Three Missoula leaders addressed the City Club at the annual State of the City gathering at the Doubletree Edgewater on Monday with the topic; Missoula – A Confluence of Opportunity.

County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier led off the first of three ten-minute addresses with the, he said, little known fact that the entire city of Missoula is contained within Missoula County, which garnered some laughter from the packed room. He said he is often approached by large companies who want to do business in Missoula and that their number one reason to locate here is the quality of life.

Strohmaier emphasized the past legacy of Native American tribes who inhabited the land along with the present challenges of providing affordable housing and other issues important for quality of life.

Next at the podium was new University of Montana President Seth Bodnar who right away addressed the changes that are occurring on campus due to enrollment and budget issues.

“We are in the process of renewal, a reinvigoration of this incredible university,” began Bodnar. “Many of you will recall that we recharted our university planning committee, to assess our mission, to rearticulate that clearly, to identify those areas of strength to intersect with our areas of opportunity. That requires choices, things that we will focus on, as well as sometimes areas that we will no longer sustain. We are going through that process right now. This is not an easy process, but the result will be, and already is, a more focused University of Montana.”

Last to speak was Mayor John Engen who said he had addressed the City Club every year for the past 13 years, and said though the crowds are different every year, the mission remains the same, to provide the services that residents of the city need on an everyday basis.

“Their expectations of what we do in municipal government, ranging from providing for public safety and making sure you can get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’, and that when you flush your toilet it has somewhere to go, and when you turn on your facet it comes from somewhere that is well managed and clean,” said Engen. “We’re addressing housing. It is a challenge, but if we don’t work together to address housing in our community, people will be left out.”

Engen also touched on his own personal issues over the past few years.

“One day you wake up and you’re a 51 year-old man and you’re having a crisis in your life, and you’re still surrounded by people who care enough to help you,” he said. “Putting you on their shoulders and carrying you where you need to go, so you can keep going,” he said.
Engen said he believed that Missoula has never been a better place than it is today.

“This is a community that doesn’t give up on people,” he said.

(Due to technical difficulties, Commissioner Dave Strohmaier's comments were not included in the above video, however, the full address will be played back this Sunday on MCAT (Missoula Community Access Television)