Kalispell Chamber details agenda

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Buoyed by a new highway bypass and strong growth in the retail, health-care and tourist industries, the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce expects a good year for the local economy.

“We have a lot of momentum going into 2017,” Kalispell Chamber President Joe Unterreiner told members at the Chamber’s annual meeting last week.

The Chamber rolled out its agenda for the coming year, dividing its goals into four sectors: grow as a regional trade center, build on infrastructure momentum, accelerate nonresident tourism growth and increase Chamber member value.

On the commercial front, Unterreiner pointed to continued development in the fourth phase of Spring Prairie and the launch of Kalispell North Town Center, the former Glacier Town Center site that is targeted for an initial phase of 11 commercial lots and one multifamily residential lot north of Kalispell. Expansion at Kalispell Center Mall with the doubling in size of the Herberger’s store is a plus for Kalispell’s downtown core, he said.

The recent deal with the city of Kalispell and Flathead County Economic Development Authority to help Northwest Drywall relocate to the Glacier Rail Park is another tangible accomplishment that will give that redevelopment project momentum in the coming year.

Continued residential growth in subdivisions such as Silverbrook and the addition of a 124-bed student-housing facility at Flathead Valley Community College are other projects that fall in line with the Chamber’s policy agenda that supports well-planned growth, he said.

The recent completion of the U.S. 93 bypass was a long-awaited infrastructure project, and other projects are poised to fall in line.

“This coming year we will push for the design and funding for the next round of transportation and infrastructure projects, including Reserve Drive between U.S. 2 and U.S. 93, Willow Glen, Main Street and the conversion of the south half of the bypass to four lanes,” Unterreiner said.

In the visitor arena, the Kalispell Convention and Visitor Bureau is launching a “Bring it Home” referral program this year that offers incentives for Chamber and community members who provide leads for organizations or groups who will bring meetings and conventions to Kalispell.

Unterreiner said the Chamber also is striving to increase value for its members through adjustments and enhancements this year that will help members “stay relevant” in a rapidly changing area. The Chamber plans to create a new website and bring its banner advertising and Kalispell map services in-house.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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