Business Buzz: Montana adds 3,500 construction jobs during pandemic

Here’s some business news in the Missoula area:

Montana gained roughly 3,500 construction jobs during the pandemic from February of 2020 to January of 2022. That’s an 11.4% increase, the highest percent increase of any state in the country, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. Almost half the states in the U.S. lost construction jobs during that same time period.

“I think the message is clear, construction is open for business and we’re hiring,” said David Smith, executive director of the Montana Contractors Association. “While most industries have struggled through these difficult times, construction continues to provide stable employment with wages that offer higher pay, great benefits, and the opportunity to grow your career.”

He said the job increase is impressive considering there were nationwide supply chain issues and materials shortages along with steep cost increases of those materials.

“Construction was deemed an essential industry, and Montana contractors worked hard keeping worksites open,” Smith said. “While many industries and businesses had to close their doors temporarily, construction in Montana was able to take advantage of the opportunity that allowed us to keep workers employed.”

The community will have multiple opportunities to view the Higgins Avenue Corridor Plan and provide feedback. A virtual open house is available through April 3. This open house will include information and survey questions about each design alternative and will be accessible through the project webpage at

The Higgins Avenue Corridor Plan began last summer with public involvement efforts aimed at understanding the priorities of residents and business owners for this busy section of downtown Missoula. With these priorities, safety improvements, and economic vitality in mind, the project team has developed several design alternatives and is seeking additional comments from residents and businesses.

“We learned a lot through our initial outreach efforts,” said Aaron Wilson, the city’s manager of Infrastructure and Mobility Planning. “Each conversation, comment, and survey response provided the team with valuable information that allowed us to develop several design alternatives for the corridor. Our hope is that the community will continue to engage in this process as we work toward a final design that is beautiful, safe, and accessible for everyone.”

Two live virtual meetings will take place on March 31 at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. Each meeting is anticipated to last approximately one hour and will include a presentation and question-and-answer session. Registration is required for these meetings. To register, please visit the aforementioned website.

Lake Missoula Tea Company in Missoula won an honorable mention for Best of Show at the Made in Montana tradeshow in Helena last week. The company is celebrating its 10th year in business.

“It’s an honor to be recognized among all of these talented, driven, and creative Montanans,” said general manager Ryan Alexander Payne. “We recognize the beauty and talent brought by our friends of the Native American Made in Montana presenters, on whose land we rest.”

Co-owner Jake Kreilick said the event helps small businesses market their products.

“The Made in Montana brand is a great tool to attract attention to our teas,” he said. “Additionally, the trade shows organized through the Department of Commerce create wholesale opportunities with other Montana businesses, so it’s a win-win for us.”

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