Top 10 – 1/30/2020

Soren Chargois, our new Talent Attraction Director, and Marlena Halko, recruiter at Calumet Montana Refining, at the launch of the Great Falls Livability recruitment magazine.

GFDA Top 10

1) The Great Falls Livability relocation magazine was officially launched at The Hub in Great Falls High School. Here is the online link to the magazine — a new tool for recruiters and HR departments to help attract high-quality talent to the Great Falls region by highlighting what our community has to offer, from education to outdoor recreation to housing to local breweries! 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! See KFBB.

2) The Golden Triangle is home to many amazing women entrepreneurs, and we want YOU to tell us about them! Nominations for The Fire Within, sponsored by Embark Credit Union are open through tomorrow January 31st. The process is simple – answer a few questions on the nomination form, and click submit. Then save the date for the 10th Annual Fire Within on Thursday, March 26th.

3) Malmstrom AFB is wrapping up construction of the new $17.4 million tactical response force alert facility and the new $18.7 million missile maintenance dispatch facility. Part of the funding for the planned $237 million weapons storage facility is in this year’s budget. Up at the Montana Air National Guard, the new $4 million firing range has opened and the construction contract for $9 million in apron improvements is about to be let. See TheElectricGF.com for more details.

4) Do you have ideas for businesses on or along the Urban Missouri River that runs through the middle of Great Falls? We want to hear about them. The Missouri River Corridor Pitch Fest is an evening sharing, discussing, and supporting business on and along the Missouri River. What do you want to open? How do you want to help? What is missing? We want to connect ideas with people who can make them happen. We’ll bring business coaches, financial professionals, and others – you bring ideas! Click here to register.

5) The December unemployment rate in the Great Falls MSA (Cascade County) was 3.4%, down from 3.7% in December 2018. This was the second lowest December unemployment rate in Great Falls’ history. Data released by the Montana Department of Labor showed a growth in our labor force of 1.1% since December 2018, adding 413 people, and an increase in employed of 530 people. There were 1,287 people looking for work in December, another 1,000 residents we could draw into the labor force if we can increase our labor force participation rate to the state average, and thousands looking for full time employment and better jobs.

6) Worked with property owners and MT DEQ on strategies to move contaminated properties into redevelopment with site planning and cleanup using Brownfields funding.  Received approval for a Phase 1 on a potential downtown property purchase. 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.

7) The Montana Department of Commerce has a special tourism event grant round opening February 1st; see more info here. Nominations are being accepted until February 16 for state tourism awards. Mark your calendar for the Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Recreation, April 26-28 in Billings.

8) Twenty advisors to entrepreneurs joined us in Choteau last week to network, collaborate, and share best practices. This was the second gathering we’ve recently hosted of federal, state, local, and private resource partners serving entrepreneurs in the Golden Triangle. The goal of these meetings is to cultivate a more collaborative entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Great Falls region.

9) Congratulations to Great Falls Public Schools on its annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Career Day where over 400 female middle school students heard from 32 women STEM leaders in our community! See KRTV. And more congratulations to GFPS for holding a Reality Fair for high school students at the Paris Gibson Education Center! See KFBB.

10) Last week, our social media posts reached over 6,915 combined followers on all our GFDA social media accounts. Follow “Great Falls Development Authority” and “Choose Great Falls” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for great content delivered daily to your timeline!

11) Malmstrom AFB will be hosting their second Career and Education Pathway Fair on March 19, 2020 from 2:30-5:30 PM. The focus is military members and military spouses as well as military members/families who will be transitioning out of the military — providing information on how to pursue careers i.e. required education, certification, or how to utilize the resources you offer. The event includes a hiring fair for businesses/companies that have open positions. This will be open Active Duty Military, Guard, Reserve, DoD Civilian, and dependents. For any questions, call Carmen Kubiak at (406) 731-3060 or email carmen.kubiak.1@us.af.mil.

12) Downtown Great Falls is GROWING! Last week we networked with 5 developers and 6 downtown businesses. If you have a business, are thinking of opening Downtown or even know someone who has an idea, contact Christian at CLeinhauser@GrowGreatFalls.org or text/call 406-836-0136.

13) Congratulations to the Town of Belt on winning a $26,250 CDBG grant from the Montana Department of Commerce to develop a subdivision and zoning regulation plan, and to the City of Havre on winning $46,500 for a preliminary architectural study of Eagles Manor and to the City of Lewistown on $35,000 for its Eagles Manor. See TheElectricGF.com.

