The Montana Gap

Look at statewide numbers and Montana’s economy seems to be doing well. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of jobs in the state of Montana grew 20 percent, according to a report released last year by Headwaters Economics. Personal income grew, as did statewide employment.

If you live outside a city, though, there’s a good chance you won’t see much evidence of that growth. For the next six months, a group of journalists from western Montana, supported by High Country News and the Solutions Journalism Network, will dig into the question: What are Montana communities, especially rural ones, doing to respond to this trend, to help their residents weather the economic winter? And what could they learn from other communities?  This project is funded by the LOR Foundation.

Small towns under the Big Sky address challenges to secure their future, as centers boom.
A majority of Montana counties face primary care shortages
A majority of Montana counties face primary care shortages
The gap in health care access is particularly acute in rural areas.
The ‘scenery economy’ reinvigorates a Montana town
The ‘scenery economy’ reinvigorates a Montana town
Tourism has given Philipsburg new life — but it’s brought few permanent families.
Nonprofits make rural home ownership more plausible
Nonprofits make rural home ownership more plausible
In the final part of a series on Boulder, Montana, a pathway for solutions for affordable housing woes.
There aren’t enough affordable homes for rural Montanans
There aren’t enough affordable homes for rural Montanans
In the second story of the series, the town of Boulder’s aging population is likely to put more pressure on housing.
How to turn a struggling small town around
How to turn a struggling small town around
In the first part of a series on Boulder, Montana, a well-rounded economic development effort.
The future of small-town Montana rides on public lands
The future of small-town Montana rides on public lands
From Dupuyer to Columbia Falls, a look at the growing recreation economy.
Why some young professionals settle in small-town Montana
Why some young professionals settle in small-town Montana
As rural areas struggle to hold onto youth, a look at a few young professionals who returned.
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