Swanson OCRMW presentations/studies featured in the News

(examples of public outreach/community and regional engagement, "partnering with the community and region")

Note: Over time, some of the links below may be discontinued and not be operative. Oct. 2017


Montana Industrial Lands Assessment, 2016 < https://www.missoulacounty.us/government/community-development/development-districts/industrial-lands >

 This Industrial Lands Inventory was prepared under contract with Missoula County by Professional Consultants, Incorporated (PCI), in partnership with Dr. Larry Swanson of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West. Funding was provided by the Missoula Development Authority (MDA) and the Montana Department of Commerce through a Big Sky Trust Fund planning grant obtained by the Bitter Root Economic Development District (BREDD). Throughout the process, the Inventory was guided by a Committee of Stakeholders and Missoula City/County Department personnel.

< https://www.missoulacounty.us/home/showdocument?id=5152 >

"Missoula's economy would be much different without the presence of UM," Ravalli Republic, Sept 2015 Click for article

According to Larry Swanson, an economist and director of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, the impact of the university on the city’s economy cannot be overstated.  “Having the university makes Missoula a center of education, with areas of economic specialization in education that translate into specialization and growth in other sectors, like health care, professional and technical services, financial services, and trade,” he explained.  “Centers of higher education also tend to have younger overall populations because they are able to attract and retain young adults to a higher degree than non-university towns.  This is particularly important because the U.S. population as a whole is aging, as are the populations of all Missoula’s peer places and Missoula itself.” Swanson conducted a peer analysis of 50 other communities in the U.S. that are of comparable size to Missoula, including several cities with universities.

"Missoula's hospitals begin competition for expectant moms and their babies," Montana Standard, July 2015 http://mtstandard.com/missoula/news/local/missoula-s-hospitals-begin-competition-for-expectant-moms-and-their/article_baabaa0c-0bb6-5800-b10b-83371cb3cdb9.html

Larry Swanson, an economist and director for the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, regularly conducts population studies of the Missoula area. "Births will rise over the next several years before beginning a gradual decline, hit another low around 2028, then begin to rise again," he said. "These swings are built into our uneven population distribution - more people at some ages than others, starting with boomers and their children. And now children of the children of boomers."

"Health care students at Missoula College find jobs aplenty," Ravalli Republic, Feb. 2015


"Good Jobs Missoula," Montana Public Radio, Aug. 2014 http://mtpr.org/post/good-jobs-missoula

University of Montana economist Larry Swanson estimates that about half of all new jobs in Montana by 2020 will be in retail, hospitality and health care. About 36 percent of all Montana workers today are employed in these service sectors.

"From hospitals to midwives, women giving birth in Missoula have choices," Missoulian, Aug. 2014 http://missoulian.com/news/local/from-hospitals-to-midwives-women-giving-birth-in-missoula-have/article_5d4b2652-2010-11e4-b355-0019bb2963f4.html

"Report: Missoula's Health Care Industry generates most local income," Missoulian, June 2014 http://missoulian.com/business/local/report-missoula-s-health-care-industry-generates-most-local-income/article_2a96ca06-f34a-11e3-b1eb-0019bb2963f4.html

The health care industry generated $545 million of labor earnings in Missoula County in 2012, making it by far the largest source of income in the local economy, according to a report from economist Larry Swanson, the director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West. Since 2001, the health care industry has grown much more explosively than any other sector in Missoula, increasing by $232 million worth of personal income. The single occupation in Missoula with the highest projected growth until 2020 - with an additional 2,000 jobs expected at least - is registered nursing. [ … ] Swanson also expects that there will be 1,643 new home health aide jobs, 1,516 nursing aide and orderly jobs, 678 new licensed practical and licensed vocational nursing jobs, 383 new dental assistant jobs and 381 new medical assistant jobs.

"Missoula officials showcase city's potential for developers," Missoulian, June 2014 http://ravallirepublic.com/news/state-and-regional/article_44325c6e-7a59-5bb3-9fb4-b18aaf5c8219.html

2014 Economic Developers Showcase, Missoula Economic Partnership < http://www.missoulapartnership.com/2014-developer-showcase/ >

Welcome to our 2014 Developer Showcase. We hope you can join us for this exclusive opportunity to meet government and business leaders in Missoula and see prime land that's ready for investment and development. Larry Swanson is an Economist and Director of O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West. The O'Connor Center is a regional studies and public education program of The University of Montana in Missoula. Dr. Swanson closely follows and reports on key economic trends and growth patterns across the larger Mountain West region - an area with one of North America's fastest growing economies.

"Community Medical Center to Merge with Billings Clinic, to become for-profit," Missoulian, March 2014 < http://missoulian.com/news/local/community-medical-center-to-merge-with-billings-clinic-become-for/article_bdbff25e-b6b3-11e3-acb7-0019bb2963f4.html >

"It looks like the sort of thing that could work well," said Larry Swanson, director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West. There health care industry carried Missoula through the recession and is the city's largest source of employment earnings. However, the size of the market has limited the expansion of services, said Swanson, who also has served in an advisory capacity to CMC.

The influx of capital from Regional Care will allow Community to expand and improve services, and will better position the hospital and the community overall as a regional health care center - which is good for the hospital's bottom line and the economy, he said. It also allows Community to pay off debt, which automatically lowers operating costs and therefore costs for patients, Swanson said. "I think it strengthens us in almost every respect," he said.

"Growing slowly, Missoula's economy going in right direction; housing, tourism expected to do best," Missoulian, Febr. 2014


"We got out of the slump and we're clawing our way back," said Larry Swanson, director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West and head of its regional economy program. [ … ] The greatest asset to Missoula's economy is Missoula itself as a place, which draws people who want to live and work in an area known for its clean environment and easily accessible recreation opportunities, Swanson said.

"2014 State of Missoula: Redeveloping Missoula," Missoula Chamber Advocacy Center, Jan. 2014 < http://missoulachamberadvocacycenter.com/events-programs/2014-state-of-missoula-redeveloping-missoula-1282014 >

The 2014 State of Missoula Commerce Report on "Redeveloping Missoula" was sold out and a huge success! Thanks to our speakers, partner organizations, Chamber leaders/staff, and most of all to our members for making this happen!

The Chamber has stored the presentations and other information from this year's State of Missoula below on this page so our members can view them at their convenience. More information: Larry Swanson Report on Economic Outlook for Western Montana

"Under-estimating value of the arts, July 2012" < http://blog.americansforthearts.org/2012/07/12/are-we-actually-underestimating-the-true-value-of-the-arts >

"Missoula economy stands on many legs," Missoulian, Dec. 2010


Despite the grim reality, despite the job losses, the local economy stood up fairly well to the economic recession. Helping to stabilize the situation is the fact that Missoula has a diverse economy that stands on many legs, said Larry Swanson, a regional economist and director of the Missoula-based O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West.

"Missoula Housing Report, 2010," March 2010

< https://www.mindypalmer.com/missoula-housing-report-2010/ "

Locally, a similarly slow progression is likely, according to a many of the speakers at the Missoula Business Forum last December. But one of those speakers, University of Montana economist Larry Swanson, added that our region benefits from starting its recovery from a hole that's not as deep, in many respects, as it is for much of the country.

"Slow economic growth forecast for 2010; Missoula will soon be largest city in Montana," Missoulian, Dec. 2009 http://missoulian.com/news/local/slow-economic-growth-forecast-for-missoula-will-soon-be-largest/article_2bbc4546-eb70-11de-b164-001cc4c03286.html

We are inching our way out of the recession, and in 2010 Missoula will see slow economic growth. That was the message given by regional economist Larry Swanson and several leaders of Missoula's business community at Thursday's winter Missoula Business Forum. [ … ] Moving forward, Missoula would be well-served if the community invests in expanding and leveraging the things that make this community unique and attractive, Swanson said. Working to embellish Missoula's core strengths will not only make the city more attractive to new businesses, but it will attract younger residents and ensure a quality workforce.

Three things that will best assure our future, Swanson said, is to invest in workforce development and education, improve our infrastructure and transportation systems, and continue to build up our arts and cultural amenities.

Missoula Business Forum, "Missoula's Health Care Sector - Necessary services and growing economic asset," Oct. 2009 (Swanson PP presentation)


"Missoula resilient during recession," Missoulian, Apr. 2009 http://missoulian.com/news/local/missoula-resilient-during-recession---at-forum-statistics-show/article_7f264ead-a727-5725-9865-e43e450f3ab1.html

Although the full story of the national recession hasn't yet played out, one theme endures: Missoula - and the Rocky Mountain West - continue to be among the best places to live and work during this economic tumult. Skeptics may dismiss such pronouncements as cheerleading, yet national statistics - everything from the U.S. Census Bureau to data collected by state agencies - prove the point, said Larry Swanson, an economist and director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West. At a Tuesday economic forum in Missoula, Swanson talked about the city's enviable position and shared his research with an audience of 400-some community leaders, business owners, working professionals, retirees and concerned citizens.

MCPS demographic study by Dr. Larry Swanson and "Missoula's Changing Neighborhoods" < http://prescottschoolmissoula.blogspot.com/p/mcps-demographic-study-by-dr-larry.html >

"In spring 2009, Missoula County Public Schools contracted with the O'Conner Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana to prepare a Population Age Demographics Study. The results of the study will help the District better prepare for enrollment fluctuations throughout the K-12 system.

"Local business organizations to sponsor economic forum," Missoulian, Dec. 2008

< http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/local-business-organizations-to-sponsor-economic-forumposted-on-dec/article_fc8c80ea-37b9-5532-8edb-3187fad630b0.html >

In an effort to help business and community leaders gain some perspective with regard to the implications of national economic trends on the local economy, several Missoula organizations are sponsoring an economic forum on Dec. 18 at the Holiday Inn Downtown. Entitled "Economic Slowdown: A Missoula Perspective," the forum is open to the public and will run from 9 a.m. until noon.

Larry Swanson, economist and director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, will be the featured speaker. Swanson's work at the center involves extensive analysis of growth and change in the region's economy, emerging economic trends, and implications of this change for community and regional development. The forum is being put on by the Missoula Area Economic Development Corporation, the Missoula Chamber of Commerce, the Missoula Organization of Realtors, the Missoula Downtown Association, the Missoula Building Industry Association, the Missoula Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Missoula Mid-Town Association. Sponsors are the Holiday Inn Downtown at the Park and First Security Bank - Missoula.

"Condos linger on the Missoula Market," NewWest News, July 2008 https://newwest.net/city/article/condos_linger_on_missoulas_market/C8/L8/

"Missoula lags behind other cities when it comes to crucial elements of sustainable and focused economic development," MART, May 2008 http://matr.net/article-34152.html

Last week, as economist Larry Swanson guided his audience through a sea of charts detailing Missoula's economic trends, a noticeable reaction rippled through the forum when Swanson paused at a series of graphs that told divergent stories. Despite Missoula's vigorous expansion in the past two decades, the Garden City is slipping in several important categories, Swanson told the city's business community. To put it bluntly, Missoula has become a growing center of commerce with a highly educated workforce, but it has notably low wages and high poverty rates. This scenario means Missoula, for all its amenities and allure, is trailing Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls and Helena in terms of economic health and the degree to which we are improving.

At the economic forum last week, which attracted hundreds of community leaders, business representatives and concerned citizens, Missoula's educational community was absent. When Jane Karas asked for a show of hands in the audience to see what sector of the community they represented, there was not a single educator in the room, Ametsbichler said. I thought it was pretty gutsy of her to do that - and the room looked around and duly noted the absence of our university and educational professionals.

"Stimson workers face uncertain future," Associated Press, May 2008

< http://helenair.com/news/state-and-regional/stimson-workers-face-uncertain-future/article_dfd7ed89-88bf-5335-91ba-51fb7ed84026.html >

Missoula Community Management Team "Leadership Summit," May 2008

< http://missoulamineralcmt.blogspot.com/2009/05/ >

Larry Swanson has been confirmed as a speaker for the Leadership Summit. We are still waiting to hear back from Mayor Engen's office. The venue at St. Patrick Hospital has been reserved.

"Beyond the current economic slowdown" presentation, Missoula, April 2008 < http://eventful.com/missoula/events/beyond-current-economic-slowdown-/E0-001-021392102-5 >

The Forum will include a presentation by Larry Swanson on recent growth and change in the Missoula area economy, examining this growth in relation to other similar size cities in the western United States, and describing key trends and propositions that will heavily shape and determine future growth and prosperity in the area. Swanson also will provide an update on recent data regarding how Missoula is faring in the current recession. Swanson's talk will be followed by a panel presentation discussing key elements affecting area prosperity, including workforce development and infrastructure and facilities planning.

Missoula Demographics, NewWest.net, May 2007 < https://newwest.net/city/article/listen_missoulas_demographics_with_larry_swanson/C8/L8/ >

"Not another closure," Missoula Independent, Nov. 2004 https://m.bigskypress.com/missoula/not-another-closure/Content?oid=1136059

"The big picture - Cooperation within - and between - communities key to guiding state's rapidly changing economy," Western Montana In-Business, Jan 2004

< http://www.matr.net/print-9519.html > < http://missoulian.com/business/montana-inbusiness/ >

By 2008, the six-county trade area that includes Missoula will have a larger population than the 10-county trade area that includes Billings, says Larry Swanson, associate director for the University of Montana's Center for the Rocky Mountain West. Missoula is evolving into a business center for western Montana, Swanson says. We are quickly moving from a resource-based economy to a service- and trade-based economy, he says.

While the Missoula area nurtures one of the state's fast-growing economies, its emergence as the largest trade area won't mean it will be the No. 1 economic driver in the state, Swanson says. Montana is a diverse state, and economic conditions and trends vary widely throughout the trade areas; there is no real Montana economy, he says. Instead, within the state there are many different sub-regional economies, and all of them are changing in various ways, Swanson says. Missoula, Billings, the Flathead area and Bozeman will emerge as the largest trade areas in the state by the end of the decade, he says.

Communities need to be asking how to take advantage of these changes. However, he says, to take advantage, you first must understand. Some community and business leaders are trying to understand the changes knocking on Missoula's door. The Missoula Area Economic Forum, hosted by the city in October, brought together various people from throughout the community to listen to Swanson and other guests speak about this changing economy.

"Economic State of Missoula is better than we think," Missoulian, Oct. 2003


Sometimes we Montanans set ourselves up to stand in the back row. We tell ourselves the same negative stories so many times that we believe them to the exclusion of all others. There's no exception when it comes to talking about our economy. On Monday at the Missoula Area Economic Forum, Center for the Rocky Mountain West economist Larry Swanson argued convincingly that we've got to stop. [ … ] If we are merely reactive, the mopey Eeyores of "Winnie the Pooh" books, we won't harness the change for the lasting good. We will be, as Swanson puts it, looking at the future through the rear-view mirror and wondering what that was that blew through.


"Symposium focuses on changing household needs, jobs," Ravalli Republic, Nov. 2017 http://ravallirepublic.com/news/local/article_570a7a58-d7a4-53a5-8d09-24649eff318e.html#tracking-source=home-top-story-2

Swanson shared research and trends for Ravalli County during his keynote speech at the Bitterroot Community Symposium, a community conversation about local critical issues - especially homelessness - on Friday. Swanson encouraged collaboration between local leaders in housing, economic development, workforce development, and education. Nearly 75 community members attended from businesses, nonprofits, schools, local government, and service organizations. Swanson praised the Symposium for bringing so many different sectors of the community together for conversation.


BCS Swanson and community

Larry Swanson, Director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, was the keynote speaker at the Bitterroot Community Symposium at the Bitterroot College.

2017 Bitterroot Community Symposium (Keynote), Nov. 2017 < https://www.eventsoja.com/us/hamilton+mt/e10682662 >

We will identify and address critical issues in the Bitterroot Valley and discuss how nonprofits, local government, and community members can collectively meet the needs of our community. This year's keynote speaker will be Larry Swanson, Director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana and the Center's endowed Scott Senior Fellow in Regional Economy. The symposium will include a networking luncheon, breakout sessions for affordable housing, business development, apprenticeship, entrepreneurship, and work force development.

