Top 10 – 1/10/2021

We’re partnering with Select USA (US Department of Commerce) to present Select Great Falls Montana for your next AgriBusiness or Manufacturing location.  This is a virtual discussion with industry leaders on why they chose our region. The event will kick off with a virtual Welcome to Montana by Governor Greg Gianforte on February 11 at 8 AM MST. Full details can be found here.

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. And, sharing business resources and skill-building opportunities to empower your success.

1) Questions about Montana Business Adaptability Grant Reports? They’re due on January 30. We’re here to help! We’ve put together a Business Adaptability Grant Report FAQ Guide. We are also hosting o quick open Q&A session online this Thursday (1/14) from 12-12:30 PM. Register here! Call Nathan Reiff for one-on-one help; 406.403.4937. Nathan is also our point person for entrepreneurs and businesses seeking help with the new round of PPP loans; see KRTV story.

2) Lots of good progress has been made by partners and local entities in the last few weeks. Great Falls College MSU announced a business degree partnership with MSU Billings. Students start with an Accounting Associates degree at Great Falls which leads into a Bachelors Business Degree in Billings. See Great Falls Tribune. The Tribune also published a story detailing progress on the College’s dental program expansion which is on track to be completed this fall.

3) The City of Great Falls announced a new location for the Aim High Big Sky aquatics and recreation center that will keep the project on track for a fall construction start; see KRTV. The City has also moved forward with efficiency improvements to its water treatment plant; see KRTV story.

4) Benefis Health System announced another expansion of its medical services in the Helena area, purchasing a building to convert into a new urgent care center to open this summer; see Tribune. Toby’s House opened its crisis nursery in Great Falls; see KRTV.

5) The City of Shelby, Hill County, and Pondera County won Community Development Block Grants for important infrastructure and public health improvements in our region; see KRTV.

6) The Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Great Falls Public Schools partnered to create a Military Welcome to Great Falls video for military service members and their families.

7) Eleven entrepreneurs grabbed the reins and learned to Steer Their Business Through Change in our webinar this past Thursday. You can view a recording of the webinar here, and all of our previous webinar recordings can be viewed on demand here.

8) The Great Falls Tribune has run an excellent series of articles featuring our 2020 Fire Within amazing female entrepreneur award winners. Read about Tara Beam – Roadhouse Inn, Erin Merchant – Schermele Films, Ashley Wilkinson – Fetch Pet Boutique, Candice English – Farmer’s Daughter Fibers, Amber Hofstad – Windrift Hill, and Hallie Thompson – Wholesome Hal’s. Learn more about The Fire Within and all of our award winners over the years on our website.

9) Behind every great entrepreneur is a great business advisor – at least that’s what these two business profiles from The Electric say. Check out the stories of Nourish and Anchor Fitness. Want to join their ranks? Contact Nathan Reiff at or call (406) 403-4937 to get set up with free, confidential, one-on-one business advising. The Electric’s business profiles this week also included a great story about one of our first Fire Within Inspire award winners, Sandra Johnson-Thares, owner of the O’Haire Inn, Sip n’ Dip Lounge, and Clark and Lewie’s Pub and Grill. Read story here.

10) The Indian Equity Fund Small Business Grant Program through the Montana Department of Commerce recently awarded grant funds to 35 Native American entrepreneurs state wide; see Great Falls Tribune. GFDA helped a business on the Blackfeet Reservation win a grant by utilizing LivePlan, a cloud based business planning and forecasting tool. If you’d like to learn how to do business forecasting without having to be a spreadsheet wizard, contact Rich Gannon at or call him at (406) 836-2078 to setup a demo of LivePlan. LivePlan is free to use for GFDA business coaching clients!

11) Grow your workforce through apprenticeship! Reach Higher Montana will host a webinar on the Montana Youth Apprenticeship Partnership on January 20 at 2:00 PM. Register here.

12) We continued to connect with developers this week and add new targets to reach out to for Downtown Great Falls. We also continued moving projects along and made some great progress! If you have a project in Downtown Great Falls, call Christian at 406.231.8064 to find out the tools we have to help get you to the finish line.

13) We have three excellent business trainings coming up. Our LaunchPoint workshop for business startups is on Wednesday, January 20th at 4:00 PM MST, our Website Bootcamp for those looking to optimize their web presence for 2021, and our Destination Creation course for businesses looking to increase revenue, sales, traffic, and profitability by becoming a destination business.

14) Have you heard about the new coworking space coming to Downtown Great Falls?! Of course you haven’t, because it’s being unveiled at Ignite 2021 presented by PayneWest Insurance on Friday, January 22nd at 10:00 AM MST. Have a project you would like to unveil? Contact Nathan Reiff at or call (406) 403-4937.

15) The Great Falls Area Chamber is offering a Navigating the Workplace During COVID-19 webinar on January 14 at 2:00 PM. Trisha Gardner, Cascade County Health Officer, is the featured speaker.

16) Montana is the fourth Least Selfish State in the nation according to a study by BestLifeOnline. The gender pay gap in Montana continued to narrow according to a new report; see Missoulian.

17) Thanks to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana for their Advanced Division investment, DA Davidson Companies for their Flagship Division investment, Pepsi of Great Falls and Gusto Distributing for their Leadership Division investment, 1st Liberty Federal Credit Union, Powergas Corporation, TC Glass, Liberty Electric, Inc. and Kelly Aline-Edward Jones for their Community Division investments. Your investment in our region reflects the demand for producing a strong return on workforce, talent attraction, and economic vitality. If you have any questions about investment, contact Teresa Schreiner at or 406.781.9499.

