Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - During Tuesday’s ‘Missoula ECON 101’ program on Talk Back, Missoula Economic Partnership CEO Grant Kier talked about the importance of looking and planning for the future by investing in necessary infrastructure.

Kier began with deep concern about the number of employees that will be necessary to build and maintain important projects in the years to come.

Grant Kier Closed ECON 101 with an Object Lesson on Infrastructure

“One of the things we're most worried about right now, frankly, is that we won't have the capacity to do all of this work over the next decade,” began Kier. “Right now our biggest constraint is the question ‘are we going to have enough subcontractors, enough contractors, enough workers?’ and that's a real concern. We're actually doing a lot of work collaboratively right now, with industry leaders, and the public agencies to talk about how we stage these and promote them and try to manage them so that we do have enough capacity to keep delivering so we can remain competitive.”

Kier specifically pointed to the tragic circumstances, in his view, that may have led to the closure of the Pyramid Mountain Lumber company in Seeley Lake. It all started with a proposed sewer project.

Kier Singled out the Tragic Situation in Seeley Lake with Pyramid Lumber

“No place is a better indicator of this challenge than Seeley Lake and the news we had last week coming out of Pyramid (Mountain Lumber)," Kier said. "That community has really wrestled with whether or not it wants to invest in a sewer for more than a decade, and it has chosen now not to do that. The fear was with a sewer, a whole bunch of more houses would be built and the community would change.”

READ MORE: 150 Lose Missoula Jobs as Composite Mill Announces Closure

Kier then spelled out the cascading effects of that decision.

Who Could Have Foreseen the Possible End Result of that Decision?

“What happened by not investing in a sewer is that a whole bunch of houses couldn't be built, and the cost of housing went through the roof,” he said. “ Then, no one who worked in Seeley Lake and could take the jobs at the mill could afford the housing there. As a result, the mill has now announced its shutdown, and it is pointing directly to the fact that it cannot find housing for the 50 employees that it needs to operate at a profitable margin. That's what happens when we don't invest in the infrastructure and think long-term about what we do as a community to make sure that we continue to be a place where everyone can live and afford to live and where people can build lives and businesses going forward.”

Here in Missoula, another wood products company, Roseburg Forest Products announced it would cease operations in May, which puts over 150 employees out of their jobs.

Listen to the entire ECON 101 program on Talk Back here.

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