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GFDA Top 11 of 2016


GFDA Top 11
Here's the GFDA Top 11 for 2016, celebrating great things happening to move Great Falls Forward. It has been an amazing year -- very satisfying to see our teamwork and smart, targeted strategies produce results. We have much more to accomplish until we will be satisfied. The GFDA Team is just getting started!

Here are just a few things to celebrate as we close out 2016.

1) The numbers. Manufacturing employment grew 8.4% in the Great Falls MSA from 2015Q3 to 2016Q3, compared to 3.0% growth in Montana and 0.4% growth in the U.S., according to Jobs EQ. Average annual wages grew 3.07% during the same period. Growth in private industry average annual earnings during this 12-month period ranked 63rd amongst all 387 U.S. metro areas, according to Syneva Economics. Per capita personal income grew 3.4% and Metro GDP increased 3.7% in 2015, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The MT Dept. of Revenue projected that the City would receive $875,000 and Cascade County $1.3 million in additional property tax revenue this fiscal year stemming from new private sector investment.

2) Primary Sector Expansion & Attraction. Expansions were announced by Anderson Steel, Loenbro, Pasta Montana, Montana Eggs and Centene. ADF won $133 million in new contracts, including the Salt Lake City Airport expansion. First Call Resolutions announced it has leased space downtown for a 325+ employee customer service center. Construction started on the $47 million Greenfield Wind Farm and the $4 million Cargill project. Humid Growth Solutions announced an expansion in Shelby. The 120th Airlift Wing of the Montana Air National Guard completed conversion to its new C-130 mission. "Great Falls is so friendly! We came and walked around a lot and were struck by how clean the community is and the civic pride. The town feels alive and leaders are receptive to new companies," Katheryn Carnahan, COO of First Call Resolutions.

3) Commercial Development. Construction started on the East End Retail Center anchored by Walmart, Town Pump's 10th Avenue South redevelopment, the downtown Lithia Subaru, City Brew, and Helena Chemical. The new FED Ex Ground facility, the new U.S. Forest Service/BLM complex, AgFertilizers' expansion, Super 1, the new west side McDonalds, Davita Dialysis, Sleep Number, Mattress Firm, and Fresenius Medical Care opened. Uber and Apricot Lane opened. Town Pump announced two more redevelopments on 10th Avenue South. Hobby Lobby, Petsmart and Ulta Beauty announced plans to open Great Falls stores in 2017. Friesen Nutrition and the Peak Health and Wellness Center announced plans for new facilities.

4) Entrepreneurial Startups. New businesses opening included Downtown Dice & Games, Eagle Contracting, Hi-Line Climbing Center, Illusion Dance Company, Cheers! Fitness, Tacticality Workwear, True North Athletic Therapy, Choteau Spice Company, Oriental Health Spa, Dance Design Studio, Food Frenzy Catering, Innovative Pain Management Clinic, SISU, Big Bang Pizza, Eden Market, Wheels of Thunder, and the west side Taco Del Mar. Construction started on Fire Artisan Pizza and Teriyaki Madness.

5) Tourism. Construction started on the new 132-unit Marriott Springhill Suites and the $2 million renovation of the Hampton Inn. Town Pump announced plans for a 90-unit Sleep Inn & Suites/Main Stay hotel. United Airlines started seasonal direct flights to Chicago and announced plans to expand these in 2017. The Mehmke Steam Tractor Museum re-opened. The C.M. Russell Museum announced plans to restore the historic Charles M. and Nancy C. Russell Residence. Glacier National Park set another visitation record.

6) Great Falls AgriTech Park. The first phase of the new rail-served heavy industrial park opened, culminating a 30-year effort to bring competitive, shovel-ready industrial sites to the market. The first two companies built new facilities in the Park. To market the development, GFDA published 5 more business cases in targeted agricultural processing industry niches, including Pulse Snacks, Pulse Dips, Specialty Pasta, Wheat Ingredients, and Barley Ingredients. "The creation of the long-planned AgriTech Park generates upside potential for manufacturing and downstream industries such as transportation and warehousing. Low business costs along wth the new development in the park take advantage of Great Falls' comparative advantages," Moody's Economics.

7) West Bank Landing. Local developers started construction on the $65 million, 12.5 acre mixed-use riverfront project, anchored by the new Marriott Springhill Suites. The brownfield redevelopment will offer unique office, dining and commercial space in LEED-certified buildings. GFDA's new brownfield assessment service supported this and a dozen other potential redevelopment projects across the city.

8) Housing. Construction was completed on the 38-unit Voyageur Apartments, the 16-unit addition to the Cascade Ridge apartments, and the University of Great Falls' new 136-student housing complex. Construction started on the 72-unit addition to the Talus Apartment Homes. The Farran Group announced plans for a 216-unit upscale apartment complex on the west side of town. NeighborWorks Great Falls held the grand opening for the 12-unit First Avenue Estates, the organization's first mixed-income rental development. NeighborWorks Great Falls and GMD Development announced the proposed 124-unit Rockcress Commons affordable rental development. NeighborWorks also announced plans to redevelop the former Kranz Floral half-block downtown.

9) Infrastructure. Construction was completed on the Sun River extension of the Rivers Edge Trail, the downtown streetscapes project, and numerous trail, road, sewer, water and stormwater improvements. Construction started on the $10 million cross-winds runway project at Great Falls International Airport and the $28 million City water treatment plant upgrades. The City's fire insurance rating improved from 4 to 2. The City secured 1906 Missouri River industrial water rights of 6,335 acre feet at a flow rate of 6.0 cubic feet per second. The City adopted a new Park & Recreation Master Plan. The Blackfeet Tribal Water Compact was approved by Congress.

10) Community Facilities. The Great Falls Rescue Mission's new $8.6 million Cameron Family Center opened, as well as the new Grace Home transitional housing for homeless veterans. The Great Falls Clinic opened its new $19 million hospital. Benefis Health Systems announced plans for a $12.5 million expansion of its emergency department. Voters approved $98.8 million in bonds for improvements to Great Falls Public School facilities and $4.6 million in bonds for improvements to Belt schools. The Great Falls Rotary Club began construction on the last 5 cabins at Camp Rotary, culminating a 15-year effort to redevelop the historic camp used each year by thousands of children in the region.

11) Workforce. You knew I wouldn't be able to stick to a Top 10 for such a great year! Great Falls College MSU launched its new Industrial Technology, Phlebotomy Technician, and Computer Programming and Coding programs. The College graduated its first class of Registered Nurses, began offering advanced training for steel fabrication fitters, and opened a new Maker Space. Dual enrollment by Great Falls Public School high school students increased 56% this fall. Great Falls was ranked 4th Best Small City in the U.S. for Prime Workforce by Area Development. "The type of partnerships between workforce and education that occur here are amazing! We aren't even doing that in Silicon Valley," commented two executives of a major global technology company who visited Great Falls in October to work on a deal with a Great Falls business.

THANK YOU to our incredible Forward Great Falls Investors, clients, partners, volunteers, and staff for making all this happen! And, please excuse my transgression if I failed to mention your project.

Happy New Year! In 2017, we're going to Untame Your Entrepreneurial Spirit in Great Falls, Montana!


Brett Doney
President and CEO
Connect with me on LinkedIn to network with the Great Falls region.

"I hope in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something."
Neil Gaiman
Cost-Effective Industrial Sites Available
If your company needs a rail-served, shovel-ready site with all municipal services at your door, we have lots available for immediate construction in the Great Falls AgriTech Park. Contact Brett Doney at 1-406-750-2119 or 


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