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GFDA Top 20 3/30/14

Here's the GFDA Top 20 for the last two weeks, celebrating great things happening to move Great Falls Forward!
1) The Great Falls metro area set both annual employment and labor force size records in 2013, according to the Montana Department of Labor. Growth continued in February with the addition of 209 jobs. Cascade County grew by 600 people from July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013, according to the U.S. Census. Here is a link to our updated Primary Growth Highlights handout for use in your business development efforts.
2) AgFertilizer, Inc. opened its new Great Falls facility this week. We're proud to have helped this company expand into the Great Falls market with an SBA 504 loan. Construction is starting on the Fairfield Wind project. GFDA Investor Dick Anderson Construction is installing what will be the tallest wind generation structures in Montana.
3) The City Commission approved annexation for the $5 million Voyagers affordable housing apartment project. GFDA's Loan Committee approved an additional $250,000 in bridge financing for the Talus apartment project.
4) We've been working with a large number of clients and prospects. If your firm is considering an expansion or has a need we may be able to help with, I encourage you to contact us. As they say, 15 minutes could make a huge difference to your company! Met with an established agriprocessor considering an expansion project and interested in locating in the Great Falls AgriTech Park. Worked with a local business owner and the prospective purchaser to discuss ways to structure the transaction to best benefit both parties. Met with the potential buyer of a local primary sector business to discuss options and assistance available.
5) Gave a presentation on our energy development efforts at the International Economic Development Council's annual Federal Forum and met with federal officials and congressional staff in DC.
6) Networked with site selection consultants at the Consultant Connect's first annual Secrets of Site Selection event in Dallas. Met with one of our prospects while in Dallas.
7) Over 200 business leaders attended our 4th Annual The Fire Within where we celebrated women in business and honored four women-owned new businesses, Aspire award winner Janet Neil of Bert & Ernie's and Inspire award winner Penny Rubner of Penny's Gourmet to Go. Our immense gratitude goes to the following who make this event possible: Embark Federal Credit Union, the University of Great Falls, Euphoria Events by Design, Fern Films Cinematography, Reflections of Light Photography, My Viola Floral Studio, Crooked Tree Coffee and Cakes, O'Haire Motor Inn, Clark & Lewie's, Sip 'n Dip Lounge, Cascade County Tavern Association and Art Taft!
8) Participated in a planning session of Great Falls College MSU's industrial technology programs to discuss the future needs of Great Falls manufacturers and related industries.
9) The City won a $5,200 Main Street grant from the Montana Department of Commerce, one of only 4 in the state. The funds will be used to create facade improvement design renderings to be a catalyst for further downtown revitalization projects.
10) Worked with a local business owner to see if the company was financially ready for government contracting. Participated in the spring meeting of the national Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers to learn about upcoming opportunities for Great Falls region companies to compete for government contracts. If you have questions about bidding for federal, state or local government contracts, contact Lillian Sunwall at 1-406-771-9032 or
11) The Great Falls Community Job Fair is this Tuesday, April 1st, at the Montana ExpoPark Exhibition Hall from 1:00-6:00 PM (military early entry at Noon). Over 60 employers will be there, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, so send your kids, grandkids, friends, family and neighbors!!!
12) The deadline for applicants for our new Manufacturing Partnership Director position is tomorrow, Monday, March 31st. Get your cover letter and resume to me at
13) Met with an entrepreneur during Start-up Spark! and answered questions regarding financing, marketing, pricing, and construction versus remodel. If you are looking at starting a business and need some questions answered, come to our next Start-up Spark! session this Friday, April 4th, Noon at GFDA's Small Business Development Center, 300 Central Avenue, Suite 406, downtown Great Falls. Refer a friend or client!
14) Our Development Coffee for GFDA Investors and prospective investors is this Friday, April 4th, 7:00 AM at the Holiday Inn. Join us to discuss current projects and future deals in the works. Contact Jolene Bach for more info at 1-406-750-4481 or
15) If you are considering our PeerSpective Roundtable to help you gain valuable insight into your business, applications are due by April 4th at 5:00 PM. Current Roundtable members include Cari Yturri of Bennett Motors, Paul Leach of Loenbro Pipeline Solutions, Erling Juel of TD&H Engineering and Linda McPherson of Montana Academy of Salons. Contact Rebecca Engum for more info at 1-406-771-9032 or
16) Great Falls is ranked by Restaurant Business magazine in the top 26% of markets in the country to open a new restaurant.
17) The downtown Great Falls Quality Inn at 220 Central Avenue is back on the market. We'd love to see a local investor purchase and renovate this important property. It's listed at a substantial price discount. Call Jeff Asuze with Hilco Real Estate at 1-847-418-2703 or 1-773-456-5032.
18) The old days when Montana college graduates had to leave the state to find great jobs are over! 78% of recent Montana graduates found jobs within the state in 2012, an increase from 72% five years before, according to a report presented to the Montana Board of Regents. Congratulations to Bill Johnstone of Davidson Companies on being named to the Board of Regents!
19) The Atlantic magazine published an article this month highlighting an interesting labor market analysis conducted by the Martin Prosperity Institute, part of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. The Institute is led by author Richard Florida. The study projects employment growth in every U.S. metro area from 2012-2022. The Great Falls metro area ranks in the top quarter with projected employment growth of 11.1-11.9%, the same as Missoula. Billings is ranked in the 2nd quarter with growth from 10.8-11%. The study further divides employment growth into three sectors of jobs, creative class, service class and working class. All 3 Montana metro areas rank in the second quarter in employment growth of creative class jobs, projected to grow 13.3-13.9%. Great Falls is ranked in the second quarter in service class employment growth at 10.4-10.6%, with Missoula in the 3rd quarter and Billings in the 4th quarter. All three metro areas are ranked in the top quarter in working class growth at 9.8-12.8%.
20) Motley Fool says Montana is America's most friendly beer state. Enough said!
Many congratulations to go around, starting with the C.M. Russell Museum for an outstanding Russell event! We're very proud to have you part of Great Falls! Congratulations to all who work so hard to make the entire Western Art Week a big success!!
Congratulations to Loenbro on being named Contractor of the Year in the Rocky Mountain Region at the Oil & Gas Awards held in Denver! Congratulations to Alison Fried, owner of Dragonfly Dry Goods, for being named Montana Woman Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration!
Congratulations to the students up in Sunburst for winning the Samsung technology competition!
Congratulations and thank you to the Great Falls Pre-Release Center on 30 years of dedicated hard work!
Untame your entrepreneurial spirit! 


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300 Central Ave. Suite 406
Great Falls, MT 59401
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PO Box 949
Great Falls, MT 59403