"Bitterroot Symposium suggests unity in addressing local needs," KLYQ 1240, Nov. 2017

< http://klyq.com/bitterroot-symposium-suggests-unity-in-addressing-local-needs/ >

The theme this year is "Sensing Opportunity," which will attempt to identify and move toward solving critical issues in the Bitterroot.

Larry Swanson, Director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at UM is the keynote speaker. The 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. gathering will include a networking luncheon and breakout sessions. Victoria Clark, director of the college at 9th and Main in Hamilton, said that a goal is to further cooperative efforts of local government, nonprofit organizations and the public to tackle some of the needs of the valley.

"Water and the economy," Bitterroot Star, May, 2017

< http://www.bitterrootstar.com/2017/05/02/water-and-the-economy/ >

"The real key to economic development is not the giveaways and tax incentives, it comes down to, are you a learning community." He said it was kind of like how you improve as a person, by learning. "That's what schools are all about," said Swanson. "That's what on-the-job training and experience is all about. It's about learning. How do we become a community that is more adaptive and resilient, able to respond and understand the changes taking place around us?

"Water - good, clean, plentiful water - is as important to the future of Ravalli County and the Bitterroot Valley as any other attribute or asset the county possesses," said Swanson. "It must be understood in order to be adequately managed and protected."
"It's what we are doing right here," he said to the symposium attendees. "How many communities do this kind of thing focused around water? I haven't been to another one in the state of Montana."

"Water plays important role in Ravalli County's economic well-being," Ravalli Republic, April, 2017

< http://ravallirepublic.com/news/local/article_113284cd-7d1f-5290-9e29-0de9aa3f3c44.html >

Swanson was in Hamilton Friday to take part in the second annual Bitterroot Water Symposium at the Bitterroot College. He offered insights on the county's economy, population trends and the importance of water to maintaining the county's economic viability. Throughout the interior West, Swanson said growth is fastest in areas with highly valued amenities that include mountains, forests and clear-running streams.

"The Bitterroot is also growing because it has relatively high-quality towns and rural neighborhoods with good stores and businesses providing a wide range of the types of goods and services sought almost daily by people and families," Swanson said. "At least a portion of the Bitterroot Valley's attractiveness can be attributed to land features maintained on the area's farms and ranches." People want to live in and nearby real places, and working farms and ranches help keep the Bitterroot real," he said.

"Water rises to the top at Bitterroot College symposium," KLYQ 1240, April 2017

< http://klyq.com/water-rises-to-the-top-at-bitterroot-college-symposium/ >

The sessions included the current knowledge of the Bitterroot Valley drainage, including the Bitterroot River, the associated groundwater and seasonal fluctuations and how that resource can be used in present and improved for the future. Larry Swanson, director of UM O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West literally flooded the audience with facts and figures about the future growth possibilities of the valley. Closing out the day was a panel discussion about a "water-wise community" and how various public figures view the issues surrounding the current use and the future of water in the area.




"Ravalli County Open Lands Program hits 10-year mark," Ravalli Republic, Dec. 2016

< http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/ravalli-county-s-open-lands-program-hits--year-mark/article_bbe08582-dcd4-5edd-b2c3-81ef058e3936.html >


Hamilton - Sometime around 2004, economist Larry Swanson came to the Bitterroot Valley to offer an economic needs assessment to the Ravalli County Commission. Corvallis dairy farmer Dan Huls remembers it well. "He gave a beautiful presentation, but he never uttered the word 'agriculture,'" Huls said. "It was a shocker to me." Back then, Ravalli County was one of the fastest growing counties in the state. County government was pondering a couple of mega-subdivisions that would have created communities larger than most towns in the valley.

Huls was a member of the county's Right to Farm and Ranch Board. Its members were interested in preserving that traditional use of some of the best farm lands that remained. [ … ]

"I applaud the people of this county who recognized 10 years ago that they can maintain the rural lifestyle that attracts people to the county," Schroeder said. "We can take advantage of protecting our water and scenic views while preserving traditional family farms and ranches."

"Economic future looks good, but different," Bitterroot Star, May 2013 http://www.bitterrootstar.com/2013/05/15/economic-future-looks-good-but-different-say-experts/

Dr. Larry Swanson, an economist at the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West and an expert on Montana's economy, offered a more in-depth perspective on Montana's economy, especially Missoula and Ravalli Counties. He said prior to this recession - which hit Montana about a year later than the rest of the nation, and also started its recovery a year later than the rest of the nation - the Rocky Mountain West had been the highest performing region of the country. He predicts that, although "in Montana we're still wary," jobs will now continue to be slowly added, but that there will be a shift in what kind of jobs over the next few years because of a change in demographics.

The symposium also featured two panels, one on financial services and one on media and marketing. Financial panelists included Joseph Adams, Senator Baucus' National Economic Director, Tom Copley, accountant and business valuation specialist with Galusha, Higgins and Galusha, Jerry Dworak, President and CEO of Montana Health Co-op, Linda Onestinghel, Vice President of Business Development at Jack Henry and Associates and Greg Yockey, Chief Lending Officer at Farmers State Bank. Media and marketing panelists included Sean Benton of Partners Creative advertising agency, Todd Frank, owner of The Trail Head and current president of the Missoula Downtown Association, and Cynthia Rademacher, independent marketing consultant.

“Bitterroot Valley Natural Resource Use Plan,” Ravalli County Board of Commissioners, April, 2012

A primary purpose of this Plan is to foster cooperation and coordination between federal and state management agencies, other counties, and Ravalli County.  These interests include but are not limited to farming, ranching, timber, mining, recreation, wildlife, and all other activities related to, and reliant upon, the availability of natural resources on federal and state managed, and private lands within their respective jurisdictions.

 The Ravalli County Economic Development Authority, with underlying funding by the U.S. Forest Service, contracted for the Ravalli County Economic Needs Assessment in 2002 (RCENA).  The RCENA was written by Dr. Larry Swanson of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana.

"Economist says Ravalli County has tools for a bright economy," Ravalli Republic, Feb. 2012 < http://ravallirepublic.com/news/local/article_0c91e82e-53a1-11e1-8f71-001871e3ce6c.html >

Ravalli County has what it takes to fare well in the coming economy, but local leaders and businesses need to protect those qualities that will position the Bitterroot Valley for a prosperous future. That was part of the message delivered by economist Larry Swanson to about 100 community leaders at the seventh annual Bitterroot Business Conference in Hamilton Thursday.

As the state and nation continue a fragile rebound from the recession, Swanson said Ravalli County's work to open a community college and its high-quality natural environment could play a major role in the Bitterroot Valley's economic future. "Ravalli County has a lot to work with," he said. "There are a lot of places in the country that would love to have what you have."

7th Annual Bitterroot Business Conference, hosted by Farmers State Bank, Jan. 2012


"Larry Swanson will dissect our regional and national economy. We hope you'll arrive prepared to learn and leave poised for growth."

"Connecting the landscape: A proposal for Collaborative Conservation in the High Divide Region of Montana and Idaho," Heart of the Rockies Initiative, 2010


The Bitterroot has some of the best agricultural values in western Montana, with high quality soils and a good growing climate. It is traditional cattle ranching country, in addition to the historic truck farming and orchard uses. However, the valley has one of the fastest growing human populations in Montana, particularly accelerating over the last two decades. Agricultural land shrunk from 257,000 acres in the early 1980s to 216,000 acres in the early 2000s; if that pattern continues, another 40,000 acres will be lost by 2020.3

Agricultural landowners, operators, and agricultural organizations are critical partners. The Ravalli County Right to Farm and Ranch Board has played an important role in raising awareness about the loss of farmland and was instrumental in passing the $10 million bond initiative. Agricultural enterprise generates over $30 million annually in the Bitterroot Valley7, and the agricultural heritage of the valley provides a significant sense of identity for Bitterroot residents. Hunting and angling groups are also potentially important partners. Hunting alone brought $11.3 million to Ravalli County in 2006. Citing: Swanson, Larry, "Growth and Change in the Bitterroot Valley and Implications for Area Agriculture and Ag Lands." Research prepared for the Ravalli County Right to Farm and Ranch Board and Bitter Root Land Trust, April, 2006.

"Sprawling out," Missoula Independent, Oct. 2009 , https://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/sprawling-out/Content?oid=1180157

"Bitterroot River Subbasin Assessment for Fish and Wildlife Conservation," Montana Waster Trust and Bitter Root Water Forum, prepared for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, Aug. 2009


The total acreage of agricultural lands in the subbasin has decreased. According to 2004 Montana Department of Revenue data, Ravalli County included approximately 210,000 acres of agricultural land. This reflected a decrease from 240,000 acres in 1990 and from 258,000 acres in 1980. Based on these trends, researchers at the University of Montana projected that agriculture lands could be reduced to 172,000 acres by 2024, which would be a loss of approximately one-third of Ravalli County's agricultural land base since 1980 (Swanson 2006).

In addition to supporting a significant component of the valley's economic base (Swanson 2006) agricultural lands are recognized as being important in the Bitterroot Subbasin for open lands and wildlife habitat. The Ravalli County Open Lands Bond Program (Ravalli County 2007) assigns 30 out of 100 points to Agricultural Values as part of its scoring criteria for potential Open Lands projects. Other scoring categories also include agricultural components (e.g. water rights and weed management), and agricultural land can receive high scores for wildlife and water quality values, emphasizing how important agriculture is to maintaining wildlife habitat and aquatic resources in the subbasin.

Other documents provide recommendations to protect agricultural lands and associated values in the subbasin. Swanson (2006) recommended focusing development near population centers, clustering development in rural areas (leaving significant open space), integrating pasture commons (functioning agricultural areas within developments) as part of development, implementing an open-space bond that includes agricultural lands as a primary objective, and preserving water resources by establishing streamside setbacks for new development.

Swanson, Larry. 2006. Growth and change in the Bitterroot Valley and implications for area agriculture and ag Lands. Prepared by the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana. Prepared for the Ravalli County Right to Farm and Ranch Board and the Bitter Root Land Trust. Hamilton, MT

Swanson, Larry. 2001. The Bitterroot Valley of western Montana area, economic profile. O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, The University of Montana. Missoula.

"Bitterroot Economy - Recession Receding," Bitterroot Star, May 2009


Dr. Larry Swanson, regional economist with the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, was also upbeat in his latest assessment of the Montana and Bitterroot economies at an economic conference recently hosted by Farmers State Bank. He told those gathered at the conference that Montana and Ravalli County were late coming into this recession, will not be affected as much as some other places in the nation, and will recover from it sooner than the hardest hit areas around the nation. Swanson pointed out how two years ago Ravalli County had extremely low unemployment rates of 2.9 percent. By last February it had risen to 9.8 percent. But it was already dropping in March to 9.6 percent and he expected, due to seasonal fluctuations, it would reach 7 percent by August and reach the 3 percent level again in the next couple of years.

Chamber of Commerce President Tom Pool of Farmers State Bank, left, talks with economist Larry Swanson of the O'Conner Center for the Rocky Mountain West. Michael Howell photo.

[ … ] "The Bitterroot has a lot going for it," said Swanson, especially compared to other states that were harder hit by the current recession. He urged the community to take stock of what kinds of businesses are doing well and what kinds are not and to put its efforts into helping the business sectors that are growing. We need to customize business assistance and workforce development programs around meaningful segments of our economy," said Swanson. "We have to refashion the economy and move with that change. You can't keep trying to get back to where you were twenty years ago… you need to work with meaningful clusters of businesses and help them with a customized approach."

"Ready for business: Open Lands Board looking for projects," Bitterroot Star, Jan. 2008


The open lands bond initiative was first discussed in 2005. That year, a study was commissioned by the Ravalli County Right to Farm and Ranch Board, in collaboration with the Bitter Root Land Trust and other community groups. Larry Swanson, economist for the Missoula-based O'Conner Center for the Rocky Mountain West, performed the study, which documented critical ways agricultural land and open space contribute to the valley's quality of life and economic prosperity.

Swanson's study established that more than 50,000 acres of agricultural land have been lost to development since 1980 and, if nothing is done, another 40,000 will be lost by 2025. An open lands program, supported by an open lands bond, was identified as a critical tool to protect and preserve productive, undeveloped land as the valley continues to grow.

After less than a year of work, the Ravalli County Open Lands Board, and the program it represents, is ready for business.

Center study advances open lands protection in the Bitterroot, Bitter Root Land Trust newsletter, 2008 < http://www.bitterrootlandtrust.org/newsletter/BRLT-Newsletter-Summer-08.pdf >

In the past three years, the Bitter Root Land Trust has worked hard to identify and establish bedrock tools that ensure the long-term viability of private land conservation in our community. In 2005, we worked with the Ravalli County Right to Farm and Ranch Board to commission Dr. Larry Swanson's Economic Impact of Agriculture in the Bitterroot study, which established public funding for private land conservation as one of three primary conservation tools for the Bitterroot Valley. In 2006, with help from the Right to Farm and Ranch Board and the Trust for Public Land, we accomplished this goal when Ravalli County residents passed the Open Lands Bond, providing a pool of $10 million to be used to acquire voluntary conservation agreements on critical properties in our community. In 2007, we partnered with Ravalli County to secure the largest grant in the Trust's history to help the County and County residents establish a comprehensive land-use plan that will ultimately encourage conservation of important lands in the future.

"Examining Zoning in the State of Montana," Ravalli Republic, March 2008


And with studies pointing toward more future growth, proponents of zoning say it will be necessary to preserve Montana. "We are at a turning point: if we don't act to guide growth now, we will lose exactly what makes Montana special," Tim Davis, executive director for the Montana Smart Growth Coalition wrote. [ … ] Growth can't be reversed, it can only be controlled, Dr. Larry Swanson of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West previously said. "In the area where fast growth occurs, you can't turn the clock back," he said. Only five out of 56 Montana counties have any type of countywide zoning in place, according to a Montana Association of Counties survey completed last winter.

"Ravalli County kicks off county-wide zoning effort," NewWest Net, July 2007


On August 7th and August 14th, 2007, Dr. Larry Swanson will be visiting Ravalli County to present information valuable to the countywide zoning effort. Dr. Swanson is the director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West - a research and education program focused on exploring challenges and opportunities facing the intermountain west. His talk will focus on recent trends in the Bitterroot Valley regarding population, economics, the role of agriculture, and on the importance of grassroots involvement in local planning efforts. The first presentation on August 7, 2007 will be held in Lone Rock, at the Lone Rock School Gym and will begin at 7:00 p.m. The second presentation on August 14, 2007 will be held in Hamilton, at the Hamilton City Hall and will begin at 7:00 p.m. We are pleased to have Dr. Swanson in the valley, for not only is the message he brings worth understanding and appreciation, but because his arrival initiates a series of public meetings focused on Ravalli County's countywide zoning effort.

"Cows with Room: Ravalli County voters to decide on $10 million open space bond," Missoulian, Oct. 2006 http://missoulian.com/news/cows-with-room-ravalli-county-voters-to-decide-on-million/article_b86ab705-9a9d-59c6-ab86-4a7e1280fa01.html

A priority for the bond: to protect the valley's agricultural lands, which are rapidly being snapped up and subdivided. Ranchers like Meyer can either sell to developers, or find other ways to capture their investment, perhaps through a conservation easement that would protect the land into perpetuity while allowing a small farm to stay in business.

Supporters made a point to call theirs an "open lands" instead of an "open space" bond. It's more than semantics, they argue: 75 percent of the county is federal forest or public land, already open space. What they want to protect are the open lands along the valley floor, where agriculture has a long, steady history. The county has lost 41,000 acres of agriculture land since the 1980s and could lose 40,000 more, leaving 179,000 acres, by 2020, according to a study and inventory conducted by Larry Swanson of the University of Montana's O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West.

