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GFDA Top 20 5/4/14

Here's the GFDA Top 20 for this week, celebrating great things happening to move Great Falls Forward!
1) Galloway & Co. announced the East Great Falls Retail Center, a 26-acre multi-tenant retail development at the intersection of 10th Avenue South and 57th Street that will include a 189,000 square foot big box, gas station and four 1-2 acre retail, hotel or restaurant pads. The City's Design Review Board approved plans for the project as well as plans for the new Starbucks on 10th Avenue South. The project will anchor the east end of 10th Avenue South, meet the needs of an underserved part of our city, attract brands that will help us plug retail leakage and attract more regional shoppers to come to Great Falls more often, help us attract more residents/employees to Great Falls and encourage more revitalization of the 10th Avenue South commercial corridor. Neighborhood Councils 4 and 5 voted unanimously to support the project.
2) Worked with a national site selector on details of a prospective distribution project for Great Falls. Worked with a lender and developer on SBA 504 financing for a proposed project on the Hi-line. Worked with several of our loan clients who have loans maturing, one of whom has secured bank financing to take us out!
3) Worked with a start-up manufacturing business to refine an operations plan and timeline. Worked with two entrepreneurs on the three cornerstones of business start-ups: market, operations and financials. 
4) Worked with our bank partners on several large deals to move them into construction.
5) The Federal Trade Commission approved Northwestern Energy's plans to purchase PPL's hydroelectric operations in Montana. We strongly support this deal!
6) Great Falls College MSU graduated a record number of students, including dual enrollment Great Falls Public Schools welding students who received their college diplomas a week before their high school diplomas!! 384 graduates (a new record), 448 degrees and certificates (a new record). The youngest graduate was 17 and the oldest 63. Congratulations graduates!
7) Great Falls metro area employment grew at a 2.0% rate from March 2013 to March 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, putting us in the 26th percentile tied for 98th of 372 metro areas. Amongst the 11 other metro areas we benchmark with, Great Falls ranked 3rd, beating both Billings and Missoula. Let's keep it up!
8) Great Falls climbed 97 places in the 2014 Best Cities for Job Growth ranking issued by New Geography. This is a weighted index that looks back at employment growth from 2002-2013 with an emphasis on recent job growth.
9) With all the new announcements, we've updated our Great Falls Growth Highlights 5-4-14 handout. Feel free to use this to drive new deals and help your business.
10) The Great Falls Tribune published feature stories today about the exciting work that developers have been doing to add 25 residential condos and 120 apartments in downtown Great Falls. A shout out from the GFDA Team to Joan Redeen and the Downtown Business Improvement District who have been instrumental in making these projects happen, along with so many other exciting things downtown! And an even bigger shout out to the great developers who are tackling these projects and succeeding!!
11) The High Plain Financial (our SBA 504 CDC and rural lending affiliate) Board appointed a Nominations Committee that has nominated Lorette Carter with the City of Shelby, Sen. Brad Hamlett of the Wrangler Gallery, and Wendy McKamey with Cowles Montana Media for three year Director terms. High Plain Financial's annual meeting will be held on June 5, 11:00 AM, on the second floor of the downtown U.S. Bank building, 300 Central Avenue in downtown Great Falls.
12) Today we're starting our exhibit at the AOCS agricultural processing industry trade show in San Antonio and have two team members traveling to Colorado Springs for NADCO SBA 504 training. We've winnowed GFDA's staff team down to 8 (running lean and mean -- guess who's the mean?) and for the past month we've been operating with 7 team members. Our staff keeps finding ways to do more with less. I never thank them enough for their hard and smart work on behalf of the Great Falls region. THANK YOU team!!!
13) With the announcement of the East End project and other new retailers coming to town, we're getting excited for the upcoming RECON Global Real Estate Convention! The event is only two weeks away and Jeremiah is setting appointments with a wide variety of companies. If you have ideas of retailers or restaurants that you think would do well in Great Falls and help us become more competitive in retaining and attracting consumer dollars, email Jeremiah Johnson, our VP of Business Development, at
14) GFDA's Board met to discuss what we call GFDA 2.0. We're 12 years old as a public/private economic development partnership. We're constantly looking at ways to produce more bang for the buck for our investors. Unlike conventional investment, our investors give us the money we need to grow and diversify the Great Falls regional economy and support the creation of high wage jobs. Our investors earn their financial return when we help produce results that create new business growth opportunities, help attract new residents and employees, and put more disposable income in the pockets of customers. GFDA 2.0 has four parts: 1) improving our team and operations; 2) expanding the deal-closing tools we employ to make Great Falls competitive; 3) deploying new business development strategies; and, 4) diversifying our organization revenues and resources. We'll be rolling out GFDA 2.0 over the next year.
15) Move Great Falls Forward! Help us produce more results! Become a GFDA Investor! We're very proud of our GFDA INVESTOR HONOR ROLL. These companies and organizations make everything we do possible. If you're ready to join the team that's working together to grow and diversify the Great Falls regional economy, contact Jolene Bach at or 1-406-750-4481.
16) Governor Bullock is looking for industry leaders to form Key Industry Networks to implement the Main Street Montana Project. More details at
17) Montana came in #1 for the second year in a row in the Kaufman Institute's Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. Our business starts increased from 530 per 100,000 population in 2012 to 610 per 100,000 population in 2013.
18) Montana ranked 7th in State Gross Domestic Product growth from 2002-2012 in the American Legislative Exchange Council 2014 Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. We ranked 6th in Non-Farm Payroll Employment growth.
19) There are currently 1,861 oil drilling rigs at work in the U.S., only 8 of which are at work in Montana. California, which many like to bash as being unfriendly to business, has 41 rigs at work. North Dakota has 179, Wyoming 50 and Utah 27.
20) Thought for the day from Kiplinger. People 55 and older now constitute about one fifth of the workforce, up from 12% two decades ago. What are you doing to retain, retrain and motivate older employees?
Congratulations to the Little Shell on the opening of the tribe's new Cultural Visitor Center in Great Falls! Congratulations to NeighborWorks Great Falls and its hundreds of volunteers for another successful MApril neighborhood clean-up! Congratulations to the City Park and Rec Department and all involved in the 35th Ice Breaker! Congratulations to the University of Great Falls for a great rodeo!
It's not to late to vote! KEEP GREAT FALLS MOVING FORWARD! Vote for the Great Falls School levy! Do everything you can to GET OUT THE VOTE! Ballots need to be returned BY HAND on Monday 7:30 AM - 5:00 PM to the County Election Office at the County Courthouse Annex Building downtown, 325 2nd Avenue North, or on Tuesday at Exhibition Hall at ExpoPark by 8:00 PM. If you have any questions, call the Election Office at 1-406-454-6803.
Untame your entrepreneurial spirit! 


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Great Falls, MT 59401
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