14) The Federal Government buys everything from paper clips to nuclear submarines and everything in between. Check out this upcoming workshop in February on the basics of government contracting.

15) Did you know that 55% of manufacturing companies view the arts as helping to recruit and retain employees. This was one of the many things covered in the first International Economic Development Council webinar of 2020 titled “Drawn Together: Art and Economic Development.”  You can join us for any of the 2020 IEDC webinars; see the entire series here. The next IEDC Webinar will be “Making the Most of Your Opportunity (Zone)” Thursday, February 20 from 12:30 – 2:00 PM at GFDA.

THANK YOU to all you DOERS out there making great things happen in our region!!!

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.

Brett
President & CEO

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

“A good compromise is one where everybody makes a contribution.”
Angela Merkel

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

January SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 3.71%; 20-year at 3.641%; 25-year refinance at 3.712% and 20-year refinance at 3.641%; and, 10-year equipment 3.791%. 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.

Events, Business Training, and Opportunities

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center is offering a Business Transition Readiness workshop in Great Falls on February 13 from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Although the focus is on manufacturing companies, any business owner who does not yet have a succession plan will find this workshop to be very valuable. Details and registration here or download flyer. MMEC is also offering an excellent Lean Principles 101 introduction to lean manufacturing in Great Falls on March 26. Download flyer here.

The Montana Department of Commerce (MDOC) is accepting applications for its new Montana Historic Preservation Grant program. Deadline is February 28th. MDOC’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is offering grants to help businesses pay for translation of marketing materials to boost exports. The program also offered trade show grants and assistance.

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.

Wholesale Buyers can register for the Made in Montana Tradeshow, March 13-14 in Helena. The 2020 show will feature 150 Made in Montana producers including more than 40 new exhibitors and a Native American Made in Montana Pavilion.

All 26 of our recorded monthly business strategy webinars are available online for viewing anytime, click them out here.

The Montana Department of Commerce is accepting applications for it’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grants. This program reimburses for trade show expenses and travel stipends to attend and exhibit at international trade shows. For more information visit the ExportMontana website at https://marketmt.com/STEP/TradeshowExhibition.

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 Film Office is offering powerful new incentives to promote filming and production in Montana. Click here for details.

Start Small and Stay Engaged – 3 Easy Steps to Online Reputation Management

By Rich Gannon, Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Rural Business Advisor with the Great Falls Development Authority.

If your business isn’t actively managing its online reputation, it’s time to start.  A recent survey by an internet marketing firm found that 90% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year.   Over 80% of consumers surveyed said they read online reviews for local businesses before they make a purchase.   These numbers continue to trend upward every year.  Armed with that information, it’s time to start actively managing your online reputation.

If you’ve never done any online reputation management here’s a basic tip, start small and stay engaged, to do that – follow these 3 simple steps:

1. Create Business Social Media Profiles – There are many social media platforms out there, but I’d recommend starting with 3 of the largest and most used for businesses; Google My Business, Facebook and Yelp. All of these platforms are free to use and will cover most basic searches for your business.

2. Stay Engaged – After you create your business profiles, stay engaged with them. Keep your hours up to date, post photos and create status updates.  Staying engaged on these platforms is a signal to customers that your business is active and open.   Think about it is this way, what would you do if you found a restaurant’s Facebook page and their last post was from 2014?  If that’s all you knew about that restaurant would it influence your decision to stop and eat there?

3. Respond to Reviews – Monitor and respond to reviews. Thank customers for positive reviews, and don’t just ignore negative reviews.  Try to handle bad reviews with grace and professionalism.  Getting into an online shouting match with a customer is no way to handle a poor review or rating.  Instead, address the issue and try to fix the problem.    At some point it does become a judgement call when to stop engaging with the rare customer who cannot be satisfied.  Most reasonable people who read reviews and your replies will be able to see that you made an effort to address the problem – which will give them confidence that you take customer service seriously.

