College Town?

Ann McClure's picture

The idea of a four-year university program in the Flathead Valley is gaining momentum to the point of acquiring an air of inevitability. And every way local officials look at it – on paper, in theory and presumably in practice – such a plan seems to make more and more sense.

Most notably, the population base is here, with more than 90,000 in Flathead County and well over 100,000 in the greater valley down to Polson. Along with that growing population comes a renewable student base and diversifying economy. As has been repeated time and again, people want to move here. They are attracted to the region’s quality of life, characterized by a marriage between the wild outdoors and sufficient modern infrastructure to support 21st century businesses.

Providing one more incentive to boost the quality of life, particularly a critical cornerstone like a four-year university, appears to be a logical next step in the Flathead’s evolution, ripe with economic and cultural potential.

Those are the dynamics and demographics that education officials have been examining as they explore the possibility of establishing a four-year higher education institution in the region. Flathead Valley Community College’s board of trustees has identified a university center as a top priority.

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