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Pacific Steel may buy in Agri Tech Park
Written by RICHARD ECKE, Great Falls Tribune
August 12, 2011
Pacific Steel and Recycling hopes to buy property in the Agri Tech Park proposed by the Great Falls Development Authority on land south of Giant Springs.
Brett Doney, authority president, said this week some companies have expressed interest in buying land in the proposed new park.
"We don't have lots to sell yet," Doney said. He said the project needs approvals from the city of Great Falls and Burlington Northern Santa Fe first.
"We revised our rail plans to make sure it fit with the Montana Biofuels (ethanol) project," Doney said.
A rail spur to the Agri Tech property, located near the Source Giant Springs water bottling facility, would be a key component of the project.
Great Falls firms Thomas Dean and Hoskins and Woith Engineering are working on plans for the park.
"We've contracted with them to get through the approval process," Doney said. "Then we'll have actual construction costs."
Doney added officials "think we'll have enough money" for the railroad spur work through lot sales and tax-increment financing, which sets aside new property tax revenue in an area back into the location through things such as infrastructure, or grants and loans.
Tax-increment financing coffers take time to build up, however.
"We would put the money up front," Doney said. "We would take the risk."
By the winter, Doney said he hopes to have approvals from the city and railroad so a contractor could begin work in the area next spring.
In the meantime, this fall the authority will move ahead with a project to install water lines under 18th Avenue North, thanks to two different grants amounting to $564,000 through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"That will get the water line all the way to 18th (Avenue North)," Doney said.
The water line still would need to be extended later down 67th Street to reach property for the proposed ethanol plant, Doney said.
Meanwhile, plans also are going ahead to expand an industrial area north of Great Falls where the Malteurop malt plant is located. Developer Joe Stanek is trying to create additional lots in that area.
Also in the interview, Doney said he:
Expects the Great Falls Development Authority to ask the city of Great Falls to reinstate a $50,000 cut in support for the economic development organization. Doney noted the city's tax base grew more than expected this year. Doney said the authority had to cut back on contacts with Alberta; a local project to "brand" the city, and an agriculture-related marketing campaign.
"We'll definitely ask them to restore it and we hope they see the value in economic development," Doney said.
Does not expect to learn the fate of an ethanol plant proposed for northeast Great Falls in the next few months. "We really won't know anything until the end of the year." The ethanol plant, proposed by Montana Advanced Biofuels, applied for an air-quality permit from the state of Montana on April 20. The plant would use grain from the region's farmers to create ethanol for vehicles, gluten and wheat bran for human consumption, and grain feed for livestock.
Great Falls Development Authority President Brett Doney, left, led city and county officials on a tour of the proposed Great Falls Agri Tech Park in 2010. Also pictured, from left, are County Commissioner Joe Briggs and GFDA board members Mark Mehta and Scott Patera. TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO/PETER JOHNSON via GreatFallsTribune.com.
Great Falls Development Authority details successful year
Written by ERIN MADISON, Great Falls Tribune
June 25, 2010
Over the past year, the Great Falls Development Authority made great strides toward creating a rail-served agri-tech park and saw several energy projects get under way.
Despite the down economy, the GFDA received generous support from its investors over the past year, said Brett Doney, CEO of the Great Falls Development Authority, at the organization's annual meeting.
"We've had such tremendous support from investors through the recession," he said.
The main goal of the GFDA's strategic plan is to bring better-paying jobs to the region, and the organization made progress toward that goal in the past year, board member Scott Patera said.
"I think we're headed in the right direction," he said.
Doney also outlined some of GFDA's top achievements over the past year, including:
· A new agri-tech park — The GFDA secured $538,000 for infrastructure improvements for a new agri-tech park in northeast Great Falls. Three possible tenants are looking at sites in the new park.
· Energy projects — Over the past year many energy projects have either been announced or started, including the Rainbow Dam upgrade, PPL interconnection improvements, PPL hydro-control center and the Montana-Albert Tie Line.
· Capital investments — The GFDA secured more than $603 million in capital investment.
· Finance — The GFDA and High Plains Financial started a new regional Community Development Block Grant program and completed the first loan from its brownfield fund. The lending activity of both organizations has grown substantially. The GFDA closed more loans in the first half of 2010 than in all of 2009.
· Startup and existing business support — Four new startup businesses secured financing through the Small Business Development Center. The GFDA also created a new development officer position to focus on existing businesses.
· Strengthened GFDA and High Plains Financial — Both GFDA and High Plains will end the year in better financial condition than they started. The GFDA had $480,000 in positive income over the past year.
The GFDA's main goals for next year are to get several new energy projects under development and secure tenants for the new agri-tech park.
"We think most of the growth over the next year is going to be energy, agri-processing and existing business," Doney said.
Great Falls has always been an agri-processing center, but the majority of what's grown in the Golden Triangle is still shipped out for processing, Doney said.
Business representatives discuss economic strengths and weaknesses
Written by JO DEE BLACK, Tribune Business Editor
May 26, 2010
Great Falls' stable economy, local governments that support business development and superior local contractors are a plus.
The city's lack of ready-to-build-on light and heavy industrial sites and its distance from major population centers and the market opportunities those centers present are a minus.
Those were the common themes members of three panels organized by the Great Falls Development Authority http://www.gfdevelopment.org/ expressed to about 45 attendees of the "Invest Great Falls," event held Tuesday morning at Montana State University-Great Falls of technology.