MISSOULA — Local Chamber of Commerce leaders say the community effort securing a $13 million BUILD grant will empower Missoula to seek additional government funds with a united front in the future.
News of the award came last week, not long after the Chamber, county and city embarked on a major lobbying trip in Washington, D.C.
"The role that Chamber played, which I think was critical, is bringing everybody together, having the talking points to leave behind, organizing the trip from the hotel to the meetings," Missoula Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kim Latrielle said. "So we played a key role in getting the excitement and then showing the collaboration."
The money from the BUILD grant will pay for new streets, trails and some environmental work connected to the growth spurt west of Reserve Street and north of Mullan Road. However, Missoula has many other challenges that could use government funding help in the future.
Latrielle believes what made the September trip successful was having all parties supporting the funding request, especially in meetings with Montana's Congressional delegation. She says that combined support was unusual, and effective.
"They said that. In every meeting they said 'that's what we're looking for, is we need to see collaboration.' It's not government coming forward, and business fighting. Or business coming forward and government not on board," Latrielle said. "So I think that was a great example of when Missoula pulls together, all of us. It's a game changer. And I think we've just begun. Yeah."
The Chamber and local government leaders are already giving early indications of returning to D.C. next year to secure the additional 10-million dollars they hope to find to pay for westside development.