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Western Montanans are happily at work "Western Montana InBusiness"

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Why do I love my job?

Because it is life-affirming.

Because when I put a little note in the newspaper asking readers to tell me why they love their jobs, the response is immediate and overwhelming.


"We love coming to work," wrote employees at the Hamilton branch of Farmers State Bank. "Our co-workers are good people. They have a positive attitude and are just nice to be around.

"You might think we do money at FSB, but really we do people and we do it very well."

They weren’t alone. Again and again, readers wrote to say their workplaces are populated by hardworking, big-hearted, "just nice to be around" people.

From the Missoula Manor came this testimonial: "Every day, I speak with interesting and funny elderly people who live at the Manor and with my fun, compassionate and light-hearted co-workers, who help make this place what it is."

And from Valley Drug and Variety in Stevensville: "My boss, Dan Severson, is an inspiration and a role model, is thoughtful and kind, and really cares deeply about our community."

I got so many responses, in fact, that we’re going to print "great workplace" testimonials in every issue of Western Montana InBusiness.

This month’s "Happy at Work" edition launches the series with a slew of testimonials, but also with profiles of four Missoula businesses and nonprofits whose workers had lots and lots of good things to say about their bosses, co-workers and customers: Boyce Lumber, Missoula Federal Credit Union, Missoula Aging Services and the Child Development Center.

In addition, we’ve got an interview with good-boss gurus Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio, a column on employee retention (the sure sign of a happy workplace) by Rosalie Cates, and an in-depth look at the steps businesses throughout western Montana are taking to retain employees in an age of dwindling labor pools.

With a labor force approaching 60,000 workers, Missoula County now has fewer than 1,000 unemployed residents available for any position – and many of the new jobs require specialized skills or training.

"The challenge in Missoula is, for us to grow in the future and have economic prosperity, we need to retain as much of the work force here, and we need to attract as many new workers as we can," said Dick King, president of the Missoula Area Economic Development Corp.

Reporter Tyler Christensen, who wrote our cover story this month and is the Missoulian’s business reporter, will continue following this phenomenon as it reshapes western Montana’s workplaces – and, quite possibly – our communities.

Also in the August edition of InBusiness, you’ll find a column by Charles Keegan and Todd Morgan, of the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, on changes in the wood products industry – one sector of our economy where the work force is in decline.

And from Ted Goodwin, regional director for Wells Fargo Institutional Trust Services in Montana, we have a look at "target date funds," the new must-have for 401(k) plans.

Along the way, we’ll introduce you to a "green" Missoula business – Construction Site Services – that is the answer to the question: What happens to all the garbage and debris amassed at a construction site?

The result is another of the things I love about my job: picking up the newspaper each morning or Western Montana InBusiness each month and seeing the fruits of so many incredibly talented people’s labor – then getting to spend my workday alongside, and in awe of, them all.

Reach editor Sherry Devlin at (406) 523-5250 or by e-mail at [email protected].

SHERRY DEVLIN Is editor of the Missoulian and Western Montana InBusiness Monthly

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