|1) We hosted 2 site visits from companies interested in new projects in Great Falls. Site selection is a complex process for multimillion dollar projects. Selecting the perfect property is important, but key relationships are critical to project success. Thank you to our partners, investors, and community for providing timely information, staying late to accommodate travel delays, and for sharing your positive outlook on the Great Falls market. Great Falls is really sparkling lately, reach out to Jake for next steps on your exciting new project in Great Falls 1-406-403-4937 or Jake@GrowGreatFalls.org
2) We made a $200,000 bridge loan to Baatz Block Apartments LLLP for the construction of a 25-unit permanent supporting housing development. The project is located in Downtown Great Falls and will provide much needed low-income housing units that focus on addressing the needs of individuals facing homelessness. Special thanks to NeighborWorks Great Falls, Homeward, Inc. and the many other community leaders who helped with this project. Contact Jill Kohles to learn about the different options available to help your business or project move closer to the finish line, JKohles@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-590-1056.
3) The cost of living in the Great Falls MSA dropped from 85.6% in 2023Q2 to 85.5% in 2023Q3 according to the highly respected C2ER Cost of Living Index. Housing in Great Falls came in at 65.2% of the national average. In comparison, Bozeman came in at 120.6% cost of living, with housing rating at 147.4% of the national average. The composite index is based on six categories: housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services.
4) Networked with real estate developers and investors at the Urban Land Institute’s Fall Meeting in Los Angeles. Discussed housing, riverfront, downtown, commercial, and industrial development opportunities in Great Falls and the surrounding trade area. Worked with a logistics company that has decided to move forward with a project in Great Falls. Worked with an investment group considering acquisition and expansion of a Great Falls primary sector company.
5) Play It Again Sports opened in Great Falls; see KRTV. Old Chicago plans to open in Great Falls. THRIVEcycle is opening in downtown Great Falls this month and kosher kitchen opens at Touro College. See TheElectric’s Business Bites.
6) JobsEQ labor market data for 2023Q2 was released. The average annual wage for the Great Falls MSA (Cascade County) increased by 7.8% in the four quarters ending June 30th reaching $52,731, a one year increase of $3,807. The average annual wage in the Great Falls metro continued to grow faster than the state average of 6.4% and the national average of 4.4%. Total wages earned in Cascade County in 2023Q2 was $39 million higher than 2022Q2, an increase of 8.2%. For the four quarters ending June 30th, total earned wages in Cascade County grew by $188 million or 10.1% compared to the previous four quarters. The number of businesses in Cascade County with covered employees (payroll employees) grew 10.3% from 2022Q1 to 2023Q1 compared to national growth of 5.3%. We added 339 net businesses with employees in one year!
7) The Great Falls Public Safety Levy & Bond election is critically important to the future of our city. Watch this video to learn the facts about the public safety bond and levy, and why the passage of this levy and bond is critical to providing adequate public safety for the citizens of Great Falls. Vote YES on the Great Falls Public Safety Levy & Bond on your November ballot. The GFDA Board urges you to support the Great Falls Public Safety Levy and Bond. Public safety, emergency service response time, and better insurance rating that benefits both commercial and residential properties were all reasons the GFDA Board vote was unanimous. Visit SafetyintheFalls.com to learn more.
8) Last week, the Great Falls Hospital celebrated the open house & grand opening of their new three-story tower; see KRTV and The Electric. This completes the first two phases of their $58 million expansion. The new tower will house a cardiac diagnostic and intervention suite, a 10-bed Intensive Care Unit, procedural space, and 18 new inpatient medical and surgical unit beds. The new beds double inpatient capacity from 18 to 36. Great Falls Hospital is nationally recognized with five clinical achievements from Healthgrades including; America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Joint Replacement, Joint Replacement Excellence Award, Top 10% of the nation for Joint Replacement, and two five-star ratings for services such as Knee Replacement and Hip Replacement. These achievements position Great Falls Hospital among the nation’s top hospitals for specialty care.
9) Congratulations to owner, Tracy Balen, for the grand opening of QDOBA in Great Falls. This location is now open in West Bank Landing at 405 3rd Street NW and is a locally owned and operated fast-casual Mexican restaurant. For more information check out GFDA’s Announcement of the Week and see KRTV Restaurant Roundup.
10) CreativeLeigh Digital is spreading hometown pride with her GFMT merch line. Several Great Falls retailers, including Public Drug Co., Farmer’s Daughter Fibers and Life in Bloom carry Leigh’s products. Please support our local retailers and show off your Great Falls pride. If you are a business that is interested in selling Leigh’s GFMT merchandise, contact her at 1-406-403-4062.
11) Are you a rural small business or restaurant looking to increase the energy efficiency of your business by replacing your coolers, doors and windows, HVAC system, or more? There are many financing options to help you reduce your energy bill. Reach out to Anna to learn more at Anna@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-590-1301.
12) We’ve released an RFP/RFQ for Brownfields Professional Services in conjunction with our FY2023 Assessment Grant. If you wish to access the RFP/RFQ details, they are available on our website.
13) We love it when new businesses jump into our community! Touro had a hands on CPR demonstration for high school students at the World of Work. See our new Touro success story.
14) GFDA participates in the Montana State Small Business Initiative (SSBCI 2.0) program that helped provide a lower interest rate on 50% of the funding. We’ve been partnering with local banks and credit unions to put together some creative financing packages for business startups and expansions, but this low-interest money is vrey limited and first come, first serve so contact us today if you have a business startup or expansion planned that could benefit from a SSBCI 2.0 loan participation. Contact Jill at JKohles@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-590-1056 or Brett at BDoney@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-750-2119.
15) Congratulations again to the Native American Community Development Corporation (NACDC) in Browning on winning a $100,000 award from the Native Community Development Finance Network. Read the full story in the Glacier Reporter.
16) Investing in economic development means creating opportunities, fostering innovation, and establishing a foundation for sustainable success. Nobody understands this more than our committed team of investors and public partners. Learn more about our supporters and what drives them here. Recent investments include: Advance Division—First Interstate Bank; Community Division—Enbar Craft Cocktail Lounge. Together, we’ve achieved some incredible milestones, but we’re just getting started. To find out how you can be a part of the team that is driving the growth of our community, reach out to Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 1-406-781-9499 or Jenn@GrowGreatFalls.org.
My road days continue. On my way to the Association of Defense Communities’ Installation Innovation annual meeting.
Have a great week!
President & CEO