Mayoral Forum-Fourth Question

4. What, if any, role should City Government play in economic development?

Susan Kahn:

Great Falls is the heart of Montana and we don’t want what has happened to other cities in the state. We need smart growth that will diversify our economic base, retain our greatest assets and preserve our land and clean air.

Our citizens and the future generation need high-quality opportunities to work here at home. While our area’s clean environment and recreational treasures are great marketing tools to entice new industries, we also need to encourage our own homegrown businesses. The city and county need to work together to develop a growth plan so when opportunities come we have a place for the businesses we want to attract. We need to diversify our employer base.

Ed McKnight:

Short answer, oversight and support. There are some basic concepts like supporting education, promoting technology, supporting the financial sector, investing in infrastructure, preventing environmental degradation, creating and maintaining a social safety net, that we have to work with. How we alter and implement these ideas brings an individual identity and character to our community.

Larry Steele:

Unfortunately city government is the primary factory in economic development. City government controls the zoning regulations. Without the city changing the regulations a business is limited to where they can build. Government can control the size of a business. We need to elect leaders that will have the best interest of the city.


Anonymous said...

What has happened to "other cities in the state"? I understand the logic behind steady controlled growth: to control urban sprawl. And I think it has spared Great Falls from the "bubble" in housing prices. But "other cities in the state" are more vibrant. They have more growth and more opporunities. Less casinos, less meth addicts, and less poverty. So why do we not want what has happened to "other cities in the state"?

Anonymous said...

Ms. Kahn: What type of new industries do you foresee as viable without sacrificing our environment or living conditions? Also, what level/size of “homegrown” business do you think would be advantageous? More small, independent “mom and pop” or medium- sized 5-10 employees, or are you looking for a large single entity as an employer? And, advantageous to what end as re GF?

What incentives might be offered to start-up and/or imported businesses?
Who will carry the burden of the incentives? (I ask as many times outside relocating businesses are exempt from tax burden which is switched to local businesses and citizens).
What spectrum of diversity are you thinking of overall?
Within that diversity what is the aim for GF promotion? A reasonable cost-of-living town? An eco-friendly town? An industrial-based town?
What is the “individuality” that you see in GF which defines us from Missoula, etc?

I realize these may be generalized Q&A as you are not in a position to offer specifics as we are not discussing a specific interested entities/businesses and thank you, in advance, for your response. PN

Anonymous said...

I want to see us continue the Gibson vision of a planned city. I do fear that the present mood is to take jobs at any cost, the Highwood plant case in point.

I worry also its the AFB or nothing. What happens if it closes in 5 years?

The city needs to attract high tech low impact business. Look at what Boise has accomplished over the past 10 years. Industry does not need to be destructive.

I really look forward to hearing new ideas from the candidates.


Anonymous said...

To all mayoral candidates, a yes or no answer only, please.

If you should become mayor, will you consider all contracts involving the HGS, ECP and SME null and void and revoke them as having been entered into under duplicitous conditions, failure to follow legal and democratic process and without the consent of the citizen's of the city?

Susan Kahn said...


There are numerous industries that rely on human capital and information technology that have a neutral impact on the environment. Financial, software, architectural & engineering firms to name a few. Look at Printing for Less in Livingston as a prime type of low impact business.

We should encourage more homegrown business activity. Not just service jobs trading local dollars, but the type of activity that markets products outside of the area. Size would not necessarily matter. The point is to generate new revenue streams into the city and better local job opportunity.

Start-up incentives must have a positive return to our citizens. We don't want to simply shift the burden to the taxpayers to gain jobs. Resources must not always mean a tax break. This pits one city against the next town and never results in a win-win situation.

I've met with Brett Doney of Great Falls Development Authority and believe we have great message to help market Great Falls. It is the total package that attracts new business into the area.

Implementation does require the joint effort of county, city and local leaders to successful. Planning must maintain the best qualities of Great Falls.