Grunke: economic development requires dedication, strong partnerships

James_Grunke_2x3-250x300By James Grunke

As the holiday season dawns, I’m thinking about gratitude and thankfulness – not only how they grace our lives, but how they translate into business success.

It’s true: Gratitude and success go hand in hand. No less than Harvard Medical School has studied and opined on the value of actively practicing thankfulness.

“In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships,” the Harvard Mental Health letter explained.

Every one of those benefits feeds business success. Stronger relationships? Check. Better equipped to deal with adversity? Check, check. Able to relish good experiences? Absolutely.

We’ve all felt the energy of a thankful boss or client in our own jobs. And, importantly, we’ve seen the impact our gratitude can have on others – and on ourselves.

“People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what’s wonderful in their life,” Geoffrey James wrote on “Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective.”

Gratitude also contributes to the success of our community. In my experience, Missoulians truly appreciate all that our city and its surroundings offer, and as a result, are active and engaged in seeking out more success.

I am thankful for Missoula’s great leaders, whose strength, creativity and mutual appreciation help drive growth and innovation here.

Being appreciative helps us identify the progress remaining to be made, and to embrace the challenges ahead.

Some of the best examples of a commitment to appreciation are the Missoula Economic Partnership’s active and engaged board of directors, who work together – and tirelessly – to get things done.

At our annual meeting in October, we honored four board members who are “graduating” from their long tenures serving our organization, and welcomed six new board members. As MEP’s president and CEO, I would like to express my sincere thanks for these community leaders’ willingness to volunteer their time, energy and talents to our pursuit of success as an organization.

Heartfelt thanks to outgoing board members Jeff Crouch, Lynne Foland, Tom Pew and Deb Poteet, for years of dedication and service to the Missoula Economic Partnership. These individuals are a perfect example of the spirit of volunteerism. The success of our organization relies upon the selfless support of activities that benefit others in our community. And what better way to express appreciation for others than through the act of giving back?

And now a grateful welcome to the incredibly talented new directors on our board:

Sue Williams, president, SG Long & Co.

Mark Thane, superintendent, Missoula County Public Schools

Marilyn Marler, president, Missoula City Council

Jack Lawson, president & CEO, Missoula Federal Credit Union

Wendy Koster, general manager of Diversified Plastics

Mark Hayden, general manager, Missoula Electric Cooperative

We are excited to bring new perspectives onto our board, and for the commitment these community and business leaders have made to creating successful growth in Missoula. There is no doubt in my mind that they will contribute greatly to our economic development efforts.

Economic development is a tricky endeavor. It requires strong relationships and the ability to bring diverse groups together to achieve common goals.

Again, though, thankfulness and gratitude can help us achieve those goals. Consider these words from Faisal Hoque, of Business Insider:

“Showing our appreciation for others helps us to win friends and influence people. Being grateful to others makes them feel like their actions are more meaningful. … In a world where everyone is beating his or her own drum, there is nothing more impressive than someone saying, ‘I couldn’t have done it on my own.’ ”

Partnership is at the heart of all we do, and the leaders and organizations with whom we partner are our most valuable resources. The Missoula Economic Partnership extends our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to all those who drive our shared successes and work together to build a thriving economy. We sincerely thank each and every one of you this Thanksgiving weekend, and every day beyond.

James Grunke is president and CEO of the Missoula Economic Partnership. His column appears monthly in the local media.