Have a great week!

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.

“It cannot be too often repeated that in this country, in the long run, we all of us tend to go up or go down together.”
Theodore Roosevelt

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 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

January SBA 504 Loan Rates
The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 2.692%; 20-year at 2.653%; 10-year equipment loan at 2.438%; and, 20-year refinance 2.696%; 25-year refinance 2.733%. 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

GFDA has two great career opportunities. We’re boosting our lending team with a new Loan Officer position. We’re going to post an alternate position of commercial credit underwriter this week. We really need someone to help with our underwriting and loan packaging because our lending activity is growing so much. And, we’re looking for a Business Development Officer to lead our food processing, ag-processing, bio-processing and renewable energy business attraction and business retention/expansion efforts. Download position postings 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.

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

Events, Business Training, and Opportunities

You are facing tough decisions right now. We’ve developed toolkits to help you decide what is best for your business. Toolkits include: Crisis Toolkit, Hibernation Toolkit, Business Resiliency Guide, Re-Opening Toolkit, and a Child Care Whitepaper. All of these can be found on our website.

Save the date for the SBIR/STTR Cost Proposal virtual workshop offered by the Montana Innovation Partnership, powered by the MSU TechLink Center, on January 21, and their NIH SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab that will be held virtually during February 9-25.

Registration is open for the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research’s popular Annual Economic Outlook that will be held virtually on February 1-2.

Earn a Cultural Heritage Tourism professional certification, offered virtually January 11-February 28 by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association in partnership with George Washington University.

Job Service Great Falls is hosting online Job Fairs on the first and third Wednesdays of the month from 10-11 AM. Employers should contact a job Service Workforce Consultant at 406-791-5800 to participate.

The Military Spouse Employment Partnership now exceeds 500 member companies offering over 235,000 online job listings. Employers, check out how you can gain access to fantastic employees!

The USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) 2 has almost $14 billion available to help agricultural businesses impacted by the pandemic. More crops and agriculture operations are eligible under CFAP2 than under the first CFAP program earlier this year. Farmers or ranchers can apply directly at or by contacting their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Office. See full story on Montana Standard.

If you missed the Invest Downtown Great Falls event, don’t fret, we recorded it! Make your way over to our Downtown Great Falls page to watch the recording and hear about Downtown Successes, Opportunities, the Visioning, and the announcement of Mountain Wave Distilling. While you’re visiting our Downtown page, check out some more opportunities that are available in Downtown Great Falls! For more information or to inquire about some of these opportunities, call Christian Leinhauser at 406.836.0136 or email,

The Blackfeet Tribe announced a grant program to support Blackfeet tribal business owners whose businesses have been affected by COVID 19. For more information.

Montana’s Incumbent Worker Training program just became easier to use. Employers can view the videos at their convenience to learn how to use these grants to fund skills-based training of existing employees. These grants area available to for-profit and non-profit employers with less than 50 employees in the state. We can help you with these if you run into a snag. Or contact the IWT program manager,

There are many documented benefits of remote working and there are unique stressors. We explored these stressors and management techniques with Erin Butts, GFPS, and the Stop the Stigma Team on a workforce focused webinar. In case you missed it, here are the slides which include contact information for Erin if you want to follow up.

A great food processing workshop is being offered by Headwaters RC&D.  Basics of Running a Food Subscription or Community Supported Agriculture Programs, Wednesday January 27th, 1-3 PM, will cover the basics of, and differences between, subscriptions and community-supported agriculture programs. Topics covered will include pricing, packaging, building a program, fulfillment, and more. This program is for farmers, ranchers, meal kits, and food producers of all kinds.

The new relocation website 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. For printed copies or to have a conversation about best practices for recruiting employees, email Soren at Let’s talk Talent Attraction!

Attention all businesses doing government contracting: Are you aware of the regulations for Cybersecurity? Don’t know where to start? Check out this E-Book – Cybersecurity 101 for Government Contractors. By entering the promo code “4PTAC2020” at the checkout link, you can receive it for free. For more information and future trainings on cybersecurity or doing business with the government, contact our government contracting advisor Shannon Clancy at

Great Falls Tourism has a host of resources available to help local businesses deal with the pandemic. Check out the resources at If you are a business owner and need materials to help educate your customers on how to stay safe, Great Falls Tourism is here to help, contact Rebecca Engum at 406-761-4436 to arrange for material distribution.

The Montana Department of Commerce is offering business grants to increase your international digital marketing efforts. Read more here.

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.

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 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

We are scheduling another Destination Creation Course which helps businesses increase their revenue, sales, traffic, and profitability. The proven 14-point business success strategy developed by internationally-known business consultant Jon Schallert teaches techniques to increase your ability to attract customers who are willing to go out of their way and postpone buying until they can visit your business. The Destination Creation Course retails for $399, and we are offering it FREE (for now) to Montana businesses. If you are interested in taking the course complete this survey to help us tailor the course to your schedule. Or if you have questions, contact Nathan Reiff at 406-403-4937 or

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

Manufacturers, if you’re not engaged with the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center hosted by MSU, you’re missing out on powerful resources, services, and networking. MMEC clients report cost savings of $160.3 million, new investment of $328.4 million, $1.3 billion in new and retained sales, and 6,186 new and retained jobs since 2000. We’re proud to host an MMEC business adviser who covers the Golden Triangle region. Contact Doug Roberts at or (937) 489-3985.

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