Here’s what one of our clients told us recently about just one aspect of online reputation management- creating a Google My Business profile,  “With the help of the folks at Great Falls Development we setup our Google My Business listing and are we glad we did!  In the last 3 months our listing has been viewed over 4,000 times!” Dr. Kate Kennedy, Great Falls Holistic Health Clinic

It may seem like a daunting task to manage your online reputation, but it is becoming increasingly important.  Remember, start small and stay engaged.  If you don’t handle your own reputation, someone else will!  If you need a hand setting up any of these profiles or any other help with online marketing please email me at RGannon@GrowGreatFalls.org, all of my business coaching services are free of charge.

Rich Gannon is a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Rural Business Advisor with the Great Falls Development Authority.  The Great Falls Development Authority (GFDA) a nationally recognized economic development organization. For more resources visit https://growgreatfallsmontana.org/, https://sbdc.mt.gov/, and https://www.sba.gov/.

Top 10 – 1/19/20

The youngest entrepreneur to present at Ignite2020 was 14 year old Chase Morgan. Chase and his family are opening Chase Your Dreams VR, a virtual reality arcade that will be located in downtown Great Falls at 316 Central Ave. Grand opening  is set is Saturday February 1st from 10 AM-9 PM. You can book your time in a virtual reality bay on their website or follow them on Facebook for updates.

GFDA Top 10

Here is our Top 19 for this week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy, our 426th Top 10!

1) MT Pints opened in West Bank One. See KRTV for details. The Great Falls Tribune posted a great story detailing many of the entrepreneur presentations at Ignite 2020. Great Falls Tourism published a new video touting event and meeting venues, see YouTube. The Downtown Great Falls Association published its 2020 Calendar of Events.

2) Calling all recruiters! GFDA is hosting a Livability Launch Party this Wednesday Jan. 22 at 4:30 PM at The Hub in Great Falls High School. Come down and grab a few copies of Great Falls Livability Magazine, a new tool created with the intention of highlighting Great Falls to potential talent looking to relocate. It’ll be quick and casual – grab a bite to eat, listen to the band, grab a few magazines and you can be on your way. Contact Soren Chargois for more info; Soren@GrowGreatFalls.org or 406-836-0147. See you Wednesday!

3) GFDA’s Board adopted our first Talent Attraction Plan, one of our new initiatives for 2020. The Board also appointed Amy Pennington of Pacific Steel & Recycling to our Loan Committee. We published our Quarter Index 2019Q4. SelectUSA, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, approved our official SelectUSA Investment Summit Spin-off Event that will celebrate foreign direct investment in the Great Falls trade area. Contact Jolene Schalper if you would like to be part of this special event in June; JSchalper@GrowGreatFalls.org or 406-750-4481.

4) The Golden Triangle is home to many fierce female entrepreneurs, and we want YOU to tell us about them! Nominations for The Fire Within, sponsored by Embark Credit Union are open through January 31st. The process is simple – answer a few questions on the nomination form, and click submit. Then save the date for the 10th Annual Fire Within on Thursday, March 26th.

5) Downtown Great Falls will soon have two newly constructed homes on 2nd Ave North. Andreas Geranios, a young entrepreneur from Great Falls, has received a variance from the City Board of Adjustments to build two new residences downtown. We are excited to see a young entrepreneur get his start. Congratulations Andreas! See TheElectricGF.com for more.

6) We have two training events on the agenda in the next couple weeks designed to help entrepreneurs start their business or make it easier to get found online. The LaunchPoint: A Pre-Business Workshop is Thursday, January 23rd from 4-5 PM. Space is limited. Please register here. Our next webinar is A Beginner’s Guide to SEO: Five Tips to Get Found Online. Join us live on Thursday, February 6th at 11 AM or register here and we’ll send out the recording.

7) We’ve signed up for two excellent webinar series for 2020 and invite our investors, partners and clients to join us at GFDA’s office to watch them. One series from the Destination Development Association and will be of interest to tourism and retail businesses. Check out the series here. Thank you to the Montana Department of Commerce for providing these to us for free. If you prefer, go to MDOC’s website and register yourself for this series. The second series is offered by the International Economic Development Council. Check out the series here. We’ve put to work some of our investor dollars to register for this series. You will need to join us at the office to participate. The first IEDC webinar, titled Drawn Together: Art and Economic Development, is this Thursday, January 23 from 12:30-2:00 PM. Please let me know if you plan to join us, BDoney@GrowGreatFalls.org.

