Top 10 – 8/2/2020

Nicole and Lee Wiegand, owners of Let’s Play Games and Toys in downtown Great Falls Montana, are featured in our latest Doing Business in the Golden Triangle video. Next week we will take a behind-the-scenes look at Ox & Son Towing RecoveryTransport, and Auto Auction of Great Falls. Be sure to like us on Facebook and hit that share button to help us spread the word that the Golden Triangle is a great place to live, work, and do business!

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 21 for this week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy — Montana’s Golden Triangle. A number of our clients’ projects are making good progress to become reality!

1) The Great Falls VA Clinic opened its expanded location this week. Congratulations and thank you to all who helped make this happen! See Great Falls Tribune and KRTV.

2) We have three upcoming business trainings: Best Practices for PPP Forgiveness webinar on August 6 from 11:00-11:30 AM; Digital Marketing Strategies Workshop on August 12 from 8:30 AM-3:30 PM; and, The LaunchPoint Pre-Business Workshop on August 25 from 4:00-5:00 PM.

3) Spectrum held a groundbreaking ceremony in the Town of Cascade to announce coming high speed broadband offerings. They are expanding to offer GIG level service in Cascade. See KRTV.

4) Worked with several businesses to access State Grant Programs. Did you know you could get up to $10,000 in reimbursements for Personal Protective Equipment and other business adaptations necessary to keep employees and customers safe from COVID-19? The program has been expanded from $5,000. If you have questions about how to access this and other COVID business funding, contact Jolene Schalper at JSchalper@GrowGreatFalls.org or 406-750-4481.

5) Congratulations to Tracy’s Diner on opening new outside dining along with their new beer and wine license. You can see pictures of the new space as well as read about it on TheElectricGF.com. Tracy’s was also voted one of the best restaurants in Great Falls by TheElectricGF readers. See all the winners here.

6) The 2nd Annual ArtsFest MONTANA will be held in Downtown Great Falls August 21-27. Launched last summer by the Great Falls Business Improvement District and NeighborWorks Great Falls, the mural festival is about bringing people together through art. ArtsFest MONTANA brings artists from around the continent to create meaningful and impactful murals downtown. Donations are sought to match a $5,000 grant opportunity; details at https://artsfestmontana.com/donate/. See if you can find all the artwork and tag on Instagram at @downtowngreatfallsmt!

7) Congratulations to Kate and Mitch McKamey on their purchase of RPP Fitness from Christian Nichols. Christian will continue to work as the business transitions to new ownership. Kate is excited to bring on several new coaches and continue to grow the company.

8) Helped a sole proprietor connect with a bank and get a PPP loan. If you haven’t yet explored this forgivable loan opportunity, PPP loans are set to close applications on August 8th. Sole proprietors, LLCs, and other non-employee based businesses may still be eligible for a PPP loan. See your bank or credit union if you have questions. If you have questions, contact Jason at JNitschke@GrowGreatFalls.org or 406-750-0314.

9) Cascade County awarded the hazardous materials cleanup project contract for the Old Cascade County Jail in downtown Great Falls, funded by a grant from GFDA’s EPA brownfield fund. See Tribune.

10) GFDA Investor Development Coffee. Every first Friday of the month GFDA invites investors and potential investors to a coffee hour to discuss real estate development projects, current economic issues, topics, leads, and trends throughout the region. Join us virtually this coming Friday, August 7th at 7 AM to be a part of the conversation. Contact Teresa for registration details.

11) The Montana Chamber hosted a webinar helpful for businesses interested in learning more about the Montana Loan Deferment Program. See recording of webinar here. The Chamber’s annual summer economic update is being held virtually on August 4 and 6; details and registration here.

12) The Montana Department of Commerce’s Office of Tourism and Business Development has launched the “Montana Aware” campaign to promote safe and responsible behavior among those who are traveling in the state. Through the formal “Montana Aware” campaign, 17 of Montana’s Convention and Visitors Bureaus and six tourism regions share $5 million to promote the initiative. To download the partner toolkit visit MARKETMT.COM.

13) SBIR Week in the Rockies: Montana starts August 10th. If you’re a researcher, innovator, inventor, tech entrepreneur or you support tech-based companies in Montana, this event is for you! The 2020 Regional SBIR Weeks are virtual, collaborative outreach efforts connecting entrepreneurs working on advanced technologies to the country’s largest source of early-stage funding – the SBIR/STTR programs. Also known as America’s Seed Fund, the SBIR/STTR programs provide over $3.7 billion in funding to small businesses each year in a wide variety of technology areas. August 10th through the 14th SBIR Week is in the Rockies. Hear from and speak with national speakers, Montana-based innovation supporters, government agencies and more.

14) Looking to learn a new professional skill or explore a new career path? Microsoft has launched a global skills initiative aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year. They have identified 10 jobs as having the greatest number of job openings, steady growth over the past four years, pay a livable wage, and require skills that can be learned online. Learn more about the initiative, or go to https://opportunity.linkedin.com/en-us to start upskilling!

15) We’ve engaged the top economic development marketing firm in North America to aid us in creating and implementing a business attraction lead generation strategy built on global best practices. The Development Counsellors International, DCI, approach is relationship based. The first phase is uncovering why businesses choose our region through interviews. We will then develop a strategy to attract more businesses that make sense here and spend then work to get the right messaging in front of the right people at the right time. GFDA Investors are welcome to join us for a Zoom introduction on August 11 at 1:30 PM. Call or email Jolene Schalper to learn more, JSchalper@GrowGreatFalls.org 406.750.4481.

