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GF Growth Highlights 10.20.2016

Great Falls Growth Highlights



Total Wages in Great Falls metro area grew 5.2% over the four quarters ending 2016Q2, adding $72 million/year in wage earnings; up 10.6% or $139 million in annual earnings over past 12 quarters. Average weekly wages increased 4.7% over the four quarters. Per capita income was up 4.2% in 2014, ranking 79th of all 381 U.S. metro areas. Great Falls metro area real GDP grew 3.7% in 2015, on top of 2.8% real GDP growth in 2014. Manufacturing employment grew at a 7% annual average 2011Q2-2016Q2. Moody’s projects personal income growth of 4.6% in 2017, 6.2% in 2018, and 5.0% in 2019. Great Falls named one of the Best 100 Small Cities in America by Nerd Wallet. Great Falls was just ranked 4th best small city in the nation for “Prime Workforce” by Area Development magazine. 


FCR, formerly called First Call Resolutions, plans to open a 325-seat call center in downtown Great Falls this December. The company has leased 35,000 SF in the Strain Building. The largest customer-owned health insurance company in the United States, Health Care Service Corporation selected Great Falls to expand its claims processing operations, has hired over 120 people, and continues to grow. 


Great Falls AgriTech Park holds grand opening. Four companies have purchased 110 acres in the new rail-served, shovel-ready, heavy industrial park. Helena Chemical, an agricultural chemical distributor, is building a distribution facility on 23 acres. FedEx Ground just opened a 58,000 SF distribution center. Pacific Steel & Recycling has purchased 57 acres to relocate and expand its Great Falls operations. Montana Specialty Mills has bought 20 acres for construction of an oil seed food-grade manufacturing plant. The Park has been selected to be one of the first BNSF-Certified rail industrial parks in the nation. 


West Bank Landing riverfront mixed-use development has started construction on 132-room Marriott Springhill Suites hotel. Continuing the success of the award-winning West Bank One project, the $65 million, 12.5-acre LEED riverfront development will include restaurants, offices and residential condominiums. Great Falls’ first luxury boutique hotel, The Hotel Arvon, opened in the historic downtown Arvon Block. Town Pump plans to start construction next spring on a 90-room dual-branded Sleep Inn & Suites/Main Stay. Erck Hotels has secured land use approvals for a 101-room Hilton Home 2 extended stay hotel and conference center.


Voters just approved $98.8 million in bonds to improve Great Falls Public Schools. City recently secured 1906 Missouri River industrial water rights of 6,335 acre feet at a flow rate of 6.0 cubic feet per second. Great Falls taxes and fees paid per capita are 23% lower than the average of Montana’s major cities. The City’s fire insurance rating in August improved from 4 to 2. 


Farran Group announced plans to build a 216-unit upscale apartment complex in the west side of the City in 2017. Farran is starting construction this fall on a 72-unit addition to the recently opened 216-unit Talus Apartment Homes. The new 38-unit Voyageur Apartments and the 16-unit addition to the Cascade Ridge development just opened. NeighborWorks’ first 12-unit apartment project is under construction. GMD Development and NeighborWorks just announced a 124-unit affordable rental development for 2017. HUD fair market rents for Great Falls increased 11% this year for one-bedroom units; 14% for two-bedroom. 


ADF Group continues growth at state-of-the-art fabrication plant in Great Falls as they exceed 210 jobs.

ADF Group, an international leader in structural steel engineering and fabrication, chose Great Falls as the site for its western United States headquarters expansion.  The company is located on a 100-acre site in Great Falls and has invested $40+ million in a 100,000 SF fabrication facility and 42,000 SF paint and coating plant. The company expects to grow to 340 employees in the next couple of years.


Montana Eggs started construction on a $7 million new egg processing facility in Great Falls. CHS’ nutrition unit expansion underway. Anderson Steel announced expansion plans to add 50 jobs. AgFertilizer just finished construction of its expansion.

NAHB ranks Great Falls as 19th best housing market in country. Great Falls named one of the Top 25 Best places in U.S. to retire by Forbes. New housing subdivisions include the 155-acre Thaniel Subdivision with 88 homes in phase 1, the West Ridge Subdivision with 171 new homes on 58 acres, and Cottage Grove. 


Great Falls Clinic opened new hospital and emergency room. The Great Falls Clinic, in partnership with Symbion, opened its new 19-bed, 60,000 SF hospital in early 2016. Elkin Family Dentistry, DaVita Dialysis and Fresenius Medical Care/Great Falls Clinic Dialysis Center opened new facilities this year. Benefis Health Systems plans to start a $12.5 million expansion of emergency services this winter. 


Calumet Montana Refining completes construction on $450 million expansion, adding 50+ new high wage primary sector jobs. The refinery produces gasoline, middle distillates and asphalt. Construction is underway on a new $47 million Greenfield wind farm in Teton County. Juhl Energy just announced plans for a 20 MW wind farm in Teton County. Cypress Creek Renewables has proposed two 3 MW solar farms in Cascade County.


Loenbro opened its new advanced fabrication plant and headquarters in 2015 on 52 acres. A homegrown, Great Falls-based welding company that provides a wide range of comprehensive oil and gas pipeline solutions. Loenbro has added over 400 new primary sector jobs in the last 2 years. The new complex includes a 28,000 SF headquarters and 30,000 SF state-of-the-art fabrication shop. 


TJ Maxx, Super 1, Sears Hometown, McDonalds, Mattress Firm, KFC/A&W, and Sleep Number open. Walmart Supercenter under construction. Town Pump starts work on entire block redevelopment on 10th Avenue South. Construction is underway on the new East End Retail Center. The 26-acre project on the east end of 10th Avenue South will be anchored by a 189,000 SF Walmart Supercenter. The new McDonalds just added 40 jobs. Smith’s has announced a $2.5 million renovation of its Great Falls store. Apricot Lane and Teriyaki Madness have announced plans to open stores in Great Falls.


GTF airport passenger traffic has increased 24% over the past 6 years; starts construction on $13 million crosswinds runway project. Travel Math ranked GTF the 10th best commercial airport in the nation. The FAA ranked GTF as the Montana airport with lowest airfares for 3 years in a row. United started new seasonal direct flights to Chicago this spring. Glacier National Park set another visitation record in 2015. First Peoples Buffalo Jump, located 10 miles south of Great Falls, named National Historic Landmark.


Great Falls College - Montana State University’s Industrial Trades facilities expansion completed, home of the first joint U.S./Canadian certified welding training and testing center in the country. The College offers welding, fabrication, carpentry, energy technician, sustainable energy, and industrial trades training and education. The College is expanding its extensive medical programs with a new registered nurse program. University of Great Falls opened its new 136-student housing complex and recreation projects.


Construction underway on $7.5 million Cameron Family Center downtown. 15 new businesses opened downtown in the last 6 quarters; 117 building permits were issued for $14 million in improvements. The new downtown Hi-Line Climbing Center opened this spring. Construction was just completed on a major downtown streetscape improvement project. The Dunn-Brown building renovation and Lithia Motors downtown project are under construction. Creative Sector jobs in the Great Falls metro area increased 15.3% from 2011-2016.


New U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management 32,000 SF center just opened. State-of-the-Art MacLean Animal Adoption Center opened its 13,440 SF facility in 2015. Nine River’s Edge Trail projects were completed this summer along with further improvements to the City’s riverfront West Bank Park.


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