Member Spotlight: AlphaGraphics Missoula

Alphagraphics started in 1965 as Gateway Printing and is now located on South Avenue with a satellite location on campus in the University Center, which is also open to the public. Their mission is to meet the needs of their customers as they see them by offering products and services that they consider the best value in a way that demonstrates sales professionalism, customer service excellence, and operating effectiveness. They aim to make their customers consistently satisfied, to ensure that planned outcomes are met and that the team is proud of their accomplishments. Alphagraphics specializes in all forms of visual communications. The company started in the staple business of commercial printing and has evolved into large format, vehicle wraps, promotional products, digital production and mailing services. They offer full-service design, web design, and support.
Alphagraphics is people-oriented and their professional staff makes the difference. They take pride in people being able to come into their facility to touch, feel and work face-to-face in an environment that provides excellent customer service.
Alphagraphics is a family-owned business that is currently developing its third generation of family ownership. They have 32 full-time employees in Missoula and they are also part of a global franchise group. The Missoula team received the company’s highest honor with the 2018 Franny Award, for the most outstanding franchisee in recognition of being the best-run business in all areas and a tribute to a proven record of contribution to peers and the entire Alphagraphics Network.

Why Your Involvement is a Benefit to YOU

The Missoula Midtown Association (MMA) has been in a ‘build-the-core’ mode in recent years since (re)formation in 2015 and has now begun ramping up efforts to increase membership. People often ask why they ought to join, and I believe that at the end of the day – regardless of personal background or line of work – we’re all really looking for the same things: we want connection, we want a sense of purpose, and we seek growth. To me, getting involved in organizations like the MMA is an ideal way to fulfill each of those human needs and desires.
Our monthly social events provide an inclusive opportunity to engage with one another in a casual environment perfect for forming new friendships and perhaps even business partnerships.
Members are encouraged to contribute opinions on the issues facing our districts or simply offer ideas for improvement. Our collective voice can make an impact; and, the more of us willing to participate in those discussions, the more likely we are to inspire change that genuinely represents the interests of the folks in Midtown.
Finally, when we join together to share ideas and resolve issues, we will foster improvements to help build a real sense of place for Midtown and create a quality experience, not only for this current generation but also for the neighborhoods, residents, employees, and visitors in this area for decades to come.
Thank you for being a member of the Missoula Midtown Association and for your commitment to the vitality of our community!

by Tyrell McPherson
Secretary, Missoula Midtown Association
Business Support Specialist, Territorial-Landworks, Inc.

With Support, Missoula County Approves Special Improvement District for Fairgrounds

After months of consideration, Missoula County Commissioners on Thursday unanimously adopted a resolution stating their intent to create a special improvement district for the county fairgrounds.

The move will enable the county to bond around $19 million in improvements and pay it back over a 20-year period using funding generated from three mills levied by commissioners during last year’s budgeting process.

Those three mills will be combined with an existing, ongoing half mill allocated to the county Weed District and an existing, ongoing half mill for the county extension office.

“This ongoing millage will be used to to pay the cost of the special district,” said Emily Brock Bentley, director of the fairgrounds. “These mills are already on the tax bills of Missoula County residents. No additional tax increase is associated with the creation of this special district today.”

The county levied the three mills to the fairgrounds last year, generating roughly $650,000 per year. By creating the district, the fairgrounds can launch most of the improvements planned in Phase 1 at one time and avoid spreading the work out over 20 years.

But even with the special district, Phase 1 still has an estimated $4 million funding gap. The new special district will cover $1.4 million in utility work and several million dollars to renovate old buildings. Around $640,000 is dedicated to building a maintenance shop, $1.1 million for new concessions, and $1.4 million for site grading in preparation for future projects.

The funding does not include a new ice facility, rodeo arena, events center or livestock arena. Those projects are slated for future phases and will require deep contributions from user groups.

Bentley said the county is hoping the city will contribute to other Phase 1 funding gaps, including perimeter landscaping, entrance improvements and trails.

“This doesn’t build a new rodeo arena,” Bentley said. “It doesn’t build a new livestock center or new ice rinks. What it does do is take care of what we have.”

While the county contends that the special improvement district comes with no tax increase, several residents at Thursday’s meeting said that was misleading. The county did, in fact, levy three mills last year to pay for the improvements.

That tax increase appeared on property bills this year. In all, the three mills levied by commissioners last year cost taxpayers an average of $10.15 annually. In all, the average taxpayer is paying around $13.50 a year for fairgrounds redevelopment.

“You have a special district that has non-taxable property in it that’s going to be assessed by the state, I guess, as a courtesy, as if it were private property,” said one man who identified himself as Rocky. “You’ll get a valuation and you, the commissioners, will assess yourselves the property that you own – the sole property in that district – and you’ll derive some sort of a payment from it.

“The point is, the argument is being made that we won’t see a tax increase,” he added. “We already have a tax increase for this fair proposal, it just didn’t happen in the context of the special district.”

Others suggested any future increase in levies should go to a popular vote, though commissioners noted that state law allows them to levy mills under a regulated cap without a public vote. Rather, they said, the public vote occurs each November at the polls.

Commissioner Cola Rowley agreed that government financing can be complicated and often misunderstood, though she stood by the project, calling it the most appropriate and transparent way to tackle long-needed renovations at the fairgrounds.

Advocates say the special improvement district will enable taxpayers to look at the county budget, see the amounts being assessed and the funding allocated to each particular project within the fairgrounds district.

“It’s unfortunate that government budgeting and financing is so complicated,” Rowley said. “This is the simplest and most elegant solution, and I think it’s really creative. It’s allowing us to do amazing things.”

While some suggested the county was playing a shell-game with the tax-no-tax approach to the improvements, most in attendance Thursday praised the special improvement district and the planned upgrades, calling them long overdue.

Supporters included nearby residents and members of the Missoula Midtown Association.

“We want to see some activity out here, some construction,” said Mark Bellon, president of the association. “As an organization, we see tremendous economic benefit. There’s a lot of synergy going on throughout the district.”

The fairgrounds has sat in a state of disrepair for years, though under Bentley’s direction, it has begun to show signs of life. Fair attendance increased last year after admission was waved, and efforts to cater to a wider, more diverse audience is taking shape.

While plans for the property have been years in the making, they’re expected to make their public unveiling in the coming weeks. Ground breaking is expected this spring, Bentley said.

“Next month, we’ll release design guidelines with a schematic plan,” Bentley said. “Rather than spend the mills as cash one year at a time, it’s most cost effective to finance or borrow for redevelopment and construct as much as possible, as quickly as possible.”