16) Have questions about resources, tools, and general business questions? Join us for our first Small Business Coach Open Office Hour on August 18 at 10 AM. Join us for an Open Office Zoom Chat with our SBDC COVID Business Advisor, Nathan Reiff. Email Nathan Reiff for the Zoom log-in, NReiff@GrowGreatFalls.org. On the call we’ll discuss tools and strategies for your business resiliency.

17) The Montana Women’s Business Center (hosted by the Prospera Business Network in Bozeman) is offering two webinars this month: Intro to Email Marketing on August 4th from 1:00-2:30 PM; and, Customer Service During Challenging Times on August 14 and 21 from 9:00-10:30 AM.

18) Thank you to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, Energy West, NorthWestern Energy, Central Plumbing, Heating, and Excavation, and Alluvion Health for their Advanced Division investments, and Macek Companies, Inc. for their Community Division investment. The region depends on your investments to boost the economy, generate revenue, and be a catalyst for job creation. Thank you for your support of economic development work! To discuss investment in GFDA, email Teresa or call at 406.781.9499.

19) We published our GFDA Quarterly Investor Letter announcing that the U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded GFDA a $4,829,000 grant to boost our gap financing capacity so we can help more businesses survive and thrive and help more entrepreneurs to start new businesses.

20) We are boosting our lending team with a new Loan Officer position. Download position posting or visit our website. GFDA is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer and Lender. We encourage all qualified candidates to apply! Please help us spread the word.

21) This week I participated in the virtual annual retreat of the Economic Development Research Partners, a special group of forward-looking economic development organizations of the International Economic Development Council. GFDA is a proud member of this effort that publishes practitioner-driven economic development research focused on making our work more impactful. GFDA is the only research partner member in Montana.

MASK UP to keep our economy open and save our local businesses and local jobs!

Brett Doney
President & CEO

Connect with me on LinkedIn to network with the Great Falls Montana region. Forward the GFDA Top 10 to friends and colleagues. You can join our distribution list HERE or text GFDA to 22828.

“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
Marcus Aurelius

We are HUNGRY to Grow the Great Falls regional economy, create higher wage jobs, build our tax base, improve our market competitiveness, and enhance the quality of life and economic opportunity for residents of Great Falls, Cascade County, and the entire 13-county Great Falls trade area.


Economic Development Services

See our updated Great Falls Economic Development Menu of Services which includes our expanded staff team. We provide award-winning and internationally-accredited economic development services throughout Montana’s Golden Triangle, and SBA 504 loans statewide.

Cost-Effective Rail-Served Industrial Sites Available
If your company needs a rail-served, BNSF-Certified, shovel-ready site with all municipal services at your door, we have lots available for immediate construction in the Great Falls AgriTech Park. Contact Jolene Schalper at 1.406.750.4481 or JSchalper@GrowGreatFalls.org

July SBA 504 Loan Rates
The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 2.406%; 20-year at 2.341%; and, 20-year refinance 2.342%. These rates are FIXED for the life of the loan and are inclusive of all fees. If you would like to find out how to get financing for commercial real estate and equipment at potentially lower rates than you’re paying for your home mortgage, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or JKohles@GrowGreatFalls.org.

Community members are invited to participate in the effort to create a wayfinding plan for Great Falls. Visit the Great Falls Wayfinding Facebook page for project information. We’ve set up a mapping website so you can put pins on locations and landmarks that you think should be included in the Wayfinding plan. See TheElectricGF.com article for more details.

Invest in Great Falls Regional Economic Development
Contact Teresa Schreiner at 406.781.9499 or TSchreiner@GrowGreatFalls.org. Here is a current list of our great investors.


Events, Business Training, and Opportunities

Montana has many grant opportunities to help address the COVID crisis. Visit https://commerce.mt.gov/Coronavirus-Relief.

The new relocation website LiveInGreatFalls.com is officially LIVE! This website was the #1 request we got from local recruiters and HR professionals for aiding in attracting talented workers to Great Falls. The Great Falls At-A-Glance two-pager is a great complementary resource that highlights Great Falls for people unfamiliar with our community.

The Montana Indian Equity Fund (IEF) will begin accepting applications for the small business grant program starting August 1st. Applications will be accepted through September 30th. If you are a Native American entrepreneur looking to start a business or expand an existing business, check out this grant opportunity. For help applying, contact Rich at 406-836-2078 or RGannon@GrowGreatFalls.org. He can assist with the application process and help you connect with a local Native American Business Advisor.

The Great Falls Livability relocation magazine is a new tool to help you recruit talent from out of town to relocate to the Great Falls trade area. Here is the online link to the magazine. For printed copies, and to have a conversation about best practices for recruiting employees, email Soren at Soren@GrowGreatFalls.org. Let’s talk Talent Attraction!

We have Brownfield Clean-Up money that we want to put to work! Our low interest Brownfield Loans can be used to clean up hazardous materials including but not limited to lead paint, asbestos, etc. Are you working on a project that could use some clean up? Call Lillian today to discuss eligibility 406.750.1253 or LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org.

The Montana Cooperative Development Center has put together a free online Montana Cooperatives 101 course. This self-paced resource includes recorded presentations, activities and custom videos that will help you learn about the cooperative business model and successful Montana coops.

