Request Advocacy Support

If you have questions about a government policy/regulation or if there is an issue you feel the Chamber should be involved with through advocacy efforts or educating our membership, contact the Chamber's Director of Government Affairs, Clint Burson

2018-2019 Policy Guide

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED?

WHAT’S THE CONNECTION BETWEEN YOUR LOCAL CHAMBER, THE STATE CHAMBER AND THE U.S. CHAMBER?

With election season upon us, we have had a number of conversations with Chamber members concerning the relationship between our chamber, the U.S. Chamber and also the Montana Chamber of Commerce. 

The Missoula Chamber of Commerce’s current position is to not endorse candidates. The Missoula Chamber of Commerce's key role is to keep members informed. Through advocacy the Chamber will use its collective voice to help shape policy. The Missoula Chamber’s responsibility to positions is to ensure that we share both sides of issues and educate our membership to the pros and cons of every issue before action is taken. While the U.S. Chamber and Montana Chamber occasionally endorse candidates, the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce does not.

The Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce holds memberships with both the U.S. Chamber and the Montana Chamber of Commerce. Those two organizations are not related in any way to our chamber nor do they regulate or control our chamber in any way.  

Although all chambers can work with all levels of government, they tend to concentrate their efforts on specific levels: 

Local chambers of commerce tend to focus on local issues, 

State chambers on state issues, and the 

U.S. Chamber of Commerce focuses on national issues at the federal government level. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not a governing body, chartering agent, or a regulatory agency for chambers of commerce, and they have no say in how chambers decide to run themselves. The U.S. Chamber does not have the authority to represent or speak politically for local chambers of commerce. Any community can organize and support a chamber of commerce.

Hopefully, this clears up a sometimes confusing connection with these other organizations. Do we sometimes work with them and/or support them in their efforts? Yes. Do we always agree with their stance on every issue? No, we do not.  

With elections in the air, it is prudent to note that the US Chamber has a PAC (Political Action Campaign) that raises money separate from memberships that is specific to their campaigning on issues and candidates. None of our membership dues to them contributes to these ads or political actions. 

Current Issues

Issues currently being monitored

  • 2018 Open Space bond
  • 2018 Conservation levy
  • Proposed ban on plastic shopping bags
  • Child care
  • Affordable housing
  • City annexation policy

7 Chambers Policy Paper

The Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce will collaborate with the Chambers from Billings, Helena, Butte, Bozeman, Great Falls and Kalispell to produce a list of Chamber-supported policy positions ahead of the 2019 Montana Legislature. The meeting to work on the paper is tentatively scheduled for late August 2018.

5th/6th

The City of Missoula is considering narrowing 5th and 6th streets from their current 2-lane configuration to 1-lane with a "buffered" bike lane. The Chamber has taken a position to oppose this proposal. It is important for commerce to keep traffic moving and 5th and 6th streets are important corridors for moving products, workers and customers across town. Removing lanes could slow traffic and make transportation logistics more difficult for businesses in that area of the city.

Take the Chamber's Survey on this proposal HERE.

University 6-Mill Levy

The University system in Montana is partially funded by a dedicated 6-Mill levy. That levy is up for renewal in the November 2018 elections. The Chamber supports continued passage of this levy to ensure our University continues to be funded at appropriate levels. The University of Montana is important for our community and for businesses looking for an educated and well-trained workforce. 

Brooks Street Corridor Plan

The Brooks Street Corridor is a growing economic center for Missoula. City Council released a report with proposals for changes to zoning and statute changes for the corridor. The Chamber is monitoring the progress of these proposals and will keep membership informed as issues come forward. 

Contact Your Representatives

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*If you have questions about which city council ward your business is located in, please contact the Clint Burson at the Chamber.

City

State Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

Chamber Advocacy in the News

Past Chamber Positions

Building As Sign - Zoning update

The Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce is opposing the proposed zoning update (20.75.170 H), referred to as “Building As Sign.” The Chamber feels this ordinance would unreasonably restrict architectural choices and branding options for businesses within the community. It could also lead to increases in commercial development costs due to a longer, more involved process. Read the letter sent to city council HERE.

2018 MCPS Elementary/High School Levies

The Missoula Chamber of Commerce supports the 2018 Missoula County Public Schools Elementary and High School levy requests. These levies are important for the schools continuing operations and preparing students for higher education and the work force. The letter of support sent to the schools can be viewed/downloaded HERE.

Cemetery

The Missoula Cemetery board pursued a plan to begin creating and selling cemetery monuments. The plan would have directly competed with monument dealers in the private sector. The Chamber is opposed to government entities taking over services currently being served by private business. The Chamber submitted a letter in support of our members in this industry and asked the city to reconsider the current plan. You can read the letter submitted to the city Here.

Sign Ordinance

Businesses have long relied on signs to market their goods and services.  Today, electronic signs with lighted dynamic displays have seen increasing use in our community.  In 2009, the City of Missoula passed an ordinance regulating electronic sign displays.  This ordinance carries specific prohibitions of certain types of signs and displays, as well as zoning restrictions and other regulations.  The Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce has since taken a leading role in informing local businesses of the contents of the sign ordinance, as well as in encouraging and assisting in compliance.
The Missoula Chamber will continue to monitor any potential changes to the City sign ordinance and to provide compliance-related information.   

Mercantile

On June 8, 2016, the Chamber issued a statement encouraging city decision makers to approve the necessary permits to allow development of the Mercantile site to proceed. The City Council voted to approve the deconstruction of the Mercantile, beginning with remediation of asbestos.   The Missoula Historic Preservation Commission has appealed the permit in district court. 

Update: The court ruled in favor of the city and the developers and deconstruction of the old Mercantile building has begun. Once recyclable/reusable materials have been removed from the building, demolition will begin with only the old pharmacy section remaining. The new building will incorporate the pharmacy section and new sections have been design to pay homage to the original design of the building.

Missoula College

The Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce supported funding for the current Missoula College location along East Broadway. The modern campus ensures tomorrow"s workforce will be learning in the best environment possible - benefiting the students as well as the community as a whole. The Chamber lobbied on behalf of the college to ensure funding was allocated and legislation directing the new campus to be built was supported.