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GFDA Top 18 for 1/31/2016

Here's the GFDA Top 18 for the past two weeks, celebrating great things happening to move Great Falls Forward. Sorry I missed last week. I was out of state at the annual International Economic Development Council Leadership Summit.


1) As promised, another announcement to kick-off the new year. The air service partnership, led by the Chamber, GTF and the Tourism Alliance, has notched another victory! United Airlines is starting direct service connecting Great Falls with Chicago. Tickets are now on sale. The service will start with summer weekend flights on a 70 passenger jet that includes first class. See more details in today's Tribune. Congratulations and thank you for the partners and investors that have made this happen! The Airport Authority Board also approved a $13 million crosswinds runway and taxiway improvement project that will be constructed over the next two years.

2) Ballast for the Great Falls AgriTech Park rail line is laid down and the first building components for the Helena Chemical complex arrived on site.

3) Jeremiah and Jolene travelled on our first business investment mission of 2016 -- networked and met with pulse processing companies and discussed pulse fractionation and agri-processing opportunities in the Great Falls trade area at the Northern Pulse Growers annual convention in Minot, North Dakota, then hit the road for Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where they met with a large international agri-processing prospect looking at expansion opportunities for pulse crop processing who has interest in the Great Falls region.

4) The Great Falls downtown streetscape project is out to bid and so is the waste water treatment plant upgrade project. Keeping our water and sewer systems in great shape may not sound exciting until you hear about communities who haven't maintained their systems.

5) Worked with a retired service disabled veteran looking for his business to become certified as a CVB with the Veterans Administration to work on VA projects.  GFDA hosts the GF PTAC office and has a certified CVB counselor.  If you would like more information, contact Lillian Sunwall at or (406) 771-9024.
6) NeighborWorks Great Falls started site work on its first affordable rental housing development, the downtown 12-unit First Avenue Estates. Here are downtown statistics for the 4th quarter of 2015: $2,794,960 invested in 20 renovation projects; and, 8,447 downtown volunteer hours!

7) Reviewed the business plan and financial projections for a proposed purchase of an existing business in Great Falls. Reviewed the historic financials and worked through projections for an established business looking to expand. Reviewed an SBIR grant application abstract for a local company. Began working with an entrepreneur wanting to understand financial statements more in depth to enable better management decision making. For assistance starting, growing or expanding your entrepreneurial efforts, contact Jason Nitschke at
8) Our new Brownfield assessment program is off and running with the start of a Phase 2 assessment on the West Bank Two riverfront site. We've received requests for assessments on several additional properties.  If you have a potential property or site whose redevelopment has been hindered by contamination or perceived contamination, contact Lillian Sunwall at or (406) 771-9024.
9) Congratulations to the Celtic Cowboy on being named the Best Irish Pub in Montana by Buzzfeed!

10) At its annual Economic Outlook in Great Falls, the University of Montana's Bureau of Business and Economic Research projected continued growth of the Great Falls metro area economy, averaging 2.4% per year for 2016-2019, and continued growth of our manufacturing base. In its analysis of property taxes, the BBER noted that the City of Great Falls spends $441 per person, well below other Montana cities (Missoula $807, Bozeman $753, Billings $750, Helena $644, and Kalispell $581). I gave our annual local outlook (see copy here).

11) David Weissman, chair of the Montana Defense Alliance, has been named to the USAF Chief of Staff's Civic Leader Council. The Defense Alliance was created by the Great Falls Area Chamber to unite public and private Montana leadership to advocate for the state's military missions. For more info on the Alliance's important work, visit

12) Worked with a local primary sector business to submit a Job Creation Grant to the Montana Dept. of Commerce's Big Sky Trust Fund for an expansion project.  The due date for submitting applications to BSTF for the April committee meeting is February 24th. If you would like more information on this program, contact Lillian Sunwall at
13) Great Falls College MSU's new one semester phlebotomy technician program is off to a great start. Thirty students have graduated from the program. All 15 students in the fall class passed the national certification exam. See this Tribune story for more details.
14) Presented Boots to Business to 16 active military members at Malmstrom Air Force Base transitioning back to civilian life. B2B is an introduction to entrepreneurship providing a foundation and path to business ownership. For more about Boots to Business, contact Jason Nitschke at
15) Gave an Ignite presentation on future predictions for economic development at the annual IEDC Leadership Summit and participated in its executive roundtable to discuss the next best practices in economic development.

