Tuesday, December 23, 2014 / by Jason Schaefer
Better late than never! Missoula's economy definitely felt the impact of the recession harder than other areas in the state - due primarily to the timber industry. When Stimson Mill in Bonner and Smurfit-Stone in Frenchtown both closed, Missoula and surrounding communities certainly felt the impact.
According to Patrick Barkey, an economist with the University of Montana, Missoula is poised to see more growth in 2015. He said certain sectors of the Missoula economy are strong, while others are weak. Government, such as the BLM and Forest Service stagnant and in decline. On the other side, the health care industry continues to forge ahead. There was 2.6% growth seen from 2013, and Missoula is the 2nd largest health care market in the state.
The final piece of the pie that Barkey points to is tourism for Missoula and surrounding areas. Last year, restaurant and food service growth equated to 5%, while arts and entertainment saw a 13% increase. While the Stimson Mill in Bonner may have closed, Pyramid Lumber in Seeley Lake is doing quite well.
Overall, Barkey is very optimistic about 2015 - which is good news are all of Missoula and surrounding communities.