"The economics of the Bitterroot Resort," NewWest News, May 2005 https://newwest.net/main/article/the_economics_of_the_bitterroot_resort1/

The Missoula Area Economic Development Corp. is in on that idea and has applied for a $25,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for Larry Swanson, the associate director at the Center for the Rocky Mountain West, to study just how the project could affect the regional economy. In Montana, or the Western region for that matter, all roads dealing with economic research really do lead back to Larry Swanson. Swanson's work, which tends to focus on "new economy" issues, is highly regarded in both business and conservation communities. (We like him too: Swanson has helped us out here at New West.)

Swanson says he's neither for nor against the Resort's proposal. Rather, he says he has seen a real need in the debates for a full-blown analysis of the economic possibilities from all angles. "This thing has to be seriously evaluated," Swanson told New West. The president and CEO of the Corp, Dick King, said in a statement, "We believe that an objective assessment and independent analysis of our region's rural development options is needed."

"What are the benefits of wilderness: Experts seek to quantify economic aspects," Ravalli Republic, Sept. 2004 http://ravallirepublic.com/news/article_eb0d0758-38d1-5c01-8c02-e06cf9e0ca0d.html

Aside from direct economic benefits of recreation and tourism, and water and wildlife protection, perhaps the most significant and far-reaching impact of wilderness on the regional economy is its impact on migration to Montana. Since 1990, the Bitterroot Valley's population has grown 44 percent - and 90 percent of that growth is from migration into the area from other regions, according to Larry Swanson, Associate Director for Regional Economics at Missoula's Center for the Rocky Mountain West. The Bitterroot Valley's rapid growth is part of a larger pattern into the interior West - the fastest growing region in the country.

According to Swanson's findings, Western communities experiencing rapid growth are universally near large concentrations of federal lands. "Retirees can go almost any place, and retail, services and construction soon follow," Swanson said. "They are attractive places to live. If you go to areas that don't have those characteristics, you don't see the growth - it's that simple." A 2000 economic study found that counties with more than ten percent of overall land mass in federal lands saw increased job growth and income. Unprotected but wild areas also seemed to encourage economic activity in those same counties, according to the study.

"County EDA appoints new slate of officers," Ravalli Republic, Nov 2002 http://ravallirepublic.com/news/article_1037cfe3-ad9f-5d28-a262-f8b884588b48.html

Davis said the EDA maintains connections with other Montana organizations that deal with economic development "so we can make sure Ravalli County is represented." As part of a strategic plan, she said, the EDA will also incorporate economic development points brought out in a recent county economic needs assessment conducted by economist Larry Swanson and commissioned by the EDA and funded by the Forest Service.

"Economic study shines new light on the financial vigor, future of Ravalli County," Ravalli Republic, July 2002 < http://ravallirepublic.com/news/article_7d18b146-9e25-509f-b457-f3c188f775b6.html >

Local economic development shouldn't simply comprise a shopping list of projects for which community leaders scramble to gather state and federal funding, according to economist Larry Swanson. "That's the old way of doing economic development," Swanson told a group of about 50 people, assembled last week for the unveiling of the results of his Ravalli County Economic Needs Assessment study. Rather, Swanson said, Ravalli County's best plan for economic development will include composing a strategy to better position the area for changes in the larger economy, to take advantage of the benefits of the county's growth while leveraging public and private resources, and to become a collaborator in a broader regional economy.

Presenting a lot of information for the business leaders, county government representatives, ranchers and other citizens in the audience to make sense of, Swanson came to Wednesday's meeting armed with visual aids and a fast tongue, and spent two hours highlighting myriad findings that resulted from the study and led to those conclusions. Commissioned about six months ago by the Ravalli County Economic Development Authority and funded by the U.S. Forest Service, the study was intended to help the county's EDA and others find a direction for building an economic development program for the area.

Bitterroot Economic Profile by Swanson, USFS, 2001 https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/4694


This profile provides a description and assessment of the area economy of the Bitterroot Valley of southwestern Montana. Changing conditions in Ravalli County and the Bitterroot Valley are compared to those for the larger Rocky Mountain West region and nation as a whole.

"Profiling Economies Near Forest Service Lands," Eco-Report, U.S Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Winter, 2000-01


Preparing area economic profiles, in other words, collection and analysis of data characterizing the structure, makeup and important changes of local economies, has traditionally been an important part of Forest Service planning. However, over time these profiles become outdated. Economist Larry Swanson developed a framework for assessing and profiling such economies. In a BEMRP-funded study, Swanson has helped design a new framework for assessing and profiling economies of areas near National Forests, such as the Bitterroot Valley. Swanson is Associate Director of the O'Conner Center for the Rocky Mountain West and head of its Regional Economy program. Recently, he designed Regional Economies Assessment Database (READ), a web-based evaluation system for the comprehensive, systematic assessment of regional economies.

PARK COUNTY, MT ____________

“Zinke Signs Mining Ban Near Yellowstone Park,” New York Times, Oct. 2018

< https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/10/08/us/ap-us-yellowstone-mining-the-latest.html>

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has approved a 20-year ban on new mining claims in the mountains north of Yellowstone National Park after two proposed gold mines raised concerns the area could be spoiled.  [ … ]  Colin Davis with the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition says his group will now focus on making the ban permanent through measures pending before Congress.

“Proposed Park County Mine Needs More Study, the Court Rules,” Montana Public Radio, May 2018


A Montana judge has chastised state environmental regulators over a mine exploration project near Yellowstone National Park.  The ruling out of Park County Wednesday says the Montana Department of Environmental Quality gave Lucky Minerals the go ahead last year to explore for gold in Paradise Valley north of Yellowstone without looking closely enough at whether it would impact sensitive wildlife habitat and water conditions.

 Jenny Harbine is an attnrney for Earthjustice, which represented Park County Environmental Council and Greater Yellowstone Coalition in the lawsuit.  “Montana has a law that requires the state to fully consider the environmental consequences of the decisions they make.  And here, that law was broken,” Harbine said.


Emigrant Peak in Montana's Paradise Valley north of Yellowstone Park. Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

"Gianforte introduces legislation to protect Paradise Valley, East Rosebud Creek," Billings Gazette, Dec. 2017 http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/gianforte-introduces-legislation-to-protect-paradise-valley-east-rosebud-creek/article_5baeb1cd-59a3-5fa6-8d14-a0ac0f106264.html

Montanans who have advocated for protection of the Paradise Valley's public lands from mining, as well as protecting a portion of East Rosebud Creek, got an early Christmas present from Rep. Greg Gianforte. On Thursday, Gianforte, R-Mont., introduced in the U.S. House a bill (HR 4644) to protect the Paradise Valley from mining on public lands. The measure is identical to the one Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., introduced to the Senate in April. Both bills would withdraw 30,000 acres of federal land in the area from mineral exploration.

Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding wildlands are an economic engine for the region, pumping an estimated $196 million into Park County in 2014. More than 4 million people have visited Yellowstone each of the past two years, helping boost Montana's $6 billion recreation and tourism industry.

“Environmental Groups Sue Over Mining Exploration Near Yellowstone Park,” Montana Public Radio, Sept. 2017

In the lawsuit filed today, Jenny Harbine with Earth Justice says Montana DEQ’s study of the environmental impact of the drilling exploration was not extensive enough.  “DEQ needed to evaluate thoroughly, not just the impact of the exploration project, including harms to water quality and wildlife, but also the threats that are posed to the Park County’s natural resources and economy from whole scale mining,” she said.

 Earth Justice filed the lawsuit on behalf of Park County Environmental Council and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, in the Montana district court in Livingston.  The suit claims that state officials and the Canadian company Luck Minerals did not fully comply with the Montana Environmental Policy Act.

"U.S. environmental groups sue over drilling exploration near Yellowstone Park," XINHAUNet, Sept. 2017

"We are really concerned that this project is just the leading edge of a much larger, much more threatening set of full-scale mining activities," Preso told Xinhua, adding that locals and environmentalists tried to stopped the exploration because it could harm the environment and the region's tourism. According to research compiled by Larry Swanson, an economist who runs the University of Montana's Center for the Rocky Mountain West, tourists bring 1 billion U.S. dollars annually in the five counties surrounding Yellowstone that generate 13,520 jobs.

"More valuable than gold - Yellowstone businesses prepare to fight mining," The Guardian, July 2017 < https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/16/yellowstone-mining-montana-public-lands >

Locals worry that industrial mining on the site might contaminate the river and the aquifer below, with disastrous results for the hundreds of businesses that rely on the upper Yellowstone river watershed, the surrounding mountains, and the national park to draw the tourists who spend about $1bn annually in the five counties surrounding Paradise Valley - dollars that generate 13,520 jobs , according to research compiled by Dr Larry Swanson, an economist who runs the University of Montana's Center for the Rocky Mountain West.

"Protect Park County Outdoors," Billings Gazette, July 2016 < http://ecoflight.org/blog/detail/BILLINGS-GAZETTE-7-25-16-opinion-Protect-Park-County-outdoors.html >

Swanson's study validated Wells' concern, concluding: "The chief threat to area quality of life and economic well-being would be any large-scale activities that negatively impact area amenities and environmental attributes that are the foundation of the area's economic vitality." In short, the strong outdoor economy of this spectacular Yellowstone gateway is far more precious than the limited, short-term profits of gold mining. Mining brings with it traffic on rural roads and road building on public land. Extracting diffuse gold from large amounts of earth creates large open pits or deep mines that bring acidic ore to the surface. The Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition asked the Montana congressional delegation to help pass legislation to put public lands in the valley permanently off limits to mining. Rep. Ryan Zinke and Sen. Jon Tester have agreed that this place deserves protection.


< http://mtstandard.com/opinion/editorial/gold-mining-could-harm-yellowstone-gateway-in-paradise-valley/article_2f0ffe84-384e-5773-938a-a13f55d31557.html >

"Paradise mine opponents release economic report," Bozeman Chronicle, May, 2016

< https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/environment/paradise-valley-mine-opponents-release-economic-report-lobby-in-d/article_a1d1ce4e-ec90-5b24-a847-e93ed2ca2d05.html >

Park County's economy is thriving and mining could harm that, a new economic report argues. The report, released by the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition on Wednesday, said the county rakes in millions in tourist spending each year, largely because of its natural attractions, and that large-scale mining could threaten the amenities that spur that economic activity.

The effect of those public lands was a major factor in the study the group released Wednesday. The study's author, Larry Swanson of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, argued that county businesses rake in cash from tourists coming to visit Yellowstone National Park or any of the surrounding public lands. The report said the county brought in an estimated $196 million in tourism revenue in both 2013 and 2014, and fishing alone is estimated to bring in more than $60 million a year. Swanson said there's reason to believe that can continue for a long time. "The kind of economic activity we see associated with all of this traveler and tourist and recreational activity," Swanson said, "is sustainable. It happens year after year after year."

Swanson presentation on study of Park County, MT, economy

< https://www.facebook.com/events/1734123743575362/ >

The Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition is pleased to invite you to a special presentation by Dr. Larry Swanson, a Ph.D. economist and Director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana. Dr. Larry Swanson will discuss his recent comprehensive study of the Park County area economy, what makes it "tick," and key area economic assets.

"Park County's Growing Economy, Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition, Spring 2016


This summary is based on a 2016 study by Dr. Larry Swanson, economist and director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana, entitled 'Key Trends, Dependencies, Strengths and Vulnerabilities in Park County, Montana, and its Area Economy'. "Economic stability and intact landscapes give Park County a unique opportunity to maintain things the way they are, and continue to build a healthy and stable economic future."

"It's boom and bust again in Montana mining town," Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 2009 < https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2009/0106/p01s01-usec.html >

"Mining is a recent return in the last four to five years, but it was declining," says Larry Swanson , a regional economist at the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana in Missoula . "That doesn't mean these mining [businesses] are unimportant, but they are not a big part of what's going on here."

BOZEMAN ____________

"Madison County Commissioners to put senior services levy on spring ballot," Madisonian, Dec. 2010


If passed, the levy would raise more than $140,000 a year. The levy would increase taxes on a $200,000 home by $6. The levy is an idea from the Madison County Senior Council, which is a group that was formed last spring to address issues concerning senior citizens in the county, said Madison County Commissioner Marilyn Ross. The council is comprised of representatives from the four county senior citizen groups that represent Sheridan, Twin Bridges, Ennis, Harrison and Pony, Ross said. The levy would help address the growing need in the county for senior services, she said.

Madison County, like many rural counties in Montana, is an aging county. In 2008, the largest age group in Madison County was people between the ages of 45 and 69, according to a report compiled by University of Montana economist Larry Swanson. Nearly 45 percent of the population in Madison County is older than 45. This segment of the population will continue to be the fastest growing segment as baby boomers hit retirement age, Swanson said in his report.

"Baby boomers buying in Bozeman, Montana," May, 2010 < http://finehomesmontana.blogspot.com/2010/05/according-to-center-for-rocky-mountain.html >

"Down but not out - The Gallatin Valley is not immune to problems in the larger economy," Business-to-Business, March, 2009 http://rosenleaf.typepad.com/files/annual_outlook.pdf

"Flying high in the Big Sky," Bozeman Chronicle, Apr. 2008 https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/special-reports/wealth_series/flying-high-in-big-sky-country/article_6a75c008-be0f-5aae-9b98-894b711fc52b.html

BUTTE ____________

"Economist: Butte remains resilient," Montana Standard, Feb. 2010 http://mtstandard.com/special_reports/economic_outlook_2010/economist-butte-remains-resilient/article_792fa981-ee44-56cb-a1ce-b0e218fbf44e.html

"Butte on the Move: UM Economist advises Butte," Montana Standard, Nov. 2004 http://mtstandard.com/news/local/butte-on-the-move-um-economist-advises-butte/article_813788ac-5456-5694-a282-79297a1903fd.html

Swanson's lecture was sponsored by Butte on the Move, which is part of Montana on the Move, an economic development effort. Swanson is associate director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West of the University of Montana, which helps sponsor the Montana on the Move program.

"BLM Dillon Resource Management Plan: Environmental Impact Statement," economics section (Larry Swanson, O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West), 2005


BILLINGS ____________

"For city of Billings, opportunity knocks," Last Best News, Dec. 2017

< http://lastbestnews.com/site/2017/12/prairie-lights-for-city-of-billings-opportunity-knocks/ >

Listening to Hammes Co. President Bob Dunn last week, when he was telling the Billings City Council about the transformation of One Big Sky Center from a single downtown project to a comprehensive development strategy, I heard echoes from years ago. [ … ] The echoes I heard were the words of Larry Swanson, director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana. In the early and mid-2000s, Swanson was a frequent visitor to Billings, spreading the message - backed up by heaps of economic data - that cities were the new economic engines of Montana.

His contention was that Montana's major cities had to find some means of continually improving themselves - in terms of public infrastructure, services, good schools at all levels, recreational offerings, etc. - if they wanted to compete with hundreds of other mid-size cities across the country.

At one presentation he made in Billings in 2006, Swanson pointed out that 71 percent of the people in Montana lived within 40 miles of the state's seven largest cities. Those trends have continued, even accelerated. In a recent report from the O'Connor Center, Swanson noted that between 1970 and 2016, the counties containing those seven urban centers saw their populations rise from 376,631 to 660,741.

Swanson used to say in those presentations, and he said it again in an email to me last week, that the Montana Legislature hasn't shown much interest in helping cities realize their potential. Legislators, he said, continue to see the economy through the "rearview mirror," devoting most of their attention to extraction industries that continue to decline despite periodic booms and busts. To benefit from urban-based economic growth, he said, cities need to invest in "infrastructure, education, and community livability." Doing so, he added, "requires sustained leadership" and continuing cooperation between public and private entities in their cities and in the regions of which they are part.

Leadership and cooperation have been in evidence only sporadically since Swanson first brought his eye-opening research to Billings. Celebrate Billings, the group that sponsored most of his visits, slowly evaporated, to be replaced by Billings Now, which has some of the same member organizations but doesn't have nearly the same high profile.

