This story is the final chapter of a series focusing on how Missoula and its surrounding communities are grappling with challenges of sustainable growth. (If you haven’t yet, check out the first of the series here, the second one here, and the third here.) It was written by the The Missoulian and is published here as part of The Montana Gap project, produced in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network.
Bonner, in some ways, is both very similar to Frenchtown and the opposite. Both were “mill towns” where the economy was largely dependent on a huge industrial site that employed hundreds of workers. Both are now small towns facing rapid growth due in part to economic development in Missoula and people seeking more affordable housing. But one, Bonner, was able to capitalize on its former mill site by redeveloping it with new businesses, and Frenchtown would like to do the same in the future, but faces hurdles.