I moved to Missoula just a few months ago, on April 23rd. In that short amount of time, I’ve fallen more in love with this city than I ever believed was possible. And to be fair, I came from Big Sky, a pretty great place. But as anyone can attest, it’s absolutely impossible to ignore the strength and vibrancy of Missoula. And as I look back on all the great times I’ve had in just these past few months, and look ahead to a full end-of-summer calendar, I can’t help but realize a common theme: fun, free, community events supported by our thriving business community. A healthy business community ensures a healthy community culture for everyone to enjoy. 

Take, for example, the thriving downtown events scene with weekly events such as Missoula Out to Lunch and Downtown On Tap. There are 28 business sponsors currently listed on www.missouladowntown.com for this year’s Out to Lunch series, and 36 for Downtown on Tap  – wow! Thank you to these businesses for supporting these family-friendly seasonal weekly gathering for our residents and visitors alike.

Furthermore, consider the upcoming River City Roots Festival, “Missoula’s signature celebration.” Drawing more than 15,000 people to downtown Missoula, this event features top notch performers in art and music, plus family and adult activities such as a 4-mile run. And how much is it to attend? You guessed it. FREE.

The Western Montana Fair, which recently wrapped up at the Missoula Fairgrounds, provides yet another example. Six days of incredible music, markets, food, animals, and activities with free admission. A quick google search found that the adult daily rate at the Nebraska State Fair is $12, and $3 for children. The Washington State Fair is $14 and $11, respectively. 2018 marks the 2nd year in a row that the Western Montana Fair here in Missoula offered free admission, and fair lovers can rejoice in the fact that County Commissioners voted earlier this year to keep it that way "in perpetuity". In addition, with the business community continuing to step up with their annual sponsorships of fair events such as Chicks n' Chaps supporting our local neighbors affected by breast cancer, and the support of 4-H and FFA through the purchase of livestock, the incredible economic impact of the fair shows no signs of slowing down.

But it’s not just major events. It’s every day. It’s breweries donating a dollar per pint sold to a local cause or non-profit. It’s businesses collecting cans for the foodbank and matching the donations in cash. It’s small acts of generosity that together create the fabric of our community.

When you step back and take a look at the corporate sponsorships that enable these events and more, everything from Little League to 3 on 3 Basketball, from Brewfests to business networking, it is a pretty phenomenal impact on a community-wide level. So we’d like to take this opportunity to thank these businesses that step up year after year to support what makes Missoula great. THANK YOU!

Margo Magnant is the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce’s Membership Director.

This article appeared in the Missoulian's Opinion section, page A7, on August 15, 2018. Click here to view online.

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