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GFDA Top 17 4/27/14

Here's the GFDA Top 17 for this week, celebrating great things happening to move Great Falls Forward! This is a lengthy posting today because there is so much moving forward!
1) The McLaughlin Research Institute won a $904,500 grant from the Montana Department of Commerce to create an innovative partnership with Benefis Health System to expand the Institute's research of aging diseases. The new Montana Center for Aging Research and Memory Care will advance research, diagnosis and treatment of individuals with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. Great Falls is very proud to support this critical research. Thank you to state and local legislative leaders and Governor Bullock for making the grant possible!
2) The City Planning Advisory Board gave unanimous approval to the new convention center proposed by the Erck Hotel company. The facility will be attached to the Hilton Garden Inn.
3) The Great Falls Convention and Visitor's Bureau board voted to take the lead in a proposal to the City to run the Great Falls Visitor Center and committed $16,000/year for three years in financial support. The CVB joins the Tourism Business Improvement District and GFDA which have also made substantial three year financial guarantees. With this support, these three core organizations have made a proposal to the City to run the center, returning back to the original public/private partnership that was created when the center was built. GFDA is excited to be part of this new alliance. As soon as details are worked out with the City, we're going to mount a "Visitor Center Impossible" remake to create a "WOW" visitor experience to boost tourism, retain and attract more retail/service/entertainment dollars, help recruit new residents and employees, and attract entrepreneurs and business investment. Stay tuned for more details. We're going to need the entire community to pull this off. Thank you to City leaders, center volunteers, the CVB and TBID, and many more Great Falls organizations who have worked hard to make this possible.
4) Brought in resource partners to work with the leadership of a growing business to identify opportunities to leverage resources in order to add employees and improve operations. Started working with several new primary sector and commercial development clients.
5) The Downtown Development Partnership board approved guidelines for reviewing property-specific tax increment financing applications in the Downtown TIF District and making recommendations to the City Commission.
6) The Tourism Business Improvement District presented its consultants' findings in regard to options for potential new events facilities that would attract more events and boost tourism. The final report will be available next month.
7) The Great Falls Area Food Manufacturers Network began work on its New Employee Food Safety Training to look at opportunities to streamline and collectively use resources to train employees. If you are a food manufacturer in the region and would like to learn more about the Network, contact Rebecca Engum at or 1-406-771-9032.
8) We are very pleased to announce that Rebecca Engum has been selected as our new Manufacturing Partnership Director! For the past 8 years, Rebecca has served as our Small Business Development Center Director, assisting hundreds of area entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs to start and expand their companies. She has been instrumental in creating The Fire Within, our Entrepreneur Elite professional coaching services, and the Great Falls Area Food Manufacturing Network. In her new position, Rebecca will be helping existing manufacturers throughout the Great Falls trade area to prosper and expand, helping entrepreneurs to create new manufacturing operations, and attracting new manufacturers to our region. Congratulations Rebecca! Next week we'll be posting the position of Small Business Development Director. If you know of an extraordinary professional who would be a great business coach, please send them our way! The new position is made possible by a grant from the Economic Development Administration, matched 1:1 by GFDA Investors.
9) Participated in the Workforce Development Group led by the United Way as part of its Prosperity Matters initiative. This is a partnership effort involving Great Falls Public Schools, Great Falls College MSU, the Great Falls Job Service, GFDA and others to create pathways for students and residents to connect with high wage jobs through education, training and industry-recognized credentials. We're exploring ways to expand on the School District's great success with WorkKeys education, part of ACT's career curriculum. One possibility with great promise is to bring the National Association of Manufacturers' Skills Certification System, which was developed in conjunction with WorkKeys, to Great Falls.
10) Employers, there's still time to sign up for a table at the Great Falls Youth Job Fair 2014 that will be held on May 7th from 3:00-6:00 PM in Heritage Hall at Great Falls College MSU. Sign-up with Christine Perkins by April 30th at
11) There's also still time to register for the MOSAIC Management Bootcamp being offered this Thursday, May 1st in the Missouri Room of the Great Falls Civic Center. The workshop will be delivered by Wendy Samson, President of FutureSYNC International and discuss employee engagement. This popular workshop is being brought back to town thanks to the Great Falls Job Service Employer Committee. Register with Barb Hardy at 1-406-791-5816 or Jerry Kenik at 1-406-791-5804.
12) Back in the first week of April, the Great Falls Job Service set a record with 776 job postings. The number has now climbed to 858 job postings!
13) GFDA Investors are invited to two trade show prep meetings this week, both at GFDA. On Tuesday the 29th at 4:00 PM we'll discuss plans for the Global Petroleum Show that will be in Calgary in June, On Wednesday the 30th at 8:00 AM we'll discuss plans for RECON: The Global Real Estate Convention that will be in Las Vegas in May, If you can't make the meetings, but want to learn more or have ideas to help us market Great Falls and/or help your company, contact Jeremiah Johnson at 1-406-750-3285 or
14) The next GFDA Investor Development Coffee will be this Friday, May 2nd, 7:00 AM, hosted by Holiday Inn. For more information regarding upcoming investor events, contact Jolene Bach at 1-406-750-4481 or
15) If you are a budding entrepreneur who's ready to begin moving forward with your idea, or know someone who is, come to one of our Start-Up Sparks! These open office hour sessions are held at noon at GFDA, 4th floor of the US Bank Building at 300 Central Avenue in downtown Great Falls. Plan to attend one of the upcoming sessions on Wednesday April 30th, Monday May 12th, Tuesday May 20th, Wednesday May 28th or Thursday June 5th. Contact Rebecca Engum for more info at or 1-406-771-9032.
16) Great Falls metro area per capita personal income grew by 3.52% in 2012, our best year since 2008, according to data released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the five year period 2008-2012 that included the Great Recession, it grew 13.73%. Statewide, Montana fared very well in 2012, ranking 2nd in real per capita personal income growth behind North Dakota, and tying with Indiana for 2nd in overall real personal income growth with North Dakota being first.
17) Montana has the most pride of any U.S. State, according to a recent Gallup poll. 77% of Montanan's polled said we're the best state in which to live. Alaska, Utah, Wyoming and Texas rounded out the top five.
Congratulations to Great Falls Habitat for Humanity on completing its 30th home! And, congratulations to the students at Great Falls Public Schools and Great Falls College MSU who helped build homes this year with Habit for Humanity and NeighborWorks Great Falls!
Congratulations to the Great Falls Symphony and Symphony Choir for another outstanding season!
KEEP GREAT FALLS MOVING FORWARD! Vote for the Great Falls School levy! Do everything you can this week to GET OUT THE VOTE!


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Great Falls, MT 59401
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