Missoula Economic Partnership begins search for new executive director

The Missoula Economic Partnership has begun its search for a new executive director to replace former director James Grunke, pictured at left. The new applicant is expected to be in place by fall. (Missoula Current file photo)

The Missoula Economic Partnership will apply the findings of a June report detailing the city’s business climate to hire a new executive director, the organization said Monday.

Scott Burke, MEP’s interim director, said a search committee will accept applications through August and focus on local candidates with a connection to economic development in Montana.

The successful applicant will also be asked to translate the findings of the report into a “clear and compelling economic development strategy.”

“This set of recommendations offers an exciting opportunity to identify a new leader who can advance MEP to a higher functioning level as an organization, and help shape a vibrant economic future for our community,” Burke said.

MEP looks to fill the position by early fall, Burke said.

Compiled by Garner Economics on behalf of MEP, the 135-page report detailed the city’s strengths and challenges, and it offered a suite of recommendations that could give the city a competitive advantage.

The report analyzed 53 community variables and found that 19 were considered assets, 14 were challenges and 20 scored neutral. While assets included the availability of commercial air service and the cost of labor and vocational training, challenges included a lack of suitable office and industrial space.

According to the report, Missoula lacks office space for both start-up and second-stage technology companies, and it recommended that MEP advocate for the development of more suitable office space, preferably downtown.

The report also encouraged MEP to reorganize as a holding company led by a president or CEO who can work across the public and private sectors to build opportunities.

MEP’s former CEO, James Grunke, resigned last year to take a new job.

“The new executive director will be a visionary and dynamic leader with a passion for economic development,” MEP said in a statement Monday. “Developing strategy, growing the investor base, and collaborating with an impressive array of businesses, non-profits, and economic development entities are all core responsibilities.”