Missoula Downtown Association completes building & business inventory

The Missoula Downtown Association recently completed its first-ever attempt at data collection and analysis of downtown businesses and buildings, one of the goals of the Downtown Master Plan. MDA was financially supported in this project by the Missoula Downtown Business Improvement District (Missoula BID) and the Missoula Redevelopment Agency (MRA).

Why a Downtown Inventory?

This comprehensive inventory of buildings and businesses provides a foundation for tracking trends in the downtown economy. The 2011 Downtown Inventory will be used to: understand downtown assets and weaknesses; identify potential locations for technical assistance; measure community achievements of recruitment and retention goals; support masterplan projects such as Front and Main streets reconfiguration, development of a Retail Hot Spot and Cultural District, and development of a comprehensive wayfinding system for downtown; and market, retain, recruit and track development trends within the downtown commercial area.

Missoula's North Higgins Avenue downtown

The inventory also supports the goals of the Missoula Economic Partnership: strengthen growth of existing businesses by complementing the business mix and attract new businesses to diversify the local economic base.

Data Gathering

With exceptional participation from business owners and property owners — or response rates of 58 and 63 percent respectively — the data will be used to for a variety of economic development initiatives.

The 2011 data was populated from existing public information sources and contact with building and business owners.  These resources included data within the Downtown Master Plan, membership data from the Missoula Downtown Association, property data from the Business Improvement District, Missoula County tax records, additional field reviews and Internet research. In addition, attempts were made to administer surveys in person to each business and building owner in order to create an initial baseline of property data.

The focus of future efforts will be to improve the integrity of data in the Downtown Inventory by filling building/tenant information gaps in teh 2011 effort and to keep the inventory current and accurate. Emphasis will be placed on surveying new businesses and achieving a 30 percent response rate of existing businesses through twice-annual email requests for updated information.

Requesting Data

With continued business and property owner participation, MDA will be able to provide biannual updates of summary statistics, including individualized reports, for the entire downtown. As the lead organization, MDA has taken appropriate steps to protect the confidentiality of proprietary information in collecting, entering and managing the data.

“We are delighted to have completed a long-term project that will serve us well in our efforts to improve the downtown economy and build some strategies around business recruitment and development,” said Linda McCarthy, executive director of the Missoula Downtown Association. “Jessica Daniels — our program director — did an exceptional job spearheading this project, and we have a product now that contains valuable information for those considering investment in our downtown.”


  • Geographic area inventoried:
    • Business: 84 square-block area,
    • Buildings: 56 square-block area.
  • Out of 736 commercial establishments inventoried:
    • 398 consumer service businesses,
    • 129 retail businesses,
    • 66 law offices,
    • 38 full-service restaurants,
    • 10 coffee shops,
    • 9 outdoor apparel/sporting goods stores.
  • Of total 2,290,630 square feet inventoried:
    • Retail trade and food & beverage establishments account for close to 400,000 square feet of the total square footage,
    • Governmental services account for 325,854 square feet.
  • 25% of retail businesses and 80% of restaurants are open after 7 p.m., Monday through Friday,
  • 65% of retail businesses and restaurants are open on Sundays.


Downtown Inventory Study Area Map
Summary Business Statistics

Jessica Daniels is Missoula Downtown Association’s program director and manages the Downtown Inventory. The Missoula Downtown Association is a not-for-profit business association dedicated to promoting, supporting and enhancing the vitality of Downtown Missoula. More information on MDA and the project are available by calling the MDA office at 406.543.4238 or the MDA website at www.missouladowntown.com.

Missoula Economic Partnership | 500 N. Higgins Ave. | Suite 300 | Missoula, Montana 59802 | P: 406.541.6461 | F: 406.541.6464