U.S. Postal Service leaders say a new review supports the argument that local mail should still be processed in Missoula.

But they also say there's a "business case" for shifting regional mail processing to Spokane.

And now, the idea is going to get its day for discussion, with a meeting scheduled for mid-March.

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USPS looks to improve "efficiency" for Montana mail

The Postal Service first floated the idea of shifting regional mail processing to Spokane a few weeks ago. The thinking is that there's a lot of mail that is headed to, and from out-of-state, and using Spokane would allow those items, and especially packages, to enter the broader shipping network more efficiently.

Under the USPS plans to spend $ 40 billion to upgrade postal operations, the Missoula Post Office would be modernized from a "Processing and Distribution Center", or P&DC, to a Local Processing Center, or LPC.

READ MORE: USPS Wants to Shift Mail Handling to Spokane

Idea drawing fire

However, the idea has sparked criticism and concern. Earlier this month, Senator Jon Tester said he "failed to see" where the change would improve Montana postal services. He called on the agency to put more focus on helping boost rural delivery, instead of removing operations from the state.

Argument for the change

USPS says the initial results of a review of facilities "support the business case for keeping the Missoula facility open" and modernizing it as an LPC. It says the Missoula center would be a "critical node" in moving mail and packages "across the regional processing and transportation ecosystem."

The agency has said Missoula postal jobs won't be lost in the change.

A meeting to hear more

USPS has scheduled a public meeting to explain the proposal on Friday, March 15th at the Doubletree, starting at 6 pm. It plans to post more details online a week before the meeting and take public comments through the end of the month.

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Gallery Credit: Chris Wolfe

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