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GFDA Seeks Industrial Park Site

February 18, 2009

Development agency actively seeks land for industrial park

Tribune Staff Writer

Great Falls Development Authority officials announced Tuesday that they are actively looking for land to create a heavy industrial park.

GFDA has been working with a developer for more than a year to create an industrial park north of Great Falls, near the malt plant. However, that park hasn't come to fruition.

"For a variety of reasons, we still don't have a lot of progress to show," said Brett Doney, GFDA president.

Doney has blamed the lack of heavy-industrial sites for the loss of several businesses that considered moving to Great Falls.

Heavy industrial sites need to have access to a rail line, include infrastructure and be zoned for industry.

The private sector has done a good job of creating light industrial sites, but because developing heavy industrial sites is expensive, the private sector probably won't do it alone.

Ideally, GFDA would like to partner with a developer or land owner to create an industrial park. GFDA doesn't have the cash to purchase land itself; instead, the organization would work with a landowner to design the park and work with the county, city or federal government to secure funding for infrastructure.

Doney plans to enter into an option agreement on any land they work to develop.

Owner Joe Stanek has worked with GFDA to turn about 900 acres north of town into the Great Bear Innovation Park. The land was rezoned to heavy industrial, but Stanek has yet to apply for a subdivision or annexation.

"Since we don't own the land, we can't force the issue," Doney said.

GFDA also has run into problems with coming to an agreement with the Malteurop malt plant to use their rail spur.

The plant has had three owners since it was built in 2006, which hasn't made negotiations easy, Doney said. The fact that Stanek is involved in a lawsuit with the malt plant isn't helping matters.

Montana Specialty Mills, currently located on the West Bank of the Missouri River, is looking to move to Stanek's land. However, Malteurop isn't willing to let the small company use the rail spur, Doney said.




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