8) Met with a visiting retail real estate executive exploring options for commercial redevelopment. We’ve been working with the company to explore strategies. The Great Falls City Planning Advisory Board unanimously approved recommendations to the City Commission to update retail parking requirements which could help make redevelopment more feasible. Store openings across the country will outpace store closings in 2020, according to a CBRE market outlook, but the retail landscape continues to experience rapid changes. The good news — 81% of Gen-Z shoppers prefer to shop in a store. Restaurant sales grew 6.3% in the U.S. in 2018, making up 17% of total retail sales. Health and fitness, movie and entertainment, and services continue to take up more space. In 2009, these non-retail uses comprised 7% of gross leasable area. By 2018 that had grown to 27%. We’re active in the International Council of Shopping Centers and use this network to market the Great Falls trade area.

9) Do you love True Brew‘s coffee, but want a place to sit down and enjoy it? You’ll soon be able to do just that. True Brew is opening a second location on 1801 11th Avenue South. They are hoping to open in May or June; see KRTV. True Brew is celebrating its tenth year in Great Falls and is an example of how brownfield cleanup money can help get a project going. If you want to know more about how True Brew worked with GFDA you can read about it here.

10) We have Brownfield Clean-Up money that we need 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.

11) More great local business news. The Hi-Line Climbing Center plans to expand. Purple Gold plans to add a second food truck this summer featuring its signature açaí bowls. Fast Signs opened in Black Eagle. See details on TheElectricGF.com.

12) Have you ever thought about opening a new business downtown or creating residential space? The possibilities are endless! We want to hear your ideas and plans. Call or email Christian to discuss your ideas. CLeinhauser@GrowGreatFalls.org or (406) 836-0136.

13) Several organizations in the region won tourism grants from the Montana Department of Commerce. Blackfeet Manpower in Browning won $29,166 to develop the Buffalo Calf Interpretive Visitor Center. The Choteau Port Authority won $8,000 for brand development and marketing of the City of Choteau. The City of Shelby won $4,000 for a north entrance welcome sign. And, Timescale Adventures (TMDC) in Bynum won $53,700 to upgrade infrastructure at the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center. Congratulations!

14) GFDA is happy to announce that Rich Gannon, our rural small business coach, has earned his certification from the Association of Accredited Small Business Consultants (AASBC). Rich now joins GFDA business advisors Jason Nitschke and Tyler Menzales as an accredited member of the AASBC.

15) The University of Montana’s Bureau of Business & Economic Research will hold its annual Economic Outlook Seminar in Great Falls on Wednesday, January 29, 8 AM – 1 PM at the Hilton Garden Inn. This year’s focus is Finding Good Workers. The Great Falls event always sells out, so be sure to register here.

16) Wholesale Buyers can register for the Made in Montana Tradeshow, March 13-14 in Helena. The 2020 show will feature 150 Made in Montana producers including more than 40 new exhibitors and a Native American Made in Montana Pavilion.

17) The Montana Department of Commerce (MDOC) is accepting applications for its new Montana Historic Preservation Grant program. Deadline is February 28th. MDOC’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is offering grants to help businesses pay for translation of marketing materials to boost exports. The program also offered trade show grants and assistance.

18) The Secret Service will present a Great Falls Loss Prevention workshop this Thursday, January 23, 8:30 AM in the Holiday Village Mall in the space across from Christopher Banks.

19) Thanks to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, NorthWestern Energy, for their Advanced Division investment, and Hi-Line Moving Services and the Home Builders Association of Great Falls, for their Community Division investments. When you invest in GFDA, you invest in growing the vision for the Golden Triangle through business retention, attraction, advocacy and expansion, small business enterprise, and, now, talent attraction. We are hungry and eager to hear from you. To discuss investment, contact Teresa Schreiner at 406.781.9499.

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.

Brett Doney
President & CEO

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

“Done is better than perfect.”
Sheryl Sandberg

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

January SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 3.71%; 20-year at 3.641%; 25-year refinance at 3.712% and 20-year refinance at 3.641%; and, 10-year equipment 3.791%. 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.

Events, Business Training, and Opportunities

Glacier County Extension is offering a Ranch Profitability workshop series Jan. 21 and Feb. 11. See the Shelby Promoter for details.

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center is offering a Business Transition Readiness workshop in Great Falls on February 13 from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Although the focus is on manufacturing companies, any business owner who does not yet have a succession plan will find this workshop to be very valuable. Details and registration here or download flyer. MMEC is also offering an excellent Lean Principles 101 introduction to lean manufacturing in Great Falls on March 26. Download flyer here.

