Missoula Economic Partnership moves into new downtown digs

The Missoula Economic Partnership moved to Higgins Avenue this week to have space for more community engagement. Left to right: Business initiatives director Nicole Rush, communications director Lindsey Wallace and CEO Grant Kier. (Mari Hall/Missoula Current)

The office of the Missoula Economic Partnership has moved to the business center of Missoula, with the organization looking to foster more community engagement and visibility.

Formerly located near Southgate Mall, the new office at 500 N. Higgins Ave., in the old Missoulian building, has about 2,600 square feet and space businesses can use for programs, workshops, meetings and more.

“Where we were previously located, we were pretty off the beaten path,”said Lindsey Wallace, communications director for the Economic Partnership. “It was difficult for people to access our office and it wasn’t super conducive to creating programming or events.”

MEP is looking to implement business education to teach entrepreneurs how to attain real estate ownership, for example. The office may also be used as a short-term landing pad for fresh businesses.

CEO Grant Kier said the organization is also working toward an initiative to improve cross-sector innovation within the city.

That includes attracting private capital to projects that carry a public benefit and assisting Missoula’s bioscience industry, which will benefit from a contract awarded by the U.S. Small Business Administration in April.

Having a space to facilitate that makes it a bit easier.

“Now that we’re located downtown, we’re more visible, we can drop people in, really engage in our community and create programming that is valuable,” Wallace said.

The organization, which started in 2011, partners with key stakeholders within Missoula, such as the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce, the University of Montana, the city of Missoula and Missoula County.

It works with businesses to understand barriers to success, how to apply for grants, and encourages others to relocate and expand in Missoula.

While staff members aren’t yet sure how reserving the space will be managed, Kier said that anyone with a need for the space that helps further the organization’s mission can use the office.

“If we’re hearing a consistent challenge from multiple businesses, we want to pull them together and figure out how do we address what we see as systemic problems or problems across multiple companies in efficient ways,” Kier said.

Contact reporter Mari Hall via email at mari.hall@missoulacurrent.com.