Great Falls Economic Development Fund-raising campaign gets boost by couple’s donation

Mom and pop grocery gives $5,000 to economic development funding

Laurie and Babe Peres are living proof that when it comes to economic development, it’s a spirit of commitment — not the size of a
business — that matters.

Tribune Business Editor

The couple, who have owned and operated Peres Food Basket at 2700 2nd Ave. N. for five years, recently joined local
companies such as Anderson Steel, Sletten Construction and U
Bank in support of the Great Falls Development Authority’s 2002-06 Founding the Future fund-raising campaign.

For the next five years, the Pereses will invest $250 each quarter — for a total of $5,000. That’s a significant chunk of change from
the mom and pop operation near Roosevelt Elementary School.

"We tried to come up with a figure that could make an impact on the cause but still be within our reach," Laurie Peres said. "I don’t
think that it’s a huge commitment."

When compared to some of the larger investments the campaign has attracted in the past couple of months, $5,000 might not seem
like much.

To Development Director John Luckie, however, the Peres’ investment sends a powerful statement.

"What it does is solidify my belief that the small business community in Great Falls understands the need and feels like if it’s going to
be done, they need to participate," Luckie said. "Where the rubber meets the road is down at this little mom and pop grocery."

Luckie said the $5,000 investment from the Peres Food Basket is, for that small business, just as significant as a $100,000-plus
investment from a larger Great Falls company.

"They feel they have the opportunity to participate and make a difference," he said.

Great Falls Development Authority President John Kramer and a 14-member Leadership Council headed up by Ian Davidson
organized the fund-raising campaign. The money will be used over the next five years to market Great Falls and recruit primary
sector companies.

Primary sector companies can loosely be defined as those that bring new wealth into an area, or those that generate 80 percent or
more of their revenue from outside the area.

Kramer said he is impressed with the commitment he has seen from the city’s small businesses.

"The sincerity that people, even the small mom and pop stores, have about getting the jobs done…it’s impressive," Kramer said.
"There’s great interest from small businesses here; we haven’t had anyone say no."

After attending the fund-raising kickoff breakfast in late June, the Pereses said yes.

"We went not knowing what they were doing, and after the meeting we were excited," Laurie Peres said. "If my husband and I can
be part of making Great Falls better, we’re all for it."

And while Peres admits that she is optimistic about the new direction being taken in the city’s economic development efforts, she is

"I do realize it’s a hope and a prayer. There are no guarantees, but if this works our investment will come back to us. Our kids will
be able to stay in town," she said.

The Great Falls Development Authority has raised roughly $1.4 million so far. At the rate that investments are coming in from the
Great Falls business community, Luckie said they will exceed the original goal of $2 million.

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