History to Hotspot

The Historic Montana Building’s Next Chapter

Text by Holly Matkin | Photography by Jim Wells

On an unassuming side street in downtown Great Falls, a renewed energy is buzzing through a stately 88-year-old brick building just north of Central Avenue. Commonly known as the Montana Building, this four-floor structure was originally constructed in 1929 in order to house the office spaces of a cooperative of medical professionals. Over the course of nearly a century, its rooms have been occupied by attorneys, doctors, dentists and an array of small businesses, interspersed with poignant stretches of vacancies that have made its vastness all the more prominent. Through good years and bad, the Montana Building has awaited its next opportunity to shine, standing as a silent witness to the evolution of the city’s business epicenter.

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Business Outside the Box

A New Twist on the American Dream

Text by Holly Matkin | Photography by Sara Young & Jinny Jandron

For centuries, those who chose to make Montana their home have been inspired by the allure of Big Sky Country’s boundless opportunities. From the days of Native American tribal living, to the exploration of Lewis and Clark, to the advent of agriculture, mining, tourism and service industries, we have embraced the notion that hard work and dedication are the cornerstones of success.

Sixteen years into the new millennium, technology continues to advance at an unprecedented rate. In many areas of our state, populations have increased, landscapes reflect years of settlement, and competition for consumer dollars is ever-present.

While the challenges facing today’s entrepreneurs may be different than those of our predecessors, the core principles governing their drive to succeed remain unchanged. Past and present, Montana’s business leaders are innovative, adaptable and determined, propelled by the allure of boundless opportunity.

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A Timeless History… An Endless Future

The Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Finds
Inspiration through a Passion for its Past

Text by Holly Matkin | Photography by Marcus Serrano

All too often, many of us tend to view modern life as being superior to the days of our forefathers. With the abundance of technology and infrastructure woven into our world, it’s as if we mistakenly believe we innately possess knowledge and abilities that far surpass those of preceding generations.

Granted, what we today perceive as being commonplace – maybe even mundane – would likely have been inconceivable to those who founded Great Falls in the late 1800s. But how often do we stop to consider just how the normalcy of our everyday lives came to be? How did these quiet, vastly sprawling plains along the Missouri River become the bustling, productive community Great Falls area rebsidents call home?

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Taking a Hard Job and Making it Look Easy

Great Falls US Postal Service City Carriers
Ranked No. 1 in Nation

Text by Mary Ellen Hendrickson | Photography by Jim Wells

While “rain, heat, hail, sleet and snow,” can apply to nearly every month in Great Falls, U.S. Postal Service city carriers cannot duck out on the job. Their perseverance, along with that of the assistant carriers and management, has recently earned them a number one spot in the nation.

Peter Nowacki, spokesman for the Postal Service explains that carriers across the nation are ranked, “in Lean Mail Delivery, a process that applies proven management principles to improve service performance and reduce operating costs.”

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Fair Pay Practices Open Up Opportunities

Text by Kristen McGuire | Photography by Sara Young

The gender pay equity gap affects households, not just women. Family-friendly benefits and flexibility are just as important to millennials as higher salaries. In Montana’s agricultural economy, at least one paycheck from a side gig balances out the risk of a bad crop year. Paycheck fairness is increasingly a gender-neutral proposition.

Liz Palla gets an early start each day in her home office. With her East Coast colleagues two hours ahead, she can jumpstart her to-do list and  free up her late afternoons for family time.

Liz Palla gets an early start each day in her home office. With her East Coast colleagues two hours ahead, she can jumpstart her to-do list and free up her late afternoons for family time.

Liz Palla rejoiced when she landed a telecommuting position with a strategic consulting firm serving foundations and charities. She found the golden ticket at just the right time. Her husband, Brendan, was re-entering the workforce after completing a Ph.D., so it was likely they would be moving from New York City. Happily for the University of Great Falls, the Pallas and their two little boys relocated in 2013, five months after she started her new job.

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Not Missing a Step

Text by Mary Ellen Hendrickson  |  Photography by Jim Wells

Some moments are frozen in time.

Brenda Carpenter says she, “shouldn’t have been out driving,” the icy night she skidded off the road and rolled into power lines that would burn her limbs until she was discovered the next morning.

Kelly Lenington says he, “almost died,” after freeing his left leg from the fierce rotations of a grain auger.

Matt Paton only recalls pulling onto a road to take a motorcycle for a test ride.  Observers told him later that he and the bike were struck first by a young driver running a stop sign, then again by another driver unable to stop, severing his right leg.

Tim Chaffin adapted to the loss of his right leg following cancer at age 12, and became so intent on being able to, “walk smooth,” that he later became a prosthetist.   Kristi Chaffin met Tim and first fell in love with his knack for, “getting the right fit,” for her right leg, amputated following a blood clot, then fell in love with him.

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