Great Falls good for FedEx hub, consultants say

Great Falls economic development officials should use the airport and FedEx facilities as anchors as they work to get the city’s
development efforts afloat, national consultants said Thursday.

Tribune Business Editor

In a conference call with city leaders and board members of the Great Falls Development Authority, Bill Fredrick, the managing
director of the Wadley-Donovan Group, and Matthew Preisler, a freight planner for Wilbur Smith & Associates, offered advice on
what industries the Electric City should pursue.

The presence of the FedEx facility positions Great Falls beautifully for industries related to the storage and repair of time-sensitive
products, said Preisler. That could include fast turnaround and testing services for high-value electronic items such as computers or
scientific equipment — or the warehousing of high-value components that could be shipped overnight.

"We look at Great Falls as having the opportunity to serve the western part of the United States, possibly Canada," Preisler said.
There is a trend nationally to push air cargo inland as coastal airports get increasingly congested, he added, and Great Falls could
take advantage.

"Once Great Falls is recognized as a FedEx hub, it will serve as a springboard for further development," Fredrick said. "That
success will attract more standard air cargo operations."

They also rated business and information services near the top of their list. That target includes administrative service centers and
customer support centers.

"It’s those support offices that keep companies running," Fredrick said. "(Companies) don’t want to put those operations in higher
cost locations. We think this is one of your best shots."

Other preliminary targets were in the areas of medical services and products, food processing, beverage manufacturing, catalog
and Internet retail sales, wood products and equipment leasing.

The Great Falls Development Authority hired the two firms as part of its overall marketing program. The Wadley-Donovan Group
of New Jersey is a corporate facility location and economic development firm that performs location assessments and helps
companies choose new locations nationwide. Wilbur Smith & Associates of Ohio is a consulting firm specializing in transportation,
airports and the air cargo market.

The target industry study will provide guidance on what industries the city should target with its marketing dollars and economic
development efforts, said Great Falls Development Authority President John Kramer. A final decision on what industries to pursue
will be made within the next month, Kramer added.

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