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Talented Workforce Powers Businesses in Great Falls

Success stories abound as residents work (and play!) hard in this booming Montana city.

By Bill Lewis on February 4, 2022

Vision Net in Great Falls
Joshua Rowe

Aviation services, health care, telecommunications and pasta manufacturing companies fall under different industries, and, typically, one would not group them together. But, the businesses in Great Falls all have something in common – they are thriving, thanks to a talented workforce attracted by the region’s amazing lifestyle advantages.

“What makes Great Falls a desirable destination for talented workers? It’s the quality of life,” including ample opportunities for hunting, fly fishing and other outdoor activities, says Dwight Holman, CEO of Holman Aviation. “Plus, the low cost of living. As I’ve looked for mechanics, everyone has commented on that.”

Holman Aviation was started by Holman’s father 71 years ago. The company’s 22 employees provide aircraft maintenance, refueling and other services at Great Falls International Airport. Its business activities also help generate opportunities for related companies.

Its tenant, Cloud Catcher Aviation, for example, provides pilot training and aircraft rental. Plus, the company’s customers create business for rental car providers, caterers and hotels.

Perfect for Pasta

Great Falls’ unique advantages make it the perfect spot for Japan-based Pasta Montana to produce delicious pasta, as the city is the business center of Montana’s Golden Triangle, a region known for its pristine environment and high-protein wheat. Also, the state is home to top-rated schools and what the company calls an “unusually high-quality workforce.”

Pasta Montana is also located next to a General Mills durum mill that features the latest technology and provides Pasta Montana with custom-selected and milled semolina. It is delivered on demand via a sealed, pneumatic conveying system between the two facilities.

Great for Growth

Another company now thriving in Great Falls is Sustainable Oils Inc., the camelina feedstock subsidiary of Global Clean Energy Holdings Inc., which recently relocated its North American headquarters to a new state-of-the-art facility in Great Falls.

This move resulted in the consolidation of Sustainable Oils’ crop innovation programs, commercial grower support and executive and administrative activities at one location.

Yet one more example of a company prospering in Great Falls is Vision Net. For more than 25 years, Vision Net has been creating career paths here in the telecommunications sector. The company provides a full range of business-to-business telecommunications solutions for financial services, health care, government, professional and educational clients.

The company has offices in Great Falls, Billings, Missoula and Helena. It is Montana’s largest independent network. In 2020, the company was even named the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce’s Medium (size) Business of the Year.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana
Heather Heiney

Exceeding Expectations

Wayne Gillis, CEO of the Great Falls Clinic, moved to Great Falls for the amazing quality of life and a career opportunity. What he found, though, hasn’t just met, but has exceeded his high expectations.

“We knew we wanted to live in Montana,” says Gillis, who previously held positions in North Carolina and Arizona. “It’s refreshing.”

Great Falls Clinic is pursuing major expansion plans for its hospital and clinic facilities, positioning it to provide even more health services and to create new career opportunities for health care professionals. “I love that we’re on a growth trajectory,” Gillis says. “I like to build things. I felt I could bring real value.”

“We all love it. It’s a nice place – the perfect combination. You can be in the country, or, in 15 minutes, you can be in the city.”

Wayne Gillis | Great Falls Clinic

Gillis and his wife are not the only members of their family choosing Great Falls. Their son and his family moved to the city, as well. They enjoy the locally sourced foods served in locally owned restaurants, including grass-fed beef and other farm-to-table products.

Gillis has an unofficial way of measuring the quality of life in Great Falls and the friendly attitude of the people who call the city home. “I’ve been here more than a year, and I have not been beeped at one time in traffic,” he says. “Montana was at the top of our bucket list of places we wanted to live.”

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