Ditto with the Billings Chamber of Commerce and Big Sky Economic Development. Both are hitting some of the same themes that Swanson used to hammer away at, but without quite the consistency and forcefulness that seem to be needed. Slowly, though, the stars have been coming into alignment. The team behind the original One Big Sky Center project had goals that were simultaneously too grandiose and too limited. By bringing in Hammes Co., and especially Dunn, who possesses a winning mix of experience and enthusiasm, the powers that be in Billings are beginning to focus on the big picture again.

And Mayor-elect Bill Cole, who takes office next month, seems to be ready to provide the kind of leadership Swanson was talking about. Cole told me last week that his involvement in economic development and community betterment started after the Swanson era, but he clearly has been influenced by those days and the ideas percolating then.

Billings Chamber Strategic Plan, 2015-2020 (Swanson input, references) < https://www.billingschamber.com/priorities/ >

The Billings Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and staff proudly share the organization's Strategic Plan 2015-2020. The new and in some cases continued priorities focus on the Chamber's mission and vision to nurture a healthy business climate, community and overall quality of life for area residents. [ … ] As with any community on the move, Billings faces challenges such as: public safety; air service; workforce (2.6% unemployment; skills gap, housing, aging population); being an urban area in a rural state/region; taxing structure equality; lack of (or aging) facilities (event space, attractions, sports, infrastructure).

WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO OUR MEMBERS (Source: Hight Consulting; Dr. Larry Swanson)

- The quality of our community

- The quality of our workforce

- The quality of our surrounding environment

"The Changing Billings Area Economy," presentation, Aug. 2014 < http://www.slideserve.com/cybill/the-changing-billings-area-economy-by-dr-larry-swanson >

"Going to the Mat," Billings Business magazine, Jan. 2014 https://issuu.com/billingsgazette/docs/billings_business_feb_14

Human capital is greatest asset for most businesses. Economist Larry Swanson projects that Billings is headed for a 2 percent unemployment rate in the next year.

"Community Livability Key to Growth," Billings Gazette, Nov. 2013 http://billingsgazette.com/business/features/community-livability-will-be-key-to-future-job-growth-economist/article_78400c31-ae9a-5474-b7f3-ab6c14b761c2.html

Coping with an aging and slow-growing population will be one of the big challenges for communities seeking to fill jobs and train workers, says Larry Swanson, director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Missoula. Employment-related projections that Swanson shared recently in Billings include: Montana is expected to add 59,000 jobs by the end of decade, with 83 percent of these new jobs in services. Health care jobs will increase the most, rising by 15,637 and accounting for 27 percent of all new jobs. The leisure and hospitality industry is expected to add 11,080 new jobs, representing 19 percent of all new jobs. Construction will account for 7,221 new jobs, 17 percent of the total. However, total employment in construction will continue to lag the peak employment year of 2007.

A growing population is generally a sign of an expanding economy. Birth rates, death rates and migration patterns all affect whether a community's population is growing or declining. In coming years, "Population growth will be fed by people moving around. That's why livability and the attractiveness of a community are going to be a significant factor in where people move to," Swanson said during the annual meeting of the Billings Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"There's a lot of growth and opportunity that lie ahead of us. But I don't think we're going to go back to the 1990s economy," which was fed largely by a boom in construction and real estate development, Swanson said. "That just can't carry you forward." Rather than merely letting growth happen, communities need to plan for it, Swanson said. "Economic growth is going to be on a person-by-person basis that adds up to an overall growing economy," he said. "The way you can do it and make it happen is to invest in resources that are going to result in productivity gains." The never-ending quest to boost productivity means that workers will need to constantly improve their job skills. "If you're going to be working from your 20s to your 60s and you'll be part of that growing human resource base, you'll have to interface with some kind of education and training," Swanson said. "The way you translate that is in stackable credentials, maybe three, four or five. It's the type of flexibility that we don't now have in education."

"When Coal Comes to Town: Western Communities Brace for Coal Export Explosion," ThinkProgress, Sept. 2013 https://thinkprogress.org/when-coal-comes-to-town-western-communities-brace-for-coal-export-explosion-95cb7259c4bf/

Today, Minnesota Avenue and Montana Avenue are the heart of a small but thriving retail, entertainment and residential loft district, part of a spreading urban transformation that has brought new vitality to Billings - a revitalization that some residents fear may be in jeopardy as coal mines operating in the Powder River Basin of northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana could in the near future begin shipping massive quantities of coal to export terminals in the Pacific Northwest.

But as Larry Swanson, an economist who heads the University of Montana's O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West points out, mining in the years 1991-2011 never accounted for more than two percent of the state's jobs. And he projects that through 2020, the big job growth fields will be health care and social assistance, trade, and retail and hospitality.

Speaking at annual meeting of Billings Chamber, Billings Gazette, Sept. 2013

< http://missoulian.com/business/local/university-of-montana-economist-predicts-slower-growth-fewer-workers/article_775b54dc-213c-11e3-96a5-0019bb2963f4.html >

But the worker and the workplace will be markedly different than in pre-recession times, according to Larry Swanson, an economist and director of the University of Montana O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West. "On the other side of the recession, Montana will have the fastest growth in the country again," he told about 400 people attending the annual meeting of the Billings Area Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau. In a couple of years, unemployment in Yellowstone County will drop back to 2 percent, meaning companies will be "looking feverishly for someone to fill jobs," he said.

Education will no longer be a one-time deal for young people, but a lifetime habit where workers continue to improve their productivity by "adding skills, adding experience and adding education," he said.

University of Montana economist Larry Swanson

University of Montana economist Larry Swanson speaks during the Billings Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau annual meeting on Wednesday at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center. Swanson directs the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West.

"Swanson Keynotes 2013 Billings Chamber/CVB annual meeting," < http://www.billingschamber.com/media/Media-Release-Dr.-Larry-Swanson-Keynotes-Annual-Meeting1.pdf >

"University of Montana economist predicts slower growth, fewer workers," Billings Gazette, Sept. 2013 http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/university-of-montana-economist-predicts-slower-growth-fewer-workers/article_fa441a31-0f7c-5478-a51b-2612f93810aa.html

But tomorrow's workforce will be stagnant or falling across most of the United States, he said, so older Montanans will have to keep working. Education will no longer be a one-time deal for young people, but a lifetime habit where workers continue to improve their productivity by "adding skills, adding experience and adding education," he said. Overall economic growth will be achieved one person at a time.

" Who pays costs of coal trains?" March 2012 < https://www.northernplains.org/who-pays-cost-of-coal-trains-billings-outpost-march-15-2012/ >

< http://www.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2012/04/coal-trains-montana >

"Economist touts right size regional growth," Billings Gazette, Sept., 2009 http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/economist-touts-right-size-regional-growth/article_3a62262b-dbb5-5ef0-bc2b-5f64e176c49c.html

The meetings have been organized by Montana on the Move, a group working to help Montana communities prosper economically and culturally. The group is sponsored by the Center for the Rocky Mountain West, the Public Policy Research Institute, also based in Missoula, and the Billings-based Foundation for Community Vitality. Montana on the Move has put on similar forums in Missoula and Great Falls and is planning meetings in Kalispell, Bozeman, Helena, and Butte. The group is hoping to have representatives of all seven cities gather for a forum this fall, and then to produce a statewide economic and community-development plan before the Legislature convenes in January. In Billings, a coalition of businesses and organizations known as Celebrate Billings is planning to have Swanson present his findings to a gathering of students from Montana State University-Billings and Rocky Mountain College sometime this fall. The Gazette, which is part of Celebrate Billings, also plans to publish a special tabloid in mid-October presenting the results of Swanson's research.

"Clusters pave the way for economic vitality," by Larry Swanson, Billings Gazette, Business, Aug. 2009 http://billingsgazette.com/business/features/clusters-pave-the-way-for-economic-vitality/article_1d582ec3-b99a-516a-93be-38911ca04f16.html

I have worked as a practicing economist for almost 30 years, often in various roles working with local areas, communities and regions on how to best go about "economic development" or what I prefer to call "economic positioning." Two important lessons have emerged from this experience. One is that it is much easier to positively influence the direction of a local area economy during times of growth. In areas were there is little or no growth, economic development strategies oftentimes must be made from "whole cloth," and oftentimes seem to have very little impact.

The second most fundamental principle of local area economic development is that efforts to advance the economy must recognize and work with growth. This may seem self-evident and obvious, but it's important to point out that many economic development efforts and strategies, particularly ones at the state level, focus much of their attention and resources on what are considered to be the "biggest problems" in an economy - areas of decline. This thinking, again quite prevalent in state-level economic development thinking, seems to be predicated upon the notion that scare public resources for economic development are best spent when focused on big problems, even ones that are often endemic in nature, where such spending will have little impact. What's more, this mentality can prevail to such a degree that very little attention may be given to areas of "greatest opportunity" - areas in the economy that are growing and will continue to grow. The thinking is that areas of "strength" in the economy can "take care of themselves."

If you want to advance your economy into the future, you must position yourself - your businesses, your workforce, your schools, your governments, your family, etc. - for anticipated future growth in ways that can best take advantage of that change. It is not where your economy has been that matters as much as where it may be going.

"Economist says Billings faring well in the recession," Billings Gazette, Dec. 2008 http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/economist-says-billings-faring-well-in-recession/article_9ea25857-2697-5929-acd5-dd833e742199.html

Economist Dr. Larry Swanson addresses a sold-out crowd at the Celebrate Billings Community Leadership breakfast at Montana State University Billings on Wednesday

Economist says Billings faring well in recession

"Right now, Billings is almost one of the best places to be in the United States," Larry Swanson said during the Celebrate Billings Community Leadership breakfast at Montana State University Billings. In response, 300 people attending the breakfast broke into enthusiastic applause. Swanson, director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana, said Montana has avoided the worst effects of the economic crisis."

"Economist: Billings lags in city spending," Billings Gazette, Oct.2006 < http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/economist-billings-lags-in-city-spending/article_cb440a97-a77c-5190-af69-d2aede44fe9c.html >

Larry Swanson, director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana, said the oil boom has created jobs in a few counties, but the high oil prices that made the boom possible have burdened the rest of the state's economy. Speaking to an audience of about 300 people at a breakfast on the Montana State University-Billings campus Tuesday morning, Swanson said Montana ranked ninth in the nation in personal income growth from 2001 through this year. But that growth has slowed since the first quarter of 2005, he said, mainly because of higher energy prices.

Image result for larry swanson, montana\

Swanson also said there has been a "systematic disinvestment" in public services in Montana - in other words, that tax revenues have not kept pace with overall growth in population and income. He said property taxes in Montana as a percentage of personal income dropped from 10.2 percent in 1984 to 7.55 percent in 2003. In a comparison with 29 "peer cities" throughout the West - cities that resemble Billings in population and other demographics - Billings' per capita income growth of 33 percent between 1990 and 2000 ranked it well above average, Swanson said. But in comparing local government's share of total employment, Billings was eighth from the bottom of the list, and Missoula, another of those peer cities, was lower still. Swanson, whose appearance was sponsored by the Celebrate Billings group, said cities elsewhere in the West generally invest more in public services than do cities in Montana.

"Foundations for future economic success" presentation, Billings, 2006 < http://www.matr.net/article-18341.html >

"Get ready for Billings Future," Billings Gazette, March 2006 http://www.matr.net/article-18654.html

If local leaders hope to steer Billings toward a bright economic future, they can't wait for a "one size fits all" plan handed down from Helena or Washington, D.C. The plan has to percolate up from the local level, says Larry Swanson, director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana.

"Economist Upbeat about Billings, other cities," Billings Gazette, Sept. 2004


Economist Larry Swanson told members of a Billings audience Wednesday that they live in "the right-size city with the right kind of change going on." He told them that growth patterns across Montana are now based almost entirely on how many people move here from other states, not on birth rates. For most of the 20th century, he said, very large cities were the hotbeds of economic growth, and the relatively small cities of Montana hardly took part in it. But since the early 1990s, people have been leaving the big cities for small urban centers like Billings, Bozeman and Missoula, creating a boom that probably won't level off for at least another decade, he said. "People have always said, 'I would live in Montana if I could.' Well, now, increasingly, they can," Swanson said. "And it doesn't take many people who 'can' to make a significant impact on the local economy."

Optimistic gospel -- This was the third visit to Billings this year by Swanson, associate director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana, to spread his optimistic gospel about what he sees as the true condition of the state and local economy.

Image result for larry swanson, montana\

Dr. Larry Swanson, associate director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, lectures during a meeting of Billings On The Move at the Northern Hotel Wednesday.

"Economist offers upbeat message," Billings Gazette, May, 2004 < http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/economics-expert-offers-upbeat-message/article_113db823-9be0-563e-9665-c8534da9da71.html >

Larry Swanson deals with economics and demographics, but when he talks about trends and the prospect of change in Montana, his conclusions have a psychological ring to them. You could summarize his position by saying - though he didn't use the term himself - that we seem to be suffering from a lack of self-esteem. Speaking to a gathering of civic leaders Thursday morning at Deaconess Billings Clinic, Swanson presented a mountain of statistics showing that in the areas of Montana where most Montanans live, population growth, incomes, employment levels, construction activity and other economic indicators have been booming along for at least a decade.

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Larry Swanson addresses the "Montana on the Move" economic conference at Deaconess Billings Clinic.

HELENA ____________

2010 Leadership Institute, Helena Education Foundation, presentation http://www.hefmt.org/2010-leadership-institute/

12:00-1:00 p.m. - Lunch with Larry Swanson, University of Montana

Research support for Montana Community Foundation "Transfer of Wealth" study, 2006


*Wealth in Montana, September 2006, part of the Montana Transfer of Wealth Analysis Project directed by the Community Assistance Initiative (CAI), an affiliated fund within the Nebraska Community Foundation. Montana advisers to the project were: Linda Reed, president and CEO of the Montana Community Foundation; Dr. Larry Swanson, executive director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West; Mary Craigle, Montana Department of Revenue; Pam Harris and Susan Ockert, Montana Department of Commerce, Tyler Turner, Montana Department of Labor, and Doug Young, professor of agricultural economics, Montana State University.

"Inside Helena's Labor Crunch," Helena Independent, Oct. 2006 http://ljrlivingwage.org/news/00987-signs-times-inside-helena-s-labor-crunch

According to Larry Swanson of the University of Montana's Center for the Intermountain West in Missoula, while Montana's total population is expected to grow, the population between ages 18 and 64, generally considered the labor force, will plateau in 2011 and then start to drop. "If the population at prime ages of work force participation is not growing, then the labor force itself cannot grow," a Swanson presentation says. "And if labor force expansion is constrained, so will be employment and labor earnings growth."

2006 Leadership Institute, Helena Education Foundation, Center presentation < http://www.hefmt.org/2006-leadership-institute-event/ >

"2006: The year of the baby and the middle aged," Helena Independent, Jan. 2006 < http://helenair.com/news/local/the-year-of-the-baby-and-the-middle-aged/article_4947a8b2-531c-5cd2-9a20-09b8d36dc730.html >

"Ride the sea of change in the western economy," Helena Independent, Aug. 2005 http://helenair.com/news/local/economist-to-helena-ride-the-sea-change-in-western-economy/article_518892f8-7bfd-5365-a68a-84ec674d3e38.html

The Rocky Mountain West will continue to prosper, and Helena would be well advised to hitch a ride, a state economist said Tuesday. Economist Larry Swanson delivered a whip-cracking message to about 70 business and community leaders at the Helena Regional Airport Tuesday. Swanson, perhaps the state's leading economist and head of the University of Montana's Center for the Rocky Mountain West, kicke4d off a day's worth of discussion at the Community Leadership Institute 2005. The institute was sponsored by the Helena Education Foundation and the Gateway Economic Development Corp.


"Repowering the Flathead for a New Energy Economy," Flathead citizens steering committee, Oct. 2011


Re‐Powering the Flathead is a community driven project that sprang from a desire to understand the role energy plays in shaping the local economy, community, and environment. The result of the first three years of the Re‐Powering the Flathead Project is this: a local guide to understanding energy issues - how much we use, where it comes from, what are the costs, and what opportunities exist to improve energy use and the economy.

