Madison Food Park, a proposed food processing plant between Great Falls and Belt, is generating a lot of discussion in the community.
On Monday night, Neighborhood Council 5 hosted a presentation at the Great Falls Clinic Specialty Center from Todd Hanson of Norsman Consulting Group to provide information to the community about the project.
Dozens of people showed up to attend the presentation, but the room quickly filled up, and many people were not able to get in.
The head of the Neighborhood Council said that the meeting was informational and not about whether people like or dislike the proposed facility.
Hanson said that details about the project have not yet been released because research is still being done.
Great Falls Area Concerned Citizens shared the following message on Facebook after the presentation: "Tonight’s “sales pitch” was no different than those made to other communities who suffer the consequences of these abominations: exaggerated promises of “good paying jobs” and new technologies with little track record that will finally work this time."
We will continue working to get information about the project.
Friesen acquired approximately 3,018 acres of undeveloped real estate located about 8.3 miles southeast of Great Falls. The project will include a processing plant for cattle, pigs, and chickens, and the related further processing facilities for beef, pork, and poultry.
The project will also incorporate facilities for the processing of milk, supplied by local and regional dairy producers into a variety of cheese products; and a distillery which will source the grain necessary for the production of Montana-branded spirits from cereal crops grown in the region.
Developers expect that when the project is fully operational, it will directly create about 3,075 jobs, along with as many as 85 supporting jobs in the surrounding community.
Western Livestock Auction officials say the Golden Triangle relies on agriculture. General manager Lynn Perry says the plant could provide more competition, which helps the industry grow. He says the new plant could also reduce freight costs for area producers who currently send their livestock to other states.
"Great Falls, in this Golden Triangle, we thrive on agriculture, it's our bread and butter and this works right in with us. More people to buy our product, the better, and it just helps agriculture in general," Perry said.
Some concerned residents say they are skeptical about the possibility of the plant and the problems it could create for area residents.
Cascade County resident George Nikolakakos says he worries the park will have a high turnover rate, create traffic and odor issues, and hurt property values. He believes the area will see an influx of workers that would take a toll on local communities and institutions.
"That's my primary concern is the tax it will create on our institutions, and I don't see the economic investment being worth it, most likely," said Nikolakakos.
For more information, click here to read the submitted planning documents.