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Summit Weigh Ideas Boost Economy


By PETER JOHNSON • Tribune Staff Writer • March 17, 2009

Community members are encouraged to spend the morning of March 26 attending the free Invest Great Falls Economic Summit to listen to ideas for improving the local economy.

"The recession opens opportunities for cost effective investments in Great Falls," said GFDA President Brett Doney. "The summit will provide an avenue where people can discuss why they are going forward with their projects and what opportunities they see for the future."

Doney cited the Staybridge Suites hotel that developer and contractor Brad Talcott is building on the west side near the new federal courthouse as "a good example of a project that moved forward in Great Falls despite the recession."

"It took a long-term confidence in the city by Talcott and their banker, Stockman Bank," Doney said. "We're hoping the summit will provide strategies for others to move forward. It's rougher to get financing now than it was a year ago."

Roof trusses are being placed this week on the upscale hotel, which Talcott plans to open July 1.

"We think it's a good project in a good location and, despite the current economy, expect it will be well received," he said Monday.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., will give a pre-recorded keynote address at the summit.

Tester, a member of the Senate banking and appropriations committees who farms near Big Sandy, will discuss ways to help move Great Falls forward, according to his spokesman Aaron Murphy.

Speakers will give updates on major construction and development projects, including NeighborWorks, McLaughlin Research Institute and MSU-Great Falls College of Technology, said GFDA investor relations director Alyssa Patton.

Tentative panel discussion topics will be energy and agri-processing, West Bank development, the downtown area and commercial real estate.

Community leaders from the city of Great Falls, Cascade County, Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, GFDA and MSU-Great Falls will wrap up the summit discussing ways the community can better work together to keep moving forward.

"People have identified this as a key area, communicating and working more closely together," Patton said.

Coffee, continental breakfast fare and networking opportunities will be provided at the economic summit, she added.

The Great Falls Tribune is the advertising sponsor for the event.

Additional Facts

The summit, sponsored by the Great Falls Development Authority and Hilton Garden Inn, will take place Thursday, March 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon at Hilton Garden Inn Great Falls, 2520 14th St. SW.


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