GFDA makes emails related to Madison Food Park available for public viewing

Updated March 9, 2018 with the list of confidential emails from GFDA

A citizen requested to view emails to and from staff at the Great Falls Development Authority regarding the proposed Madison Food Park.

On Friday, The Electric went through the stack of printed emails and scanned most of them to share here. Some were duplicates or only tangentially related and weren’t scanned. Some were copies of news stories and GFDA newsletter emails that weren’t scanned as they are publicly available online. There were a few emails from media that scheduled interviews about the project, but contained no information and those were not scanned.

In GFDA’s Feb. 25 edition of the weekly newsletter email, Brett Doney wrote: “For the first time in GFDA history, at least since I’ve been here, we have received a sunshine request to look at our documents and emails in regard to a project. The request is in regard to our involvement in the Madison Food Park. One of our key values is transparency, so we are inviting anyone who wants to view these materials to email me to schedule a time to come in and look at them. As always, we will protect client confidentiality in regard to materials and communication deemed confidential.”

[View the GFDA emails related to Madison Food Park]

Doney made a list of email contents that were deemed confidential and sent that to The Electric on Thursday.

[Subscribe to the GFDA Top 10 email here]

Doney said his first contact with Ed Friesen was in April 2017 when Friesen called to tell Doney about the project.

As of yet, the Madison Food Park developers have not submitted any applications for loan funding through GFDA, according to Doney.

The MFP developers are still working on their amended application for a special use permit through Cascade County and the new application has not yet been submitted.

The developers are looking at about 3,000 acres a few miles east of Great Falls that is currently zoned agricultural land. To build the proposed food processing plant that would include cattle, hog and chicken slaughter and packaging, as well as a cheese/milk facility and distillery, the project needs a SUP from the county.

There are about 1,000 acres of land zoned I-2 in the Great Bear industrial park near Malteurop and ADF that is listed for sale at $3.9 million. So far, the MFP developers have not indicated any plans to change their proposed location.

GFDA did provide a $106,300 gap loan to Friesen Nutrition for construction of a new $1 million, 10,072 square foot combined office, retail and warehouse building in Great Falls, in partnership with Dutton State Bank. That information was included in a December 2016 GFDA newsletter and early 2017 Tribune stories.

Construction on that facility has since been completed and the facility is open on 6th Street Southwest near NAPA Auto Parts.

Ed Friesen is a part of that project, but it’s an entirely separate company from the one set up for the Madison Food Park proposal.

Previous stories related to the proposed Madison Food Park are avaiable below.

County provides additional information on reasoning behind ZBOA criteria

County releases criteria for ZBOA seat and is accepting applications

Ignite Great Falls highlights current, upcoming economic development projects

Short declines ZBOA appointment, creating a new vacancy

County Commission makes appointments to zoning, planning boards

County board appointments coming next week, including planning, zoning

County planning, zoning board appointments pushed to Jan. 9

Madison Food Park developers take questions at Great Falls neighborhood council meeting

County planning still processing Madison Food Park proposal; water rights process not yet begun

Friesen Foods working through development plans for proposed Madison Food Park

Food Park developers amending application, hearing delayed 

Public meeting for food processing plant postponed to December

Major agri-business complex planned for Cascade County, with potential for 3,000 new jobs