Great Falls’ Import–Export Business

 

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How to grow the local economy is by far the most asked question we hear. The suggestions range from recruiting hi tech businesses to getting a Red Lobster. Besides Malmstrom Air Force Base and the local poverty industry, the most significant business in Great Falls is the import-export business, and it has been right under our collective noses for decades.

We have heard from mostly teachers and a few business gurus that Education, with a capital “E”, is the key to the growth and survival of our local economy. We spend a ton of money, state and local taxes, on education in River City. So why haven’t we seen the return on investment in terms of local economic prosperity that we’re constantly promised?

The truth is, the money we spend on young minds generally ends up benefiting other local economies, and not ours. Typically, our brightest young minds go off to college somewhere else. When they have finished their college education, they look for environments where they can find a job and pursue a career. Unfortunately, that’s not back in Great Falls where they were treated to an excellent K-12 education that the taxpayers and the dedicated teachers provided.

If we agree that our children are our most valuable resource, and that most of them leave Great Falls after high school, then it’s not too much of a stretch to conclude that we are in the export business. We definitely produce a value-added product and export it to a larger market than our own.

If we agree that our children are our most valuable resource, and that most of them leave Great Falls after high school, then it’s not too much of a stretch to conclude that we are in the export business. We definitely produce a value-added product and export it to a larger market than our own.

What about the import side of the business? E-City Beat has recently pointed out that we also import people, the less fortunate who find Great Falls to be a very giving community with just about everything they need.

Former sheriff David Castle made a very interesting observation several years ago after we built the new regional detention center, or as we used to call it, the jail. He reportedly reminded us that without leasing space for federal and state prisoners, the detention center would not be financially viable. Holding local, state and federal detainees with longer sentences, often means their families move to Great Falls and become part of the community and take advantage of what we have to offer.

I think a case can be made that yes indeed, we have an import–export economy that is thriving, but is it the kind of business that produces the growth we need?

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Philip M. Faccendahttp://www.straymoose.com
Philip M. Faccenda is an AIA award-winning architect and planner. He is the Editor-in-Chief of E-City Beat.

2 COMMENTS

  1. To make a decent wage most leave the state! Not just Great falls. You want the educated young to stay pay them a decent living wage . Otherwise you will just have retired folks squeaking by! Ps and building that slaughter house will devastate the resources in Great falls and environment forever! Think about your future don’t just get greedy!

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