Northrup Grumman is working to gather subcontractors for the missile upgrade project. This is a long process and they expect to gather information for three to four years. If you are a small business interested in doing business with Northrop Grumman, please complete the Supplier Information form at https://oasis-sbeforms.myngc.com/

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center offers a great array of workshops and trainings for all sizes of manufacturing companies.

The Montana Department of Commerce’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is offering grants to help businesses pay for translation of marketing materials to boost exports. The program also offers trade show grants and assistance. MDOC’s Film Office is offering powerful new incentives to promote filming and production in Montana. Click here for details.

Of our online business planning tool, LivePlan, one said: “LivePlan is Awesome!” The LivePlan tool is helping her streamline her strategy in preparation for presenting to bank partners. We offer LivePlan licenses for free to active clients. Learn more about LivePlan on our website.

The 4th annual Montana Food Show will be held in Missoula on October 26. Learn more at https://agr.mt.gov/MTFoodShow. The Montana Beverage Show will be held in Helena on November 9. Visit www.beverageshow.mt.gov for more information. The Export Montana team is hosting Riddle of the Exporter training in Billings on July 28 and Kalispell on July 30. The training is free and will help you learn about and prepare for export markets. Learn more here.

All of our recorded monthly business strategy webinars are available online for viewing anytime, click them out here.

Quarterly Investor Letter 7-28-2020

Dear GFDA Investors:

Last quarter was challenging for everyone and we continue to deal with challenging and rapidly changing markets. I’m very proud of the way the GFDA team has responded to help businesses in our region to stabilize and begin to recover, while also doing our regular economic development work to help get new businesses started, companies to expand, real estate developments to break ground, and pursue business attraction opportunities. Attached please find a summary of our COVID Response to date.

We closed our FY 2020 fiscal year on June 30th. In addition to our COVID Response, in FY 2020 we expanded our business development team and our business coaching/training team, launched our talent attraction effort, and developed the downtown Great Falls block redevelopment visions. Later this summer we’ll send out a more detailed summary of the past year.

Today, I would like to give you a preview of FY 2021. Your GFDA Board of Directors has adopted an ambitious budget to tackle the most aggressive economic development workplan in our history. We are doubling down on business retention and expansion, entrepreneurial startups, business attraction, and talent attraction to help the region recover and pursue new opportunities created by the economic upheaval.

How an organization invests its time and money is the true test of its priorities. Our FY 2021 Budget invests your dollars in three priorities: 1) helping existing businesses in the region to survive, adapt and thrive in the changed economic landscape and helping local entrepreneurs to start new businesses; 2) attracting new business and real estate investment in our region with an emphasis on primary sector jobs, capital investment, downtown and riverfront revitalization, and housing development; 3) attracting talent to relocate to our labor area to help you fill open positions and enable us to grow our economy.

Your investment is making this possible, along with great support from some of our partners. The budget invests $408,026 in business attraction and business retention/expansion work. We’ve awarded a $75,000 contract with DCI, a top economic development marketing firm, to develop new business attraction leads, and a six-month $15,000 marketing contract with CoStar/Loopnet to market the Great Falls AgriTech Park. If the CoStar effort works, we’ve budgeted it extend it another six months. Leads generated for the AgriTech Park have proven to attract investment across the region. We don’t care where a company invests, so long as it’s in the Golden Triangle!

The budget invests $156,986 in Talent Attraction efforts to help deal with the ever-present workforce challenges and to help grow our market. Steady growth of our population not only helps employers, but it also creates its own economic gain by growing the market for local developers, businesses and institutions.

The budget puts $155,712 of your dollars to work as match for our Small Business Development Center, Procurement Technical Assistance Center, and Food & Ag Development Center, leveraging an additional $349,999 from state and federal partners. Our Small Business Development Center will be launching a mentor program to engage experienced business volunteers across the region to help support existing businesses and would-be entrepreneurs.

The budget invests $11,000 in important community partnerships including the Montana Defense Alliance, Downtown Development Partnership, Kids Education Yes, the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce’s airline flights initiative, and the Great Falls Wayfinding project. We plan to use $21,000 for specialized grant consultants to help us pursue more opportunities to leverage your investment. Interest on the debt we borrowed to launch the AgriTech Park and all the new initiatives over the last few years will cost $26,100 and principal payments another $126,716. And, we will spend an estimated $94,378 on investment fundraising and investor relations.

Add that up and it totals $999,918. We are budgeting for total local investment income of $425,000. We know it will be a difficult year for some investors to financially support our work, but now is the time for GFDA to go all in to get our regional economy back on its feet and growing again. We will figure out a way to make the numbers work to close the gap. We practically always find a way to end each fiscal year with positive net income. We received word last week that the state is approving $18,189 in CARES Act grants to GFDA which will help. And, we believe that we will earn forgiveness of our entire $191,398 PPP loan.

In addition to our local investor dollars, we have the new $300,000 EPA Brownfield Assessment competitive grant we won that this spring that will enable us to provide free hazardous materials assessments for proposed redevelopment projects across Cascade County. And, we have $18,700 from the Montana Pulse Committee to pay for travel focused on attracting pulse crop processing operations to grow the market for these important agricultural crops.

Now for some very exciting news. Based on our A-rated longstanding EDA revolving loan fund, the U.S. Economic Development Administration today awarded us a major grant of $4,390,000 in new loan capital and $439,000 to support our deployment of these COVID-recovery funds over the next two years!!!

