Who We Are

Located in our office in downtown Kalispell, Montana West Economic Development is a nonprofit organization staffed by passionate professionals who connect businesses to valuable resources and relationships.

We are supported by business and governments to deliver business resources to Flathead County and the communities of Bigfork, Columbia Falls, Lakeside, Kalispell, Somers, and Whitefish.  Montana West collaborates with business professionals, entrepreneurs, developers, governments, and community organizations to strengthen the Flathead’s business and lifestyle assets.

Each year Montana West Economic Development identifies key strategic priorities, which are further developed into the Strategic Plan for the organization.

2019 Annual Report
Flathead County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)
Kalispell – A Profile for Opportunity

Our Staff

Jerry Meerkatz
Jerry MeerkatzPresident & CEO
Jerry has a broad range of expertise gained through his thirty-five plus years of management experience. He has a passion to use this knowledge to help entrepreneurs build businesses that thrive. Much of his career was spent in the High-Tech industry….
Lara Russell
Lara RussellAccounting Manager
Lara received her Masters of Business Administration degree from Mount Marty College, following graduate studies in Economics at Wichita State University. Most recently, Lara spent several years in the Brokerage…
Stephen WalterLoan Officer
Stephen brings years of commercial lending experience to MWED, most recently from Wells Fargo in Helena, MT.
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Christy Cummings Dawson
Christy Cummings DawsonGovernment Contracting Advisor
Christy has an MBA and a BA in Political Science. She brings several years of experience in both the public and private sector, and has worked on a number of projects that bridged the two. Her experience includes wildland firefighting, local economic development, and Planning/Community Development. She and her family enjoy the outdoors and are looking forward to becoming members of the Flathead Valley community.
Heather Myers
Heather MyersOffice Administrator/Program Assistant
Heather joined MWED in February 2020. After many years of owning businesses in the Flathead Valley with her husband, she brings her varied office and bookkeeping skills to MWED. Heather is excited to be a part of a team who’s passionate about developing and growing the community she loves.
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Our Leadership

Jason Williams
Jason WilliamsChairman
Since 2016, Jason Williams has been overseeing Flathead Electric Cooperative’s Engineering and Operations work groups as the Assistant General Manager. Jason is a professionally licensed Electrical Engineer with a degree from Montana State University. He has worked in the utility industry for the last 20 years, with 14 of those years spent in the employment of Flathead Electric.

Jason is a dedicated, active community member – not only is he the MWED Board’s Chairman, he currently serves as the Treasurer of the CASA for Kids Board, and also volunteers his time coordinating the Northwest Regional Mathcounts competition.

Jason is married with two kids and he and his family share an enthusiasm for the beauty that the Flathead Valley offers by enjoying outdoor activities such as skiing, camping and boating.

Don Rich
Don RichPast Chairman
Don Rich is the founder, CEO, and a wealth advisor at Cornerstone Wealth Management Partners, a comprehensive wealth and investment management firm.

Through LPL, Don is able to offer clients access to non-proprietary products. Don’s nearly 40 years of industry knowledge and expertise, coupled with his extensive educational background, affords him the ability to understand a client’s unique financial goals and wishes and offer diverse products and services to provide individual, comprehensive, financial planning.

Don’s CFP® designation coupled with two Master’s Degrees and extensive training carries Don to a more significant level of wealth and financial planning expertise. He has a gift of explaining even the most complex concepts simply – a skill that adds tremendous value to all he interacts with.

Don is a dedicated business owner, husband to his wife Leslie, father and grandfather to their 2 sons and wives and 3 grandsons. Don goes out of his way to make sure his family, clients, and friends are well cared for and brings this same dedication to MWED.

Thomas Moody
Thomas MoodyVice-Chairman
Tom is the manager of NorthWestern Energy’s Kalispell District.
Ty Weber
Ty WeberTreasurer
Northwest Imaging
Director of Imaging Services
Dennis Beams
Dennis BeamsAt-Large
Dennis Beams, Glacier Bank’s Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer, has been representing Glacier Bank since 1991, spanning over 25 years of dedication to the area’s banking needs.

Dennis’ time spent serving his country while in the U.S. Air Force and on various boards has made him a valued member of the communities he has lived in, especially the Flathead Valley. Dennis and his wife enjoy outdoor activities and spending time with their adult sons and family – especially their grandchildren.

Glacier Bank has been a stalwart financial institution serving the Flathead Valley for decades. On the receiving end of many awards over the years, its reputation for soundness and stability has kept it repeatedly ranked in the top 10% in the nation for financial strength. Glacier Bank has consistently grown over the years, establishing several convenient locations across the Flathead Valley all while maintaining the small town feel that its customers have come to expect and appreciate.

Beckie ChristiaensAt-Large
Beckie is the Vice President/Chief Financial Officer, Finance and Administration at Flathead Valley Community College.

2020 Board of Directors

Our Relationship with Flathead County Economic Development Authority

Flathead County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) is Flathead County’s strategy to prepare for economic development opportunities that might arise and require investment.  FCEDA consists of a seven member board of directors who are appointed by the County Commissioners. Montana West Economic Development has a contract with FCEDA to provide professional staffing, management, and execution of an economic development program for Flathead County.  Joining forces, the collaboration creates efficiencies for budgets, personnel, and communication.  Find more information about FCEDA at their website, www.flatheadcountyeda.com.