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Top 12 for the week of Mar. 30th

Here is the GFDA Top Twelve for this week, celebrating great things happening to move Great Falls Forward:
1) Great Falls metro area unemployment rate was 6.0% in February, dropping from 7.1% last February. Employment increased by 526 from January and our labor force grew by 379. We're not out of the woods yet -- we had 203 more people employed this February compared to last February. We're creating jobs, but not as fast as we would like. February unemployment rate was 6.9% in Missoula and 4.8% in Billings.
2) Over 110 women business leaders (and a handful of the smartest men in the City!) celebrated women-owned businesses at the annual The Fire Within event. Thank you to event sponsors the Great Falls Tribune and the Montana SBA Small Business Development Center, and to our host Shoot the Moon LLC (Chili's, Macaroni Grill, On the Border and Sonic) for making the evening possible!
3) Construction started on the water line that will serve the first lots in the Great Falls AgriTech Park and the Montana Advanced Biofuels site! It's been years in the making, but we're under construction! Thank you again to everyone who has supported the Park with funds or in-kind support, including the City of Great Falls, Cascade County, the Montana Department of Commerce, the Montana Department of Agriculture, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Montana Congressional delegation, TD&H Engineering, Woith Engineering, Big Sky Civil & Environmental, Jardine, Stephenson, Blewett & Weaver, PC, and all GFDA investors! We are working on City approvals and securing funds to get the first lots shovel ready as soon as possible. A formal ground breaking celebration is in the works.
4) The City Design Review Board approved MSU Great Falls' Childcare Development Center.
5) MSU announced is will offer an online certificate in Entrepreneurship starting in the Fall of 2012 or Spring of 2013.
6) USAF reaffirmed the new C-130 mission for the Montana Air National Guard. The Montana State Chamber of Commerce created a statewide military support group. If we work in concert, this will strengthen the efforts of the Central Montana Defense Alliance.
7) The Cascade County Commission accepted the final Joint Land Use Study for Malmstrom AFB.
8) Rivers Edge Trail use jumped 34% in 2011 according to a study prepared by Pinnacle Research for American Lands and PPL Montana. Kudos to Recreation Trails, Inc., the City and all trail supporters and users!
9) We received the first funds from the Montana Department of Commerce for our new MicroBusiness loan fund. Several of our borrowers have been able to pay-off their loans or refinance with our bank partners so we're working hard to put the funds back to work to create more jobs.
10) Jolene Bach is joining our GFDA team as our first ever Director of Development. Jolene will lead efforts to increase investment in GFDA's efforts and engagement of our public and private investors.
11) We began planning for our next fiscal year that starts in July, starting with exploring ways to keep growing our loan capital to keep pace with deals, launch the planned High Growth company initiative, and pursue more Canadian agri-processing and energy opportunities.
12) We have 160 companies in our active pipeline of clients, including business expansions, start-ups and attraction. Servicing this many clients while still pursuing new opportunities is a struggle, but it's a good challenge to have.
Congratulations to First Interstate Bank, named 2012 Community Bank of the Year by the American Community Bankers Council!
Congratulations to the Great Falls Homebuilders for a record Home Show!


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Great Falls, MT 59401
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