MISSOULA — The official title was “State of the Community 2021 Missoula Renewed: Life on the Other Side of the Pandemic," and it was unlike any in previous years. Among the topics discussed were housing, health, the economy at the city and county level, as well as the challenges the University of Montana faces moving forward. The overall mood is cautious optimism. For the city and county, housing took front-and-center stage.
“We will likely, through a partnership we’ve developed with a local development group, what will likely be the largest affordable housing project in the state of Montana.”
“The Bill Grant area on the west edge of Missoula this is going to be a growing part of our community and will be a receiving zone for many folks and I think it’s just a super plan that’s been put together in terms of mapping out a vision that will include housing types that of a variety to embrace our entire community.”
University of Montana president Seth Bodnar, says the university is at a critical point when it comes to gearing the budget toward where student’s future interests lie, and making sure all students know there is a place for them.
“It will admittedly require some difficult decisions btu it also allows us to preserve and enhance our rich disciplines in the fields of humanities and the arts while also making sure that colleges that are seeing nearly 100 percent growth in applications such as forestry, environmental sciences, health, and business that they’re able to meet the rapidly growing demands from our students as well.”
Economically, Missoula has taken a hit countywide over the last year-plus but the feeling is that, as the community gets increasingly vaccinated, recovery will follow and good things are ahead.
“Missoula County has just recently formed a targeted economic development district out by the Y this is a tax increment finance district. We’re looking forward to being able to use dollars generated out of that tax incremented finance district to plow bac into infrastructure in the Y area for existing and future businesses and commercial enterprises.”
None of the panelists was willing to give a specific date on when they felt things would be back to normal, but they say the process to get there has begun, and we’ll see more signs of that in the days and weeks to come as we continue with life on the other side of the pandemic.