1. For what purpose was the Missoula Economic Partnership formed?
  2. What are the goals of the organization?
  3. How are those goals being accomplished?
  4. How is the Partnership different from other, past economic development efforts in Missoula?
  5. How does the Partnership connect companies to capital? Can the Partnership fund my business?
  6. Is all new business good business in the eyes of the Partnership?
  7. Is the Missoula Economic Partnership a government agency?
  8. How is the Partnership funded?
  9. What is the Partnership’s budget?
  10. Who are the Partnership’s investor/members?
  11. How do I become an investor? What is the investment?
  12. What are the benefits and responsibilities of investors?
  13. Is my investment in the Partnership tax deductible?
  14. What is the role of the board of directors?
  15. How can I stay informed?

For what purpose was the Missoula Economic Partnership formed?

Missoula needed a central resource working for sustainable economic development. After an extensive study of options, it was determined by business and civic leaders that the creation of a new collaborative entity would be most effective. The Partnership was officially created in June 2011.

The Partnership is dedicated to being a central resource for economic development activities and to attracting, retaining, developing and growing jobs and business throughout Missoula and Missoula County.

What are the goals of the organization?

Our goals are to over a period of five years facilitate the creation of 2,500 new primary jobs, help attract $150 million in capital investment in Missoula, help attract 25 “best-fit” relocations to our community and assist in the launch or start up of 25 new companies. We arrived at these numbers by beginning with historical averages for growth in Missoula and projecting what a well-organized, appropriately funded and collaborative economic development effort should add to the growth curve.

Beyond the numbers, our goal is for Missoula to become an economic development leader for Montana and the Rocky Mountain West.
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How are those goals being accomplished?

The Partnership is committed to several core activities.

Business Retention and Expansion: This includes activities that help existing businesses in Missoula grow and prosper — connecting companies to angel and venture capital, helping businesses apply for public funding, assisting with operational and strategic planning, helping companies connect to workforce development programs, working on feasibility studies, facilitating peer-to-peer and peer-to-mentor contact, and more.

Business Attraction: This includes activities that identify and assist companies that may be interested in moving to Missoula. Through fast response as well as outreach to site selectors and businesses in Missoula’s “best-fit” sectors, the Partnership helps companies conduct due diligence and planning, provides facts and figures, hosts site visits and connects companies to our public officials, service providers and local workforce. As part of this work, the Partnership develops customized proposals to support relocation/expansion to our community.

Innovation-based Programs: This includes programs and activities that help support entrepreneurs and fuel transformative new businesses in the community. A good example is Innovation Initiative, a cooperative program with Hellgate Venture Network and the Montana Technology Enterprise Center (known as MonTEC). The Innovation Initiative provides networking space for entrepreneurs and helps connect them to one another and to important business resources in Missoula.

Connecting Entrepreneurs with Capital: Another central component of our work is the MEP Angel Network which connects Missoula-based investors with local, growing companies. Launched in the spring of 2012 by the Partnership, this program established a network of local angel investors who regularly hear pitches from early-stage Missoula companies and consider opportunities to invest in those companies. In addition, the program provides extensive vetting and coaching to help ensure pitch companies are qualified and ready for this kind of investment.

Key Business Community Initiatives: The Partnership is directly engaged in major initiatives that impact economic development and the growth of business in Missoula. Examples include helping promote developable land such as the Bonner mill site and leading the Air Service Task Force, which is working to attract a low-cost service provider and expand overall air service to make business travel more affordable and convenient.

Collaboration: The Partnership works with more than 30 city, county, state and federal strategic partners. Our goal is to be a centralized resource for economic development assistance, connecting companies and entrepreneurs to the programs that can provide them with capital, workforce training, strategic planning and other help.
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How is the Partnership different from other, past economic development efforts in Missoula?

The Partnership is historically unique in this region, with an ambitious set of five-year goals, significant capital and human resources, and an innovative structure led by the private sector in collaboration with key public entities. Our aims are specific: By 2016, we will create 2,500 new primary jobs, attract $150 million in capital investment, help launch 25 local companies, and help relocate 25 “best-fit” companies to Missoula from outside the area. Rather than serving as a funding source, we work with other organizations, government agencies and private sector connections in the region to assemble resources and solutions for entrepreneurs, investors and expanding businesses. With more than $3 million in start-up funding and a visionary professional staff, the Partnership is well positioned to achieve its aims. Click here for more about our strategic planning.
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How does the Partnership connect companies to capital? Can the Partnership fund my business?

