The Missoula Chamber of Commerce has made support for funding for a new Missoula College its top legislative priority this year.

Six other chambers across the state added their support for the issue last week, endorsing a section of legislative agenda produced by the Missoula Chamber that says funding for new technical college facilities is “critical for our business community’s economy.”

The 27-point coalition of Montana chambers legislative agenda notes the organizations’ stances on several large issues and will be used to lobby during the 2013 legislative session.

Support through the agenda of the other six chambers “gives a voice across the state of Montana,” said Kim Latrielle, Missoula Chamber president and chief executive officer.

An updated Missoula College, which is the only two-year college in the state that hasn’t received significant upgrades in its lifetime, is vital to both existing, incoming and future businesses, Latrielle said.

A portion of House Bill 14, introduced by Rep. Galen Hollenbaugh, D-Helena, asks for $29 million in funds for construction of a new Missoula College and authorization to raise the remainder of the cost of construction through fundraising and other sources.

The “higher education” section of the chambers’ legislative agenda says that the chambers support an “effective, accessible, and affordable workforce education and training system.”

“Montana’s technical colleges are lagging behind obtaining state funding for major upgrades and modernization to help meet tightening skilled labor needs, both regionally and throughout Montana. The chambers believe that new facilities offering additional post-secondary workforce training and taking its equal place in the statewide 2-year post-secondary system is absolutely critical for our business community’s economy as well as our current and future workforce,” the agenda said.

Along with hosting a listening session last November about the importance of the college for business, the Missoula Chamber is encouraging members to write letters and contact legislators to voice support for House Bill 14.

“Letters are starting to flow from Missoula,” Latrielle said, adding that she hopes the unified legislative agenda will help to better stir up support for the bill from representatives around the state.


While the chamber supports building a new Missoula College, it hasn’t taken a position on its location, Latrielle said.

A vocal group has decried the University of Montana’s decision to put the college on the University Golf Course. Latrielle hopes that controversy doesn’t kill the bill.

“Let us get this passed then we can have the community discussion. Why would we take the chance of losing something for the community over a location?” Latrielle said.

Passing HB14 will require a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate because bonding requires the state to go into debt. HB14 is currently making its way through the House Appropriations Committee.

This is the third time funding has been requested for the college.

“Some people are saying third time’s the charm,” Missoula College Dean Barry Good said. “This is the third time of going up and we’re really very hopeful that this time we’re going to get the funding we need to serve the citizenry, the students of Missoula and this region and of Montana, absolutely of Montana.”

A lot of business are looking to two-year colleges to find specially trained employees, Good said.

“One of our key things we do, out of the many things we do, is work with the business community, work with industries and respond to their needs,” Good said. “We give the skills and education (students) need for them to go out and get a job. A meaningful, high paying job, not only a job a career, when they leave us. We work very closely with business and industry to make this happen.”

Any support the Missoula business community can provide as HB14 is debated is helpful, Good said.

“It is important to us to let the Legislature know they support us, yes it’s very important,” Good said. “We would hope that would happen.”

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Waltzing Matilda

It is blatantly obvious what the University of Montana is really trying to do here. This is an end around attempt to build housing on the UM Golf Course. In 2005, President George Dennison attempted to build housing on the UM Golf Course, but a huge public protest prevented it from happening.

Now the Board of Regents has given the UM administration a go ahead to destroy the UM Golf Course in the name of education by building the new Missoula College there. Once the golf course is destroyed, many other buildings will be constructed on the former golf course including housing. By first destroying the golf course in the name of education, there will be no way to fight a housing project there.

What is not being reported is that in 2005, President Dennison told the Montana Board of Regents that the main UM Campus had enough academic building space to accommodate 23,000 students. See the minutes from that board meeting at the following link:

The current UM enrollment including the Missoula College is less than 15,000 students. With enough current classroom space for 8,000 additional students, why is UM proposing to spend $47 Million to build a new Missoula College? This is a complete waste of taxpayer’s money!

The new Missoula College would be 145,000 square feet in size and would cost $47 Million. That is over $324 per square foot, for classroom space! Someone is getting rich on this project and it is not the Montana taxpayer.

