After a months-long search for the right candidate, the Missoula Economic Partnership on Wednesday named Grant Kier its new executive director.

Kier, who formerly headed the Five Valleys Land Trust and ran a competitive race in the Democratic primary for Montana's seat in the U.S. House, will begin on Oct. 1. He outlined his vision for the organization with the Missoula Current shortly after the announcement.

He replaces James Grunke at the helm of MEP.

“If I learned anything in the past year, it’s how important good paying jobs are to Montana families, how important outstanding skilled workers are for successful businesses, and how much people in Montana want to expand economic opportunity here while protecting our quality of life,” Kier said in a statement provided with Wednesday's announcement.

Kier led the Five Valleys Land Trust in Missoula from 2007-2017, where he helped grow the organization’s partnerships and protect 40,000 acres of open space and public land across western Montana.

He left Five Valleys in the fall of 2017 to launch his bid for the state's U.S. House seat.

Scott Burke, chair of MEP's board of directors, said Kier demonstrated his commitment to economic development during his own time on the organization's board.

In its search for a new director, Burke added, MEP fielded a strong list of candidates, making the decision difficult.

“We're confident that we've found a candidate who demonstrates dedication to Missoula's unique opportunities and challenges in the economic development ecosystem,” Burke said. “Collaboration is one of MEP’s primary objectives, and (Kier) is a team player with a proven ability to bring key stakeholders together to work towards agreed upon goals."

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