’ needs in the 21st century, providing them with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in their careers and as future leaders in their communities.
Missoula’s workforce is educated and trained. No matter whether they were born here, came to school here or came to ski and fish here and never left, Missoula’s population of working adults is highly educated and highly trained across many disciplines. According to the American Community Profile for
Missoula, 94.5 percent of adults age 25-plus have completed high school or above; 42 percent of adult residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher and16 percent of adult residents have a graduate or professional degree.
Transportation by air, rail or highway:
Missoula International Airport (MSO), located just ten minutes from downtown Missoula, served 600,000 passengers in 2011. Four commercial airlines —Alaska, Allegiant, Delta and United—offer nonstop service to eleven major metropolitan cities: Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Seattle. Three major air cargo companies, two fixed-base operators, the USDA Forest Service, NOAA, the Smokejumpers, the Museum of Mountain Flying, and a large general aviation have operations on-site. www.flymissoula.com
Provided by the MSO-Missoula Airport
Montana Rail Link operates a network of local and cross-country rails that connect Missoula to the rest of North America, getting cargo where it needs to go. Based in Missoula, Montana Rail Link is an FRA Class II regional railroad that has partnered with businesses for more than 25 years to ship their freight across Montana, the nation and the globe. The MRL system covers more than 900 miles of track, and serves more than 100 stations in Montana, Idaho and Washington. The local railroad connects with the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railroad at Laurel and Garrison, Montana, as well as Spokane, Washington; it connects with the Union Pacific Railroad at Sandpoint, Idaho.
Interstate 90 traverses the northern end of the Missoula valley on its way across the country and is easily accessible to Missoula’s industries and businesses, and to the airport. North-south Interstate 15 connects to I-90 about 90 minutes east of the valley.
Fiber Optic Cables. Transportation of intellectual / data-based assets is achieved via high-speed intranet and Internet networks. The relatively uncongested northern east-west U.S. line of fiber optic cables runs through Missoula, which also enjoys nearby access to the north-south Cut Bank U.S. / Canadian fiber. Close access, low congestion and fewer hops mean that Missoula businesses—from back-office data centers to biomedical labs to writers of analytic code and software—enjoy the dependable Internet service needed for their success.
Other business assets:
The Missoula Development Park offers existing infrastructure and open land on its 446 acres of mixed-use development near the airport and Interstate 90. Businesses located here to date include hotels/conference centers, warehouses, light manufacturing operations, restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations, technical training facilities, and more. In addition, the Missoula County Airport Authority is planning to develop a new business park on up to 600 acres adjacent to the airport. Like the existing Development Park, this new location is excellent—minutes from major shopping and the downtown business core—and provides easy access to air transportation, I-90 and rail, making it ideal for light high-tech manufacturing, wholesale, distribution and pharmaceutical operations.
The regional hub for business and services. From its roots in trade and its wide valley floor, Missoula has become the center for commerce and professional services, serving residents and businesses throughout western Montana and into Idaho and beyond. In addition to strong retail, Missoula is home to high-quality legal expertise (including highest-rated lawyers specializing in public finance, corporate and securities law; transactional work; and mergers and acquisitions), accounting and tax planning, finance and banking, and health care. From a foundation built by Providence St. Patrick Hospital and Community Medical Center, Missoula offers the full range of primary and ancillary medical services—in addition to a growing business cluster of bioscience / medical research, manufacturing and related support services.
Assets for business from the Missoula Economic Partnership:
A collaborative 501(c)(6) economic development organization, the Missoula Economic Partnership helps existing local businesses and startups as well as best-fit businesses looking to relocate and/or expand to Missoula. The Partnership comprises a dedicated group of professionals who are focused on connecting these businesses and entrepreneurs to the intellectual capital, financial capital, technological expertise, workforce and other assets they need to not only do well, but to do very, very well.
Site selection expertise and relevant information to help local or moving-to-Missoula businesses and industries locate the existing buildings and/or raw land they need to start or expand operations. The Partnership staff and the corporation’s local business partner-members are dedicated to helping startup or established companies conduct due diligence and succeed in a move to the Missoula area. In collaboration with the greater Missoula community, the Partnership works to attract best-fit businesses to Missoula, especially those in bioscience and medical, innovative technologies, advanced manufacturing, back-office support / professional services, forest products and renewable energy.
Professional assistance for business expansion and retention. A Partnership core goal is to support and enhance the entrepreneurial culture of Missoula by building a collaborative business community. As part of that, Partnership staff with a team of local business leaders study, consult with and advise existing businesses to identify and connect them to the private and public sector resources they need to succeed and grow.
The Innovation Initiative is a cooperative effort between the Partnership, The University of Montana Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program and Hellgate Venture Network. The Innovation Initiative helps entrepreneurs make vital connections. Those connections vary, but often include capital, marketing, business planning, financial management, supply chain research, legal advice, manufacturing assistance and human resources management. Toward this end, the initiative offers seminars, brown bag lunch sessions and round-table discussions directed at common areas of need for tech-based or innovative startups. In addition, it creates direct opportunities for participants to connect with seasoned entrepreneurs and seed capital.
The MEP Angel Network is a group of local investors who aim to make meaningful capital investments of between $250,000 and $750,000 in early-stage companies with ties to Missoula. Partnership / Angel Network staff screens, vets and coaches aspiring entrepreneurs and then manages the presentation sessions to potential investors.
Find the Missoula Economic Partnership online at www.missoulapartnership.com or call (406) 541-6461.