Lighting business, Silver Foundation create perpetual Missoula College scholarship

Two Missoula organizations will celebrate their respective milestones by establishing a new scholarship for nontraditional students seeking a career in the trade industries, they announced on Monday.

Western Montana Lighting, which has launched its 100th year in business, and the Silver Foundation, which turns 20 this year, will offer one student a $1,000 scholarship each semester to pursue a degree in the Sustainable Construction Technology Program at Missoula College.

“The scholarship is not about a student’s performance in the past,” said Carolyn Maier of the Silver Foundation. “We want to provide support for people who want to write or rewrite their future by going into the building industry.”

The contribution provided by the Silver Foundation will provide scholarships to more than one student starting in the fall semester of 2018. Proceeds from its annual spring and fall sales will also enable Western Montana Lighting to renew its own pledge each year.

Both organizations said they believe that supporting a local and sustainable building industry can create more work opportunities for middle-class Missoulians.

It may also bolster the local economy, they said, and help address the state and city’s lack of skilled workers – a concern for the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

An agency report released last year suggests the state’s job growth will slow from 7,300 jobs over the past two years to 5,100 jobs per year from 2017 to 2025. The slower long-term growth will be due to worker shortages caused by the retirement of Montana’s aging workforce.

“I felt it necessary to find a way to give back to the community while also supporting the local building industry,” said Drew Mihelish. “It’s important to thank those who have kept my business in motion for over 100 years.”