An Open Letter to the City of Great Falls

Subject: Malaise

I recently posted my upset about the fact that we lost an opportunity to recruit a new business to Great Falls because the Governor's office just couldn't get the job done. There were several comments to my post, but one in particular caught my eye:

I never thought I would put Butte and Great Falls in the same basket, but they are both being left behind in the lastest boom in Montana. As Billings, Bozeman, Missoula, Helena and Kalispell grow and real estate prices increase in all 5 cities Great Falls is being left behind. Cascade County is now 7th in population.

Brian Schweitzer cant throw enough money at Great Falls to return the City to its glory days.

Great Falls only salavation will be if the Californians (like the guy from San Diego who bought the building on Central Ave) discover how cheap the property is here.

A year from now home prices will be $100,000.00 higher in Billings than they are here across the board.

This is not an unusual sentiment, it is a common one in our community. But let's think about this.

First of all, this 3.5 million annual payroll company was not pie in the sky. They wanted to come to Great Falls, were ready to do so, and would have but for Governor Schweitzer's dropping the ball.

So, let's assume for a moment that they did come here. 100 new jobs...on top of Centene, the malt plant, the Buttrey computer company, AvMax, Homeland Security, the F-15 missions, and on and on. How much progress do we need in this town before we can finally stop the pessimism? At what point, will we stop looking around and complaining that we're not someone else?

Like bad traffic in Missoula, pushy East-coasters in Bozeman, and gray winter skies in Kalispell, negativity, pessimism, and cynicism pervade this community. And like the guy sitting on his 1oth Avenue South property waiting for the rich Californian to buy it, we claim the only savior is someone from somewhere else.

What will it take to turn that into some optimism? I think there are many people in this community, like our anonymous poster above, who would say we are dieing even if Microsoft announced plans to relocate its headquarters here.

In my job, I have the privilege of talking with many people who come here from other places, both temporarily and to live. And you know what? They are invariably more positive about our community that those who were born and raised here. That is wrong!

No offense, Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous, but we don't need your attitude here. Why don't you get off your butt and get out and move some money around this economy. And if you already run a business here, run it better.

Or maybe you can find a nice house in Billings before the property values skyrocket.


dona stebbins said...

Geeguy, once again you are right on target! You simply cannot build a solid future on a foundation of negativity. Since I was elected, there are so many people who are willing to tell me what is wrong with Great Falls. I challenge them to tell me about what is right with our community.
There are so many wonderful people and places and activities here, but we take them for granted, because they are right under our noses.
Is it really so much easier to pine and whine about what we don't have? Let's celebrate what we do have - a clean, vibrant community with good schools, lovely parks, a beuatiful river, and lots of room to grow.

david said...

AMEN, GeeGuy! I've been here for 3+ years, and my optimism and outlook about Great Falls has only increased.

WolfPack said...

What compounds the problem created by people who think we don’t have enough is the lineup of people who think we have too much. Two chunks of 10th are pending sale to out of state interest and there is significant public resistance because they don’t want change or they don’t like the name of the business willing to spend money in our community. Where are these people who want “more” when commissioners and local boards are meeting to consider these issues. As I’ve said before, I believe growth in GF has not been well managed but that doesn’t mean it can’t improve or that our current state is any where near miserable. Too many special interests groups that aren’t looking at the big picture are dominating the discussions.

Dona- To answer your question. Yes, it is easier to “Pine and Whine” and it requires less training and preparation than constructive ideas. Any chance of developing a city of GF sponsored BLOG open to appointed/selected posters only, limiting crackpots and non GF residents would keep up the quality of the discussions. This also might provide a public forum other than commission meetings for items to be pre discussed, hopefully making the meetings shorter and more to the point. Just thought this idea might fit your style of governance.

Treasure State Jew said...

There has been negativity here since Anaconda pulled out.

Unfortunately, there will always be a segment of our community that will just pine for the "glory days" when we were a company town, when that company employed most of the population and provided most of the services. It makes things easier when you don't have to make your own choices, and you can just fall into a good job in a community with good schools and services.

However, those days are gone. If we are going to continue to make Great Falls great, we are going to have to do it ourselves. The debacle with the State training funds just emphasizes that when it comes down right to it, we can't depend on Helena, DC, or anyone else to grow our wonderful town.

The elected municipal leaders we can count on are in the Civic Center, the County Courthouse, the Sheriff's office and the Police Department. To anyone else, including our Governor, we are just another small community that has to get in line. Oh, and Billings-Missoula-Bozeman have louder voices than us, and a perpetual place ahead of us in that queue.

Northcentral Montana has a lot to offer. Great Falls is the natural service, economic and population center for that entire region. We have to get behind economic development throughout this region, most especially including the hi-line, to bring high-quality growth to our community.

This is a GREAT place.

Anonymous said...

"No offense, Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous, but we don't need your attitude here. Why don't you get off your butt and get out and move some money around this economy. And if you already run a business here, run it better"

No offense Gee Guy, but lawyers dont create any wealth.

GeeGuy said...

You should read your own quotes: "Why don't you get off your butt and get out and move some money around this economy." Did I say you should "create wealth?"

But you're right, lawyers don't create wealth. Very few jobs/professions do.

One thing I do manage to do, though, is bring in roughly 60% of my monthly receipts from payors out of state. That's money that would not necessarily be "moving around" our economy but for my efforts.

How about you, Anonymous? What do you do that gives you a position to crack on the efforts of others?

SallyT said...

I'm all positive about Wal-Mart & Walgreen's! Especially because they both bring much to an economy.