16) The Montana Governor's Office of Economic Development released the state economic development report for 2015. Download a copy of it here.

17) Montana is one of the top 10 states to retire to, according to WalletHub, based on affordability, quality of life and healthcare.

18) Montana ranked 2nd amongst the 8 Mountain states for workforce development efforts by Site Selection magazine. Wyoming took the top spot that Montana held last year.

More announcements to come! Untame your entrepreneurial spirit!


Upcoming Events


Montana DECA judges needed for the state convention February 7-9 at the Heritage Inn in Great Falls. Judging is very fun and rewarding. If you can volunteer for a few hours, contact Todd Such at or 727-4144.


Job and Career Fair at Blackfeet Community College on 2/11 in Browning from 9;00 AM to 2:00 PM. Contact Lorissa Hannon for more info at 1-406-338-5441 ext. 2218 or


Work Ethics. Great Falls Adult Education is hosting Josh Davies, CEO of The Center for Work Ethic Development, for a presentation and training on increasing employee work ethic. The presentation is February 16 at 4:30 PM. The Train-the-Trainer workshop is February 17 from 8 AM to Noon and costs $25. Both are at Great Falls College MSU. Call 406-771-5108 for more information. 

Made in Montana Tradeshow wholesale buyer and retailer registration is open for the March 11-12 event in Helena. Visit


Great Falls Job Fair will be held Tuesday, March 29th from 11:30 AM to 5:00 PM at the Montana ExpoPark Exhibition Hall. Employer registration is now open. Visit the website or contact Barbara Hardy of the Great Falls Job Service at 791-5816 or


Two Great Job Openings

Loan Officer. Exceptional professional sought for new Loan Officer position to support the growth of our commercial gap and bridge financing efforts. Join our fun, creative, fast-paced, results-driven team focused on growing and diversifying the Great Falls regional economy and supporting the creation of higher-wage jobs. Duties include business development, deal structuring, underwriting, closing, loan servicing, and reporting to a variety of funding sources. Requires the ability to work with a diverse clientele, banks, and partners to structure often complex financing for businesses, real estate projects and non-profits. Minimum 3 years of experience in commercial lending, economic development or the CDFI industry, and BA or equivalent additional experience. Salary dependent on capabilities and experience, excellent benefits, flexible work environment, professional development and growth opportunities. Send letter and resume to Brett Doney at EOE. Open until we find a great candidate!

Director of Development. Reposted. We're looking for a self-motivated, positive leader to join our dedicated, passionate, results-driven economic development team. Help us grow and diversify the Great Falls regional economy and support the creation of higher wage jobs. Help us engage existing investors, connect with new investors, and enhance our web and social media communications. You will be meeting with business leaders to listen to their challenges and opportunities, engage them in Forward Great Falls efforts, and secure their investment in the future of Great Falls. We're looking for a proven star with excellent speaking, writing and listening skills, social media savvy, tenacity, and integrity. BA/BS and relevant business, marketing, fundraising or communications experience. Salary range $45,000-55,000 with excellent benefits, professional development and growth opportunities, and flexible work environment. Work with a great team, help us move Great Falls Forward, and make a difference in people's lives! EOE. Cover letter and resume to Brett Doney, President,


Manufacturers: 20 or 31.5 acre, rail-served heavy industrial lot in Great Falls AgriTech Park ready for immediate construction start! Gas, electric, water, sewer, fiber, and rail all to your lot line for $30,000/acre. Join Pacific Steel & Recycling, Montana Specialty Mills, Helena Chemical, and Ruedebusch Development in this new industrial park. Contact Jeremiah Johnson at 1-406-750-3285 or



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