MISSOULA, Mont. -

The following is a press release from Missoula Economic Partnership.

The board of directors of the Missoula Economic Partnership has hired James Grunke as the organization?s president and CEO. Grunke has managed the operations of the Partnership on an interim basis, since the end of November 2011.

As a project director with National Community Development Services (NCDS), Grunke has been involved with Missoula economic development efforts over the last two years. He helped facilitate fundraising and strategic direction for the Best Place Project, which would become the Missoula Economic Partnership. Over that time, Grunke has established deep relationships with investors and partners, dedicated to strengthening Missoula?s economic development efforts.

?We?re thrilled to have James leading the Missoula Economic Partnership,? said Jeff Fee, chairman of the Missoula Economic Partnership board. ?When someone is doing the job as well as James is right now, you want to build on that momentum.?

Since taking over management of the organization, Grunke has led the strategy and development of several new programs with the goal of building the regional economy and creating jobs, including the Angel Network, Air Service Task Force and Innovation Initiative.

?Missoula can be a strong economic development platform for the region,? said Grunke. ?We?ve just begun to unlock the potential of this community, and I look forward to helping Missoula lead the way in economic development in the state of Montana.?

Up until joining NCDS five years ago, Grunke served as the director and manager of economic development policy with Boise Valley Economic Partnership. At BVEP, Grunke managed all entrepreneur and venture capital efforts, attracting millions of dollars in capital investment to the state of Idaho. In addition, he led Boise?s Valley Initiative for Prosperity campaign, which raised $5 million to market the area.

?James basically ran the Boise version of the Missoula Economic Partnership,? said Fee, ?and although Boise is larger than Missoula, the communities have many similarities in terms of lifestyle, being a regional commerce center and having a strong university presence. James understands Missoula and knows how to market and grow our community with the businesses best suited to the region.?