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.

All 26 of our recorded monthly business strategy webinars are available online for viewing anytime, click them out here.

The Montana Department of Commerce is accepting applications for it’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grants. This program reimburses for trade show expenses and travel stipends to attend and exhibit at international trade shows. For more information visit the ExportMontana website at https://marketmt.com/STEP/TradeshowExhibition.

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 Film Office is offering powerful new incentives to promote filming and production in Montana. Click here for details.

Great Falls Economic Development Quarter Index 2019 Q4

GFDA Index 4th Quarter 2019

 

Great Falls MSA rank amongst all U.S. metro areas for highest concentration of millennials:  Top Quarter

Great Falls MSA GDP growth in 2018:  7.4%

Dollar increase in Great Falls MSA GDP:  $288 million

Great Falls metro GDP growth 2013-2018:  25%

Private sector GDP growth during these five years:  29%

Increase in personal income in Great Falls MSA in 2018:  5.0%

Inflation in 2018:  1.9%

Per capita personal income growth during 2018:  4.9%

Local employment growth 2018Q3-2019Q3 in administrative support due to FCR hiring:  8.1%

Employment multiplier rate for food manufacturing in Great Falls MSA:  2.68

Projected local total employment growth for every 10 new food manufacturing jobs:  27

Great Falls MSA average annual wage increase 2018Q3-2019Q3:  5%

Average annual wage earnings increase:  $2,003

Consecutive quarters Great Falls MSA has experienced average annual wage growth:  23

Seating capacity in largest room of University of Providence’s new University Center:  300

Business retention and expansion outreach visits during quarter:  30

Active new client projects started from these visits:  5

GFDA business development trips during quarter:  9

New leads generated into our pipeline during quarter:  14

New active projects generated into our pipeline:  9

New companies added to our pipeline:  24

Participants in our first two Get Back to Great Falls workforce recruitment events:  37

Great Falls building permits issued during quarter:  75

Great Falls building permit valuation:  $16,746,682

Downtown building permits issued during 2019Q3:  13

Total value of downtown permits:  $1,864,562

New downtown businesses opened during 2019Q3:  4

Downtown volunteer hours donated:  11,934

Number of local entrepreneurs and businesses coached by GFDA during quarter:  105

Of these, number of new coaching clients:  35

Number of business training sessions offered during quarter:  13

Number of training participants:  132

New capital secured by entrepreneur clients during quarter:  $1,249,439

Government contracts won by clients during quarter:  $2,001,550

Participants in our first two rural entrepreneurial Pitch Nights:  46

Jobs supported by our Small Business Development Center during quarter:  287

New rural county clients coached by our Small Business Development Center since adding a rural-based business advisor in October:  14

Amount of loans closed during quarter:  $919,000

Private investment leveraged by these loans:  $1,344,757

Jobs created by loans:  11

High quality daycare slots created by loans:  130

Most recent SBA 504 effective loan rate fixed for 25 years:  3.71%

Number of applicants for five positions GFDA has filled in last two quarters:  434

Number of students who have graduated from Great Falls Public Schools’ Preschool since its founding ten years ago:  1,043

Senior executives who agree that their company will need to make significant changes to keep up with growing customer expectations:  75%

Senior executives who report that a greater need for customer-centricity has had significant impact on their company’s business model in the past five years:  50%

Senior executives who say their company has fully integrated customer input into product design and innovation:  40%

Montana rank for Smartest State:  5th

Montana rank for Best State for Middle Class:  8th

Montana rank for Best State for Millennials:  10th

Average days to obtain all necessary permits for new construction in U.S.:  81

Organic food sales growth in U.S. in 2018:  5.9%

Total food sales growth:  2.3%

Total organic food sales in U.S. in 2018:  $47 billion

Food that average American household throws out per day:  One Pound

U.S. budget deficit as a percentage of GDP (estimated 2019):  4.6%

Countries with higher rates:  Pakistan, Brazil, Eygpt, Saudi Arabia and South Africa

Robocalls made in United States during 2018:  26.3 billion

Increase from 2017:  46%

Robocalls per minute:  50,000

Number of fresh cheese curds eaten by Great Falls team touring Wisconsin cheese-making plants:  Way Too Many!

