Top 10 – 4/19/2020

Chef/Owner Matt Black of Harvest Craft Kitchen, downtown Great Falls’ newest restaurant. Excavation work for two new downtown houses.

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.

1) Congratulations to Chef/Owner Matt Black of Harvest Craft Kitchen, Great Falls’ newest farm to table restaurant, who opened his doors April 8th for take out and curbside service. Located downtown at 220 Central Ave across from DA Davidson. Check out what’s happening on the 200 block of 2nd Ave N downtown! Excavation has started on two houses being built by real estate developer, Andreas Geranios. We are very exited to see this project start and see some innovative infill residential development happening in downtown Great Falls. If you have interest opening a business or development downtown, contact Christian Leinhauser at 406.836.0136 or

2) For the ninth year in a row, Great Falls has been named a Top 100 Community for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants; see KRTV.

3) As plans progress for re-opening businesses, we’re hosting a Business Virtual Meetup this Tuesday at 2:00 PM to discuss what your business may need to re-open. Montana may be able to reopen in some fashion before many other states; see GeekWire article.

Topic: Re-Opening

Time: Apr 21, 2020 02:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 944 8106 8868
Password: 069778

While we recommend using computer audio, you can dial by phone here:

069778# US

4) We remain confident that the PPP loan window will re-open. What capital do you need to get through the shutdown and position your business for re-opening and future success? Join Jolene Schalper for a Business Capital Virtual Meetup this Thursday at 9:00 AM.

Topic: Capital Meet Up 
Time: Apr 23, 2020 09:00 AM Mountain Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 914 8554 3788
Password: 046598

While we recommend using computer audio, here is the phone dial in:

5) We published a Business Resiliency Guide offering some ways to make your business tougher and able to recover more quickly. Download the Resiliency Guide, or our Business Crisis Toolkit or Business Hibernation Toolkit, and lots more COVID-19 related resources on our website. Our Cut Bank-based Business Advisor, Rich Gannon, will present a webinar on the Business Resiliency Guide this Friday, April 24h at 11 AM. Register and/or get the recording sent to your inbox.

6) We hosted two webinars this week with 74 participants. GFDA’s Food and Ag Development Center Director, Barnett Sporkin-Morrison, presented a Business Hibernation webinar. View the webinar or any of our Small Business Development Webinar Series whenever you have time. Jason and Jolene presented a webinar on SBA and GFDA Disaster Loan Products, view the Zoom recording here. For more information on any of GFDA’s crisis tools, contact GFDA’s business advisors.

7) The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation is offering $5,000 grants to businesses with 3-20 employees who have been harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic and are located in select zip codes across the country, including our region. The grant applications go live at 1:00 PM MST this Monday, April 20, 2020. Click here to learn more. We don’t know how many grants will be given out, but may be worth a shot.

8) We’re working with a number of amazing small businesses in the Golden Triangle to help fill their immediate cash gaps due to COVID-19. EIDL loans are slowly rolling out with new applications currently frozen, and PPP is frozen, at least for now. Some of the smallest businesses in our region including self-employed entrepreneurs, as well as developers and nonprofits, are financially stretched. GFDA’s Business Stabilization & Recovery Loans are evaluated on a case by case basis. Call or message Jolene to talk about your needs, 406.750.4481 or We provide gap and bridge loans to entrepreneurs, businesses, nonprofits and developers in Blaine, Cascade, Choteau, Fergus, Glacier, Hill, Judith Basin, Liberty, Pondera, Meagher, Teton, Toole and northern parts of Lewis & Clark counties. And, we have a number of financing partners in the region and elsewhere to help.

9) Through last Thursday, 13,456 Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans had been approved in Montana totaling $1,470,300,136. There have been complaints elsewhere that banks focused on larger businesses. Not here. Montana has the lowest average loan amount of any state or territory in the nation at $109,267. According to Bloomberg, these loans represent 72.2% of Montana’s eligible payroll. Montana ranks 10th highest state in percentage of eligible payroll included in approved PPP loans. Let’s hope the program re-opens soon so the remainder of our businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs can get some help.

10) Ballots for the Great Falls Public Schools elementary schools operating levy will be mailed this week. PLEASE VOTE and VOTE YES in this all-by-mail election. The school funding structure in Montana is that the state pays 80% and local taxpayers decide whether to pay the expected 20% local portion to fund teachers and school operations. Here in Great Falls we have not been funding our full 20% share. This has led to cuts over the last 10 years, cuts that have gone too deep. Federal CARES Act funds can only be used for COVID-19 related expenses, not regular operating expenses, so we need the levy more than ever. The Great Falls Development Authority’s Board, representing over 100 leading local businesses and organizations, urges support for this critical vote. If you have time to make get-out-the-vote phone calls, sign up at Here is a great KEY video to share. Also check out KEY’s Facebook page.

11) If you are hiring right now, please let us know. We are sharing job links and employer career pages on our website to get the word out about open positions. Contact our Talent Attraction Director, Soren Chargois, at or (406) 836-0147 about your open positions. Feel free to take a look if you or someone you know is looking for work. See below for a great career opportunity with GFDA.

