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GFDA Top 10 for 12/30/13


Here's the GFDA Top 10 for 2013, celebrating great things happening to move Great Falls Forward! When we work together, we accomplish amazing things!
1) Great Falls secured new primary sector jobs and capital investment with ADF Group's fabrication plant construction, winning Health Care Service Corporation's (Blue Cross Blue Shield) new processing center, and expansions of EMTEQ, Calumet Montana Refining, Loenbro and Centene, amongst others.
2) Strengthened Great Falls as a multifaceted energy hub with the dedication of the Rainbow Dam upgrade, Spion Kop wind farm and Montana Alberta Tie Line, and announcements that the Two Dot and Fairfield wind projects were moving forward.
3) Capped over 20 years of effort to create a new rail-served heavy industrial park with phase 1 approval and the first two lot sales in the Great Falls AgriTech Park, future home of Pacific Steel & Recycling and Montana Specialty Mills.
4) Made progress on downtown and riverfront revitalization with a number of exciting new developments and businesses, including the regional Easter Seals Goodwill headquarters, Pacific Steel & Recycling's corporate headquarters, Kobe Seafood & Steakhouse, Celtic Cowboy, Mighty Mo Brewery and many more.
5) Added 600 new jobs from November 2012 to November 2013, helping to attract two apartment developments for 2014 construction. The Great Falls Job Service currently lists 649 local job openings  that range from minimum wage to over $85,000.
6) Great Falls institutions marked key achievements. Great Falls International Airport opened wonderful new terminal facilities, kept Frontier Air and announced a new project with I-State Trucking for 2014. The University of Great Falls increased enrollment by 8%, continuing its growing success. Great Falls College MSU became the first U.S. and Canadian certified welding center in the country and won a major $25 million dollar multi-campus grant to create new programs tied to high wage job opportunities. Great Falls Public Schools increased enrollment for the first time in 20 years. The City of Great Falls successfully put Electric City Power to rest, removing uncertainty for the future.
7) Great Falls continued to grow its national reputation as a healthcare center of excellence with a string of awards and recognitions earned by Benefis Healthcare Systems and the Great Falls Clinic. Benefis opened the first phase of the Grandview at Benefis and a new expanded walk-in clinic.
8) We climbed 20 places in the Milken Institute's annual Best Performing Cities for job growth, and 3 places in Policom's Economic Strength Metro Area Ranking. Since 2006, Great Falls has improved its Economic Strength ranking every year, climbing above 188 other U.S. metro areas from 308th in 2006 to 120th in 2013. We've kept our cost advantages with Moody's putting our cost of living at 87% of the national average and cost of business operations at 86%.
9) GFDA made its first loans from our new Enterprise Fund and Centene MicroBusiness Fund. We launched weekly Start-Up Sparks! to support new entrepreneurs and launched the first cohort of five fast-growth companies in our new Entrepreneur Elite strategy services. We hosted visits by 6 prospects, exhibited at 6 out of state industry trade shows, and networked at another 10 industry events and trips across the U.S.
10) Montana continued to improve its competitiveness, with another 5% drop in worker comp rates (down 27% in the last 3 years) and climbing from 8th to 7th in the Tax Foundation's annual ranking of state business tax climate. Montana ranked first in entrepreneurial activity in the Kaufman Foundation's Entrepreneurial Index and first in the American Dream Index compiled by Xavier University.
Let's celebrate a great year! 
Then, let's set even higher goals for 2014!

Happy New Year and Untame your entrepreneurial spirit!


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