This increases our total available loan capital from $12.6 to $17 million which increases our firepower to get more deals done that otherwise would not happen. We have over $6 million in pending loan requests to help projects get going, so we will quickly put this new capital to work.

Thank you for your continued support! And, thank you for the support of several key partners that are making this aggressive budget possible: Cascade County for its continued investment in GFDA’s work; the Great Falls Business Improvement District which is splitting the cost of our Downtown Business Development Officer; the Montana Department of Commerce which has allocated some of its supplemental COVID federal funds to expand our Small Business Development Center; and, First Interstate Bank and the SBA for our PPP loan.

We will continue to leverage your investment to secure more resources to put to work in the Great Falls trade area – Montana’s Golden Triangle. We have a pending application at the Community Development Financial Institution Fund, matched dollar for dollar by your investment and by a $500,000 loan commitment from the Montana Board of Investments. We are pursuing long term loans from US Bank, Wells Fargo, the Opportunity Finance Network, and other institutions to continue to expand our loan capital. And, we are partnering with Great Falls Tourism to pursue an Economic Adjustment Assistance grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration that would help our tourism partner through these tough times and give us resources to address childcare, broadband, supply chain, and target industries challenges and opportunities.

We have an exceptional Board and staff team in place to start the new fiscal year. Attached please find our updated Board of Directors list which includes the new Directors you just voted to add to the Board.

Thank you again for your support, your investment, the leads you send our way, and most importantly, for everything you do day-in and day-out in your company, organization or agency that supports our economy and improves the economic opportunity and quality of life in our region.

Working together, we are going to make many great things happen in FY 2021 that otherwise would not happen!

Please let me know if you have a challenge or opportunity that we may be able to help with.

Thank you!!

Brett Doney
President & CEO
BDoney@GrowGreatFalls.org
1-406-750-2119

The Great Falls Development Authority is a 501(c)3 charitable Montana non-profit corporation and a certified Community Development Financial Institution. We accredited by the International Economic Development Council and earned GuideStar’s 2019 Gold Seal of Transparency.

If you have not yet invested or reinvested, contact Teresa Schreiner at 406-781-9499, TSchreiner@GrowGreatFalls.org. In addition to investment, we also have sponsorship opportunities for companies and organizations looking to enhance their marketing efforts.

Attachments:

GFDA COVID Response as of 7/28/20

GFDA Board of Directors List as of 7/8/20

PDF of this Letter

Top 10 – 7/26/2020

The latest video in our Doing Business in the Golden Triangle series features Candice English, owner of The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers in Great Falls Montana. Next week we will take a behind-the-scenes look at Let’s Play Games and Toys in downtown Great Falls! Be sure to like us on Facebook and hit that share button to help us spread the word that Montana’s Golden Triangle is a great place to live, work, and do business!

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 10 for this week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy — Montana’s Golden Triangle. A number of our clients’ projects are making good progress to become reality!

1) Congratulations to Vision Net on its 25th anniversary! The Great Falls headquartered firm has evolved into one of Montana’s leading technology companies whose world-class 24/7 Network Operations Center (NOC) provides application, network and unified communications support to carrier and business clients both locally and nationwide. Download press release. Congratulations to the Vision Net team!

2) We closed another Business Stabilization and Recovery Loan to help a successful business thrive! NourishFood Truck is looking for a truck and trailer to continue their successful food truck endeavor. We’re excited to help Nourish stabilize and build assets. If you have working capital needs due to COVID19, contact Jolene at 406.750.4481.

3) Dakota Supply Group is opening in Great Falls at 1604 12th Avenue North. Beef O’Brady’s has pivoted to a new local concept called P.Gibsons. See more details on TheElectricGF.com.

4) If you or your company’s recruiters are struggling to attract out-of-town talent during the COVID-19 era, let’s chat. Our Talent Attraction Director, Soren Chargois, has been busy researching best practices and developing tools and digital resources to help you attract high-quality talent. Contact Soren at Soren@GrowGreatFalls.org.

5) This summer’s Great Falls SafetyFestMT is going virtual August 17-21. The event will include 28 FREE online workplace safety classes spread throughout the week so you have time to pick the ones that will most benefit your business. The ABC Clinic is joining this year’s event to expand resources for employers.

6) We’ve engaged the top economic development marketing firm in North America to aid us in creating and implementing a business attraction lead generation strategy built on global best practices. The Development Counsellors International, DCI, approach is relationship based. The first phase is uncovering why businesses choose our region through interviews. We will then develop a strategy to attract more businesses that make sense here and spend then work to get the right messaging in front of the right people at the right time. GFDA Investors are welcome to join us for a Zoom introduction on August 11 at 1:30 PM. Call or email Jolene Schalper to learn more, JSchalper@GrowGreatFalls.org 406.750.4481.

7) Published the GFDA Quarter Index for 2020Q2. Contracted with Vertical IQ to enable four members of our business team to access this online market intelligence system to provide our clients with actionable in-depth current data on over 500 industries, including data on COVID’s impact on each industry. We’ll use this new resource to help businesses and entrepreneurs in the region to adapt their strategies to rapidly-changing market conditions. Thank you to the Governors Office of Economic Development for funding this through a CARES Act business innovation grant.