12) We closed a $214,647 brownfield loan this week to Andrews-Bundtrock, LLC for environmental cleanup of their property, known as the Miracle Mile, located just outside the main gate of Malmstrom AFB. The EPA Brownfield loan funds are providing the client low interest funding that will get the property ready for redevelopment. Thank you to the Montana Petroleum Tank Release Compensation Board for partnering on this project! If you want to discuss different financing options that GFDA may be able to provide, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

13) GFDA’s Executive Committee approved a brownfield clean-up grant of up to $12,000 to Cascade County to conduct an asbestos materials survey of the Old Cascade County Jail downtown. For info on our brownfield redevelopment services, contact Lillian at 406-750-1253 or

14) Although the pandemic downturn has negatively affected many businesses, there’s still economic opportunity lingering out there. Consumers nationwide are purchasing more food online than they have before and some speculate the trend could continue post the current downturn. If you’ve thought about developing a food brand or currently have one, now might be the time to try to sell more and capture subscription sales online. If you want to brainstorm or explore ideas, contact Barnett at 406-750-3285 or

15) Want to double your voice and power in DC? The Montana Census count is way behind. If we end up being undercounted, we could lose our chance to get back a second seat in the House of Representatives. Last year’s Census estimate placed Montana with the highest population per House seat at 1,068,778. The lowest population house seats are the two in Rhode Island at 529,681 each. Let’s be sure everyone in Montana is counted so we have the best chance of grabbing that seat! It only takes a few minutes online at

16) In the last month we’ve called over 400 businesses across the Golden Triangle to listen, connect, and advise. We know there are so many more businesses that need assistance, but we don’t know how to reach them. Please help us connect with more businesses. They can contact Jolene at 406.750.4481 or

17) We published our GFDA Quarter Index 2020Q1.

18) Hosted our weekly Golden Triangle Resource Provider discussion. This is a great opportunity for partners to share resources and ask questions of each other. These occur each Thursday at 2 PM. Let us know if you’d like to be part of the discussion, contact Nathan Reiff at These partner discussions sprung out of an effort led by our Food & Ag Development Center last year, part of our efforts to improve the Golden Triangle’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Read about it here.

19) An innovate grass roots solution to small business funding is taking shape in Toole County. A group consisting of the City of Shelby, City of Sunburst, and Toole County officials and local business owners have initiated Toole County Forward. The group’s goal is to create a lending/grant pool from private and public investment to sustain Toole County businesses. In the last few weeks private business in Toole County have raised over $50,000 that will go to help businesses in Toole County. See KRTV story. Look for more information about Toole County Forward to be released soon.

20) Thank you to this week’s Investor in Economic Development, Wells Fargo, for their Advanced Division investment. As an economic development organization, GFDA has a crucial role to play in supporting the region’s recovery. This investment is vital to support ongoing project implementation, redevelopment, and business resiliency efforts. GFDA remains adaptable as we assess, plan, and leverage resources throughout the region. To discuss investment, contact Teresa Schreiner at 406.781.9499 or

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.

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”
Michael Jordan

GFDA Career Opportunity — Commercial Lending Operations Specialist. Experienced, self-motivated lending operations professional sought for two-person lending team within 15-person nonprofit economic development Community Development Financial Institution. Help us to continue to grow our gap and bridge financing efforts to support entrepreneurs, businesses, developers and non-profit organizations throughout the Great Falls trade area and across Montana. Responsible for working with borrowers to put together thorough and accurate loan application packages, preparing loan documents, coordinating loans closings, managing our loan portfolio, maintaining digital loan files, preparing reports to public and private loan capital sources, and maintaining excellent relationships with clients and bank partners. Requires working familiarity with commercial loan documents and recording, insurance, appraisals, and lending practices. Requires the ability to maintain accurate records, work with a wide variety of clients and bank partners, and excellent computer and communication skills. Must be detail-oriented and organized with the flexibility to help achieve our overall team mission. Experience with EDA, USDA, CDFI, EPA and/or SBA 504 loans a plus. Live on the Missouri River along the Rocky Mountain Front and work with a great team! Salary range $45,000-55,000+ with excellent benefits, professional development, growth opportunities, and flex-time work environment. EOE. Cover letter and resume to Brett Doney, Open until we find a great candidate.

Economic Development Services

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

Cost-Effective Rail-Served Industrial Sites Available

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

April SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 3.029%; 20-year at 2.955%; and, 10-year equipment 2.839%. 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

If you don’t have a cybersecurity plan, you may not be able to win a federal government contract. On April 27th, we’re hosting a special training for businesses currently or planning to do business with federal agencies. Evolving Federal Contractor Cybersecurity Requirements, presented by nationally recognized contracting expert Adam Austin, will help contractors meet new cybersecurity planning benchmarks. Register here. Enter code “GFDA” at checkout to receive a $50 discount off the registration fee.

The Montana Department of Agriculture is offering a round of mini Growth Through Agriculture Grants. Projects will need to demonstrate how they expand Montana agriculture, but given the current public health situation with COVID-19 special attention will be paid to projects that strengthen and expand local food offerings, distribution, and infrastructure. Grant application deadline is May 22. See GTA website for more info. Contact Barnett Sporkin-Morrison-Morrison for assistance at or 406-750-3285.

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

USDA has open grant rounds for the Value-Added Producer Grant, Rural Business Development Grant and Renewable Energy for America Programs. Visit or contact Lea McGiboney for more info, 406-770-4291 or Let us know if we can help!

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.