Top 10 – 1/12/20

We are on target for a fantastic 2020! Carved Axe Throwing is just one of numerous new businesses opening this year in the Great Falls trade area. Over 250 business and community leaders gathered to kick off 2020 at Ignite Great Falls presented by PayneWest Insurance. Projects announced to open or begin construction included virtual reality gaming, women’s and children’s health center, fiber optic network, boutique hotel, manufacturing, affordable housing, new shopping experience, 80MW wind farm, travel stop, new restaurants, outdoor recreation, local meats butcher, education infrastructure and programs, museum improvements, and more. Put January 8, 2021 in your calendar for Ignite Great Falls 2021.

GFDA Top 10

Here is our Top 20 for the last two weeks celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy. This is our decade Great Falls and Golden Triangle!

1) North 40 opened its new 120,000 square foot flagship store in Great Falls and it is amazing! The new shopping experience features an indoor archery range and a “buy online, pick-up in store” service. North 40 Outfitters now employs over 200 people in Great Falls at its two stores and headquarters. See story in Great Falls Tribune. And for info on North 40’s new archery league, see KFBB.

2) We hosted a prospect visit from Salt Lake City, networked at the Montana Chamber‘s Business Days at the Capitol, joined the Shelby Area Chamber of Commerce, were recertified as a MicroBusiness Development Corporation by the Montana Department of Commerce, and testified in support of a downtown infill housing project approved by the City of Great Falls’ Board of Adjustment. Congratulations to Andreas Geranios of Geranios Enterprises on this unique new housing development! See TheElectricGF.com for details.

3) Great Falls College MSU hosted over 150 high school students from 13 schools across the region at its College in a Day program that aimed to give students a taste of the college life as they each took three classes in the areas of interest that they selected. See Tribune and KFBB for details.

4) Employers! We have a new relocation print/digital magazine to help you recruit talent to relocate to the Great Falls region. Send your recruiters to the Great Falls Livability Launch on Wednesday, January 22nd from 4:30-5:00 PM at The Hub at Great Falls High School. Recruiters and GFDA investors will get the chance to meet our new Talent Attraction Director Soren Chargois, preview the print and digital magazine, and learn more about our talent attraction plan. Share the event with your recruiters!

5) The Gibson, a new boutique hotel, is coming to downtown Great Falls! The current Greystone located at 621 Central Ave. will be renovated into a modern and inviting boutique hotel. See the architectural renderings here. They will feature local foods and are looking for a local coffeeshop and bakery to supply items for the baskets that will be delivered to guest’s rooms each morning. They are planning to open in late spring of this year. See KRTV Ignite story.

6) Ring in the New Year with a fixed-rate, low down payment, SBA 504 loan for possibly up to 25 years! The effective interest rates for January came in at 3.710% for the 25-year term, 3.641% for the 20-year term, and the 10-year term came in at 3.791%. The SBA even offers a business debt refinance loan with the 25-year rate at 3.712% and the 20-year rates at 3.641%. Contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or JKohles@GrowGreatFalls.org to get started on your SBA 504 loan today!

7) The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center is offering a Business Transition Readiness workshop in Great Falls on February 13 from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Although the focus is on manufacturing companies, any business owner who does not yet have a succession plan will find this workshop to be very valuable. Details and registration here or download flyer. MMEC is also offering an excellent Lean Principles 101 introduction to lean manufacturing in Great Falls on March 26. Download flyer here.

8) Nate and Renae Weisenburger are opening MT Pints in the current location that houses The Front and Big Mouth BBQ. They will be serving Montana beers and burgers. They will be featuring Jeremiah Johnson Brewing and other Montana beers as well wine and mixed drinks. They will also have sports betting, trivia nights, fundraisers, and outdoor events. They plan to open this Tuesday and have an experimental beer next week. You can read more about it on TheElectricGF.com.

9) We received 3 applications for Phase I assessments from potential property purchasers. Even though are Brownfield Assessment funds are running low, if you have a project/site/building that needs assessment prior to purchase, contact Lillian Sunwall to see how we can help move things forward. And, we have brownfield clean up loan funds available. For more information, call her at (406) 750-1253 or LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org.

10) Love’s Travel Plaza, opening off Airport Drive, announced at Ignite 2020 that their new restaurant will be a Subway. Love’s will be opening this spring. See KFBB Ignite story.

