Grunke Column: Economic Development is a Team Sport

I am sometimes asked if there is a secret sauce for communities to be successful at economic development, but there is none. There is only partnerships, relationships and building steps to operate and collaborate.

Successful communities all share common characteristics: They are rich in ideas and talents; attract educated people; provide physical and cultural amenities; have organizations and individuals with the ability to lean and adapt; and embrace bold partnerships among business, government and nonprofit sectors.While it is easy to recognize the value of government and business working together, it is this last group that is often overlooked when I am talking about the unique public-private partnership that has formed the Missoula Economic Partnership. There is another group that is vital to our success, and that is our strategic partners.

As our name indicates, a spirit of partnership defines the MEP. We exist, in large measure, to foster connections. While the partnership does run several of our own programs, most of the resources that matter to growing businesses and those considering a move to Missoula are provided by other organizations around the area.

Our goals would be impossible to accomplish without their talent, expertise and effort, and each of them plays a critical role in achieving our economic development objectives.

Getting back to basics, an economy grows as people develop and exchange specialized services/products and, in various ways, create new ideas and services/products. The better connected and more collaborative the residents of a region are with everyone else, the more likely they are to be creating more wealth and income for themselves. This means that overall economic growth of a region is much more about collaboration than competition.

Economic development in our community is a team sport. Working together for the common well-being, and not at self-centered cross-purposes, gives us a decided advantage in the highly competitive economic development arena – and is a more enjoyable path.

A crucial component of our future success will be in community collaboration – not working in a silo, segregated from others who have shared goals. Instead, we must work together for the greater good of Missoula. MEP is the link between businesses and our strategic partners.

To all of these organizations, their staff, their volunteer boards, and all the others that make it possible for the Missoula Economic Partnership to succeed, let me say I am proud to be your partner. To learn more about what each of these vital organizations do, please visit the strategic partners section on our website, and if you have a chance, please join me in thanking all of them for the fine work they do for our community.

James Grunke is the president/CEO of the Missoula Economic Partnership.


Missoula Economic Partnership | 2501 Catlin Street Suite 205 Missoula, Montana 59801 | P: 406.541.6461 | F: 406.541.6464