8) Demo’d LivePlan, a cloud based business planning tool that we use, for sixteen Montana Native American Business Advisors. If your start-up or existing business could benefit from the clarity that a written business plan provides, contact Rich Gannon at 406-836-2078 or RGannon@GrowGreatFalls.org to schedule a demo. We provide LivePlan for free to existing businesses and startups who become clients of our Small Business Development Center.

9) Started work with owners of two Great Falls businesses that currently rent space and want to realize their dream of owning their locations. With the SBA 504 rates being so low they are taking advantage the of the opportunity to do just that! If your commercial space isn’t keeping up with your growing business or you’d like to buy instead of lease please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or JKohles@GrowGreatFalls.org. To read more about the SBA504 program or success stories, please visit our website.

10) Have questions about resources, tools, and general business questions? Join us for our first Small Business Coach Open Office Hour on August 18 at 10 AM. Join us for an Open Office Zoom Chat with our SBDC COVID Business Advisor, Nathan Reiff. Email Nathan Reiff for the Zoom log-in, NReiff@GrowGreatFalls.org. On the call we’ll discuss tools and strategies for your business resiliency.

11) Testified in support of The Crossing at Milwaukee Depot project to the Great Falls City Commission meeting which approved it on first reading. Located adjacent to the historical Milwaukee Station, the project includes 110 unit market rate apartments that will connect between the downtown, River’s Edge Trail, and West Bank Landing. See Great Falls Tribune. This is an excellent example of a mixed use development located within the downtown Great Falls Opportunity Zone. For additional information or to discuss other projects, call Jolene 406.750.4481.

12) Helped a business who was checking into becoming certified as a Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) with information and documents to start the process. PTAC isn’t just for “SAM” (System for Award Management) anymore. We provide trainings, research assistance, bid opportunity reviews and so much more. Contact Shannon for more information, SClancy@GrowGreatFalls.org.

13) Three entrepreneurs in the startup phase of business attended our monthly LauchPoint pre-business virtual workshop this week. If you are thinking of starting a business and need some help with the basics please register for our next LaunchPoint workshop – scheduled for August 25th – by clicking here, or get help sooner by contacting  Rich Gannon at 406-836-2078 or RGannon@GrowGreatFalls.org.

14) Issued an RFP for a video production agency to produce four short videos that we’ll use for talent attraction, business attraction and raising awareness of GFDA’s regional services. Download RFP.

15) The Montana Indian Equity Fund (IEF) will begin accepting applications for the small business grant program starting August 1st. Applications will be accepted through September 30th. If you are a Native American entrepreneur looking to start a business or expand an existing business, check out this grant opportunity. For help applying, contact Rich at 406-836-2078 or RGannon@GrowGreatFalls.org. He can assist with the application process and help you connect with a local Native American Business Advisor.

16) Looking to hire high-quality talent? Consider an ad in the 2021 issue of the Great Falls Livability talent attraction magazine. This online and print resource is targeted toward recruiting out-of-market talented people to the Great Falls region. Show them that your company is a GREAT place to work! Contact Talent Attraction Director Soren Chargois at Soren@GrowGreatFalls.org to get involved.

17) We’re pleased to announce our newest team member, Kira Haumersen. Kira is relocating from Iowa to Great Falls to become our new Lending Operations Specialist. Kira has five years of commercial lending experience and is also a talented chef! We are further boosting our lending team with a new Loan Officer position. Download position posting or visit our website. GFDA is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer and Lender. We encourage all qualified candidates to apply! Please help us spread the word.

18) The Montana Economic Developers Association (MEDA), in partnership with the Montana Chamber Foundation and dozens of partners across the state (including GFDA), commissioned a study to assess the competitiveness of Montana’s economic development tools. The Next Generation of Community and Economic Development Tools Analysis was released this week. Visit MEDA’s website to download the report.

19) Thanks to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, North 40 Outfitters, for their Flagship Division investment, and Opportunity Bank and Prairie Mountain Bank for their Community Division investments. Your investment dollars are matched with our competitive CDFI Fund. Each business financed, project supported, and job created transforms a life, a family, a community, and our region. Because of your investments, we can continue to engage with community partners, leaders, and our investors to deliver creative business solutions. To invest in GFDA, contact Teresa at TSchreiner@GrowGreatFalls.org or 406.781.9499.

Times are tough, but that’s creating new opportunities for Great Falls and the entire Golden Triangle. Let’s keep working together to help existing businesses get through this, entrepreneurs to start new ventures, businesses to expand into our region, developers to invest in new projects, and talented people to move here!

Thanks!!

Brett Doney
President & CEO

Connect with me on LinkedIn to network with the Great Falls Montana region. Forward the GFDA Top 10 to friends and colleagues. You can join our distribution list HERE or text GFDA to 22828.

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Walt Disney

We are HUNGRY to Grow the Great Falls regional economy, create higher wage jobs, build our tax base, improve our market competitiveness, and enhance the quality of life and economic opportunity for residents of Great Falls, Cascade County, and the entire 13-county Great Falls trade area.


Economic Development Services
See our updated Great Falls Economic Development Menu of Services which includes our expanded staff team. We provide award-winning and internationally-accredited economic development services throughout Montana’s Golden Triangle, and SBA 504 loans statewide.

Cost-Effective Rail-Served Industrial Sites Available
If your company needs a rail-served, BNSF-Certified, shovel-ready site with all municipal services at your door, we have lots available for immediate construction in the Great Falls AgriTech Park. Contact Jolene Schalper at 1.406.750.4481 or JSchalper@GrowGreatFalls.org

July SBA 504 Loan Rates
The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 2.406%; 20-year at 2.341%; and, 20-year refinance 2.342%. These rates are FIXED for the life of the loan and are inclusive of all fees. If you would like to find out how to get financing for commercial real estate and equipment at potentially lower rates than you’re paying for your home mortgage, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or JKohles@GrowGreatFalls.org.

