KALISPELL - This Salute to Service report features a prominent member of the Kalispell community who recently retired and was awarded the highest honor from the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce.
Jim Oliverson was recently presented with the Great Chief Award from the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce.
“The Great Chief Award for us is like a lifetime achievement award, it’s like you would see at the Oscars or the Academy Awards," said Kalispell Chamber of Commerce president Joe Unterreiner.
Oliverson served on as many as 24 different state and local non-profits including the Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Polson and Lakeside chambers of commerce.
However, his most prominent role was probably at the Kalispell Regional Medical Center where he helped forge a strong connection between the hospital and the community.
Oliverson arrived in the Flathead Valley in 1989 and spent 39 years at the hospital. During that time, he has had a true love for the area and knows how special it is.
“This is a good place to raise children. It’s safe, it’s clean. And the hospital has an extraordinary reputation. Quite frankly it has consistently ranked in some of the top five percent of the nation," Oliverson said.
Unterreiner says that a lot of the economic success in the valley is largely due to Oliverson’s work at the hospital.
“Our economic research last year indicated a billion dollars’ worth of personal income -- both direct and indirect -- generated by the hospital, and Jim has been a huge part of the leadership in making that happen," Unterreiner told MTN News.
He added that Oliverson can be seen as a true model for anyone who wants to see a community grow and prosper, "to play a role of kind of growing the community in a smart way with great wisdom, there’s no better mentor that you could find than Jim Oliverson.”
Oliverson is the 46th person to receive the Great Chief Award and will hand off the award to next year’s recipient.