Top 10 – 11/1/2020

Benefis Women's and Children's Center Under Construction

Benefis’ Women’s and Children’s Center is coming along nicely. You can follow along with the progress and read about the new services that will be offered here.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 21 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. This is our 450th GFDA Top 10. Hope you enjoy and find it useful.

1) The Montana Farmers Union announced plans to purchase a mobile meat processing unit and start the first meat processing curriculum in the country; see KFBB.

2) Received two loan applications from different business owners in Great Falls that currently rent space for their business and want to realize their dream of owning. With the SBA 504 rates being so low they are taking advantage the of the opportunity to do just that! If your commercial space isn’t keeping up with your growing business or you’d like to buy instead of lease please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or If you want to read more about the SBA 504 program or success stories please visit our website.

3) Congratulations to the Great Falls College MSU 2020 nursing graduates who passed their boards at a record high rate of 91.3%, besting the national average of 87.5% despite COVID challenges! See Great Falls Tribune.

4) Join Investment Director Teresa Schreiner and CEO Brett Doney for our monthly Investor Development Coffee this Friday, November 6th at 7:00 AM where we discuss ways to move development projects throughout the region forward and into construction. 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

5) Great Falls High School’s Food Service and Culinary Arts Center was featured as the October Facility Design Project of the Month in Food Service & Equipment magazine. You can read the article about this incredible education opportunity made possible by our investment in our public schools. Thank you Great Falls for continuing to support our students and our community!

6) How do I diversify my revenue to survive COVID-19? That’s a question we’ve spent seven months discussing with businesses throughout the region. One option we encourage entrepreneurs to consider is thinking about where else customers might be. They may be outside Montana or outside the United States. Over the last year, we’ve collaborated with the Montana Department of Commerce and a coalition of other economic development organizations nationwide to build a platform to inspire and educate current and prospective businesses about exporting. That effort produced the Trade Passport, an on-demand export assistance portal. Signing up is free. Many of the courses- from export readiness to exchange rates- are also free. If your business could benefit by diversifying revenue, check out Trade Passport or talk with our export certified advisor, Jason Nitschke at

7) Congratulations to Bumblebee Craft Shoppe who is opening their new location at 7 Sixth Ave SW Conrad, MT. They sell handcrafted products for the holidays, decor, and gifts.

8) Just because the holidays are approaching doesn’t mean you can’t still improve your business skills! Our monthly webinar Understanding Credit Card Processing is coming up on November 5th at 11:00 AM. The LaunchPoint for those new to business is on November 10 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.

9) The Downtown Development Partnership of Great Falls held its annual meeting. We celebrated accomplishments over the past year including ArtsFest Montana, the targeted block visioning project, the BID-GFDA partnership creating the Downtown Business Development Officer position, increased City support of the DDP, and the new businesses and development projects opened and announced! We also discussed priorities for the coming year including implementation of the Wayfinding Plan, updates to the downtown promotion website, increased City use of tax increment financing to support private development, increased business and real estate development efforts, and exploration of converting the one-way streets downtown to two-way.

10) Thirteen building permits totaling $801,523 were issued for downtown Great Falls projects last quarter. Five new businesses opened creating 19 jobs. Volunteers donated 5,570 hours downtown during the quarter. Thank you to the Great Falls Business Improvement District for compiling this data every quarter!

11) Are you looking for a development opportunity in Downtown Great Falls? We have a TON available! Be sure to mosey on over to our Downtown Great Falls page for some of those opportunities, and while you’re there, check out the recording of our Invest Downtown Great Falls event. You can hear first-hand about some of those opportunities that are in our beautiful Downtown. For more information, contact Christian at or 406.836.0136.

12) Great Falls is getting a new restaurant/arcade called Game Night Lounge the will feature virtual reality games, food and more. Cakes for Thought opened in downtown Great Falls. The Hoyt and Blewett Law Firm is remodeling their offices in downtown Great Falls. See for more details.

13) COVID-19 has changed the holiday shopping season. Is your website prepared for the holiday rush? According to this Google study, 75% of U.S. shoppers who plan to shop this season said they will shop online more for the holidays than they did in previous seasons. Check out our 5 Tips for Preparing Your Online Store for the Holiday Rush, and be sure to register for our upcoming Website Boot Camp: Holiday Edition starting November 10th.

14) It’s tough to find and keep talent. Learn what it takes to cut through the noise to find and keep the talent your business needs. 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. Thanks to support from the SBA Small Business Development Center lead center at the Montana Department of Commerce, we’re able to offer this series, usually costing over $350, for free.

15) Check out these upcoming trainings from our partners: Webinar with Trisha Gardner, Health Officer, Cascade City-County Health Department, on November 5th at 9:00 AM, centered around business protocols, what to do when an employee is sick, self-quarantining while awaiting results, has been identified as a close contact and placed into quarantine, or is in isolation due to testing positive. Our friends at Big Sky Economic Development are hosting a Montana Veterans Startup Roadmap workshop for veterans interested in starting a business on November 2nd and Best Practices for Hiring Veterans – Providing your organization with tools you can utilize to attract & retain veteran and military spouse talent on November 10th from 9:00-11:00 AM. Headwaters RC&D and partners are offering a free Rise & Restore Small Business Virtual Summit from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM on November 10th; register here.

16) Have you ever wondered what the GSA (General Services Administration) is all about? Has any federal contracting officer ever mentioned that your business should be on the GSA schedule? Here is your opportunity to find some answers. GSA is holding an Industry Day to explore new business opportunities for government contracting on November 17th at 10:30 AM. Some of the topics will be the Big Picture explanation of GSA, what products/services they purchase, how they buy goods & services, forecasting of contracting opportunities and GSA’s role in facilitating purchase for other federal agencies. Attendance is free, but registration is required.  For more information, contact Shannon Clancy at

17) Had a project kickoff call this week with Development Counsellors International (DCI), the destination marketing company we selected to produce a series of business development, business attraction, and talent attraction videos for us. We discussed creative visioning, effective messaging and steps moving forward.

18) We are once again accepting applications for Phase 1s and Phase 2s to support redevelopment throughout Cascade County. Are you looking at a site or building with potential hazardous contamination? Why not be sure what you are getting into by applying for a free Phase 1 prior to purchase. For more information, contact Lillian Sunwall at

19) Folklore Coffee of Conrad recently announced another expansion project. Folklore will open a 4th location in Cut Bank in the coming weeks. This follows the coffee shop opening locations in Whitefish and Valier. The new Cut Bank location will be housed at the recently remodeled Rose Petal Floral and Gifts. And speaking of the Rose Petal, the Cut Bank based business has expanded and recently opened a 2nd location in Columbia Falls; see Hungry Horse News.

20) The Old Cascade County Jail abatement project is moving along and should be completed by late Fall. We are excited to see another cleanup completed and ready for redevelopment. We have Brownfields cleanup funds available. Let us know if you have a potential contaminated site that could use help to make your project costs work. For more information, contact Lillian Sunwall at

21) Thanks to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, KRTV/Scripps for their Leadership Division investment and First American Title Company for their Community Division investment. GFDA is making critical efforts in talent marketing, business attraction and business development. To hear about your return on these investments as current investors, and to get in on investment as a new investor, email Teresa or call 406.781.9499.

The current COVID wave in our region is affecting businesses of all types and sizes. Please support local companies, practice virus safety protocols, and promote MASK UP MONTANA so we can keep our communities save and get back to growing our economy. THANK YOU to all of our health care providers and to everyone working to get us past this.

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.

“Action expresses priorities.”
Mahatma Gandhi

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 & Opportunities

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.