Community members are invited to participate in the effort to create a wayfinding plan for Great Falls. Visit the Great Falls Wayfinding Facebook page for project information. We’ve set up a mapping website so you can put pins on locations and landmarks that you think should be included in the Wayfinding plan. See TheElectricGF.com article for more details.

Invest in Great Falls Regional Economic Development
Contact Teresa Schreiner at 406.781.9499 or TSchreiner@GrowGreatFalls.org. Here is a current list of our great investors.


Events, Business Training, and Opportunities

Montana has many grant opportunities to help address the COVID crisis. Visit https://commerce.mt.gov/Coronavirus-Relief.

The new relocation website LiveInGreatFalls.com is officially LIVE! This website was the #1 request we got from local recruiters and HR professionals for aiding in attracting talented workers to Great Falls. The Great Falls At-A-Glance two-pager is a great complementary resource that highlights Great Falls for people unfamiliar with our community.

The Great Falls Livability relocation magazine is a new tool to help you recruit talent from out of town to relocate to the Great Falls trade area. Here is the online link to the magazine. For printed copies, and to have a conversation about best practices for recruiting employees, email Soren at Soren@GrowGreatFalls.org. Let’s talk Talent Attraction!

We have Brownfield Clean-Up money that we want to put to work! Our low interest Brownfield Loans can be used to clean up hazardous materials including but not limited to lead paint, asbestos, etc. Are you working on a project that could use some clean up? Call Lillian today to discuss eligibility 406.750.1253 or LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org.

Microsoft has launched a global skills initiative aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year. This initiative combines existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub, and Microsoft. Together, they have identified 10 jobs as having the greatest number of job openings, steady growth over the past four years, pay a livable wage, and require skills that can be learned online. Learn more about the initiative, or go to https://opportunity.linkedin.com/en-us to start “upskilling!”

The Montana Cooperative Development Center has put together a free online Montana Cooperatives 101 course. This self-paced resource includes recorded presentations, activities and custom videos that will help you learn about the cooperative business model and successful Montana coops.

Northrup Grumman is working to gather subcontractors for the missile upgrade project. This is a long process and they expect to gather information for three to four years. If you are a small business interested in doing business with Northrop Grumman, please complete the Supplier Information form at https://oasis-sbeforms.myngc.com/

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center offers a great array of workshops and trainings for all sizes of manufacturing companies.

The Montana Department of Commerce’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is offering grants to help businesses pay for translation of marketing materials to boost exports. The program also offers trade show grants and assistance. MDOC’s Film Office is offering powerful new incentives to promote filming and production in Montana. Click here for details.

Of our online business planning tool, LivePlan, one said: “LivePlan is Awesome!” The LivePlan tool is helping her streamline her strategy in preparation for presenting to bank partners. We offer LivePlan licenses for free to active clients. Learn more about LivePlan on our website.

The 4th annual Montana Food Show will be held in Missoula on October 26. Learn more at https://agr.mt.gov/MTFoodShow. The Montana Beverage Show will be held in Helena on November 9. Visit www.beverageshow.mt.gov for more information. The Export Montana team is hosting Riddle of the Exporter training in Billings on July 28 and Kalispell on July 30. The training is free and will help you learn about and prepare for export markets. Learn more here.

All of our recorded monthly business strategy webinars are available online for viewing anytime, click them out here.

2020 Q2 Index

 2nd Quarter 2020 Index

Size of Benefis Health System’s new Women’s and Children’s Center that broke ground during quarter: 48,000 square feet

New downtown market-rate apartments in The Crossing at Milwaukee Depot project: 83

Great Falls rank amongst best cities in the Western U.S. to live in after the pandemic: 10th

Great Falls rank for most budget friendly Montana city for homeowners for a mortgage: 2nd

Great Falls ranking in Montana for budget-friendliness for renters: 2nd

Great Falls rank in least vulnerable MSA in Montana to job loss resulting from COVID-19: 1st

Great Falls rank for Most Patriotic Community in Montana: 1st

Consecutive quarters that average annual wages increased in Great Falls MSA through 2020Q1: 25

Increase in average annual wage over previous 12 months: $1,602

Average annual wage growth in Cascade County in 12 months ending 2020Q1: 3.9%

Montana average: 3.0%

National average: 2.4%

Total wages earned increase in Cascade County during 12 months ending 2020Q1: $58 million

Increase in local average annual wage earnings above inflation in past six years: $5,090

Personal income growth in Great Falls MSA in 2018: $184 million or 5.0%

Quick-response COVID outreach phone discussions with local businesses GFDA held during quarter: 647

New leads generated into our pipeline during quarter: 33

New active projects generated into our pipeline: 46

New companies added to our pipeline CRM: 553

Downtown building permits issued during 2020Q1: 10

Total value of downtown permits: $2,011,400

Outreach to businesses and property owners in Downtown Great Falls during 2nd quarter: 83

