Graff leaving MEP to help Israeli firm launch North American ops in Missoula

Jenni Graff, who joined Missoula Economic Partnership in 2016, will mark her last day with the organization on Friday. She’ll join 4Cast in mid-October as project manager. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

The director of development at the Missoula Economic Partnership on Tuesday announced her plans to leave the organization to help an upstart Israeli technology company launch its new North American operations in Missoula.

Jenni Graff, who joined MEP in 2016, will mark her last day with the organization on Friday. She’ll join 4Cast in mid-October as project manager.

“My title is project manager, officially, but I’m kind of anything and everything they need to get their first paying client in the U.S.,” Graff told the Missoula Current. “After helping businesses grow and expand in Missoula for the past few years, I am looking forward to directly impacting (4Cast’s) expansion into the U.S. market, and growing professionally with the company.”

Graff has been omnipresent in Missoula’s economic development scene, emceeing student pitch sessions at the University of Montana while helping grow air service in Missoula.

She also has introduced several new businesses to Missoula, including ClassPass, which looks to hire 120 positions over the next two years, and 4Cast, which announced its plans to open a Missoula office this spring.

4Cast, an Israeli tech company, is developing predictive analytics aimed at homeland security, defense and health care. The firm has already hired one other employee, though it looks to grow that number to several dozen in the coming years.

Graff is the company’s second Missoula hire.

“By me leaving MEP, this is a real example of the progress we’re making in Missoula,” Graff said. “For me to be able to work for an international business that’s opening its first office in Missoula, it’s always something I’ve dreamed of doing and never thought I’d have the opportunity to do because I didn’t want to leave Montana. But that’s happening now, and my leaving MEP is an absolute example of our success.”

Jenni Graff, the economic development director for the Missoula Economic Partnership, said the state’s tech-industry is booming and depends upon net neutrality during a recent presentation. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Graff’s departure marks the second major announcement made by MEP in recent days. The organization named Grant Kier as its new executive director last week.

During an interview with the Missoula Current, Kier admitted that the organization has seen its share of turnover in the past few years. In Graff’s case, that’s something to be lauded, and it serves as evidence of the organization’s recent success.

“Part of that is an exciting opportunity for people,” Kier said. “But we’ve got an opportunity to start thinking about bringing in some new talent and really trying to retain people over the long term so we can start building the lasting relationships any entity needs to really become an institution in our community.”

Graff said she stayed on board with MEP over the summer to help aid the organization in its search for a new director. Now that the position has been filed and MEP is under new leadership, she’s ready to assist 4Cast with its own plans for growth.

“I’m really proud of a lot of the business attraction and connections we were able to make,” Graff said. “At the end of the day, I’m just proud I was able to package up and communicate how amazing Missoula is to so many people in the business community.”