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Missoula, MT
MSA: Missoula, MT
Best places ranking: #10 among small metro areas
Population: 107,320
Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Missoula is quintessential Big Sky country, with the requisite ranchers, hunters and cowboy hats. But the industries that really support the city are 21st century: education, healthcare, government and small business. Missoula is the state's second largest and one of its most sophisticated cities, in part because it's home to the University of Montana -- a magnet for the West's best students, teachers and researchers. It has many of the cultural amenities of a larger city, unparalleled natural beauty, and countless opportunities for outdoor recreation, like biking, fishing, hiking and skiing. Office space is reasonably priced and there's plenty of it.

Because it's also a regional medical center, with two nonprofit hospitals, there are a growing number of medical device and biotech startups here. The university's School of Forestry has helped foster a growing green-tech sector as well.

There are few local tax breaks for businesses outside of eco-development projects, and housing prices are a bit high for the region -- the median home price is around $260,000. But aspiring entrepreneurs can get running start with help from the Montana Community Development Corporation. The nonprofit lends $3 million a year to startups and small businesses, largely those that don't qualify for standard bank loans. In the last three years, the amount of money loaned out by MTCDC has tripled. -Eilene Zimmerman

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Missoula, MT


Local smallbiz lenders

  • Glacier Bancorp
  • Flathead Holding Company Of Bi
  • Yellowstone Holding Company
  • Stockman Financial Corporation
  • First Interstate Bancsystem I
See all local lenders

Missoula Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
4,183 3,516
Small business growth rate
8.6% 4.1%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
6 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
39.4% 23.5%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
296.4 385.1
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
3,447.1 3,395.2
Population growth
7.5% 4.93%
Per-capita income
$33,587 $31,933
Per-capita income growth
24.5% 23.6%
GDP (in millions)
$4,200 $4,952
GDP growth
38% 33%
Average hourly wage
$16.48 $17.50
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
1,635 850
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$750 $737
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
3.1% 1.8%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
2.2% 1.7%
HPI deviation from long-term average
43% 0.1%

All statistics are for the full Metropolitan Statistical Area. For a complete list of data sources, see "How we picked the Best Places."

From the November 2009 issue
"Missoula is a very livable city, and there is a growing group of networking entrepreneurs here." -Don Kiely
Best Places Winners
What do you think of Missoula?
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Do you prefer a place that is: Small Medium Large
The factors that matter most to me are:
 Affordable wages  Few foreclosures
 Educated workers  Low housing costs
 Low crime  High local incomes
 A growing economy  Population growth
 Growing small business population

ireportTell us why: Low taxes? Talented workers? An active small business community? Send us your photos and videos, and you could be featured in our upcoming coverage of reader-picked Best Places to Launch. More
This year we partnered with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to find the 50 most business-friendly communities in America.

With help from Robert Fairlie, an economist and leading scholar of entrepreneurship at the University of California, Santa Cruz, we developed a methodology and sifted through such data on factors such as per capita income, hourly wages, workforce quality, crime rates, taxes and foreclosures. More

Comments? E-mail the editors
Data partners

This package was produced in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Foreclosure data provided by RealtyTrac.

Housing price-to-income data provided by Moody's