Lumber mills, originally built to provide construction-grade materials for homes and business but then expanded to entice and then meet the demands of the railroad, profited from an increase in demand from railroad expansion and the nation at large. The Bonner mill, partly owned by both the Northern Pacific and Copper King Marcus Daly grew to become the largest producer of lumber in the northwest. Sixteen years later in 1908, Missoula's location as both a major lumber producer and a regional commercial center helped land the city the regional office for the newly establish U.S. Forest Service created to help manage the nation's timber supply. Over the next century, Missoula's various lumber industries would be consolidated under various entities such as the Anaconda Company in the 1970s and Champion International Paper through the 1980s until most were under control of Plum Creek Timber, all the while demand in timber dropped. In 2007 a downward spiral of Missoula's lumber industry began with the closure of a plywood plant in Bonner, followed by the closure of Bonner's sawmill the next year, and finally the closing of the Smurfit-Stone Container pulp mill in early 2010.
Since opening in 1895, the University of Montana has had a major impact on the development of Missoula's economy. In addition to the economic advantage from accommodating the student body it gave the city an educated workforce that was not available in most of the state. The university today has a very close relationship with the city as Missoula's largest employer and with the millions of dollars the school brings into the