Call or write your state legislator today and demand that they not fund House Bill 14, which would provide the funding for this scam. The following link will provide contact information for the Montana Legislature:


Then let the chamber pay for it........don't want it, don't need it and don't have any monies for it.


Of course the UofM is pushing for this and it has nothing to do with wanting to help Missoula College. The end game here is to build up Missoula College to the point that most of the freshman and sophomore courses at UofM can be pushed to MC. That way the UofM can take the higher tuition for the courses while having them taught on the cheap at MC. Quality is going to suffer. That's not to say that MC is bad; it is very good in its current role but it cannot serve the role envisioned by the administrators at UofM. When quality suffers you'll never hear of it. You'll be lied to. Well, maybe 'lied' is too strong a word. Is it really lying if the UofM administrators are so delusional that they believe their own garbage? Harvard of the West? Please. "Facilities to rival Berkeley and Stanford" - their breathless hyping of their Potemkin University is disgusting. This happens because the majority of the administrators are promoted from within. The Missoulian should do some digging - 1) how has the faculty size changed in the last ten years? 2) what's been the change in the numbers of assistant/associate administrators over the same period? 3) what proportion of administrators were promoted from within? There's never money for infrastructure or faculty hiring but there's always money to add a new administrator. $5,000 to fix an essential piece of scientific equipment - no. A "green consultant" - no problemo. The administrative class and UofM is growing like a cancer and when you have that many administrators sat on their behinds wondering what to do next you get "great plans" such as MC, nuking the golf course, wood burning power plants...


There is truth in what you write.


MCUM should not be part of the bloated university. The UofM is focused on growing it's bureaucracy, lavishing money on it's sports programs, and real estate development. Let's divorce MCUM from the university, and create an institution that provides an affordable education for our citizens, not another cash cow to be exploited for the benefit of the elite administrators and their real estate cronies.


Well said, Boneshackler, well said. It's about time to expose the real purpose of UM's desire to hold MC close. It has nothing to do with benefitting people who really need MC's services, students and businesses, not to mention the broader area of Missoula, itself.

It's too bad too many people in Missoula, esp. city, county officials, and business leaders are so tuned into what's good for UM that they forget what's really good for the citizens and businesses of the Missoula area.


“Let us get this passed then we can have the community discussion?? You have got to be kidding. This has been a "done deal" for as long as objections have been rolling in. To date, over 7,000 signatures are on the petitions of opposition. The UofM has made it perfectly clear, over and over, that the only way to get a community discussion is to kill this bill. Nobody wants to kill it because the COT desperately needs a new building, but announcing a location and insisting on the wrong location is not the equivalent of a community discussion. Ask anybody who lives in SE Missoula if they want 2500 more cars trying to use a nearby parking lot designed for 200 vehicles. Ask any of the hotel, motel, and restaurant owners who will lose the business created by the golf tournaments and cross country racing events (nearly a million$/yr). Ask the hang gliders, who will be terminated. Ask the UofM Alumni who donated their money and possessions to buy this property for dedicated Athletic Fields (sadly, all dead,but their records live on). Ask the students who will discover that Missoula College is designed to feed students to the University rather than becoming a true community college. In short, ask any random individual on the street, "why insist on this project?" We have needed a community discussion since at least 2005 when the Regents canceled Dennison's retirement village (thankfully). We truly needed a discussion when the completed plans for a West Campus on University property at Fort Missoula were cancelled. We needed a community discussion when the "South Campus" was suddenly discovered essential to the future growth of UM. We will one day eventually get to a community discussion in which the community is involved rather than dictated to, but it can't happen when the decisions are simply announced.


It does seem like a done deal. No one wants to consider the petition with 7,000 signatures.


As soon as the ink dries on HB14, if UM's Missoula College is included, bulldozers will move onto the golf course as soon as the freeze goes out of the ground. There will be no time for arguing about the location, then. The 'dozers are probably already idling, ready to go. It will be too late for talk. The only option to stop this if MC is approved by the legislature will be in court. I don't golf, btw.

If UM builds Missoula College on the golf course, it will be a tragedy not only for that all-season, multi-purpose facility and its users, but for Missoula College and all you business people who desperately need a new MC facility.

Locating MC at its West Campus will attract far more students and be far more accessible to Missoula businesses and MC students.

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