The future of Ravalli County's economy relies on healthcare for a burgeoning retirement-age population and helping existing and new technical-professional businesses.
Larry Swanson of the O'Conner Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Missoula presented the latest data to the annual Bitterroot Valley Business and Economic Workshop in Hamilton.
Swanson said, barring national changes, Montana and the valley have weathered the worst of the recent economic recession. However, he warned that recovery will be slow over the next few years, and that planning for business in the valley needs to be well thought-out and aimed at current business categories that are performing well.
He also said the largest population growth in the past few years has been in those aged 65 and older. He suggested the valley's housing projects change from the usual single-family homes to more condo-type developments for older citizens. He said that older residents will continue to dominate the population. By itself, that will return low unemployment rates in the valley, as employers try to hire enough working-age people to fill positions of the retiring baby-boomers.