Through the Kalispell Business Agenda strategic plan, the Kalispell Chamber advances a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda for Kalispell and Montana. Our work is focused in four strategic areas: growing Kalispell as a regional trade center, strengthening manufacturing and innovation, accelerating non-resident tourism growth, and building on our infrastructure momentum. The Kalispell Chamber is the largest business organization in northwest Montana and is comprised of 725 businesses and organizations that employ over half of the workforce in Flathead County, Montana.
In 2017, look for work to advance on commercial development at Spring Prairie IV, Kalispell North Town Center, Silverbrook, the downtown core area, the Kalispell Center Mall and the Glacier Rail Park. Work will also advance on health care facilities, and FVCC will open their 124-bed student housing facility. As the Kalispell Chamber, we will advance a policy agenda that supports well-planned commercial growth through the update of the Kalispell growth policy, transportation plan updates, and the development of higher densities in appropriate areas.
Manufacturing is the largest basic industry sector in the Flathead Valley. Through our legislative agenda, Manufacturing Day signature event, and other initiatives we will extend our work to create awareness of the careers and opportunities in advanced manufacturing. Legislatively, we will push for further reduction of the business equipment tax, lowering of worker’s compensation costs, and promote apprenticeship programs.
The recently installed Kalispell wayfinding project was created to help visitors navigate the city and easily find historic and cultural attractions and public places. The project started in 2011 as a cooperative effort with the City of Kalispell, Kalispell Downtown Association/Business Improvement District, and our Convention and Visitor Bureau.
A major focus of the last year was to build our capabilities for meetings and convention infrastructure.
This effort brought some major conferences to Kalispell, such as the Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Professional Outdoor Media Association, and the Montana Organic Association in 2016. Our Convention and Visitor Bureau’s “Bring it Home” program has now launched and this referral program will offer incentives and extraordinary opportunities for Chamber members and the community to bring meetings and conventions to town.
All signature events including the Montana Pond Hockey Classic, Montana Spartan Races, and the Montana Dragon Boat Festival will continue, along with all of the other work on consumer marketing and public relations.
This coming year we will push for the design and funding for the next round of transportation infrastructure projects, including Reserve Street between U.S. 2 and U.S. 93, Willow Glen, Main Street, and the conversion of the south half of the Bypass to four-lanes.
Expansion of commercial air service benefits visitors, business, and residents. The AERO fund has helped to add new seasonal direct service on United Airlines to Chicago and San Francisco, and we will continue to fund and support this effort. In 2017, look for Glacier Park International Airport to start its planning cycle for the next phase of terminal expansion.