11) Ten entrepreneurs and advisors to business joined us for our first webinar of the 2020, Quick Cybersecurity Tips to Keep Your Company Safe. Special thanks to Justin Jones, Associate Vice President and IT Risk Manager at D.A. Davidson. Justin will be presenting this topic during a live, in-person seminar on March 4th. Next up on GFDA’s Business Education Calendar is our monthly pre-business workshop, The LaunchPoint. Space is limited, so please register for this January 23rd event to attend.

12) Get ready to samba yourself over to Five on Black, the new healthy-fast-casual Brazilian restaurant at West Bank Landing (across the parking lot from GFDA!). The create-your-bowl menu features several South American favorites – Churrasca beef, feijoada and pao de queijo to name a few – with over 72,000 flavor combinations, you’re guaranteed to find something you love. Missoula-native and owner Tom Snyder is excited to open doors mid-February.

13) Met with several entrepreneurs this week to discuss potential new business start-ups and different financing options that would be available to them. These discussions led to referrals to GFDA’s business coaching services and GFDA’s Brownfield environmental cleanup services. If your business needs assistance with financing to start, grow or expand, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or JKohles@GrowGreatFalls.org.

14) Owner Sean Knox announced that Big Mouth BBQ will be moving out of The Front and their current 10th Avenue South locations to consolidate into one new restaurant. They will be moving into the Hi Ho where they will offer catering, delivery and seating. They are opening in about three weeks.

15) Did you know that over $9.2 billion in government contracts were awarded in Montana over the last 12 months (80,775 prime awards). That doesn’t include State and Local contracts. They buy everything from nuts (the nutritional kind) to bolts and any type of service you can name. If you want to check into how your business can get a “piece of the pie”, contact us for more information. Our Procurement Technical Assistance Center serves businesses in Cascade, Chouteau, Hill, Liberty, Pondera, Teton and Toole Counties.

16) Have you ever just wanted to pick up an axe and THROW IT!?  Well soon you will be able to. At Ignite 2020, Josh Tearnan talked about his new business, Carved Axe Throwing, and how axe throwing as a sport has increased in popularity in the past few years. Carved Axe Throwing is hoping to be open in Feburary and will be BYOB. He will open in the shopping center on the North side near Subway, behind the Do Bar.

17) GFDA’s Food and Ag Development Center Director Barnett Sporkin-Morrison was one of the speakers comprising MSU Extension’s Golden Triangle Cropping Seminar that made nine stops across the Golden Triangle this week, in Ft. Benton, Stanford, Chester, Havre, Cut Bank, Shelby, Choteau, Conrad, and Great Falls. Barnett’s talk focused on long-term international market and consumer trends, as well as farm financial reminders for growers.  Barnett can be reached at Barnett@GrowGreatFalls.org and (406) 750-3285.

18) Congratulations to the twelve Native-American entrepreneurs in the Golden Triangle received grants of $7,000-14,000 from the Montana Department of Commerce’s Indian Equity Fund. See Tribune for details.

19) The Montana Department of Environmental Quality awarded $614,000 in loans to Cascade to help fund improvements to the town’s wastewater system. See Tribune. The EPA honored the City of Havre for its innovative use of brewery mash at its wastewater treatment plant; see HavreHerald story.

20) Thanks to this week’s Investors in Economic Development Alluvion Health for their Advanced Division investment, and LPW Architecture for their Leadership Division investment. Join these champion investors and become a leader of the region. Help bring new money to the Golden Triangle, improve our downtowns, and increase our skilled workforce. Contact Teresa Schreiner at 406.781.9499 to reinvest or start the conversation.

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.

Brett Doney
President & CEO

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

“Whatever you can do or dream, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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

January SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 3.71%; 20-year at 3.641%; 25-year refinance at 3.712% and 20-year refinance at 3.641%; and, 10-year equipment 3.791%. 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.

Events, Business Training, and Opportunities

Glacier County Extension is offering a Ranch Profitability workshop series Jan. 21 and Feb. 11. See the Shelby Promoter 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.

All 25 of our recorded monthly business strategy webinars are available online for viewing anytime, click them out here.

The Montana Department of Commerce is accepting applications for it’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grants. This program reimburses for trade show expenses and travel stipends to attend and exhibit at international trade shows. For more information visit the ExportMontana website at https://marketmt.com/STEP/TradeshowExhibition.

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 Film Office is offering powerful new incentives to promote filming and production in Montana. Click here for details.