Top 10 – 10/25/2020

Welcome winter outdoor fun!

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) TLC Center opened its second childcare location on October 19th after winning the bid to replace Bright Beginnings as the childcare facility at Great Falls College MSU. This new center is licensed for 80 children. Beth Olson utilized GFDA’s Small Business Development Center and Procurement Technical Assistance Center to plan the expansion and win the bid. Eighteen new jobs have been created. They are hiring and enrolling! Apply or enroll at either location, 1009 18th Ave SW or 1900 23rd St. S. in Great Falls. Congratulations to Beth and her team! Their two locations employ nearly 40 people and are licensed to care for 140 children. If you’d like to be part of the child care solution throughout the Golden Triangle, contact Jason to discuss startup and growth options at

2) The cost of living in Great Falls is 89.7% of the national average, according to 2020Q3 data released by the Council for Community and Economic Research. This is the first time Great Falls has been included in the quarterly data released by the Council, the most respected cost of living data source in the country. As part of our new talent attraction effort, we started collecting the extensive cost data to submit to the Center every quarter. This will lead to a cost of living comparison calculator on our talent attraction website. Before our data collection, Great Falls was estimated to be at 98.6% of the national average. The huge drop from having more accurate data helps make the case for talent to move to Great Falls. Within 2-3 weeks, Great Falls will be added to the Council’s online cost of living calculator. By the way, Bozeman’s cost of living is 109.7% of the national average so your dollar does 20% further living here in Great Falls!

3) Are you looking to recruit, engage and retain talent? Chris Czarnik, one of the nation’s top talent experts and author of the book “Winning the War for Talent”, is bringing his expertise to you December 1st, 8th, and 15th from 11 to noon. Each session will be recorded for on-demand viewing. Register here to join the sessions or to be sent a recording. Sign up, and we’ll get you a free copy of his book. GFDA is able to offer these free special webinars with support from the Small Business Development Center lead center at the Montana Department of Commerce. Thank you!

4) The Great Falls City Commission approved easements for Big Sky Select Properties’ Milwaukee Station downtown development.

5) Daily resiliency skills for front line workers during the coronavirus epidemic training is now available online. This fifty minute ZOOM PRO training is FREE for your staff and front line workers who are experiencing distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the state of Montana. Visit Activate Resiliency to learn more.

6) Thank you to the 24 state, local, and private sector partners throughout the Golden Triangle who submitted letters of support – on short notice, no less – for our partner application to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to fund a new Women’s Business Center in Montana. GFDA is proposing a partnership with Island Mountain Development Corporation in Fort Belknap and the University of Montana to create three new business advisor positions in western, north central, and north eastern Montana. This new effort would create additional business technical assistance opportunities to coach and train female, tribal, and underserved entrepreneurs. We hope to hear back the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership by November 1st.

7) Homeword was awarded $3.1 million in federal tax credits from the Montana Board of Housing to build 16 homes in Lewistown.

8) Join us for a discussion of how we attract businesses to the Golden Triangle. We’ll share details of our business attraction efforts, giving you inside knowledge on our campaigns with DCI and Loopnet, how we identify targets, the process of relationship development, and how we position our region within the groups that we are targeting. Our investors make a significant investment in business attraction. We look forward to sharing these strategies with you on October 28th at 4:00PM MST. Register here.

9) Congratulations to the Choteau Area Port Authority on winning a Montana Impact Award from the Montana Economic Developers Association for its work in community and economic planning! See Choteau Acantha.

10) The Great Falls Job Service is holding an Online Job Fair on November 4th from 3:00-4:00 PM. Interested businesses contact Beth Schmidt at

11) The Business Adaptability grant deadline is coming up soon. Businesses and nonprofits are eligible for reimbursement for personal protective equipment, business adaptations needed in response to the pandemic. Apply at COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOVApplication deadline, Nov. 15, 2020. The Live Entertainment grant program is still open. Need additional assistance navigating business through COVID, call Nathan Reiff, 406.403.4937.

12) How are you reaching your market during COVID? You have an advantage over Amazon, your customers like you. Turn that into sales. We’ve hosted a free webinar series with international business coach Barbara Wold focusing on ways you can grow your sales. Two more sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, 10/27 at 2 PM and Thursday 10/28 at 2 PM. Register here, view the recordings of previous session, download the top takeaways, here.

13) Montana Pool Service, a charitable foundation founded by Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam has teamed up with Larry Krystkowiak, a former Shelby resident & Griz basketball star, to bring another world class skatepark to rural Montana. Ground was broken in Shelby for the skatepark a week ago and construction should be completed in six weeks. See Shelby Promoter for more details.

14) Great Falls International Airport launched a Facebook page this week to help Airmen and their families new to Great Falls. Visit AskGreatFalls and help grow our community!

15) The Montana Downtown Coalition is holding a free virtual Roadmap to Recovery Workshop Series on November 11-13. Learn more and register here.

16) Congratulations to the Snowy Mountain Development Corporation in Lewistown on being designated the country’s first EnVision Center by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development! See KRTV.

17) The Great Falls Wayfinding Plan draft is out for public comment. You can download of copy of the plan here. Please take some time to review the plan and send in your comments or thoughts to Joan Redeen at the Great Falls Business Improvement District,

18) The Northern Pulse Growers Association is holding Montana Pulse Days virtually this year, November 10-12.

19) 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.

20) The Montana State University (MSU) Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics and MSU Extension will hold the 2020 Agricultural Economics Outlook Conference on Friday, November 13th from 9:00-11:30 AM. This year’s event will be a virtual conference free and open to the public.  The Outlook Conference is part of MSU’s Celebrate Agriculture Weekend.

21) The Great Falls headquartered Montana Farmers Union will be holding its annual convention virtually this year on November 14th from 11 AM until 5:15 PM. To learn more about the conference and to register visit the Montana Farmers Union.

