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Missoula Economic Partnership hopes to exceed economic projections

By Emily Adamson, KECI Reporter, eadamson@keci.com
Published On: Oct 31 2013 05:08:59 PM MDT
Updated On: Oct 31 2013 06:02:33 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Slow growth out of the recession, is the story for Missoula County.  Investors got the outlook at the Missoula Economic Partnership (MEP) meeting Thursday.

James Grunke, the MEP’s CEO, told a group of investors they've got a job to do -- change economic projections.

“Change the curve and make our own opportunities,” Grunke said.

Pat Barkey from the University of Montana's Bureau of Business and Economic Research laid it out; Missoula has had a longer recession and a more difficult time recovering than most of the state.

“We dug ourselves a hole in the last few years,” Barkey said.  

That's where the MEP has room to improve. Part of that plan is recruiting companies that provide high wage jobs; MEP's target wage for new businesses is $17 an hour.

The University of Montana will play a big role, with plans to promote and expand computer sciences programs. It was a key takeaway at the Montana Economic Summit held in Butte last month -- more job openings than graduates.

There’s still plenty of ground to cover in Missoula County but it’s not all bad news.

“We're now growing again,” Barkey said.  

Grunke highlighted four new businesses in Missoula.

Acuity Design, a 3D printing company, is already manufacturing. The company launched a Kickstarter fundraising campaign to get off the ground.

Fuel Montana Media is the company that's distributing gas pump television screens, showing high definition news and weather as well as local ads.

Quantpost is a real-time analysis of options trading, working on data tests.

And Rescripts, a business spurred from a University of Montana competition, is still in its preliminary stages but will help pharmacies manage drug inventory.