Community Energy Forum, Flathead Community College, Nov. 2009 (learning session input for report above)


Flathead Valley Community College will host a free community energy dialogue series on Thursday, Nov. 19, from 7-9 p.m. called "Energy, the economy and jobs - planning for the future." A panel of professionals will discuss how rising energy costs effect local business investments and sustainability, where there is a potential for job growth, and the challenges and opportunities that are influenced by local and national energy plans and policies. Larry Swanson an economist and director of the University of Montana's O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, will give an overview of the Flathead's economy with emphases on the key drivers surrounding energy issues.

"Flathead Labor Pains," Missoula Independent, Feb. 2009

"The ultimate challenge for places that are largely growing because of their attractiveness is to gradually and strategically evolve economically into a place that doesn't require 'growth'-more people, more houses, etc.-in order to continue to advance economically," Swanson says. "The Flathead and other places in the interior West haven't advanced to this point, and so they are vulnerable when something interferes in the growth process itself."

Book reference and citation in: "Sustaining Rocky Mountain Landscapes: Science, Policy and Management for the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem," edited by Prato and Fagre, Resources for the Future, 2007


A few months later, Fernie Mayor Randall Macnair, two city councilors, and several business owners visited Kalispell as guests of Kalispell Mayor Pam Kennedy. During the visit they heard a regional economic report at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon. The report (Swanson, et al., 2003) was presented by economist Larry Swanson of the University of Montana's Center for the Rocky Mountain West. The report found that the Flathead economy was diverse and vibrant because of the presence of the GNP and the general attractiveness and recreational opportunities of the Flathead landscape. The natural landscape is the Flathead's most important economic asset, Swanson concluded, and the business community would be wise to work with public land managers to conserve the region's clean waters, wildlife, and wildland recreation. For the Fernie contingent, the report offered a glimpse of the opportunity and challenges that were quickly coming their way.

The proposed expansion of the WLNP and the Peace Park were applauded by community and business leaders in Montana, who echoed the local newspaper's belief that the international peace park is "our region's most important economic engine" (Jamison, 2002). The Fernie City Council and mayors and rural district leaders in the East Kootenay region requested a formal feasibility study for the proposed park expansion. [page 292, article by Steve Thompson and David Thomas]

"KRMC Plans for Expansion," Daily Interlake, Jan 2007


But Oliverson said the community expects the medical center to plan for beds for future needs. Toward that end, he has requested data from projection experts such as Larry Swanson, associate director of UM's O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West. Oliverson also consulted local planners about subdivision approvals. He needed to know how many houses to expect and the average number of people per household.

"Flathead Business ask County to protect the water," Missoulian, July, 2006

Amid a renaissance of interest in the economic value of Flathead Lake, more than 100 businesses have fired a letter to Flathead County commissioners asking that land-use planning be better used to protect water quality. "Business people I talk to know that one of the things that makes the Flathead such a high-quality place is water resources like Flathead Lake," said economist Larry Swanson, of the University of Montana's Center for the Rocky Mountain West. "To unduly degrade Flathead Lake through poorly planned development is both unnecessary and just plain bad economics."

"Flathead Lake works for Flathead County communities, businesses and families," economist Swanson said, "every day of every year."

Chapter in "The amenity migrants: seeking and sustaining mountains and their cultures," L.A.G. Moss, CABI, 2006 https://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20063126696

"Gateway to Glacier: will amenity migrants in north-western Montana lead the way for amenity conservation?" by Steve Thompson, National Parks Conservation Association

This chapter discusses how the rapid in-migration of amenity seekers to Flathead County (a gateway to Glacier National Park) in Montana, USA, has brought about economic growth and other change. However, the very attributes that the in-comers value most are threatened. It is suggested that amenity migrants may rally to help conserve the natural amenities that drew them, through building strategic alliances across diverse community sectors based on a shared appreciation of place. The Whitefish Area State Lands Committee is presented as a model for future collaborations.

Park Gateway communities out-paced their non-park peers during the 1990s in net migration, new employment, and wage and salary growth. The assessment by University of Montana regional economist Larry Swanson looked at 64 counties, including Flathead County, that serve as small regional trade centers in the 22 contiguous western states.

"Flathead on the Move - Understanding growth and the economy in Whitefish," Whitefish Pilot, Dec. 2004 < http://www.matr.net/article-12806.html >

Flathead on the Move, an informal citizen's group, has been bringing diverse interests together in the Flathead Valley for the last few months to find ways of understanding and benefiting from growth and changes in the local economy. In May of 2003, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Center for the Rocky Mountain West (CRMW), a public policy center based out of the University of Montana, put out Gateway to Glacier, a synthesis of three studies on the Flathead Valley economy and its relationship to Glacier National Park. [ … ] Similar situations exist in communities centered around Missoula, Bozeman, Great Falls, Helena, Billings and Butte. According to CRMW economist Larry Swanson, 90 percent of economic and population growth in Montana has taken place around these seven communities. The CRMW saw that these seven communities were heading in a different direction than much of Montana. They began the "On the Move" project as a way of providing accurate information on these changing economies and bringing communities together to find ways of guiding change. Flathead on the Move has brought together a wide variety of groups and people in the Flathead ….

"Flathead losing farmland," Missoulian, July 2003 http://mtstandard.com/news/local/flathead-valley-losing-farmland/article_1cba9680-cd52-5f3c-bab2-288cfc3dffc7.html

"It is absolutely about business and economics," said Larry Swanson, an economist who heads the Regional Economy Program at the Missoula-based O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West. "What makes the economies of these places is the fact that they're attractive, and what makes these places attractive for development is that they're undeveloped."

On the face of it, his statement seems a bit of a paradox. You want the development, because it's good for business. But that same development is bad for business. The trick, Swanson said, is to develop and design smart. For years, Swanson said, the plan for limiting sprawling development was to put everyone on a 10- or 20-acre chunk of dirt. Time and again, however, that approach has resulted in a haphazard appearance with a house poking up every which way you look. The new approach, he said, is to cluster development - to build nice neighborhoods on sizable lots with common streets and infrastructure, with trees and sidewalks and nice homes. Give the developer a few extra spots in the density codes, Swanson said, to entice cluster development, and then leave the rest of the space open around the cluster. A 100-acre subdivision that would have had a house on every 10-acre lot becomes instead 15 houses on 15 acres, with 85 acres of farm land or open space surrounding the neighborhood. The cluster homes are worth more to the developer, and the farmer keeps farming.

"Plans for Park Expansion," Missoula Independent, June 2003 https://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/park-politics/Content?oid=1134908

Link to the "Gateway to Glacier" award-winning study report by the National Parks Conservation Association, May 2003


Gateway to Glacier: The Emerging Economy of Flathead County is a synthesis of three technical studies on Flathead County's economy conducted by researchers at The University of Montana. The Flathead's Changing Economy: Assessing the Role of National Parks in the Economies of High Amenity, Non-metropolitan Regions of the West LARRY D. SWANSON, Ph.D., Associate Director and head of the Regional Economy Program, O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, The University of Montana, Missoula. (2002)

Swanson undertook an extensive economic analysis of Flathead County to 1) identify and assess key trends and patterns of change, 2) evaluate the influence of Glacier National Park on the area economy, and 3) evaluate economic trends in other national park gateway communities around the western United States. This analysis is based on an evaluation of Flathead's economic characteristics and performance relative to "peer" counties throughout the West with similar economic and demographic profiles.

Gateway to Glacier report: "Steve Thompson receives conservation achievement award," Sept. 2017, Conservation magazine https://www.flatheadaudubon.org/conservation/steve-thompson-receives-conservation-achievement-recognition/

One of the important products of his efforts was the Gateway to Glacier Report which documented the importance of the environment and outdoor recreation for the Flathead's emerging economy. NPCA's outreach campaign won a national award from the Natural Resources Council.


"Groups lay plans for the Greater Yellowstone Region," Transporter, Idaho Transportation Dept. Feb. 2008 http://testapps.itd.idaho.gov/apps/mediamanagermvc/transporter/2008/022908_Trans/022908_Yellowstone.html

A year-long effort funded through the Yellowstone Business Partnership (YBP) kicked off Thursday (Feb. 28) in six sub-regions to press social, economic, and natural assets into service for year-round economic activity at Yellowstone National Park. Workshop sites in Bozeman, Billings, Lander, Jackson, Pocatello and Idaho Falls were connected by video conference, unifying the Greater Yellowstone region as it tackles common socioeconomic and transportation challenges. Dr. Larry Swanson, director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West and principal investigator for the Turning On the Off-Season report , was the featured speaker.

"Turning on the off season - Opportunities for Progress in the Yellowstone-Teton Region," Center report to the Yellowstone Business Partnership, April 2007 http://harbingerconsult.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Turning-On-the-Off-Season.pdf

The Yellowstone Business Partnership (YBP) is a nonprofit organization representing over 250 businesses in the Yellowstone-Teton region, an area encompassing 25 counties in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and including Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

The Partnership promotes scientific understanding, regional dialogue and collaborative approaches in resolving the region's most complex socioeconomic and natural resource challenges.

Study Research Team

Michele L. Archie and Howard D Terry, The Harbinger Institute; Larry D. Swanson, Ph.D.,

The O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, The University of Montana

GREAT FALLS ____________

O'Connor Center report on Great Falls trade region for Great Falls Development Corp., July 2008 http://www.gfdevelopment.org/lib/uploads/fckuploads/file/Labor%20Market%20Area_University%20of%20Montana.pdf


"Civic, business leaders seek ways to revitalize economy," Choteau Acantha, Dec., 2004

< http://www.choteauacantha.com/news/article_89e739ab-ae46-5144-ae60-dbc07c3c1996.html >

"Town in Montana Wilderness is divided over drilling plan," New York Times, March 2004 http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/21/us/town-in-montana-wilderness-is-divided-over-drilling-plan.html?n=Top/News/U.S./U.S.%20States,%20Territories%20and%20Possessions/Montana&mcubz=0

WYOMING ____________

"Roots of Change" study report on Park County, WY (Cody area), prepared for Greater Yellowstone Coalition, 2006 http://harbingerconsult.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/banner/roots-of-prosperity.pdf

In the summer of 2006, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition commissioned an economic analysis of Park County. That analysis provides the backbone of Roots of Prosperity: Securing Park County's Natural Heritage and Economic Future. This report also draws on interviews with area business leaders and a wealth of additional information to examine the economic importance of Park County's natural setting, abundant wildlife, and top-notch recreation opportunities. Unless otherwise noted, the data and information presented in the text are taken from The Park County Economy - Restructuring and Change in a Growing Region by Dr. Larry Swanson (O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, September 2006).

"Communities urged to plan for regional expansion," Billings Gazette, Dec. 2006 , http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/wyoming/communities-urged-to-plan-for-regional-expansion/article_15ef31e7-8075-54fe-ade4-46a6fa57755c.html


Park County is poised for significant growth as people move to the area because of its natural amenities, says a new report commissioned by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. But in order to protect the area's valuable resources, residents, business leaders and local government officials should work together now to prepare for the growth and inevitable change, the report says. Larry Swanson, director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West's Regional Economy Program at the University of Montana, spoke Monday night at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center about the study.

MONTANA ____________

“Tech leaders discuss importance of Montana’s outdoor recreation,” Missoulian, May 2018


 . . speaking at a roundtable panel discussion sponsored by Business for Montana’s Outdoors, a coalition of 180 businesses representing 5,000 workers that advocates for the value of public lands and the outdoors as an economic asset.

Marne Hayes, the executive director of the coalition, convened the panel of local tech company representatives to highlight the importance of the state’s mountains, rivers, lakes, prairies and trails as a major reason why the tech industry is flourishing here, paying an average of $68,544 per job compared to the statewide average of $44,775 per job.

The message that Hayes and other tech leaders spelled out on Thursday was summed up best by a quote from Larry Swanson, the director of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, who said that “protecting and enhancing Montana’s environmental amenities is essential for sustained economic growth.”

“Guest view: Reserve could be economic game-changer for rural Montana,” Missoulian, May 2018



There is a familiar story I’ve seen play out time and time again for many small communities in sparsely populated, agricultural areas of the larger Great Plains region — struggling economies, declining populations, loss of businesses, jobs and young people, and aging populations.

I have done professional work in community economic development for over 40 years, working in regions from Nebraska to Montana, and I have spent a lot of time witnessing and thinking about this problem, agonizingly so. Fortunately, in the '90s I and other economists began to see new trends emerge where some rural areas of the West were escaping this spiral of decline.

By Dr. Larry Swanson is director and Scott Family Senior Fellow in Regional Economy at the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana

“Guest view: Reserve could be an economic game-changer,” Billings Gazette, May 2018


In a few truly “big spaces” (geographically speaking) with regionally, nationally, and potentially internationally significant environmental features and attributes, leaders should devise and pursue in full cooperation with willing landowners and small area communities new strategies for rural renewal tied to more intentionally and more fully harnessing the power of area amenities to entice people to come to the area and to make communities in the area potentially more interesting and enticing places to live and work.

There is cause for hope that Northeast and Central Montana is one such "big space" where we could see this beneficial trend play out in coming years. And the biggest cause for optimism is the ongoing conservation efforts of the American Prairie Reserve.

In many ways the APR vision represent a “game changer” for the region’s economy and for the future of its small communities. The American Prairie Reserve in concert with the region’s other crown jewels will help in dramatically redefining this region to the outside world, raising the region’s profile and introducing the region’s communities and businesses to more and more visitors each year.

By Larry Swanson, O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana

“Reserve could be economic game-changer for rural Montana,” Lewistown News-Argus, May 2018


"Bits of Montana Wisdom," The Western News, Feb. 2017 < http://www.thewesternnews.com/article/20170222/ARTICLE/170229980 >

The last census showed Montana, the fourth-largest state in the nation in terms of landmass, as having 989,415 folks residing within its borders. We use the 2010 census, as it provides the most accurate information. Since then some places, many actually, have grown smaller and some larger. Of that total, according to one of Montana's most highly respected economists, Larry Swanson of the University of Montana's Center for the Rocky Mountain West, about 791,532 people (80 percent of the total) live within 50 miles of the state's seven largest towns, leaving only 197,883 folks scattered over the rest of an enormous landscape.

When we did the 2000 census, this was 70 to 75 percent, and when we do the 2020 census in a few more years, it will be 84 to 85 percent. So we are more "urban" than we think in more ways than one, except that somehow we seem to maintain a majority of "rural" legislators - largely because we keep the more rural districts that are losing population alive by slicing into the periphery areas of growing cities. This serves to reduce urban influence and participation in the state legislature and increase rural influence and participation.

"Montana's biggest workforce challenge," Billings Gazette, Sept. 2016 < http://billingsgazette.com/opinion/editorial/gazette-opinion-montana-s-biggest-workforce-challenge/article_5181f9bd-5885-580f-840e-458249d3f1f1.html >

More than 10 years ago, economist Larry Swanson from the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana advised Billings business leaders to prepare for the baby boomer retirement wave by attracting 20-something and 30-something workers. In March 2006, The Gazette reported on Swanson's talk: "Projections indicate that the county's population will grow to 150,000 by 2015. However, the baby boomers will be leaving the work force. This significant demographic shift will affect everything from housing to health care to the job market," Yellowstone County's population now is 150,000 and Billings has surpassed 110,000. The county has virtually full employment, and many employers struggle to find skilled workers and even entry-level unskilled workers.

"Montana faces future of help wanted," Billings Gazette, Sept. 2016 < http://bismarcktribune.com/news/opinion/editorial/montana-faces-a-future-of-help-wanted/article_af2e415b-9d21-548f-b736-710311b5eb2c.html >

O'Connor Center - UM J-School collaboration on Mountain West News, 2015 < https://montanajournalism.wordpress.com/tag/university-of-montana-school-of-journalism/page/3/ >

When Mountain West News launched 17 years ago, it went by the name Headwater News and it served as an aggregation site for news in the region. Over the years, important Montanans and environmental journalists like Tracy Stone-Manning and her husband, Richard Manning, have worked for the outlet. Matthew Frank has imagined a whole new look for Mountain West News . He collaborated with the school's dean as well as Larry Swanson, the director of the O'Conner Center for the Rocky Mountain West , to expand the potential of this journalism platform. "Matt Frank's gotten involved and re-designed our various programs, re-designed the entire site, and created it in a way that can be more easily accessible," said Swanson.

