In the midst of a conflicts of interest plague, Great Falls seems relegated to loser out status in the tournament of economic development in our state.
Why has Great Falls lost population, manufacturing jobs and a brighter outlook for the future? Certainly, Great Falls Development Authority chief Brett Doney’s stated solution to the problem: “we must recruit and retain young talent” is true. But how do we accomplish this feat?
I think we would all recognize that we cannot win without a team effort and without a level playing field.
When arbiters and decision makers in in our City Commission and School District willfully allow themselves to determine the direction of the City based upon relationships, bias, and mediocrity, they establish a culture that undermines innovation and makes it impossible to establish an environment that attracts and retains talent. In other words, talent attracts talent, opportunity attracts innovation, and no amount of open space, urban trails, great schools, or recreational opportunities can supply sufficient motivation for new talent to immigrate to, return to, or to stay in Great Falls.
“In other words, talent attracts talent, opportunity attracts innovation, and no amount of open space, urban trails, great schools, or recreational opportunities can supply sufficient motivation for new talent to immigrate to, return to, or to stay in Great Falls.”
The truth is that Great Falls was built and succeeded based upon innovation and its decline can only be reversed with a new focus on innovation. If founder Paris Gibson returned to Great Falls, he would surely say that his successors have “dropped the ball”.
It is interesting to note that when you ask young people what they would like to see happen in Great Falls they often say “more big-name concerts and events”. We are lacking a venue that can compete with the Billings Metra for concerts and events. We lose double A tournaments to the Metra. We lose conventions to the Metra. We lose big-name concerts to the Metra. We lose national political events and rallies to the Metra. Great Falls is Loser Out and we are falling further and further behind Billings, Bozeman, Missoula, Kalispell, and Helena.
If we want to get back in the game we need to build an events venue that will seat more than the 12,500 seat Metra, say 25,000 seats. A venue that would accommodate multiple sports and events. A venue that is sensitive to our climate. A venue that is the best in Montana.
That venue is the Electra Arena!