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'Ignite 24' will highlight economic opportunities in Great Falls

Posted at 6:32 PM, Jan 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-03 20:32:48-05

GREAT FALLS — 2023 saw some significant economic growth in Great Falls. With a new year underway, city leaders are hoping to keep that momentum moving.

One opportunity to showcase new business ventures is coming up Friday January 12 at 8:00 a.m. at the Meadowlark Country Club during an event called Ignite 2024.

Put on by the Great Falls Development Alliance (GFDA), this year's edition is fast approaching, and it promises more glimpses into Electric City economic growth.

“Each year, we want to really kick off the New Year with some excitement about capital investments that businesses large and small are making across our region,” said Jolene Schalper, the Senior Vice President of the GFDA.

Last year’s event featured presentations by a number of area projects including Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Arc apartment complex and Calumet Montana Refining.

Participants in the diverse and fast paced event have three minutes to pitch their economic development ideas.

“This year is going to bring additional housing projects. It’s going to bring additional primary sector manufacturing, manufacturers that are bringing more money back into our local economy. It's going to feature some more mom and pop start-ups and expansions,” said Schalper.

“Most of our business is driven by expansions,” said Schalper. “About 80% of our community growth is existing businesses expanding. So, there's plenty of that going on in the New Year and then some service expansions the airport's going to present on what they're up to. It's going to be pretty diverse, like every year.”

Schalper says events like Ignite show that Great Falls continues to move forward from an economic perspective.

“We've seen more growth in the last five years than Great Falls has seen in quite a long time from the numbers that we track,” said Schalper. “We are tracking wages and we're tracking cost of living and the affordability. We're managing to keep that down while increasing our wages, and that is a sweet spot for our community.”

Schalper says as of Wednesday, 16 projects are scheduled to be presented and they would like to see about 20.

“2024 is going to be another great year for the Great Falls region,” said Schalper. “We just keep working hard and we have a great community, so let's celebrate.”

For more information on Ignite 24, including how to register, clickhere.