Industries and entrepreneurs alike find room to grow in Great Falls.
With an appetite for high-wage jobs, entrepreneurial opportunities, investment in its downtown core, and the development of existing businesses and industries, Great Falls is hungry to continue expanding.
A company in the area that is already seeing growth is Cargill, a global agriculture, food and nutrition company. Cargill chose Great Falls to build an R&D facility to research the development of omega-3 fatty acids from canola plants to reduce reliance on fishmeal, increase farm-raised fish viability and reduce pressure on oceans.
Internationally known FedEx has also expanded in Great Falls, along with steel industries like ADF International, Pacific Steel & Recycling and Anderson Steel. The region also has an active food manufacturing sector that includes Pasta Montana, Columbia Grain and Montana Specialty Mills.
The Great Falls Development Authority (GFDA) works to push these projects forward, providing financing tools, site location assistance and business strategy services.
“We find the resources to help businesses locate and grow in our community,” says Jolene Schalper, GFDA’s senior vice president of business development. “We bring resources to bear that have a truly substantial impact.”
GFDA helped put together a multimillion-dollar incentive package to support the creation of high-wage jobs by ADF International, a steel fabricator that chose Great Falls, in part, because of its proximity to Canada.
“When companies move to our community and create high-wage jobs, we can bring a lot to the table in terms of incentives and support,” Schalper says.
GFDA also supports jobs and investment created on a smaller scale by entrepreneurs interested in opening businesses like restaurants, breweries, butcher shops, coffee shops and food trucks.
With assistance from GFDA’s SBA 504 loan program and Brownfields, which provides assistance for environmental and hazardous cleanup, and business advising through the Small Business Development Center, Raegen Breeden opened a state-of-the-art Level Four daycare facility – one of very few in Montana. Named the 2019 Montana Woman-Owned Business of the Year, Play N’ Learn Academy serves more than 170 children in the region.
“I hope that my success demonstrates that dreams do come true. These dreams can become a reality in Great Falls.”
As a businesswoman, mother, grandmother and employer in Great Falls, Breeden says she saw the need for growth in her field of expertise.
“I wanted to stay in Great Falls and build my dream facility to share with families and children who struggle to find quality care,” Breeden says.
Originally licensed for 12 children at her home on Malmstrom Air Force Base in 1997, Breeden has seen multiple expansions, each increasing the number of children served as well as employees and revenue. As of January 2019, she employed 28 paying annual wages of over $800,000.
“I hope that my success demonstrates that dreams do come true,” Breeden says. “These dreams can become a reality in Great Falls with the help of GFDA.”
Schalper says Great Falls is an underserved market, but that’s changing.
“We have a low cost for market entry and a high rate on return,” she says. “We are hungry to grow, and we prove that by supporting businesses that come here and expand here.”
GFDA is working with businesses interested in investing all over the region.
“That’s the heart of our community,” she says. “New businesses create a critical mass of office workers, which then creates growth in other areas.”
If you’d like to learn more about the Great Falls area, check out the latest edition of Livability Great Falls, MT.