New downtown businesses opened during quarter: 4

Downtown announcements: 2

Active downtown projects: 27

Downtown businesses seeking expansion: 9

Target businesses/developers identified to try to attract downtown: 20

Number of local entrepreneurs and businesses coached by GFDA during quarter: 176

Of these, number of new coaching clients: 53

Number of business training sessions offered during quarter: 19

Number of training participants: 272

Number of businesses bought or started by coached clients during quarter: 6

New capital secured by entrepreneur clients during quarter: $2,234,986

Government contracts won by clients during quarter: $1,250,180

Amount of loans funded during quarter: $653,147

Private investment leveraged by these loans: $800,329

Loan commitments issued during quarter: $318,837

Loan deferments granted: 10

Brownfield cleanup grants awarded: $201,225

Free Brownfield assessments provided: 2

Most recent SBA 504 effective loan rate fixed for 20 years: 2.341%

Percentage of young Americans considering relocation to less-populated cities since start of COVID shutdowns: 30%

Number of followers already on new LiveInGreatFalls social media accounts: 4,992

Number of unique page views in first month of LiveInGreatFalls.com talent relocation website: 2,521

Doing Business in the Golden Triangle and announcement videos produced during quarter: 11

Number of consecutive fiscal years GFDA has managed to squeeze out positive net income: 10

Number of community volunteers serving on GFDA boards and committees: 65

Percentage of Montanans who reported having volunteered in the past 12 months: 35%

National average: 28%

Montana rank for Most Business-Friendly State in COVID-19 Era: 1st

Food and value-added ag clients GFDA assisted in FY 2020: 37

Growth in U.S. consumption of pulses and dry beans during COVID-19: 40%

Expected 2020 Montana wheat harvest: 199.41 million bushels

Loaves of bread this wheat could make for every Montanan: 7,800

New wind energy generation projected to be built in U.S. over next decade: 112 gigawatts

Montana rank amongst U.S. states for beer consumption per capita: 2nd

GFDA COVID Response to Date

Business toolkits and white papers published: 6

New training courses launched: 2

Time sensitive business resource eblasts: 48

Virtual webinars and meetups: 34

Loans to local businesses: $933,147

Additional loan commitments issued: $318,837

For info contact Jolene Schalper at JSchalper@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-750-4481 or Brett Doney at BDoney@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-750-2119

Top 10 – 7/19/2020

The latest video in our Doing Business in the Golden Triangle series features Chris and Susan Crocker (pictured above), owners of The Good Wood Guys in Great Falls, MT. Next week we will take a behind-the-scenes look at the The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers – a knitter’s paradise here in Great Falls, Montana! Be sure to like us on Facebook and hit that share button to help us spread the word that the Golden Triangle is a great place to live, work, and do business!

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 11 for this week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy — Montana’s Golden Triangle.

1) The C.M. Russell Museum announced a $25 million capital campaign, Art & Soul: A Campaign to Ignite the American Spirit. The funds will create an endowment, acquire key pieces of art, and expand the museum facilities. The museum has already raised over $17 million towards its goal! See Great Falls Tribune and TheElectricGF.com. Congratulations and THANK YOU to the generous donors!!!

2) Spoke at the Great Falls Neighborhood Council #7 meeting in favor of The Crossing at Milwaukee Depot project proposed by Big Sky Select Properties, a local Opportunity Zone Fund. The Council voted to support the project.

3) Do you have a great idea for a business but you don’t know where to start? Join our next monthly LaunchPoint, a business planning and strategies workshop that will walk you through the key structures, and basic startup procedures to start your venture. This virtual meeting will be held on Thursday July 23rd, at 4 PM. For more information and to register click here. For business startup assistance, contact Rich Gannon at RGannon@GrowGreatFalls.org or 406-836-2078.

4) Helped a business walk through the WAWF (Wide-area Workflow) Invoicing Platform to submit an invoice on a completed contract at Malmstrom AFB. FYI: If you have a current open contract, remember to make sure your SAM (System for Award Management) registration is active and your information is current and up to-date. If you have questions or would like assistance contact Lillian at LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org.

5) Microsoft has launched a global skills initiative aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year. This initiative combines existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub, and Microsoft. Together, they have identified 10 jobs as having the greatest number of job openings, steady growth over the past four years, pay a livable wage, and require skills that can be learned online. Learn more about the initiative, or go to https://opportunity.linkedin.com/en-us to start “upskilling!”

6) As COVID-19–related cybersecurity scams have risen, businesses and their employees’ awareness of them may have fallen. Many are still learning how to communicate remotely and meet project goals outside the office.  For more information on how you can protect your business while working remotely, contact our government contracting advisor Sannon Clancy at SClancy@GrowGreatFalls.org.

7) Started work with several property developers this week discussing potential redevelopment projects in Downtown Great Falls. Discussed residential and mixed use opportunities. If you have a looking at starting a project downtown, call Christian at 406.836.0136 or CLeinhauser@GrowGreatFalls.org.

8) If you hear of a business that is struggling right now, please pass along our information. Many times there are options that a business may not know exist. We don’t want to lose businesses in the Golden Triangle if we can help but we are limited in our outreach. We need you as our eyes and ears. Send businesses directly to Nathan Reiff, NReiff@GrowGreatFalls.org.

9) GFDA was approved by the SBA to become an SBA PPP lender. We secured awards of two state CARES Act grants totaling $18,189 that will help us continue to offer economic development services throughout the region. Our Executive Committee approved an increase in the brownfield cleanup grant to Cascade County for the old jail. The grant maximum is now $148,249. We closed out our in-house financial report for FY 2020 that ended on June 30, eking out positive net income for the 10th consecutive year in a row.

