A lot of progress has been made recently in downtown Great Falls. There’s more that can be done and I am optimistic that we are continuing to make progress.
I walked around downtown for awhile after I played the Alive@Lunch venue last Friday and here are two observations I have.
1 – Do we need to revisit the loitering/panhandling laws downtown? I was approached twice for spare change in front of U.S. bank building. This was around 2:30 in the afternoon.
2 – There were not very many people downtown shopping, browsing, eating etc. Why? Parking? No anchor stores? Price and selection? I’ve visited and lived in towns of similar size where downtown’s were bustling to booming, day and night. What do we need to do better?
So we’ve got a fairly high QUANTITY of jobs in Great Falls. It’s the QUALITY that we need to do something about because someone working 2 or 3 part-time, low wage, no benefit jobs to make ends meet is almost better off going on the dole. That’s part of the reason we have so much poverty in our town. And I say we need to “do something about” it because what we’ve been doing or not doing so far in this state and town probably needs some adjusting or overhauling.
We need to come together and work on these things imo:
1.) Grow our population by 5-15% over the next 5-15 years.
2.) Do more to create a regulatory/ordinance/policy environment to help local homegrown businesses expand and prosper.
3.) Be more aggressive in recruiting Fortune 500 companies to locate in Great Falls.
4.) Figure out how to raise income levels so that folks WANT to come here and can afford housing prices, especially rentals.
Here are the Great Falls City Commission Vision/Goals from the city web site. I think these are pretty good; they’re worthy goals and it’s a nice, though somewhat standard-issue vision statement. I’d like to see the goals fleshed out a little with more specificity, some benchmarks with timelines and a few solid action steps for each. In upcoming blog posts I’ll take a crack at doing that and I hope readers will weigh in with their own ideas and comments.
“Our vision is that of a responsive local government strategically prepared for change and challenge. We will build partnerships throughout the community. We will be recognized for our efficient, effective and caring delivery of service and products. Nurtured and inspired by this vision, we will create a passion for excellence. Our core values of honesty, respect and openness will constantly guide our actions.
► Develop a visually appealing and culturally rich community.
► Manage growth to preserve our resources, environment, and sense of community.
► Provide excellent public services desired by the community within its financial means.
► Strengthen and diversify our economy to provide job opportunities.
► Anticipate future service needs, costs and resources, and plan ahead to address them.
► Form partnerships with other governments and organizations to make better use of public resources in providing services.
► Ensure open and accessible government.
► Build a stronger team of staff, elected officials, and citizens by transforming our organization to meet the changing needs of the community.
► Remain financially strong.
► Provide leisure and recreational opportunities which add to our quality of life.”