Brett Doney Said What?!

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Phil Faccenda made reference to it in his very good piece yesterday, and we have received a number of tips about it recently… but we’re still grappling with some of the comments made by Great Falls’ economic development chief, Brett Doney, at the Jan. 3 City Commission meeting. Most glaringly, Doney said that Great Falls lost “707 net jobs” in 2016.

He also said:
And frankly, these numbers scare the hell out of me.
The jobs drain has been comparatively worse in Great Falls than nationally, even in darker times:

We’ve lost the equivalent in the last couple of years in the City more than the nation lost in the Great Recession.

Doney is clearly alarmed:

I don’t have any prescriptions for you, I just want to say that I have never in my 32 years in economic development seen numbers as scary as these, and we need to continue to work together to address them.

To be fair, Doney also cited strong growth in manufacturing (despite the City’s “F you” to Calumet), among other positive happenings. Speaking under the Public Hearing portion of the Commission agenda, a discussion on CDBG funds, he billed himself as otherwise a “cheerleader” for Great Falls, which is true. Doney and the GFDA do excellent work in this regard. (You can read the latest GFDA newsletter and sign up to receive it here.)

Two days before Doney’s appearance before the Commission, on New Year’s Day, the Tribune ran glowing, above-the-fold coverage about a resurgent development sector in Great Falls. The reader is left with the distinct impression of a soaring Great Falls economy.

So, what gives? Construction is one thing, and an area in which Great Falls is strong, but aren’t jobs also an important metric when evaluating the economic health of a community? How well are we really doing, and more importantly, how should our community address this issue?

We appreciate Doney’s candor. After all, the first step to solving any problem is to acknowledge that there is one.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Sure seems like Doney is talking out of both sides of his mouth….whatever suits the purpose at hand. Until this, if you expressed concern about the lack of job growth in Great Falls, I’m sure he was one that would say you were a naysayer.

  2. Great Falls simply is a big cow town run by good old boys serving their own needs, like the auto mall I was going to build in market place in the late nintys, you’d thought I was drilling a well in the bob, at the time It was a state of the art $5,000,000.00 + project desighned by Doug Oswood, then there’s the south arterial that Wilkenson and Theil voted against on the county zoning board because they didn’t want it close to their high end subdivisions, Mabye the local doctors that invested millions into nice restaurants in market place would have done better if you could have driven from the east end to market place for lunch in a reasonable amount of time, then there’s the storage units that some investors wanted to build in front of the substation on dick and flood road that the zoning board shot down, just couldn’t ruin the view for Wilkensons sub division on spring tree ridge, or the event center we have on dick road that has to be run as non profit in spite of the fact it sits on one acre zoned commercial, when specialty mills talked about leaving great falls I offered to give them 10 acres at 5400 flood road to build on with the railroad right across the road that they could run a spur from, I met with Brett Doney and he loved it, next thing I knew they rezoned the property so this couldn’t happen, I offered to give the university rodeo club run by Dick Lyman 8 or 9 acres on dick road east of the sub station, we worked with surveyors and planners for a year, Dick had plans for a large indoor arena for public and university use, well the good old boys at the county zoning board said ok but we had to have one acre paddocks with one horse per paddock so that went up in smoke, someone just couldn’t stand thought of the good folks on spring tree ridge having to look at that, then there was the solar farm on flood road again Tim Wilkenson spent countless hours shooting it down, his croneys on the board voted it down after several late night meeting , ya know in his own words we want a unblemished view from our end sub division where a cheap house is $600,000.00, this also cost the county close to $400,000.00 in property taxes over ten years, I don’t what was lost in property taxes on the other projects, great falls will litterly kiss the asse’s of box stores and the medical community but could care less about local business, ask yourself why a majority of the local busines’s on 10 th AV south are bars and car lots, when Brett Doney said we lost all those jobs, you can take it to the bank, remember I’m just one person but the growth numbers speak themselves.

  3. Over regulation and lack of city investment in local businesses is what’s killing jobs in great falls. Also people are getting tired of working full-time and being broke all the time.

  4. Some other people disagree with Doney’s assessment — based on this article at KRTV, which says: “Chief Economist Barbara Wagner says there were roughly 300 jobs lost in Great Falls between July 2015 and July 2016 which could be attributed to the closure of the Asurion call center in downtown Great Falls. Wagner says job growth through the rest of 2016 cancelled out the loss, showing virtually no change in the number of jobs in Great Falls.”

    More info PLUS the complete report referenced in this blog post: http://www.krtv.com/story/34405300/great-falls-economy-conflicting-views-about-jobs-data

  5. Retired general and former Great Falls Chamber of Commerce CEO Brad Livingston lamented – at a city commission meeting last year – the hundreds of vacant job openings unfilled. This also leads to the issue of experienced applicants AND also the willingness and capabilities of employers to train employees adequately.

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