WWU Economics Professor Puts Theory into Practice

For Anthony Clark, Flathead County, Montana, is not just a beautiful place. It’s a place he’s researched for the past 3½ years—the topic of his dissertation.

Clark, assistant professor of economics at William Woods University since 2000, has been studying the impact future growth would have on the rural county, which is approximately the size of Connecticut.

With a B.S. in business administration and an M.A. in economics, both from the University of Missouri, he is pursuing his doctorate in natural resource and environmental economics at MU.

Clark did an economic study, and assisted with a land use change study. He recently traveled to Montana to make a presentation about his findings.

“I used economic growth rates determined by a group of citizens in the county, and projected future employment, population growth, and housing needs,” says Clark.

The study’s final product is called an Alternative Future Analysis. This is a projection of what the county will look like if population rates continue to increase at the present rate and local zoning policies remain the same.

According to Clark, some of the citizens are concerned that future growth will compromise the natural beauty of the land. Another concern is that more growth will place added strain on the endangered species and other wildlife in the area.

Clark says he’s excited to get the opportunity to practice what he teaches. His enthusiasm from the project is flowing over into his classes. The study gave him real-life examples to apply in the classroom.

While in Montana, he put on a workshop for local and state government officials, businesses and citizen’s groups.

“I was really happy with how they reacted. They began to see a lot of potential uses for the study.”

“It’s a fascinating place to study because of the amazing scenery and the diversity of the wildlife,” says Clark. “They have mountains, some of which have glaciers, lakes that you can drink out of, grizzly bears, wolverines, mountain goats. You’re not in Kansas anymore.”