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 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 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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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.