At November’s monthly meetup, we tackled a big, daunting, but important bucket: sustainable economic development. What does that even mean? Good question. That’s where our conversation started!
Katie Deuel, Executive Director of Home ReSource, joined us to help facilitate the discussion. She and the HR team have done a lot of work around this topic over the years, and consider it part of their organizational mission to spur opportunities for sustainable business growth across the broader Missoula community. Katie asked us to consider what a sustainable economy would look like in Missoula. Ideas that people shared included:
All of these ideas and more mentioned were great to consider, and we had a lot of new faces at the meeting to help spur some brainstorming. But jeez: with such big visions for a more economically sustainable Missoula, where do you even begin?
The short answer: we don’t know! But we do know that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. When it comes to climate change and the economy, there are lots of great resources nationally and in other communities that Missoula can draw on, in addition to the wisdom of our homegrown sustainable entities and enterprises.
Over the course of our conversation, three main sustainable economic development pathways seemed to emerge:
Programs and policies that recognize and incentivize existing local businesses and buildings to become more sustainable
Strategies and policies to attract sustainable/climate-friendly businesses and industries to locate in Missoula
This is an interesting approach, another one that has tons of potential for Missoula. How might we attract businesses or industries that are compatible with our community’s short- and long-term climate and energy goals (and on the flipside, disincentivize those that are not, such as energy-intensive industries like cryptocurrency mining). The time seems ripe for more of an intentional conversation among “economic development” professionals and organizations - like Missoula Economic Partnership, Missoula Downtown Association, Destination Missoula and more - to think about how Missoula can become known for building the green, climate-friendly economy of the 21st century.
Policies and approaches to ensuring that expansion of our community’s physical infrastructure (e.g. residential and commercial buildings and services) happens sustainably
There are a lot more folks that we would like to have join this conversation going forward!
We unfortunately didn’t have time to draw up an entire plan. But we did discuss what has already been done and the clear need for a way to connect the sustainability efforts that are already happening in our community. A big bucket like sustainable economic development requires cooperation and partnerships between all facets of our community--including businesses both local and non-local, nonprofits, municipal agencies, and our creative community members. As we more forward with discussions about our city’s growth, it’s important to keep in mind something we all share: we all love Missoula, and we all want it to grow in a sustainable, forward-thinking way!
And on that note, come celebrate these developing partnerships and love for community with us at our Year 3 Celebration on December 6th. Details HERE. We hope to see you there!
-Abby & Anna