Montana Business Success Forum, Missoula, May 2013 < https://www.slideshare.net/BusinessSuccessSymposium/business-successs-swanson-may-2013 >

"The Montana Economic Report, 2013," Billings Gazette < https://issuu.com/billingsgazette/docs/montana_economic_report_2013 >

Montana AFL-CIO Workforce conference, "Into the Future: Montana's Job Growth and Workforce Development, May, 2013, University of Montana


The Montana AFL-CIO invites you to attend a presentation on strategic pre-planning for the ebb and flow of an evolving economy. The findings of a groundbreaking two year study on the past 15 years of Montana's evolving workforce will be presented along with projections for the coming 15 years by Larry Swanson. The conference will identify education and training needs to move workers into sustainable jobs in emergent industries. A focused project on Montana's reclamation/restoration site inventory, case studies, and cutting edge training will be presented as a road map for unlocking job potential by Larry Swanson and Cara Nelson.

"Coal exports boost train impacts out West," Scientific American, May 2012 < https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/coal-exports-boost-train-impacts-out-west/ >


Like many cities, Billings' downtown is starting to revive after several hard decades, with local businesses investing more than $100 million in improvements over the past 10 years, said Gulick, the architect. That investment is also reflected in jobs growth, noted Larry Swanson, director of the University of Montana's Center for the American West. Mining and agriculture may be integral in Montana's history, but today health services and high-tech industries drive the economy in Billings - and throughout much of the state. A sharp rise in coal train traffic, Swanson warned, could endanger those gains. "This is the kind of economy that Billings has been building for two decades," he said.

“Rising coal exports have Montana rail communities braced for worst,” Mother Nature Network, May 2012 https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/rising-coal-exports-have-montana-rail-communities-braced


Like many cities, Billings' downtown is starting to revive after several hard decades, with local businesses investing more than $100 million in improvements over the past 10 years, said Gulick, the architect.

That investment is also reflected in jobs growth, noted Larry Swanson, director of the University of Montana's Center for the American West. Mining and agriculture may be integral in Montana's history, but today health services and high-tech industries drive the economy in Billings – and throughout much of the state. A sharp rise in coal train traffic, Swanson warned, could endanger those gains.

"This is the kind of economy that Billings has been building for two decades," he said. "It had better pay attention to that."

"Aging Patterns and the Impending Growth in Montana's Elderly," Montana Policy Review, Spring, 2012 < https://www.mtcf.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/MTPolicyReview-Spring2012-WEB1.pdf >

Swanson webinar on aging conducted by Montana State University's Local Government Center, 2012 < http://www.msulocalgov.org/training/webinars/Into%20the%20Future%20Swanson_Aging%20Slides.pdf >

"Montana's Economy and the Role of Federal Protected Lands," Headwaters Economics, Spring 2012


"With Montana growing grayer, economy likely to see changes," Billings Gazette, July 2011 < http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_786b61b6-4f16-5162-ba79-608d7011b20f.html >

"People don't understand how big it is," said Larry Swanson, director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Missoula. "So much of it is not understood, even by people in economic development. "It's actually monumental," Swanson said. "It will change the engine that drives economic activity."

Swanson said from time to time he'll go out on the University of Montana campus, find a random group of students and ask how many are graduating, or near graduation. "About half usually raise their hands," he said. "I ask those students how many have jobs, or jobs lined up, and only about a third of them raise their hands. I look at the other two-thirds and tell them to stay relaxed. We're working through a recession right now, but we will reach the point where we do not have enough workers. The opportunities are in front of them. They just have to be patient."

"It's our first experience with it as a modern nation," Swanson said. "Other places that have been around for a thousand years, as opposed to a couple hundred, have been through this many times." For Montana and America, it's just beginning.

"Most Montana Graduates stay in state, study says," Missoulian, May 2011 http://missoulian.com/news/local/most-montana-graduates-stay-in-state-study-says/article_8e8ce26a-7c43-11e0-a0fd-001cc4c03286.html

But western Montana's labor force is growing, said Larry Swanson, regional economist and director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West. Montana's economy is adding jobs in the health care, financial and business sectors, and in technical and professional services such as architecture, law and accounting, planning and consulting. Of the 2009 health care graduates from the Montana University System, 92 percent were from Montana and 81 percent found work here within a year.

"There's an attraction to staying in Montana if that opportunity is there," Swanson said, "but when you get the credentials and that job offering elsewhere pays $30,000 higher, it's a pretty hard thing to resist."

"Montana projected to be fourth 'grayest' state by 2015," Montana Standard, Jan. 2011 < http://mtstandard.com/news/local/montana-projected-to-be-fourth-grayest-state-by/article_3aebd87c-21ea-11e0-a7f6-001cc4c03286.amp.html >

Swanson has studied the demographics and their implications. In the next four or five years, as baby boomers age and retire, growth in the labor force flattens out, he said. Within seven or eight years, it actually could begin shrinking. If trends continue and projections hold true, Montana's elderly population will double in the next 20 years. That affects the health care industry, housing, transportation, schools and just about all aspects of society. "It catches people," Swanson said. "But they don't know what to do about it."

Montana State Workforce Investment board meeting, Helena, Feb. 2010 http://swib.mt.gov/Portals/150/Documents/Meetings/2-11-2010/Agenda_SWIB_20100211.pdf

Issues Facing Workforce, Ec. Dev., and Ed, Today in Montana, Invited Guests, Facilitator and Panelists:

• Lindsey Woolsey, Co-Director Business and Industry Strategies, Corporation for a Skilled Workforce.

• Aaron McNay, Economist, Research & Analysis, Department of Labor and Industry.

•Evan Barrett, Chief Business Officer, Governor's Office of Economic Development

•Larry Swanson, Associate Director Regional Economics, Center for the Rocky Mountain West.

•Mary Moe, Deputy Commissioner 2 -Year Education, Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.

"Keeping Wealth in Montana," Montana Community Foundation (study advisor), 2010 < http://www.mtcf.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/KeepingWealthinMT.pdf >

Montana Association of Planners annual meeting speakers, Sept. 2010 http://www.mtplanners.org/2010%20MAP%20Conference/MAP%20Conference%20Speakers%20072610.pdf

"Bridging the Divide - Strategic Conservation for Today's Rural West," Resource Media, 2009 http://www.resource-media.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Bridging-The-Divide.pdf

Issues such as water allocation, public lands and energy policy, endangered species recovery, and growth and development dominate Western public life as in few other regions. Every year, conservationists invest tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars and uncounted hours to protect land, water, air and wildlife in the rural West. Economist Larry Swanson of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West said in the past, people came to the West following jobs in the fields, mines and the mills. In today's footloose economy, Swanson said, jobs follow the people and the people move to find the highest quality of life, most often in a beautiful, clean, natural setting. In the West, the environment matters.

"Retail: Treading Water," Billings Gazette, Oct. 2009 http://helenair.com/news/state-and-regional/retail-treading-water/article_e5d8b9e0-c0d8-11de-ab09-001cc4c002e0.html

"On the way back," Helena Independent, Oct. 2009 http://helenair.com/news/state-and-regional/on-the-way-back/article_b9116418-c0d6-11de-bcf6-001cc4c002e0.html

"We were coming off a decade and a half of fairly high and almost uninterrupted economic expansion," said Larry Swanson, another economist and director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West. "We were seeing fast personal income growth and fairly rapid employment growth, which squeezed down the unemployment rate."

“Connections,” 2009 Conference of the Montana Nonprofit Association, Missoula, MT, Sept. 2010


The MNA Conference is the largest and most extensive conference for Montana's nonprofit sector.  This year, nearly 400 nonprofit leaders* from across Montana came to Missoula to learn how building strategic networks and connecting with business, government, foundations, their peers, and others can improve their access to resources, increase their influence, broaden their reach, and deepen their impact.  Swanson presentation: “The Role of Nonprofits in the Montana Economy and Demographics”

Study for Montana State Fund (cited on page one), 2009 https://www.montanastatefund.com/web/news/annualreport/AnnualReport2009.pdf 

First, we hired Dr. Larry Swanson, a noted economist from The University of Montana O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West. Dr. Swanson conducted an in-depth, independent study to provide a picture of growth for the state's economy, population, business insurance market and Montana State Fund, specifically. Using his report, MSF estimated that based on the business community's need for our services, Montana State Fund should plan for up to 408 employees.

"A Good Place - a society to match the scenery," Montana Heritage Project, 2009 http://www.montanaheritageproject.org/index.php/MichaelUmphrey/comments/thinking-about-montanas-future/

The Heritage Project teaches young people to care about the place they live, including both the natural and the cultural environment. The method is to take community seriously by making it the subject of serious study. Students are invited to think deeply and clearly about the world around them as they explore the place they live: its relationship to the natural environment, its connections to national and world events, and the many cultural beliefs and practices that shape its unique character. If we invite many people whose work doesn't normally include teaching to join us in teaching young Montanans about this place and how we live here, we will give them an opportunity to learn and to think more deeply by giving them the chance to teach. And by devoting time to discussing Montana's future, teachers can direct some of their students' natural interest in the future toward an interest in research and presentation at the same time they help students think more powerfully about the state's future and their own, and of the ways their own destiny are linked to Montana's. One place to start is to see what others have said about the topic:

Economist Larry Swanson says Montana's future lies mostly in its urban areas. "Montana's cities are sized right to capture the job and income growth in medical, professional and service-related fields that have fueled the economy throughout the Intermountain West."

"Montana's Growth Policy Resource Book," Montana Dept. of Commerce, Community Development Division, April 2009 https://comdev.mt.gov/Portals/95/shared/Resources/docs/Publications/GrowthPolicyResourceBook.pdf

According to Larry Swanson, Associate Director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana, rather than thinking of Montana as Eastern and Western, we should really look at Montana as three regions: ­west of the Continental Divide; ­east of the Continental Divide, but relatively close to the Rocky Mountain Front; and ­the balance of the state encompassing the eastern plains counties.

According to Swanson, some of the people moving to Montana are older with adequate savings and retirement income. More and more retirees are skipping the warmer, but increasingly crowded, Sunbelt states and choosing the northern Rockies states like Montana. The Census Bureau says the population of persons 65 and older will increase faster in the West than any other area of the country. Increasing numbers are middle‐aged people with at least part of their income based on retirement income, investment earnings, or savings. Many of them do not have to work full‐time to live in Montana or have outside sources of income to supplement a Montana job. Others have sold homes in "hot" real estate markets and purchased replacement homes in Montana at substantially lower cost, giving them instant cash and retirement savings to draw upon. With access to the Internet, many of these immigrants possess skills in the "knowledge" industries such as consulting, investments, research, and writing that allow them to live anywhere and "telecommute".

"Montana economy - for better or worse," Montana Standard, Jan. 2009 http://mtstandard.com/business/montana-s-economy-for-better-or-worse/article_23c40e77-cb0a-5a72-889c-982b8f5f847b.html

Everyone wants to know what Larry Swanson is thinking. Swanson, the director of the University of Montana's O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, is one of the state's most respected economists. And he is thinking that many of Montana's current woes are psychological rather than economical. "Going into a national recession, one of the best places to be is western Montana. It's not going to be fun, but go compare it to Michigan, Las Vegas, Florida or most other areas and you'll see just how we're doing." He said many have yet to realize that.

“It’s boom and bust again in Montana mining town,” Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 2009



"Mining is a recent return in the last four to five years, but it was declining," says Larry Swanson, a regional economist at the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana in Missoula. "That doesn't mean these mining [businesses] are unimportant, but they are not a big part of what's going on here."

"Bankruptcy in Big Sky: Mile High Clubs in Trouble," Sam Western, Wyofile, Dec. 2008


Larry Swanson, an economist at the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana, said the region will recover from such bad judgment and sooner than we think. "All of this will be a "burp" in the ultimately long-term development course of the region," he said. "These high amenity lands will continue to be heavily coveted. The boomers will want a piece of them. Housing values will stabilize. Land values will largely hold in our region and developers will be more careful about over-extending themselves. But the development course will continue and the home values will rise, including in the not to distant future when, at the other side of this recession, we experience a period of inflation and tangible asset values will rise. So most developers, including those in current difficulty, will try to figure out how to hang on."

"Montana's slowdown will be shallow, short," NewWest.net, Dec. 2008 < https://newwest.net/city/article/economist_montanas_slowdown_will_be_shallow_short/C8/L8/ >

“Blue-Staters Run Through It – Newcomers Reshape Politics in Montana, Beef Roast vs. Panini,” Wall Street Journal, July 2008 https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB121728991165891557

 In the past two decades about 200,000 people – mostly Westerners in their 40s and 50s – have moved to Montana, while about 100,000 people have left, estimates Larry Swanson, director of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana.  [ … ]  Since 2000, over 80% of the state’s population growth and 90% of personal income growth has taken place in a handful of urbanizing western counties and those nearby.  The result is a ‘transitioning culture,’ Mr. Swanson says. “That’s putting the politics in play.”


"Montana deal paves way for developer," Spokesman Review/Washington Post, July 2008 < http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2008/jul/05/montana-deal-paves-way-for-developer/ >

A decade ago, while repairing an image as the "Darth Vader of the timber industry," as one congressman put it, the company showcased good-forestry practices on a hillside above Flathead Lake. That parcel is now Eagle's Crest, a gated subdivision with its own airstrip and lots on offer for $100,000 an acre. Remote corners of Swan Valley are selling for $11,000 an acre, with broker inquiries arriving from Europe. By comparison, the "net present value per acre of forest" runs at most $500, said Larry Swanson, director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana.

"It's a pretty straightforward proposition: The region's economy is moving from extraction to amenities, and you would expect the same thing to happen with its largest landowner," Swanson said. "It's a tough deal. Change is hard, and this is pretty fundamental change. But what's happening here is perfectly understandable."

"Blixseth, Redford helped shoulder state into new economy," Bozeman Chronicle, June 2008 https://bozemanluxuryrealestate.wordpress.com/tag/robert-redford/

New waves of homesteaders have arrived and they aren't like the honyockers of the early 20th century, the people lured west by hucksters who promised that rain would follow the plow. The first wave of homesteaders came here for free land and a chance to make a living. Most of them went broke. The new homesteaders are a different sort. Few of them come here looking to expand their wealth. Instead, they bring their own money. Economically, they make their own rain, and a lot of people are hoisting buckets, trying to catch some.

"Lots of people with wealth, whether they're part-timers or not, don't necessarily do their banking here," said Larry Swanson, an economist at the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at University of Montana. Measuring the impact of the new wealth in Montana, Swanson said, is like looking at an iceberg: Most of the bulk is underwater and unseen, but that's what packs the wallop. At Blixseth's Yellowstone Club alone, 340 millionaires have already bought land. And Blixseth says he's confident he can bring in about 500 more.

"Recession will touch Montana, warns economist," Billings Gazette, May 2008


As energy costs continue to spike and the state's housing industry continues to slow, Montana will be touched by the national recession, according to economist Larry Swanson, director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Missoula. "To say we're recession-proof, as the housing market slows and financial markets fluctuate, is silly," Swanson said. "I think you're going to see significantly less construction activity in the next few years, especially in residential."

"More baby boomers are heading to the Rocky Mountain West," Tampa Bay Times, Feb. 2008 < http://www.sptimes.com/2008/02/26/50plus/More_baby_boomers_are.shtml >

"Retirees find colder weather areas to spend their golden years," Orange County Register, Jan. 2008 < http://www.ocregister.com/2008/01/07/retirees-discover-colder-weather-areas-to-spend-their-golden-years/ >

"Montana's got wind, needs power lines," Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 2008 < https://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/Energy/2008/1229/montana-s-got-wind-needs-power-lines >

They talk a lot about wind power, but their real interest is vastly expanded use of coal in generating electricity," says Larry Swanson , a regional economist at the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana in Missoula . Schweitzer does not deny that federally funded transmission lines would also help his state's coal industry. He says he is a strong advocate not just for renewables but for so-called clean coal technologies.


