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Great Falls planning director Craig Raymond is stepping down

Great Falls Planning & Community Development
Posted at 2:14 PM, Feb 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-24 14:25:07-05

GREAT FALLS — A big change in leadership is in store for a key Great Falls city department. After 12 years, Craig Raymond is about to embark on new plans.

The longtime City of Great Falls Director of Planning & Community Development is pursuing an opportunity in another Montana community.

“There’s really two places I wanted to experience in life and that was Montana and Alaska,” said Raymond. “I had it pretty well figured out if I was going to Alaska, I was going to be a single man.”

For the 51-year-old Raymond, his last day with the City of Great Falls will be March 7th - a dozen years to the day he started as a building official, which led to almost a decade of running the Planning & Community Development Department.

“It’s a very challenging and demanding job and I think it’s time to reclaim my sanity and do something a little bit different,” said Raymond.


The Seattle native feels he is leaving the department better than he found it. Overseeing a diverse staff of about 30, he says the relationship between the development community and the city was strained when he first arrived.

“I think what I’m most proud of is we’ve been able to engage with the community in a significant way, earn their trust and have a mutual respect,” said Raymond.

Raymond says there’s no one project that defines his time in the planning department. He says there have been a number of successes, like the Hotel Arvon downtown next to the Celtic Cowboy.

“I think that was one project that was really rewarding because a lot of people put themselves into that project,” said Raymond.

Raymond says the growth curve in Great Falls is getting steeper and the city is growing faster than usual, something he says is evident by looking at permitting numbers.

“Probably for the first eight or so years since I was here, the valuation of permits sold in the city is typically about $80 million on average,” said Raymond. “This last year in 2022, we did over $206 million.”

Great Falls Planning & Community Development

Raymond says hiring the right people was a challenge, and he embraced the challenge of getting all parties in sync: “Trying to get everybody across the entire city organization and getting them on the same page, rowing in the same direction, that was definitely a challenge."

Raymond says because of the diversity of the department, his successor will have to be focused on numerous projects. That engagement he’s so proud of cultivating will fit the next director well.

“I think learning the local culture and custom is really important,” said Raymond. “Not trying to make Great Falls into your last place or the best place that you think it should be. But to learn and grow with Great Falls, the way that Great Falls wants to go.”

Great Falls Development Authority CEO Brett Doney called the departure of Raymond a real loss.

“He’s been a wonderful partner,” said Doney. “His professional and calm demeanor and how he really cares have made a huge difference in projects ranging from the West Bank revitalization to the Agri-Tech Park to downtown revitalization to housing development. He has been a pleasure to work with.”

Doney added he hopes City Manager Greg Doyon and other city leaders can find another person to fill the position like Raymond.

The city is recruiting a permanent replacement.

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