Community Comes Together to Celebrate Improvement and Investment in Great Falls

Yesterday, NeighborWorks held their annual Most Improved Awards. These awards honor and celebrate residents and businesses improving and investing their time and dollars into the Great Falls Community!

Lender of the Year Award: Doug Spence, Embark Credit Union: This is the second year in a row that Doug has won this award. Doug is a lender that goes above and beyond always finding the best product for his clients. Doug was involved in the most transactions with NeighborWorks loan products for new home buyers in Great Falls!


Realtor of the Year Award: Trevor Niswanger with Life Style Real Estate Firm: Trevor has been in the real estate business for over 10 years. He owns Lifestyle Real Estate Firm which was launched in 2017. His main goal is to help families and individuals either new to the area, or those that may have been here for a while find the right home or property. He also had the most houses sold with homeowners that used NeighborWorks Products in 2018.

Volunteer of the Year: Joe Vance: Joe has volunteered at our Owner Built homes two years in a row. He has become good friends with the families in the build and now comes up on non-volunteer days just to help. He is dedicated and a great asset to the families and NeighborWorks. TJ, one of the builders noted that he was “grateful and appreciative to have such great support and help during the build, but even more lucky to have met such a great friend”. Thanks for your work Joe!

Business Partner of the year: Great Falls Public Schools: Great Falls Public Schools is NeighborWorks Business Partner of the Year for 2019! This year we honor GFPS as a partner for both their work on the High School House program and their participation in MApril Clean Up. We thank all the work and the staff that makes the High School House possible. We just had our celebration of the 41st house last week!


Rae Graham Smith and Theresa Busch with Sacajawea school and Rhonda Zobrack and Riki Johnson-Lackey with Giant Springs School continuously participate in MApril Clean Up with their students fostering an environment of community service. Thank you for your work and partnership GFPS!


Honorable mention – Murals – In 2018 the downtown Murals were made possible through NeighborWorks, Cameron Moberg, local artists, the BID and downtown businesses. We’d like to honor and thank the businesses and community members who made this art addition possible! Hi-Line Climbing Center, Dragonfly Dry Goods, Business Improvement District, Cameron Moberg, Calvary Chapel of Cascade County and Sharee Nelson.



Honorable Mentions – County Court House: In 2014 it was determined that the 80 year old roof was going to need more than just patches. The roof was leaking, and it needed a professional, permanent fix. The copper roof restoration was made possible through the county commissioners, WJE Associates and A & E Architects out of Missoula.


Honorable Mention – Best Work in Progress - The Strain Building, Jason and Tammy Madill: The building was purchased by the Madill’s in 2017. Prior to purchase it was an outdated office building with a parking garage. Now thanks to a capitalistic and entrepreneurial spirit - it is a thriving, upbeat and trendy work office, hosting Great Falls newest taproom and offers a parking garage with a historic/industrial feel. Jason plans to continue upgrading and improving the property throughout the year. Since the purchase of the building, he has acquired over 20 new tenants but still has room for about 20 more! The Madill’s will continue acquiring business-oriented clients for the space at 410 Central.


Most Improved Rental: 704 5th Avenue South Joel and Jenny Todd: This is Jenny and Joel’s second year winning this award with numerous nominations. Nominators commented, “they do quality work and revitalize with love” and “the work they do is so important in this community”. 704 5th Avenue South was a blighted property that sat vacant for 25 years. The couple did extensive work inside and out and is now a beautiful addition to 5th Avenue South. Thanks for your improvement to our Community!


Most Improved Residential: 3244 8th Ave North, SAM Construction and Shannon McDonald : The Shandlay Brothers grew up in this home with their mom. In the last year, they decided to fix it up and put it on the market for another family to enjoy. Shannon McDonald with Montana Realty was their realtor and designed the remodel. S.A.M Construction remodeled every room in this four bedroom two bath home and is now a gem on 8th Avenue North.


Most Improved Commercial Property: Speaking Socially - 509 1st Avenue North

Jason began his business Speaking Socially in 2012. In mid 2016 the dream of opening a space for creatives began to take shape with the purchase of 509 1st avenue north. Construction began in 2017 and was completed in 2018 with the help of many friends and family. The renovation was funded in part, by four grants from the BID for an Interior Grant, a Façade Grant, a sidewalk grant and business incentive grant. Originally a 1920s bakery, 509 has been renovated into a vibrant, industrial-style workspace. Speaking Socially’s main goal is to educate clients on the best avenues to take so they are able to successfully market their businesses. They help businesses connect and engage with their customers online to create unique relationships - a small business should have the same opportunities in technology as larger corporations.


Best New Building Award: 501 River Drive South – Opportunity Bank, CTA Architects and Tabacco Construction: Construction began in January 2018 and was finished January 2019 – Opportunity Bank moved in creating a space for one of their 27 branches. The building is standout in Great Falls with a beautiful fireplace and an open concept commercial space. The upstairs is currently unfinished, but boasts beautiful views of the river and mountains. Great job to CTA, Guy Tabacco Construction and the owner that made the building possible.

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Great Falls, MT 59401

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