10) Thanks to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, US Bank, for their Advanced Division investment, AE2S, Anderson ZurMuehlen & Co., P.C. and Great Falls College MSU for their Pacesetter Division investments, and Bison Ford and Midway Rental for their Community Division investments. Your financial resources are essential for business recovery and growth. Thank you for investing in development and diversity of the regional economy. If you have questions about investment, email Teresa at TSchreiner@GrowGreatFalls.org or call 407.781.9499.

11) The unemployment rate for the Great Falls MSA was 8.1% in May according to the Montana Department of Labor. The number of employed was 34,510, an increase of over 2,000 from the April total of 32,347. However, we had 36,434 employed in March. In May 2019 we had 37,010 employed and an unemployment rate of 2.8%. We do not yet have data on wage earnings which we know have taken a hit as many workers are getting fewer hours. It’s too early to tell how many businesses may not make it despite all our region-wide efforts to help.

MASK UP MONTANA! Whether we like it or not, the most effective, low cost thing we can do right now to protect our local jobs and businesses is to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Brett Doney
President & CEO

Connect with me on LinkedIn to network with the Great Falls Montana region. Forward the GFDA Top 10 to friends and colleagues. You can join our distribution list HERE or text GFDA to 22828.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you … never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

We are HUNGRY to Grow the Great Falls regional economy, create higher wage jobs, build our tax base, improve our market competitiveness, and enhance the quality of life and economic opportunity for residents of Great Falls, Cascade County, and the entire 13-county Great Falls trade area.


Economic Development Services

See our updated Great Falls Economic Development Menu of Services which includes our expanded staff team. We provide award-winning and internationally-accredited economic development services throughout Montana’s Golden Triangle, and SBA 504 loans statewide.

Cost-Effective Rail-Served Industrial Sites Available

If your company needs a rail-served, BNSF-Certified, shovel-ready site with all municipal services at your door, we have lots available for immediate construction in the Great Falls AgriTech Park. Contact Jolene Schalper at 1.406.750.4481 or JSchalper@GrowGreatFalls.org

July SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 2.406%; 20-year at 2.341%; and, 20-year refinance 2.342%. These rates are FIXED for the life of the loan and are inclusive of all fees. If you would like to find out how to get financing for commercial real estate and equipment at potentially lower rates than you’re paying for your home mortgage, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or JKohles@GrowGreatFalls.org.

Community members are invited to participate in the effort to create a wayfinding plan for Great Falls. Visit the Great Falls Wayfinding Facebook page for project information. We’ve set up a mapping website so you can put pins on locations and landmarks that you think should be included in the Wayfinding plan. See TheElectricGF.com article for more details.

Invest in Great Falls Regional Economic Development

Contact Teresa Schreiner at 406.781.9499 or TSchreiner@GrowGreatFalls.org. Here is a current list of our great investors.


Events, Business Training, and Opportunities

Montana has many grant opportunities to help address the COVID crisis. Visit https://commerce.mt.gov/Coronavirus-Relief.

The new relocation website LiveInGreatFalls.com is officially LIVE! This website was the #1 request we got from local recruiters and HR professionals for aiding in attracting talented workers to Great Falls. The Great Falls At-A-Glance two-pager is a great complementary resource that highlights Great Falls for people unfamiliar with our community.

The Great Falls Livability relocation magazine is a new tool to help you recruit talent from out of town to relocate to the Great Falls trade area. Here is the online link to the magazine. For printed copies, and to have a conversation about best practices for recruiting employees, email Soren at Soren@GrowGreatFalls.org. Let’s talk Talent Attraction!

We have Brownfield Clean-Up money that we want to put to work! Our low interest Brownfield Loans can be used to clean up hazardous materials including but not limited to lead paint, asbestos, etc. Are you working on a project that could use some clean up? Call Lillian today to discuss eligibility 406.750.1253 or LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org.

The Montana Cooperative Development Center has put together a free online Montana Cooperatives 101 course. This self-paced resource includes recorded presentations, activities and custom videos that will help you learn about the cooperative business model and successful Montana coops.

Northrup Grumman is working to gather subcontractors for the missile upgrade project. This is a long process and they expect to gather information for three to four years. If you are a small business interested in doing business with Northrop Grumman, please complete the Supplier Information form at https://oasis-sbeforms.myngc.com/

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center offers a great array of workshops and trainings for all sizes of manufacturing companies.

The Montana Department of Commerce’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is offering grants to help businesses pay for translation of marketing materials to boost exports. The program also offers trade show grants and assistance. MDOC’s Film Office is offering powerful new incentives to promote filming and production in Montana. Click here for details.

Of our online business planning tool, LivePlan, one said: “LivePlan is Awesome!” The LivePlan tool is helping her streamline her strategy in preparation for presenting to bank partners. We offer LivePlan licenses for free to active clients. Learn more about LivePlan on our website.

The 4th annual Montana Food Show will be held in Missoula on October 26. Learn more at https://agr.mt.gov/MTFoodShow. The Montana Beverage Show will be held in Helena on November 9. Visit www.beverageshow.mt.gov for more information. The Export Montana team is hosting Riddle of the Exporter training in Billings on July 28 and Kalispell on July 30. The training is free and will help you learn about and prepare for export markets. Learn more here.

All of our recorded monthly business strategy webinars are available online for viewing anytime, click them out here.