GREAT FALLS - Ignite Great Falls brought more than 100 people to the Meadowlark Country Club Friday morning to learn about the dozens of new projects headed for the Electric City and surrounding area.
"This was such an exciting line up. It's great to kick off the year with a buzz about how great Great Falls is getting and how great it will continue to be," said Jolene Schalper with the Great Falls Development Authority.
Twenty five presenters had 5 minutes to tell the crowd about their new business, project or plans.
"We had projects form entertainment; we had an 8th grader that announced his virtual reality store in downtown Great Falls. We had axe throwing, to more education opportunities, to health and wellness opportunities. It's super exciting," said Schalper.
Several new businesses will be opening in the coming months to include Five on Black, a project that's been in the works for more than a year. Big Mouth Barbecue was one business that is actually downsizing. They'll be moving out of The Front and moving into a smaller location across town. They are expected to open sometime in February as well.
Schalper added, "We need all these different projects, and there were a lot of projects that weren't even announced today. Great Falls is growing, and we are open for business and we need more residents."
In addition to today's Ignite Great Falls, the GFDA announced they'll be hosting a Talent Attraction Initiative. It's set for January 22nd at 4:30pm at the Great Falls High School Hub. The idea is to bring local talent recruiters to one place and give them tools to put in their own recruiting documents and hopefully that's what seals the deal to bring more people to central Montana.
"We need to be talking up how cool Great Falls is and get more residents, more people that will live work and play here," said Schalper.
With a growing list of future developments that includes hotels, restaurants and new places to live Schalper says this is the perfect place to start your new business.
"The Great Falls business community is so supportive of other businesses. WE are so excited for 2020 with all these different projects that were announced and others that are yet to be announced. The biggest thing is we all have to help each other. So if you know of a project that needs help have them call us. We're here to help."
Below is a list of new projects, businesses and plans headed towards central Montana area.
Benefis Hospital: Building a brand new Women and Children's Center in the old Pierce RV location on 10th. They'll be breaking ground this May and the project is expected to be complete by December 2021.
The Greystone Inn: Recently purchased purchased by Choice Hotel, the Greystone Inn will be completely renovated and turned into an upscale hotel. One of the perks with this new hotel includes a basket of fresh local produce and breakfast foods delivered to your room every morning. They expect to be open and fully operational by late 2020.
GFPS: Superintendent Tom Moore announced the new Longfellow Elementary school will open and be ready by the end of 2020.
MT PINTS: The Front and Big Mouth BBQ are changing things up. MT PINTS, Burgers and Beers Done Right will take over the entire building. Their approach is to combine the taste of local beer with local brewer Jeremiah Johnson, with beef from North Central Montana.
Big Mouth BBQ: Will close down its location at The Front and move into The Hi-Ho. Downsizing will allow them to focus on catering and deliveries, however you will still be able to sit down and enjoy their menu at the Hi Ho. Opening date is expected sometime after the Super Bowl.
KDS Networks: Already providing wireless internet across KDS is working to bring fiber optic internet to all of Cascade County within the next 5 years.
Chase Your Dreams VR: A brand new business downtown created by Chase Morgan, an 8th Grader at North Middle School. He along with the help from his father have opened up a shop geared towards students. The shop includes video gaming with XBox and PS4s, virtual reality, cornhole, pool and more.
University of Providence: is expanding their programs by offering distance learning with a focus on STEM for rural school throughout Central Montana.
Love's Travel Stop: The announcement came last year that they would open a travel stop at the Great Falls International Airport exit. It's expected to bring in 30-50 new jobs. A Subway Restaurant will go in the travel stop as well.
Five on Black: A new Brazilian restaurant is set to open in February at the West Bank Landing. This project started in 2018 and is finally coming to fruition in just a short time. Owner Tom Snyder will have community nights once a week where the restaurant will give back to a local non profit each week.
Carved Axe Throwing: It's exactly what you think it is. You walk in, pick up an axe and throw it. The shop is expected to be open downtown in the next few months.
Great Falls College MSU: Home to the only dental hygiene program in the state, GFC MSU is expanding their dental facility. It will more than triple the space they have now and will be done by the end of 2021.
The Children's Museum of Montana: They're working on getting a new space as they need to move out of the city's building. The idea is to make it so anyone, regardless of ability or age, will have a place to learn. It is anticipated they'll be drop in daycare as well at their new location. Details are still coming in for this museum.
NeighborWorks: Turning 40 years old this year is set to wrap up completion of the Rockcress apartments behind Talus by this March.
Central Avenue Meats: A unique butcher featuring meet form McCafferty Ranch out of Belt. They'll offer classes on how to butcher, making sausage and just learning about the meat in general. McCafferty's cattle are all grass fed year round. Central Ave. Meats will open in April 2020.
South Peak Wind Farm: A wind farm out by Geyser is set to provide enough electricity to power 31,000 homes.
Madison Food Park: Spanning 3,000 acres the Madison Food Park is set to open a cheese factory and a distillery 8 miles east of Great Falls. The hope is to create a hybrid energy system to run both the factory and distillery. MFP will create a Montana brand cheese from Montana dairy.
CM Russell Museum: Already expanding some the historic site for Charlie Russell is looking to get even bigger. Right now a committee was formed to work with the city in order to take over the 5th Avenue Block. It's a project in the making but it could bring hundreds of more people to the Museum.
Downtown Visioning Project: Working with GFDA, the vision for the next 5 years brings a historic look back to downtown Great Falls. With the prospect of new businesses coming to Central and 1st Ave. GFDA hopes this will revitalize the area. In addition to new businesses, there is expected to be new apartments on top of these shops all along downtown.