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GFDA Top 16 1/22/15

Here's the GFDA Top 16 for last week, celebrating great things happening to move Great Falls Forward! Sorry for the delay in getting this out -- it's been crazy busy which is great for Great Falls!
1) Loenbro announced that it plans to add 450 more new jobs in Great Falls over the next 5 years! The Cascade County Commission approved the Economic Development Infrastructure loan application to the Montana Board of Investments for the company's new 52 acre headquarters and fabrication operation. For the 2nd year in a row, Loenbro has been selected as a Finalist for Oil & Gas Awards Construction Company of the Year in the Rocky Mountain Region. Congratulations to the Loenbro team!
2) Great Falls is succeeding in diversifying our economy. In the last 2 years, our manufacturing employment has increased 19.7% compared to national growth of 1.8%, according to EMSI. In the last 10 years, our manufacturing employment has increased 27.0% while the nation's manufacturing employment has dropped 13.4%. Average manufacturing earnings in the Great Falls metro area were $61,233 in 2014. We still have a long way to go; manufacturing makes up only 3% of our employment, 60% below the national average. With the newly doubled GFDA-led Great Falls Regional Manufacturing Partnership, we'll keep working with existing manufacturers, 
entrepreneurial startups, and manufacturing business attraction efforts.
3) The Great Falls metro area climbed another 3 places in the annual Milken Institute's Best-Performing Cities index for 2014. We ranked 76th out of 179 smaller metro areas. We've climbed 24 places in 2 years. The ranking is based on 9 measures of job growth, wage and salary growth, and high-tech growth over the past 7 years. Four of the measures are on high-tech which is an area we need to work on.
4) Great Falls International Airport set a passenger record in 2014. The number of passengers using the airport grew 4.1% from 2013.
5) Black Eagle Brewery opened. We now have 5 microbreweries in Cascade County! Electric City Coffee and the Great Falls Wedding & Event Center opened downtown. Opportunity Bank opened a commercial loan office downtown.
6) The Great Falls Animal Foundation announced that it is going to complete construction and open the Margaret J. Maclean Animal Welfare Center this spring.
7) The University of Great Falls is building a 36-unit four-bedroom apartment complex on campus that will provide living quarters for 144 students. The 44,000 square foot $5 million structure was approved by the City Design Review Board.
8) Two new retail projects on 10th Avenue South were also approved by the Design Review Board. KFC announced that it will renovate and reopen both of its Great Falls locations this spring.
9) The downtown Business Improvement District Board approved a sponsorship of the Montana Economic Development Conference, enabling the event to be held downtown at the Mansfield Convention Center May 4-6. Recent downtown successes will be showcased to hundreds of economic development, business and public leaders from across the state. Thank you BID!
10) Another of our startup entrepreneurial clients secured a bank loan commitment to help finance their new venture! We've been assisting with business planning and financial projections over the last 3 months. Learn more about our business strategy services. Contact Jason Nitschke at
11) Responded to an RFP issued by a site selection consulting firm for an industrial manufacturing company looking for expansion sites in the Western U.S. Updated our Great Falls Growth Highlights handout that we use to help attract investment.
12) Exhibited and networked with Chinese investors at an inbound investment and export opportunity event coordinated by the Montana Department of Commerce. Exhibited at Economic Development Day in the State Capitol Rotunda hosted by the Montana Economic Developers Association.
13) Great Falls College MSU and the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce invite you to an evening event on January 29th, 5-7 PM, to explore and celebrate higher education opportunities in Great Falls. For more information, call 1-406-268-3734.
14) Register for the 2015 Made in Montana Trade Show that will be held March 27-28 in Helena. Visit or call Sue Clark-Jones at 1-406-841-2757.
15) Montana is the 3rd healthiest state for housing, according to a report issued by CoreLogic. Just 2.9% of residential mortgages statewide are underwater, meaning that borrowers owe more on their mortgage than their houses are worth.
16) Consultant Connect named me as one of North America's Top 50 Economic Developers, which is embarrassing because I'm just the front person for the amazing GFDA staff team. According to Consultant Connect, "The economic developers selected for the list were nominated by colleagues in the economic development industry and site consultant community for excellent practices, innovation and success in building the communities they serve." So, congratulations to Jana, Jason, Jennifer, Jeremiah, Jolene, Lillian and Rebecca! And, congratulations to our Forward Great Falls investors, partners, volunteers, and clients! You've earned it!!
Have a great week and let's keep the good news rolling! Untame your entrepreneurial spirit!


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Great Falls, MT 59401
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