President & CEO
Great Falls Development Authority, Inc.
Great Falls, MT
Brett Doney leads the Great Falls Development Authority, a public/private economic development partnership serving the 12-county Great Falls Montana trade area. GFDA’s mission is to grow and diversify the Great Falls regional economy, create higher wage career opportunities, and improve market competitiveness. GFDA’s strategic directions include: business startup, retention and expansion; business attraction; downtown and riverfront redevelopment; commercial and housing development; and, workforce. Target industries include food/agricultural processing, energy, advanced manufacturing, business services, tourism and defense. In 2012, GFDA became the first entity in the Rocky Mountain West to be accredited by the International Economic Development Council.
Since Doney joined GFDA in late 2006, the Great Falls region has secured over $4 billion in private investment. GFDA’s Manufacturing Partnership has helped grow manufacturing employment in the Great Falls MSA by an annual average of 5.4% over the past 5 years. Average annual wages have increased by 13% during the same period. City property tax revenue has increased 29%.
GFDA is a Community Development Financial Institution with $22 million under management. GFDA hosts a Small Business Development Center, Procurement Technical Assistance Center, Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, Montana Food & Ag Development Center, National Main Street certified downtown revitalization effort, and a brownfield redevelopment program. Doney also leads High Plains Financial, a SBA Certified Development Corporation, and Great Falls AgriTech Park LLC, developer of a 1,300-acre rail-served heavy industrial park. The Park was recently certified as a BNSF Premier Park, one of 10 within BNSF’s system.
In the last 5 fiscal years, GFDA closed $22,704,908 in gap/bridge loans that leveraged $159,006,865 in additional investment. Amongst other things, these loans enabled the creation of over 300 advanced manufacturing jobs, 296 apartments, a rural community health center, an animal adoption center, a mixed-use waterfront redevelopment, historic restoration of the oldest commercial building in Great Falls, a family fun center, two microbreweries, 132 new hotel rooms, and native American and women-owned business startups. GFDA coached 387 local entrepreneurs and businesses including 44 business starts, helped 352 local businesses with government contracting, and provided 30 brownfield assessments. In 2016, GFDA was named the top performing SBDC in Montana.
Doney has over 30 years of experience in urban and rural community economic development. Prior positions include: President/CEO of Enterprise Maine, a family of community economic development organizations dedicated to creating economic opportunity and enhancing the quality of life in rural western Maine; Director of the Ft. Devens Reuse Center, a 9,600 acre army base redevelopment planning effort in Massachusetts; and, President of Doney Associates, a Boston-based consulting firm focused on urban revitalization, public/private real estate development, and innovative economic development.
Doney’s team efforts have won awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the American Economic Development Council, the International Economic Development Council, the National Association of Development Organizations, the Finance Authority of Maine, the Montana Economic Developers Association, and the National Brownfield Conference. His professional certifications include Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), Master of Corporate Real Estate (MCR), Senior Leader of Corporate Real Estate (SLCR), American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), RMA Credit Risk Certification, Federal Grants Management, and Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP). He is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute of the University of Oklahoma. Doney earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Doney has taught, given presentations, and served on technical advisory teams for a variety of state, national and international economic development and industry organizations. He currently serves on the boards of the Montana Economic Developers Association, the Great Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau (Chair), the Downtown Development Partnership of Great Falls (Chair), and the Upper Missouri River Heritage Area Planning Corporation. He serves on the International Economic Development Council’s Accreditation and Public Policy Advisory Committees, as the Montana Government Relations Chair for the International Council of Shopping Centers, and on the McLaughlin Research Institute’s National Development Council. He is an active Rotarian and past President of the Great Falls Rotary Club.