"Transfer of Wealth: Let's keep it in Montana for a change," Helena Independent, Dec. 2007


The Montana Community Foundation recently completed a study* to estimate the amount of accumulated wealth right here in Montana that will transfer from one generation to the next over the next 50 years. In just 10 years, the estimated transfer is $8.8 billion. If we as good planners and grateful citizens can retain five percent of this estimate, $442 million, in permanent funds and distribute it at a conservative rate of five percent, we will have $22 million a year to support the charitable programs and services that make Montana communities places we love to call home.

*Wealth in Montana, September 2006, part of the Montana Transfer of Wealth Analysis Project directed by the Community Assistance Initiative (CAI), an affiliated fund within the Nebraska Community Foundation. Montana advisers to the project were: Linda Reed, president and CEO of the Montana Community Foundation; Dr. Larry Swanson, executive director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West; Mary Craigle, Montana Department of Revenue; Pam Harris and Susan Ockert, Montana Department of Commerce, Tyler Turner, Montana Department of Labor, and Doug Young, professor of agricultural economics, Montana State University.

Presentation to Montana Legislature's Revenue Committee: "Key trends in growth and change in Montana," Helena, Dec. 2007



"Help wanted ads go unanswered in the West," Washington Post, Aug. 2007 < http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/25/AR2007082500351.html >

Unemployment rates have been as low as 2 percent this year in places like Montana, and nearly as low in neighboring states. Economists cite such factors as an aging work force and booming tourism economies for the tight labor market. "This is actually the biggest economic story of our time, and we don't quite grasp it because it is 15 years in the making," said economist Larry Swanson, director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana.

"Plum Creek steps up public relations," Missoulian, June 2007 https://www.nrcm.org/maine-environmental-news/plum-creek-steps-up-public-relations/

Missoula-based economist Larry Swanson said he's met with consultants from San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver, all hired by Plum Creek, as well as with company staffers. "They're laying the groundwork for some serious public relations," Swanson said. "It seems to me that they're working on the new identity of the company, and how to position the company in the community."

Swanson said the consultants were "very progressive," and recognized that Plum Creek's changing face is part of a transition affecting the entire regional economy. "It's like this," he said, "how long can you afford to grow corn on Long Island? The values of this landscape are changing, and Plum Creek recognizes its part of that change." Change can be painful, though, Swanson said, and only once Plum Creek learns to "do it right" can the company expect to dodge criticism for its real estate projects. Learning, of course, means listening, and that means a formal communication plan for reaching out to local stakeholders.

"On fringe of forests, homes and fires meet," New York Times, June 2007 < http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/26/us/26fire.html?mcubz=0 >

"It's like ocean frontage," said Larry Swanson, an economist at the University of Montana in Missoula who studies public lands. "You would not have these high private property values without the public lands nearby, and the public lands are a huge part of the package that is driving the growth trends."

"Economist: State missing chance to invest in urban areas fueling growth," Helena Independent Record, Jan. 2007 http://helenair.com/news/politics/economist-state-missing-chance-to-invest-in-urban-areas-fueling/article_945def0b-7b6d-5598-b8f4-9da7f1b7d174.html

As Montana's economy booms around its urban areas, the state is missing the chance to invest in these vehicles of economic growth, a pair of experts told legislators and other leaders in Helena Monday night. "We can focus all our energy on our biggest problems or we can focus all our energy on our biggest opportunity," said Larry Swanson, a Missoula economist. "This is vitality that needs to be harnessed."

Swanson, director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana, said major cities in the state are unable to respond to economic growth because they can't raise money for things like infrastructure and schools. Local, voter-approved city sales taxes are one way to finance these needs, but cities can't do that without authority from the Legislature, he said.

“Wealth in Montana – Final Technical Report,” report by Don Macke, Community Assistance Initiative, Nebraska Community Foundation, for the Montana Community Foundation, Nov. 2006
Wealth in Montana

This Final Technical Report has been prepared for the Montana Community Foundation. This report contains the analysis undertaken as part of the Montana Transfer of Wealth Analysis Project sponsored by the Foundation. Other reports available from this Project include an Executive Summary Report and reports for each of Montana’s counties.

Dr. Larry Swanson with the Center for the Rocky Mountain West has been actively engaged in our TOW analysis. Dr. Swanson prepared county and state level population projections for the study period (2005 to 2055). These population projections provide -Understanding Montana’s Population Trends a reasonable view on population trends in Montana over this long period of time. The following special insert provides additional background on Dr. Swanson’s population analysis and projections.


Speaking at Leadership Montana, Nov. 2006 http://www.matr.net/print-21546.html

"Are we getting affordable care from this $1.5B juggernaut," Montana Standard, Sept. 2006 http://mtstandard.com/news/hospital-costs/article_5f2827ef-946d-52ce-ba34-f78882f7f0b4.html

"Saving the Golden Goose - Will Montana conserve the natural resources fueling its economic growth," Montana Outdoors, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, June 2006 http://fwp.mt.gov/mtoutdoors/HTML/articles/2006/mtchallenge.htm

Swanson, of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West, notes that many Montanans traditionally looked at environmental protection and enhancement as the enemy of economic improvement. Not anymore. "More and more communities are seeing that a healthy environment is essential for sustained economic prosperity," he says. That's also the challenge for western Montana communities. To remain economically strong, says Swanson, they'll need to conserve wildlife, protect and restore healthy landscapes, and maintain public access. "In other words, not kill the goose that lays the golden egg," he says.

"A New Green Revolution - In Montana's dying farm country 'vanguard agriculture' puts people back on the land," High Country News, Dec. 2005 < http://www.hcn.org/issues/313/16001 >

University of Montana economist Larry Swanson says the state's small cities are "actually relatively high performers" in terms of economic well-being. The state's urban and scenic areas are mostly in its mountainous western part, and they continue to draw the overwhelming percentage of new immigrants. Nonetheless, a growing number of people refuse to accept the demise of rural Montana. They are not the well-meaning rustic immigrants with trust funds. Nor are they members of Montana's traditional triumvirate of logging, commodity agriculture, and mining - the people who angrily dismiss the New Economy, declaring the state will never regain her sheen until she returns to the old ways. These optimists are the founders and practitioners of what might be called vanguard agriculture, dryland farmers who are finding new ways to grow and market their produce.

"Not here, surely? The poorest part of America," The Economist, Dec. 2005 < http://www.economist.com/node/5280905 >

94th Annual Conference - Montana Association of Counties, Lewistown, MT, 2004 - presentations


MONTANA ECONOMIC GROWTH Larry Swanson, Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana 11

One problem … is understanding some of the economic issues and opportunities that we have. Most of what we learn about our own economy comes from information that's developed about Montana as a whole. There really isn't one Montana economy. Montana is a large geography and within that geography are different regional economies, which are going in different directions. They are much different at their very core. When we put together information about the Montana economy, we tend to put together information from different areas. Then when you aggregate it statewide, it basically doesn't tell you much of anything at all.

"Cities ask Legislature for Local Option Tax Authority," Helena Independent Record, Jan. 2005 < http://helenair.com/news/politics/cities-ask-legislature-for-local-option-tax-authority/article_e395d3ce-3101-50cc-b8b6-fa18512832d9.html >

Montana's seven largest cities are growing economically, but they need the Legislature to allow them to place local-option taxes before voters to help pay for various public works projects, speakers at a Montana on the Move luncheon said Tuesday. This project, launched by civic and business leaders in the seven cities, sponsored a lunch at the Great Northern Best Western Hotel for lawmakers to promote the group's goals. More than 100 people attended. The effort, a project of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana, uses economic and demographic material developed by Larry Swanson, the center's associate director, as a platform for communities to address the opportunities and challenges presented by Montana's changing economies.

"The whole concept of regional economies is so important," said master of ceremonies Mike Gulledge, publisher of The Billings Gazette. "The most important thing we've got to talk about is economic development," Gov. Brian Schweitzer told the crowd.

"Montana's cities - engines for solid growth," May 2004


In Montana, Dr. Larry Swanson (hey, he's got a Ph.D.) has spent most of the past several years trying to persuade us that we are no longer sick, that in fact we're in better health than a lot of our peers. But the second and third opinions that we get from politicians, economists and (I have to add) some editorial writers cultivate the perception that we're on our death bed. What Swanson, associate director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana, has been saying to anyone who will listen is that most of the state is actually doing quite well. Swanson says Billings and similar cities in the Rocky Mountain West are growing because people who can choose where they want to work are choosing us. His main point is that we've focused for too long on how to solve problems - reviving agriculture, bringing back mining, developing businesses on Indian reservations - in sectors of the economy where there is very little to work with, or where most of what happens is beyond our control.

Meanwhile, we ignore the economic growth that is being handed to us on a platter. Swanson says cities are the new engines of economic growth, and they ought to be charting their own economic futures, and helping the whole state in the process, not waiting for guidance from Helena. Just as generals usually fight the last war, politicians usually try to fix the last decade's economy. Swanson doesn't try to pretend he has all the answers, or any answers at all. He's got the information - so much of it that I can hardly begin to summarize it here. He promises to have all his statewide data posted by Thursday on the city of Billings Web site, http://ci.billings.mt.us , and the Celebrate Billings site, http://www.celebratebillings.com .

"Montana on the Move" project led by the O'Connor Center "Leaders promote economic growth," Montana Standard, January 2005 < http://mtstandard.com/news/state-and-regional/leaders-promote-economic-growth/article_5f01b8d6-4663-56fb-a211-f2323bb52e07.html >

"Our Way of Life Special Report: We are three," Montana Standard, Nov. 2002 http://mtstandard.com/news/our-way-of-life-special-report-we-are-three/article_d8f29e10-b52f-51d1-a52c-54fc69f55502.html

"Perception is reality, and the problem in Montana is often that perception is dead wrong," Swanson said. Swanson, an expert on regional economic and demographic change in the Western United States, developed the three-region model in partnership with George Masnick of Hamilton, a semi-retired demographer and a senior fellow with the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. Swanson and Masnick originally set out to demonstrate statistically what everybody "knew," that Montana was clearly divided into eastern and western halves. But when they began sifting through the data, including census figures for 1980, 1990, and 2000, they realized they had something more complicated on their hands.


"Will oil, loyalty trump western traditions at Interior?" EENews Energy Wire, Dec. 2016 https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060046555

Managing those millions of acres is a balancing act between preservation and development. To find the right balance, some say, it helps to have lived there. Coming in with a purely pro-development view of public lands won't work as well as it once did in many parts of the West, said the University of Montana's Swanson. Nor would a purely preservationist view. He says Westerners demand a more nuanced approach to development.

"The view from afar is that you're either for it or against it," he said. "The view from afar can be absolutely wrong."

"The O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West," Journal of the West, Fall 2013


The University of Montana and Missoula lie at nearly the center of this increasingly recognizable and important trans-national region of North America. The O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West was founded in recognition of the importance of this larger region to the identity of the state of Montana and to the university itself.

References in "State of the Rockies," Colorado College, 2011 https://www.coloradocollege.edu/dotAsset/92d3f9cc-4169-45a8-bc38-65c05892c592.pdf

We are proud to continue Colorado College's long tradition of contributing to and strengthening our surrounding region's social, economic, and environmental qualities. The Colorado College State of the Rockies Project is designed to provide a thoughtful, objective voice in regional issues by offering credible research on challenges and problems facing the Rocky Mountain West ..

Defining the Rocky Mountain West (book reference and citation) https://books.google.com/books?id=xv5ivm13_0oC&pg=PR15&lpg=PR15&dq=larry+swanson,+rocky+mountain+west&source=bl&ots=WUcIchxa3K&sig=korn-gZHXCRtgM6d3l75MBs3CMQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjT27eUpbnWAhUY8WMKHaIkCKs4ChDoAQgrMAE#v=onepage&q=larry%20swanson%2C%20rocky%20mountain%20west&f=false

"Mountain States feel job pinch," Spokesman-Review, Oct. 2010 http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/oct/23/mountain-states-feel-job-pinch/

"We got pulled in a little bit later than the rest of the country," said Larry Swanson, an economist at the University of Montana and director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West. Now "we are catching up," he said. After previous recessions, the region has usually benefited from rebounds in homebuilding, tourism and other service industries, said Addison Franz, an assistant economist at Moody's Analytics. But those trends haven't helped this time. Idaho has seen the second-steepest rise in unemployment in the nation since the recession began, to 9 percent from 3.5 percent in December 2007.

"Tough economic times head West after recession," San Diego Union-Tribune, Oct. 2010 < http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-tough-economic-times-head-west-after-recession-2010oct22-story.html >

"Remote West Becoming Economic No Man's Land," NPR interview with Swanson by NPR's Scott Simon, Feb. 2010 , http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123919422

"Bridging the Divide - Strategic Conservation for Today's Rural West," Resource Media, 2009 http://www.resource-media.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Bridging-The-Divide.pdf

The West continues to be center stage for conservation. The first Earth Day was announced in Seattle. America's first bottle bill and landmark land use laws came from Oregon. California's building efficiency codes, pollution prevention standards and ocean protections set the pace for the nation. Issues such as water allocation, public lands and energy policy, endangered species recovery, and growth and development dominate Western public life as in few other regions. Every year, conservationists invest tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars and uncounted hours to protect land, water, air and wildlife in the rural West. Economist Larry Swanson of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West said in the past, people came to the West following jobs in the fields, mines and the mills. In today's footloose economy, Swanson said, jobs follow the people and the people move to find the highest quality of life, most often in a beautiful, clean, natural setting. In the West, the environment matters.

"First Fed reports lending growth despite economy," MagicValley.com (Idaho), Feb. 2009 http://magicvalley.com/business/local/first-fed-reports-lending-growth-despite-economy/article_2bef4211-f653-5475-b559-ca1ffde44039.html

Related Document Larry Swanson, an economist with the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana, discusses the prospects for south-central Idaho during the annual First Federal breakfast on Wednesday morning. See the information that Swanson presented to local business leaders.

"Bankruptcy in the Big Sky: Mile High Clubs in Trouble," Wyo-file, Dec. 2008 < http://www.wyofile.com/bankruptcy-in-big-sky-mile-high-clubs-in-trouble/ >

"The Emergence of Cross-Border Regions Between Canada and the United States: Reaping the promise and public value of cross-border regional relationships , Policy Research Initiative, Government of Canada, Nov. 2008 http://www.uquebec.ca/observgo/fichiers/37072_2.pdf

It is well known that Canada and the United States are becoming increasingly intertwined. However, there is a strong regional story to these Canada-US linkages, and this story lies in the borderlands. [ … ] Clearly, a turning point has been reached, where the management of Canada-US relations is evolving into something much more dynamic and sophisticated- involving not only the Canadian and US federal governments, but the provinces and states, private businesses and civil organizations as well, in a plethora of informal and formal relationships and networks all concerned with the practical problem solving of common challenges and issues in the border regions of Canada and the United States.

