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GFDA Top 19 6/8/14

Here's the GFDA Top 19 for this week, celebrating great things happening to move Great Falls Forward!
1) Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, part of Health Care Service Corporation, held the grand opening of its new provider call center in Great Falls. The center has 50 employees now and plans to grow to 120 by this fall. In addition to the great jobs, the renovated building is a nice improvement to the east end of 10th Avenue South. Congratulations to all involved! Special congratulations to Dick Anderson Construction and L'Heureux Page Werner architects for a very fine job on the design and construction of the building. We worked long and hard on this one and are very glad to welcome BCBS back to Great Falls!
2) Loenbro announced it's purchased a 52 acre site in the Great Falls/Cascade County north industrial area near ADF International and MaltEurop and has started construction on the first building at the site, a 30,000 square foot state-of-the-art steel pipe fabrication facility!
3) BE Aerospace announced it is purchasing EMTEQ including the Great Falls aerospace electronics assembly plant. EMTEQ's Great Falls operation has grown to 120 employees. We have great hopes that the acquisition by BEA will fuel further growth of the local plant. We reached out to BEA officials this week to welcome them to Great Falls and Montana. BEA plans to locate a lead executive in Great Falls.
4) Networked with national site selection consultants at the Area Development Consultant Forum in Columbus, Ohio.
5) GFDA's Loan Committee approved an increase in our bridge financing commitment for the 216 unit Talus Apartment complex that will be built adjacent to Centene in the Great Falls Med/Tech University District. We increased our commitment for a two year bridge loan to $2 million to help finance the project's construction and lease-up because of the importance of adding new high quality apartments in Great Falls. The complex will include a club house, fitness center, pool and BBQ area amongst beautifully landscaped grounds.
6) Helped the potential buyer of a local business to assess historic performance and consider debt service and financing options. Worked with an entrepreneur on how to source suppliers and to learn about prototype development processes. Worked with entrepreneurs exploring a new business concept for downtown. Helped a business owner assess financing options to fuel continued growth. If your company could benefit from free professional, independent coaching, contact Rebecca Engum at 1-406-771-9032 or
7) Helped two local businesses with government contracting opportunities, one seeking to provide counseling services to military families and the other to see if the company could qualify for SBA small business set-aside contracts.
8) Conducted a closeout walkthrough of the brownfield cleanup we funded for the Easter Seals Goodwill renovation of 4400 Central Avenue in Great Falls.
9) Avmax Aviation Services's Great Falls aircraft heavy maintenance center and painting operation has grown to 135 employees. The company now operates heavy maintenance centers in Calgary, Great Falls, Jacksonville and Chad Africa, full service avionics centers in Calgary and Vancouver, and a worldwide spare parts distribution network. Its aircraft leasing operation has the world's largest private fleet of Dash 8 de Havilland series aircraft as wells as a wide range of jets. Its R1 Airlines Ltd. operates throughout Canada. Congratulations to the Avmax team on its global growth and success!
10) MT Gems, which operates the Sapphire and Ruby assisted living homes in downtown Great Falls, paid off the gap financing loans we made to help finance the buildings. Congratulations on the company's continued success!
11) The City Commission approved three Community Transportation Enhancement Projects that will make improvements to the River's Edge Trail, the Montana Veteran's Memorial and Black Eagle Falls overlook, and downtown streetscapes.
12) The Montana University System Board of Regents approved several important changes to the career training and education programs offered by Great Falls College MSU. Approvals included expanding the welding technology program to include fabrication, converting the sustainable energy program to a broader industrial technical program, offering new EMT/Pre-Paramedic and Phlebotomy/Pre-Medical Assistant professional certificate programs, and changing the Associate of Science Business program so that it articulates to a BS in Business at MSU Bozeman's Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship.
13) Held a brainstorming walk through event at the Great Falls Visitor Center in partnership with the Great Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Great Falls Tourism Business Improvement District. Thank you to all who participated and contributed great ideas for remaking the center! Over the summer, we'll announce some brainstorming charrette sessions to help design the center's makeover. We plan to do the makeover in the fall. Send me your ideas and I'll forward them onto the team;
14) We held an early morning meeting this week of top division GFDA Investors to discuss workforce recruitment needs and ways to continue to fuel the region's employment growth. Our discussions made clear that recruitment of new employees and families to Great Falls, as well as continued expansion and modification of our education and training programs, are going to become more and more important.
15) Completed more prep work for our exhibit and business meetings at the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary this coming week. We're pitching the Great Falls Montana Alternative to enable energy industry companies to save money, reduce risk and speed delivery. We invested in new Choose Great Falls flags and a new automatic PowerPoint for our booth, and a new flyer touting the advantages of locating operations in the Great Falls region. Over 60,000 industry leaders have registered for the event.
16) Our SBA 504 and rural lending affiliate, High Plains Financial, held its annual meeting. Board election results were announced with Brad Hamlett rejoining the Board, and Lorette Carter and Wendy McKamey being reelected for new terms.
17) The GFDA Board approved a preliminary budget for our new fiscal year that starts July 1st and reviewed how Great Falls' Policom Economic Strength ranking compares to the 11 western metro areas we benchmark against.
18) Gave a presentation to the Great Falls Pachyderm Club on Great Falls Growth Highlights. If your club, group or company is interested in a presentation about the exciting things happening in our region's economy, contact Jolene Bach at
19) Our statewide New Market tax Credits partner, the Montana Community Development Corporation, will present a workshop on how to use the tax credits to help finance projects on Wednesday, June 18, 4:00 PM at NeighborWorks Great Falls. Congratulations to MCDC for winning another allocation of $55 million in New Market Tax Credits this week!
Another excellent week in moving the Great Falls economy forward! Thank you for all your help and support!
Untame your entrepreneurial spirit! 


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Great Falls, MT 59401
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