Former MWED President and CEO Jerry Meerkatz Dies at 63

Meerkatz was killed in a motorcycle accident in Wyoming in August

By Maggie Dresser
Jerry Meerkatz, president and CEO of Montana West Economic Development, pictured on Sept. 9, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Jerry Meerkatz, who recently retired as the Montana West Economic Development (MWED) CEO and President in Kalispell, died on Aug. 27 in a motorcycle accident in Wyoming. He was 63.

In the five years he spent at MWED, Meerkatz helped spur economic development in Kalispell following a 35-year career working at several technology companies, including Compaq and Hewlett-Packard.

Growing up in Kalispell and graduating from Flathead High School in 1976, Meerkatz returned to Kalispell and started at MWED in 2016. He soon began working on the Glacier Rail Park project in collaboration with Flathead County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) to bring in businesses desiring rail-served properties, along with promoting business redevelopment along the Parkline Trail. The industrial park filled up earlier this spring.

Christy Cummings Dawson replaced Meerkatz as MWED’s new president and CEO this July after working with him for two years.

“He was great to work with,” Dawson said. “He definitely wanted to do everything he could to support all of his staff and partners. He always wanted to help people grow and expand. He was super supportive.”

Outside of Meerkatz’s professional accomplishments, Dawson says he was involved in several organizations and was well connected in the Flathead Valley.

“He was a great human being,” Dawson said. “I’ve never met somebody with so many genuine friends. He was always happy to pitch in and help … The community lost a really valuable member.”

Meerkatz’s family will host an open house at their home at 392 Third Avenue East North in Kalispell on Saturday, Sept. 4, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.to celebrate his life.