Cross-Border Regions Between Canada and the United States, Synthesis Report Roundtable Series: Montréal, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Waterloo, Sackville, and Ottawa, Policy Research Initiative, Govt. of Canada, May 2006 < http://www.thetbwg.org/downloads/The_Emergence_of_CrossBorder_Regions.pdf >

Four major cross-border regions were identified: the West, the Prairies-Great Plains, the Great Lakes-Heartland, and the East which in turn could be further divided into the two overlapping sub-regions of Quebec Northern New England, and Atlantic-New England. On the other side of the country, Alberta and Montana have commonalities with both the West and the Prairies-Great Plains, and so are included in each, but could in fact be thought of as a separate sub-region perhaps called Rocky Mountain. Ottawa, Ontario Roundtable, March 6-7, 2006 Speakers (pg. 75 of report), including: Larry Swanson Director Center for the Rocky Mountain West

"Report of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group: Cross-Border Regions: Ottawa Roundtable , hosted by the Policy Research Initiative (Privy Council Office) and the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group, Ottawa, Ontario, March 6-7, 2006 < http://www.parl.ca/iiapublications/Document.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&sbdid=647a0851-8009-442b-b289-0413d4bb8898&sbpid=cca4a9cf-dc50-4be4-8962-99379edf6dfa&sbpidx=1 >

Elements of successful communication include: clearly articulated objectives, leadership and champions, managing expectations (Rocky Mountain West, Larry Swanson, Director, Center for the Rocky Mountain West, Montana, roundtable participant)

Rocky Mountain West is one of the United States fastest-growing regions and there is rapid growth on both sides of the border,

City regions make sense in terms of pulling people together and engaging them

The economy of the future will be knowledge-, information- and service-based, and will be more "footloose" in terms of people and jobs

Increasingly, people want to live close to environmental amenities

Many areas have an agricultural sector that is unprofitable, and this situation is not sustainable, especially without government support and off-farm income

Important considerations include: the quality of the community, the quality of the workforce, and the quality of the environment [cited in the report]

"Out of the wilderness - people are shunning the great outdoors," The Economist, July 2008 http://www.economist.com/node/11707142

Falling enthusiasm for what the writer Wallace Stegner called America's "best idea" is especially striking in such a fast-growing part of the country. Since 1994 California has swollen from 31.5m to over 38m people. The speediest growth is inland, close to parks like Joshua Tree, Sequoia and Yosemite. The same pattern holds further east. Larry Swanson of the Centre for the Rocky Mountain West notes a strong correlation between population increase and proximity to national parks and forests. Americans plainly think it is a good idea to live near national parks, but they are not so keen on visiting them.

America's environmental movement emerged in the 19th century to push for national parks. In the 20th century it sold them to the public through photographs and writing. It now seems bent on driving people away from them.

"Plum Creek, Top Economists to Keynote New West Conference," NewWest News, July 2008


We're also very pleased to announce that Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics will once again offer his highly engaging and, based on past performance, eerily accurate analysis of the regional real estate market. His talk will be followed by a discussion featuring three top regional economists: Larry Swanson of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West, David Eacret of North Idaho Real Estate Economics, and Toby Madden of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

“In West mining’s return faces resistance,” Christian Science Monitor, May 2008

< https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2008/0502/p02s01-usgn.html>

BOISE, IDAHO — Not many cities can boast downtowns with both high-end jobs and river raft launches. That's what brought newcomers like the Gattiker family to Boise in droves – and what's driving them crazy about the coming of a gold mine.

The economic imperative decades ago was ‘we have to do the mine, it’s all we can look to,’ says Larry Swanson, an economist at the University of Montana’s Center for the Rocky Mountain West.  “And now we’ve had this amenity-based growth and … the reality is now people are living off the scenergy.  People wouldn’t be coming without it.”

“Mining booms may be a 10-or-15 year proposition,” says Dr. Swanson.  “We have a lot of experience with what happens after that – nothing.  Except a clean up.  And litigation.”

"Conservation in the New West," Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Apr. 2008 < https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/special-reports/wealth_series/conservation/conservation-in-the-new-west/article_0a62886d-f733-5147-be08-0087b55b23a6.html >

The entire Rockies region is booming. It's the fastest-growing region in the nation, leading some demographers to call it "the Third Coast." A big part of the attraction comes from the national parks and the spectacular wildlands that surround them. "Why did these places become national parks in the first place?" asked Larry Swanson, an economist for the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana. "Because they're gorgeous." However, as the population grows, the public lands become more crowded. Between 1999 and 2006, the number of public land acres for each person in the Rockies declined by 18 percent, according to Colorado College. That's not because the public estate has shriveled. It's because more people are coming here.

"Forget Florida, Baby boomers go West," Aspen Times, Dec. 2007 < http://www.aspentimes.com/news/forget-florida-baby-boomers-go-west/ >

"Natural amenities more important to economy than drilling in the Rockies," Red Lodge Clearinghouse, Oct. 2007 http://www.rlch.org/news/natural-amenities-more-important-economy-drilling-rockies

When it comes to the economy of the Rocky Mountain West, recreation and tourism trumps oil and gas development and other traditional land uses, according to a new report from the Wilderness Society.

"The driver for the economic expansion that has occurred in the larger Rocky Mountain West region over the last 15 or more years is the amenities that have attracted more and more people, businesses, and income to our region," said Larry Swanson of the University of Montana, during a Sept. 27 teleconference. And cities and states that do not take care of land and water resources will "have much less to offer in the future," undermining their potential for economic security, Swanson added. [ … ] The report, "Natural Dividends: Wildland Protection and the Changing Economy of the Rocky Mountain West," concludes that while the economic contributions of extractive industries remained static, the importance of non-extractive amenities on public lands has grown substantially.

"Nature fuels economy of the West," Denver Post, Sept. 2007 http://www.denverpost.com/2007/09/27/nature-fuels-economy-of-west-analysis-finds/

Hikers on Gray's Peak or elk hunters in the woods could be more valuable to Colorado than oil and gas wells, according to a Wilderness Society analysis released Thursday. Economic studies have found that people put a value of $45 on a day hiking and a value of $52 on a day hunting, said Jennifer Thacher, a University of New Mexico economist and co-author of the new study. [ … ]

"Obviously, we still need to pursue oil and gas and other energy resources," said Larry Swanson, a University of Montana economist. "But we will have to be increasingly careful as to how and where we do this, accounting for the rising economic importance of our amenity assets."

"Want a Job, Go West," NBC News, 8-24-2007 < http://www.nbcnews.com/id/20427902#.WcL8UsiGOUk >

Rural community survival, lecture in Nebraska, April 2007

< http://journalstar.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/economist-talks-about-hope-for-rural-survival/article_2e709d8c-0713-5cbb-8ab3-f06b18f9c456.html >

An audience of about 100 listened to Swanson, director of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, give a presentation at the Great Plains Art Museum. It was the second in a series of annual talks about grassland conservation and rural sustainability sponsored by the Grassland Foundation. Swanson blitzed his listeners with a series of slides showing population, aging, income and other trends in the central Great Plains. Forty-two of Nebraska's most rural, isolated counties have lost population since the 2000 Census, he said.

Such counties are not only seeing people leave; they're experiencing death rates that are higher than birth rates. That means that by 2015, many of those counties will see growth in just one age group: 65 and older. "It's happening fast and we can't catch up with it unless we really work at it," he said.

Speaker says communities must act to reverse population decrease, Lincoln Journal, Apr. 2007 http://journalstar.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/speaker-say-communities-must-act-to-reverse-population-decrease/article_c655ecfb-f558-54c3-9494-bde129c80bcb.html

"Economist talks about hopes for rural survival," Lincoln Journal, Apr. 2007 < http://journalstar.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/economist-talks-about-hope-for-rural-survival/article_2e709d8c-0713-5cbb-8ab3-f06b18f9c456.html >

Swanson, a native of Edgar who earned a doctorate in economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has closely studied population growth in the Rocky Mountain states that started in the 1990s and continues now. The growth was fueled by economic shifts -downsizing by large companies, outsourcing to smaller companies and globalization - that allowed companies and people to move to non-urban areas. In other words, they moved to where they wanted to live. "The geography of economic activity is now a moving target," he said. "All the old textbooks need to be thrown away. The old economy encouraged urbanization. The new economy encourages growth where people want to live."

"The rural West's pragmatic booster," High Country News, Sept., 2006

< http://www.hcn.org/issues/329/16517 >

An economist and demographer at the University of Montana's Center for the Rocky Mountain West, Swanson creates easy-to-read demographic charts documenting the dramatic population shifts from rural areas to urban. Those shifts have left large swaths of the West with dwindling populations and impoverished agricultural areas.

Image result for larry swanson, montana\

Name Larry Swanson
Vocation Economist and demographer

Home Base Center for the Rocky Mountain West, Missoula, Mont.
Known for Hair-raising presentations about dramatic shifts in Mountain West demography and economics.
He says "We can't successfully adapt to change without a fuller understanding of it. Good people with good information make good decisions."

Larry Swanson's office overlooking the Clark Fork River in Missoula suffers from a severe case of paper piling. No surface is spared, including the floor. Swanson is a man with a mission: keeping the rural West alive. Why bother with excessive housekeeping? An economist and demographer at the University of Montana's Center for the Rocky Mountain West, Swanson creates easy-to-read demographic charts documenting the dramatic population shifts from rural areas to urban. Those shifts have left large swaths of the West with dwindling populations and impoverished agricultural areas.

This is familiar territory for Swanson, who grew up on a 700-acre farm in Nebraska, and wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the decline of the rural Plains. During the 1970s, he directed the Great Plains Office of Policy Studies at the University of Nebraska. He watched farm groups and academics perform "rain dances to ideology," arguing for price supports and tax provisions that, in the end, only skewed the economics of farming and hastened the decline of family farms. The fallout continues today; from 2000 to 2005, 83 out of 93 counties in Nebraska lost population.

Cross-Border Regions Between Canada and the United States, Synthesis Report Roundtable Series: Montréal, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Waterloo, Sackville, and Ottawa, Policy Research Initiative, Govt. of Canada, May 2006 < http://www.thetbwg.org/downloads/The_Emergence_of_CrossBorder_Regions.pdf>

Four major cross-border regions were identified: the West, the Prairies-Great Plains, the Great Lakes-Heartland, and the East which in turn could be further divided into the two overlapping sub-regions of Quebec Northern New England, and Atlantic-New England. On the other side of the country, Alberta and Montana have commonalities with both the West and the Prairies-Great Plains, and so are included in each, but could in fact be thought of as a separate sub-region perhaps called Rocky Mountain. Ottawa, Ontario Roundtable, March 6–7, 2006 Speakers (pg. 75 of report), including: Larry Swanson Director Center for the Rocky Mountain West

“Report of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group: Cross-Border Regions: Ottawa Roundtable, hosted by the Policy Research Initiative (Privy Council Office) and the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group, Ottawa, Ontario, March 6-7, 2006 < http://www.parl.ca/iiapublications/Document.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&sbdid=647a0851-8009-442b-b289-0413d4bb8898&sbpid=cca4a9cf-dc50-4be4-8962-99379edf6dfa&sbpidx=1>

Elements of successful communication include: clearly articulated objectives, leadership and champions, managing expectations (Rocky Mountain West, Larry Swanson, Director, Center for the Rocky Mountain West, Montana, roundtable participant) Rocky Mountain West is one of the United States fastest-growing regions and there is rapid growth on both sides of the border, City regions make sense in terms of pulling people together and engaging them The economy of the future will be knowledge-, information- and service-based, and will be more “footloose” in terms of people and jobs Increasingly, people want to live close to environmental amenities 

Many areas have an agricultural sector that is unprofitable, and this situation is not sustainable, especially without government support and off-farm income

Important considerations include: the quality of the community, the quality of the workforce, and the quality of the environment [cited in the report]

"In cities of the Mountain West, a new model for growth," Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 2005 < https://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0823/p01s04-ussc.html >

Indeed, this new phase of Mountain-state expansion is characterized by a phenomenon that transcends this region, but is arguably being perfected here: the coming-of-age of small and medium-size cities as the new engines of US economic growth. Workers "are gravitating toward places of their choosing," says Larry Swanson, an economist at the University of Montana's Center for the Rocky Mountain West. "Twenty years ago I'd say, 'I can't eat the scenery.' Today I can."

< https://newwest.net/main/article/boise_a_model_for_growth/ >

"Challenges of change and growth for the rural West," KNPR radio (Nevada), Sept. 2000 https://knpr.org/knpr/2000-09/rural-future

"Remapping hope -- The Center for the Rocky Mountain West," Montanan, Winter 1998

< http://archive.umt.edu/montanan/w98/rocky.html >

The idea of taking a broad look at the region and the issues it faces has been tossed around for years by some of the University's most distinguished faculty-H.G. Merriam, K. Ross Toole, Paul Phillips and Richard Hugo. In 1992, with a $600,000 gift to the University, the idea came to fruition. The center's endowment is currently nearly $3 million, thanks to a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant and support from donors, most notably Carroll and Nancy Fields O'Connor. A $300,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation will also help support the center's operations over the next three years.


The center acts as a bridge between the academic world and the community at large and operates on two basic premises: that communities up and down the Rockies face similar issues with values more similar than they might suppose. And that the region-and its people-is experiencing major social and economic transitions caused by globalism and a massive population shift. In the next decade, regionalism will grow in importance as the Rockies-both American and Canadian-expect to record the nations' largest population growth. "It's a real challenge," says Swanson. "But it's also an opportunity to rethink this region economically, socially, politically and environmentally."

Landmark study: "Rocky Mountain Trade Corridor - Implications for Transportation Planning in Montana and the Rocky Mountain West," 1993 (article by Swanson)

< https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Rocky+Mountain+trade+corridor.-a014172611 >

Fundamental changes now underway may dramatically redefine economic life in Montana and usher in a new economic era for the state and region. These changes are tied to expanding cross-border trade and commerce between Canada and the United States under the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement adopted in January 1989. Under an expanded "North American economic community," as outlined under the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement (or NAFTA), this relationship would include Mexico as well. Under NAFTA, a continentally-based economy will slowly take shape, just as in Europe under the EEC. As it does, economic activity in North America will take on new and different forms, particularly in border regions. New patterns of north-south economic and business relations will develop across national boundaries. The spatial forms these relations take will be particularly important for businesses and communities in border regions like Montana.

The Center for the New West 6015 study team includes Barton-Aschman Associates and the Alliance for Transportation Research (Sandia and Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico, New Mexico State University, and University of New Mexico) studying trade, traffic and transportation in the U.S.-Mexico border region, and the University of Montana (Swanson) and the Leeper, Cambridge and Campbell consulting firm of Alexandria, Virginia, studying trade and transportation in the western U.S.-Canada border region. Many individual subcontractors also are assisting in the study.

"Potential Development of a Rocky Mountain Trade Corridor," Swanson, Montana Policy Review, Montana State University, 1992 http://www.msulocalgov.org/images/mprspring1992.pdf

If U.S.-Canada trade does expand in the West, it will not happen in random fashion. Transportation grids link resources and input suppliers, manufacturers and processors, wholesalers and distributors, and retailers and consumers. The movement of materials, goods, and people involved in trade tends to become channeled into a few particularly favorable routes having particularly favorable transportation systems. As regional trade expands and becomes routine these transportation routes and systems become well-defined "trade corridors."


"Mapping and Assessing real regions as they exist in geographic and economic space," Swanson keynote, 12th Pascal International Conference, Catania, Sicily, Oct. 2015 < http://pascalobservatory.org/pascalnow/pascal-activities/news/reports-12th-pascal-international-conference-%E2%80%93-connecting-cities-an >

"Positioning communities for greater economic prosperity in a changing economy," presentation, Pacific Northwest Economic Conference, July 2007

< http://www.pnedc.net/docs/PastConf07/LarrySwanson-GrowthandChange.pdf >

"Can the Path be Altered? Salvaging and Renewing Communities of the Rural Plains" - keynote presentation, second-annual lecture on "Grassland Conservation and Sustainable Communities" on Thursday, April 12, 2007 < http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=ruralinitiativepubs >

Dr. Larry Swanson, Director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana, delivered the second-annual lecture on "Grassland Conservation and Sustainable Communities" on Thursday, April 12, 2007. Dr. Swanson's message that there is hope for rural communities if we act aggressively and immediately was heard by a crowd of 140 at the Great Plains Art Museum in Lincoln, NE. You can learn more about the lecture in the article below or by visiting www.grasslandfoundation.org . We would like to think everyone who attended. A special thanks to the co-sponsors: the Center for Great Plains Studies, the Rural Initiative at UNL, the UNL Economics Department, the Center for Grasslands Studies, the UNL School of Natural Resources, the RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, and the Prairie Plains Resources Institute.