KALISPELL – Flathead County has the second fastest growing economy in part thanks to the presence of Flathead Valley Community College.

This according to the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, which held its annual economic outlook seminar in Kalispell on Tuesday.

The seminar is in its 43rd year, and this year’s theme is The Future of Higher Education in Montana.

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BBER Director Patrick Barkey from UM gave the presentation and says that while other counties are experiencing a weaker recovery from the recession, Flathead County is seeing sustained growth. He credits most of this positive effect, to the growth of the Flathead Valley Community College.

“The connections between the programs at Flathead Valley and the local economy are really state of the art. You look at the quick reaction time and the ability of Flathead Valley to adjust its abilities and its offering to tailor it to the needs of employers is something I would imagine the commissioners of higher education,” Barkey said, [I] wish the other universities could do as good of [a] job.”

Kalispell was the seventh stop on the seminar’s tour of nine cities, which kicked off in Helena and wraps up in Havre.

According to the report,

Bozeman’s Gallatin County continues to be the growth leader statewide by a large margin with steady, inflation-corrected wage growth in the neighborhood of 7.5 percent in recent years.

In Helena, wages grew by 1.8 percent in 2016. Visible success stories in manufacturing, including the Boeing facility, have more than offset downturns, such as the Drumlummon mine closure in the recent past. Most of the area’s more important industries – with the most important by far being state and federal government – saw growth in line with the overall average in 2017. The exception was construction, which grew more slowly.

Reporting by Nicole Miller for MTN News