22) The Fairfield Sun Times shared with its readers this week a sneak peek of the first phase of improvements at the Fairfield Community Hall. The editor of the paper Daryll L. Flowers commented the photos do not do the project justice.

23) Jill Kohles and I attended the virtual annual meeting of NADCO where we learned new ideas and insight as to how to continue to use the SBA 504 loan product to help businesses throughout Montana. Even with COVID-19, SBA 504 loans are still a great option for businesses looking purchase real estate or equipment, offering low equity injection, and low fixed interest rates for the life of the loan, up to 25 years. If you have any questions or want to hear more about the SBA 504 program, please reach out to Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

24) Join Investment Director Teresa Schreiner for our monthly Development Coffee on Friday, November 6th at 7:00 AM, where we discuss ways to move development projects forward throughout the region. This month’s Development Coffee will take place via Zoom. For login details, please register. For questions, contact Teresa at or call 406.781.9499

25) The weather outside is frightful, but that makes focusing on bettering your business all the more delightful! Make Better Business Decisions with Google Analytics will be on October 28th at 11:00 AM followed by Understanding Credit Card Processing on November 5th at 11:00 AM. The LaunchPoint for those new to business is back again next month on November 15th at 4:00 PM. And our incredibly popular QuickBooks class is scheduled for November 18th – space is limited, so be sure to register well in advance.

26) We signed a website contract with leading place marketing firm Development Counsellors International (DCI) to expand our Live in Great Falls talent attraction/relocation website. The site expansion will be complete in early 2021. DCI completed a website audit of our current site and we learned lots of great information that we will use moving forward in our talent attraction marketing efforts!

27) Share our Talent Attraction Resources with your recruiter. We are always working to add new tools and resources to this webpage to help local recruiters attract the high-quality talent they need to succeed! Contact Talent Attraction Director Soren Chargois at or (406) 836-0147 to chat about our talent attraction initiative in Great Falls.

28) I was pleased to write a support letter on behalf of GFDA to support Alluvion Health’s efforts to try to get an EPA Brownfield clean-up grant to help redevelop the historic Rocky Mountain Building in downtown Great Falls to expand its community health center services. Also had the pleasure this week of speaking at the virtual National Association of Development Organization’s annual conference during the opening plenary session, “Rising to the Challenge – Regional Development Organization Pandemic Response & Recovery.

29) Grappling with our constantly changing labor market during the pandemic has been a challenge as we try to help employers with workforce. This week we commissioned Chmura Economics to undertake a COVID Impact assessment of our labor market, both in Cascade County and throughout the Golden Triangle. We have a longtime relationship with Chmura Economics, using their JobsEQ system for our ongoing strategic planning and to assist many clients. I would like to thank the Chmura team for offering to provide this special study for us pro bono!

30) Thank you to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, LPW Architecture for their Leadership Division investment, and Jerry Hood for your Pacesetter Division investment. Through your dollars we provide the regional economic strategies that will get us through this pandemic. If you have questions about how we have tripled your investment in the past year and would like to be a part of the conversation, email Teresa or call 406-781-9499.

Active COVID cases increased to 1.5% of the population of the Golden Triangle on Friday. We’re partnering with the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, Great Falls Tourism and many other community organizations and leaders to urge everyone to wear masks, practice social distancing and take extra precautions to stop the spread of the virus in our region. Let’s get our trade area healthy so we can focus on creating economic growth and prosperity.


Tough week all-round. We made key deadlines, some of which cropped up unexpectedly during the week. Helped some clients make good things happen. I missed a couple of deadlines — nothing client-related — but got some sleep and am back at it. Thank you to our partners for your continued help and support.

Hang in there,

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.

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
Douglas Adams

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.

Great GFDA Career Opportunities
We are boosting our lending team with Loan Officer and Lending Specialist positions. 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.

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

October SBA 504 Loan Rates
The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 2.582%; 20-year at 2.553%; 10-year equipment loan at 2.468%; and, 20-year refinance 2.596%. 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

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

Montana has many grant opportunities to help address the COVID crisis. Visit The new Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund Workforce Recovery program will reimburse a business for the wages of full-time, permanent jobs that are created and retained for at least six months – up to $7,500 per job up to a maximum of 25 jobs per business. Businesses apply directly to the program. Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds have been committed. For assistance with your application, contact Nathan Reiff at (406) 403-4937 or

In addition to the trainings offered by GFDA, the Montana Small Business Development Centers have partnered with Grow With Google to present free webinars for Montana’s small businesses – Make Better Business Decisions with Analytics will be on October 28th at 11:00 AM.

Has your business incurred expenses to keep employees or customers safe? This could be extra personal protective equipment, a computer or office furniture to help an employee work remotely, or remodeled for curbside pickup. The Montana Business Adaptability Grant will reimburse you for these expenses. See this video for more information and how other businesses have used the funds. You can apply online, or if you want help contact Nathan Reiff at

The Montana Department of Commerce is hosting a free International Market Research webinar on October 27 from 1:00-2:00 PM. Visit MATR for more info.

The Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a webinar on Business Protocols for Sick Employees on November 5th at 9 AM; register here.

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,

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.

The Montana Innovation Partnership is hosting a webinar on November 12 from 1-3 PM with program officers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Small Business program. Visit Techlink for more info here.

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!

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 November 30th deadline to apply for Montana’s Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) grant and loan program is rapidly approaching. Applicants can request up to $50,000 in grants and $100,000 in low-interest loans. Food and Ag Development Center Director Barnett Sporkin-Morrison is available to support entrepreneurs interested in the funding opportunity by reviewing grant applications and helping to refine ideas. Contact Barnett at 406-750-3285 or

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

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.

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