The Missoula Economic Partnership does not provide direct grants or financial assistance. Instead, we work to connect businesses to capital and funding sources. Much of that is done though local, state and federal programs.

To meet new opportunities, we also develop and operate such “connection” programs ourselves. An excellent example is MEP Angel Network. Through this program, the Partnership helps connect entrepreneurs to investors but it is ultimately the decision of individuals within the network to invest in a particular company.
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Is all new business good business in the eyes of the Partnership?

The Partnership focuses on bringing sustainable development and well-paying jobs in best-fit industries to the Missoula area. We are here to help any entrepreneur, executive or investor who knocks on our door, directing them to the resources they need. However, our efforts and programs primarily target a few key industry sectors that would not only draw capital and create jobs, but also befit our community’s human, environmental and cultural assets and values. These sectors include:

Life Sciences.
Information Technologies.
Back Office & Creative Services.
Forest Products & Renewables.

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Is the Missoula Economic Partnership a government agency?

No. The Missoula Economic Partnership is led by the private sector and works collaboratively and strategically to facilitate increased prosperity through business development, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the business environment and quality of life in our community. We are incorporated as a 501(c)(6), a private, nonprofit public benefit corporation.
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How is the Partnership funded?

Two-thirds of our funding comes from private investors. Currently 80 businesses and individuals have committed to investing over the first five years of our operations. The city, county, UM and Missoula International Airport account for the remainder of our funding.
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What is the Partnership’s budget?

Our annual budget of $640,000 funds payroll, overhead, program expenses and marketing. It is segmented approximately as follows:

$200,000     Support and programs for growth of existing businesses.
$160,000     Increase innovation, entrepreneurism and small business support.
$240,000     Attract new business to enhance and diversify the local economic base.
$  40,000     Investor relations and communications. 

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Who are the Partnership’s investor/members?

The Partnership is proud of its highly active and committed investor group. Our investors include 80 private, local businesses and individuals, plus four public entities (the city of Missoula, Missoula County, The University of Montana and Missoula International Airport). Investors elect members of the board of directors, serve on committees and provide their time and expertise in order to advance economic development. There is no maximum limit on the number of investor/members. Anyone is welcome to join at any time. You will find the full list of our investor/members here.
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How do I become an investor? What is the investment?

Our investor/members make multiyear investments that are appropriate to the size of their companies and organizations, so there is range of opportunities. Currently, investments start at as little as $500 per year and go up to about $100,000 per year. Regardless of the investment made, all investors have the same rights and privileges.

You can learn more about becoming an investor by contacting President/CEO James Grunke at 406.541.6461.
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What are the benefits and responsibilities of investors?

The primary benefit of investing in the Partnership is the growth of the Missoula area economy through the expansion of existing businesses, attraction of new companies, and the support of innovation and entrepreneurism. Our investors recognize that a stronger, more diverse local economy directly serves their best interests, bringing new opportunities, clients and talent to the area.

Investors are kept in the loop on economic development news and issues through monthly email updates, periodic meetings, and are often among the first to learn of new programs and opportunities. Investors are invited to attend update breakfasts and the annual meetings to conduct member business. Investors are also encouraged to serve on working committees created by the board of directors and to serve as members of the board itself. In addition, investors vote for the election of board members, annually.

Beyond these roles, investors may be called upon occasionally to sit in on business visits, to share their expertise with area entrepreneurs and to help host companies and site selectors from outside the market.
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Is my investment in the Partnership tax deductible?

No; however, support of the Partnership may be classified as a business expense. Consult your tax professional for guidance. The Partnership is a 501(c)(6) corporation.
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What is the role of the board of directors?

Board members are elected by the full body of investors annually to represent investor interests. The board governs all activities of the Partnership — providing direction, actively promoting and pursuing strategic objectives, and supervising the use and distribution of funds.

The board meets the fourth Wednesday of every month at 7:30 a.m. and investors are welcome to attend; these meetings are not open to the public.
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How can I stay informed?

You can learn more about the Partnership’s activities online throughout this site. We regularly post news that’s relevant to economic development as well as articles that highlight our programs and strategies. Click here to sign up for our e-newsletter. In addition, President/CEO James Grunke writes a monthly Missoulian newspaper column in InBusiness that helps to explain and promote economic development issues for Missoula.
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Missoula Economic Partnership | 2501 Catlin Street Suite 205 Missoula, Montana 59801 | P: 406.541.6461 | F: 406.541.6464