Upstart group looks to pin Missoula’s economic identity to sustainability

Nathan Hansen

Sometimes big ideas start from thinking out loud and working to envision the future, even when that future comes across as somewhat esoteric.

Talk to Nathan Hansen and that’s how his vision for “The Hubster Network” may find its start – a group of “influencers” looking to drive Missoula toward an economic identity as a sustainable business center.

“We’ve seen that sustainability is the next difference maker in business, and Missoula has a multicultural concern for it that’s completely aligned with where the industry is heading,” Hansen said. “We want to get everyone together to help guide Missoula toward a sustainable business model, and an economic identity as a sustainable business hub.”

Organizations aimed at building a sustainable future aren’t rare in Missoula, as there are many. Home ReSource has built a business around reducing waste by accepting and reselling used construction materials.

Climate Smart Missoula works with community partners to address climate change and sustainable economic development, while the Missoula Compost Collection works to divert organic waste from the landfill and is growing its list of residential customers.

If The Hubster Network finds its footing, Hansen said, its first task will look to solve the city’s lack of glass recycling. He reached out to the Missoula Current after last month’s story on Republic Services and its efforts to extend the life of the Missoula landfill by reducing the amount of waste that enters it.

“We’re going to have a focus on fixing the biggest problem, the glass problem, and we’re going to throw business at it, brainstorm ideas and build something up,” Hansen said. “We’ve got a problem, so let’s create a business solution.”

Hansen, who hosts a sustainability podcast and owns Impact Strategies, believes Missoula is looking for a new identity fit for the modern age. While the technology wave has arrived, providing hundreds of new jobs in Missoula, Hansen believes sustainability will follow.

“This is a perfect place to promote ourselves,” he said. “Tech is going to be everywhere, but the next big industrial revolution is going to be in marketing for sustainability.”

As a marketer, Hansen believes companies that provide a good product work on an even playing field. Those looking to differentiate themselves and rise above the rest will have to provide something more.

It’s there, he said, where The Hubster Network will come into play.

“I see this trend, not just because it’s what I work in,” he said. “Marketing was so big, but now it’s just noise because everyone is out there marketing their idea. Everyone’s got a great product, but what are you doing beyond that product? That’s what everyone wants to know.”