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Great Falls Community Directory Revived

<bt>Members of the Great Falls Business and Professional Association (GFBPA) have revived the community directory that lists businesses and services in Great Falls.

Jorge Adeler spearheaded the effort to create the directory after several years had lapsed without one being produced. Adeler wanted to create a resource document for the community that went beyond indexing information and would set the tone for the area. “It looks like a magazine. It tries to project, for anyone who looks at it, information about the area and the mood and look of Great Falls,” said Adeler.

“We want the community to have a sense that they have arrived,” said Adeler. The GFBPA worked with Elan magazine to publish the directory. “Everything about it is first class,” said Adeler. The directory, which all residents of Great Falls should be getting in the mail this week, is a four-color, glossy, magazine-style publication. Its dimensions are a little larger than a standard Playbill, and it is more than 70 pages thick.

Stephan Dulaney, the GFBPA membership chairman, said, “The directory is of a quality that is in keeping with the theme of uniqueness with this community.

“We believe this will make the community more aware of the businesses we do have,” said Dulaney. “We’ve come of age. We can offer many of the services the community needs.” Adeler adds, “Anything you need can be found right here in Great Falls. Maybe if you need a car, you might need to go out of Great Falls, but right now practically every need is here in Great Falls. Great Falls is a very, very self-sufficient community.”

The GFBPA says the lack of storefronts in Great Falls are deceptive in relation to the actual number of business and services located in its limits. “Visually, the storefronts number 200. There are many more that are in homes,” said Adeler. Initially 600 businesses were identified that qualified for inclusion in the directory. Adeler and his small crew of volunteers sent out letters to all these businesses asking them to verify and/or correct the information about their company. Being listed in the directory is free. Advertising in the directory, however, is done for a fee.

“Only 300 answered us back. We know there are hundreds that haven’t responded yet, for whatever reason. We hope they will come to us and let us know next year,” Adeler said.

The directory contains an index of all types of businesses operating in Great Falls. “The categories are abundant,” said Adeler, “There are doctors, orthodontists, retailers, banks, real estate agents, shops, accountants, photographers, attorneys, cleaners — I could go on.”

In addition to the professional listings, the directory contains general information about Great Falls, a resource listing, and on the front pullout, a map of Great Falls with iconic representations plotted graphically on points of interest within the community. “This is the first time a map like this has been done of Great Falls,” said Adeler.

The directory is enhanced visually with photographs donated by Hill Photography. Dan Smith of that studio said, “We wanted to include some of the wonderful scenes around here to illustrate Great Falls.”

GFBPA members revived the directory after 10 dormant years because of the changes and expansions that have happened in the community over the past decade. “When it was re-formed in the recent past, we saw the old directory and that the previous owner had donated the photos for it. We thought this was a good way to let everyone in the area know about the business,” said Smith. His response is typical of many who worked on the directory or who chose to advertise knowing that the directory would have widespread appeal. Not only is the directory being distributed to every home in Great Falls but several thousand were purchased by local real estate agents, who want to present the resource to newcomers.

“Nothing against other communities, but we have often been looked at, in other publications, like a distant cousin. McLean is a wonderful community, but Great Falls is, too. There is so much unique here. Great Falls is maturing. I’ve been here 25 years. The Great Falls today is certainly not the same as before,” Adeler said.

THE GFBPA WANTS to incorporate the changes and growth of the community into its organization to better serve Great Falls in the future. “We hope to draw more businesses into the BPA, now that they realize its purpose. From the unity of all the businesses and professionals, we want to start new standards,” said Adeler. These include such things as codified ethics and improving the facades of retail structures. Dulaney said, “We, as an organization, hope to do more. The big picture is to give back to the community.

“There is a good-neighbor type of thing here, with the small-town feeling of Great Falls. People know each other and want to give personal service in an era where people can turn to the Internet for the things they need,” Dulaney said.

One of Delaney’s hopes is that citizen input will affect the way local businesses operate. “I’d like to see us get to a point where more businesses are open on Saturdays,” he said. “What we are looking at is an opportunity to form a relationship with the Great Falls community and to have them know what the businesses are all about,” Dulaney said.

Adeler believes the large number of businesses owned by residents contributes to the area’s professional success and the business community’s drive to participate in local events. “More and more people are establishing businesses here. No less than 70 percent are owned by people who live here. The vast majority live and work here,” Adeler said.

“It’s a circle. Great Falls businesses sponsor the people, and the people sponsor the businesses,” Adeler said. Several local events and charities are driven by members of the GFBPA. These include the Fourth of July fireworks display, the annual Easter Egg hunt, and the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree at the Great Falls Village Center, among others.

“We are a giving organization. Our purpose is driven by wanting to give back to the community,” Dulaney said. The directory, said Dulaney, is the beginning of raising awareness with the whole community about the professional community living and working there. “We do anticipate this is the beginning of that relationship. We want to give back,” Dulaney said.