Top 10 – 11/8/2020

Northern Montana Oral Surgery Center will open their new facility on December 14th. The new larger facility allows them to hire additional staff including another doctor they are working to recruit to our community. Congratulations!

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 23 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. Last week I said it was our 450th Top 10. I was wrong; miscounted. This is our 466th GFDA Top 10!

1) We’re proud to announce that we have earned Guidestar’s 2020 Platinum Seal of Transparency, the highest designation non-profits can earn! Last year we earned Gold and this year stepped it up to Platinum. Less than one percent of nonprofits in the country earn this designation for transparency. GFDA is the only Montana economic development organization or CDFI to earn Platinum so far this year.

2) The Cascade County Zoning Board of Adjustments approved two new meat processing facilities. The Butcher Block Custom Meats plans to build a 6,500 square foot facility near Ulm, growing from 5 to 12 employees. Todd Standley plans to build a 3,000 square foot facility on his ranch near Cascade. See

3) Your business may be eligible for reimbursement of COVID-19 business expenses through the Montana Business Adaptability Grant Program. The deadline is November 15th – be sure to reach out to Small Business Development Center Advisor/COVID Specialist Nathan Reiff at or call (406) 403-4937. For a complete list of COVID relief resources available to Montana businesses, visit

4) Luna Coffee Bar opened in downtown Great Falls. The new business is a concept coffee house inspired by small Italian espresso coffee and panini shops; see KRTV. Not Your Mama’s Nutrition, a new smoothie and juice bar in Great Falls, is scheduled to open November 14th. Great additions to our city!

5) 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.

6) Want to know how we attract businesses to the Golden Triangle but missed our one hour session? Here’s the quick take. First, develop a target list. We currently have 425 targeted businesses in our CRM. Second, make sure those businesses see information about our region on a regular basis. We use a combination of LinkedIn content, emails, and industry media stories. Check out our the talking points we’re using to pitch our region. Third, call those businesses to learn about their expansion needs and to pitch our region. Visiting with them at industry events, virtual for now. Fourth, cultivate relationships, encourage virtual or in-person visits, and reel them in based on their needs! The key message is that it is ALL of us in the region working together to meet their company needs. Economic Development is a TEAM sport! Want more information about business attraction, we recorded the session so you can watch the video. Call Jolene to chat 406.750.4481.

7) Congratulations to Morningside Elementary School Principal Kim Defries on being recognized with the Service Member Patriot Award for her support to her military employees!

8) This November we are giving thanks for the Golden Triangle’s female entrepreneurs. Each Tuesday and Thursday we’ll feature stories about the 2020 Fire Within award winners. This week we featured Aspire Winner Ashley Wilkinson, owner of Fetch Pet Boutique, and Inspire Winner Erin Merchant, owner of Erin Schermele Films. View on our The Fire Within Facebook page.

9) Livability Media sent us the first drafts of articles for the upcoming 2021 Great Falls Livability talent attraction/relocation magazine and they’re looking great. The second edition of the magazine will be published in early February. We’re discussing with our Board’s new MAFB liaison how we might use the Great Falls Livability magazine to familiarize new airmen and their families with our community. You can read this year’s first edition here. It’s a great digital tool to help you attract talent to your business.

10) Help us reach out to businesses in the Golden Triangle who may have challenges or opportunities that we and our partners could help with. We take a regional approach to economic development and have worked with clients from Babb to Havre and Shelby to Lewistown, and EVERYWHERE in between! If you know a business that we should contact, contact Nathan at 406.403.4937 or

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

12) Just because the holidays are approaching doesn’t mean you can’t improve your business skills. It’s a great time to launch a new business. The LaunchPoint for those new to business is this Tuesday, November 10th at 4:00 PM. And our popular QuickBooks for business intro class is scheduled for Wednesday, November 18th – space is limited, so be sure to register well in advance.

13) What does the maker of all natural dog treats in Cut Bank, a modern art gallery owner in Great Falls, and a personal trainer in Geraldine have in common? They all launched ecommerce-enabled websites after taking part in our Website Boot Camp! If you want to get your business selling online in time for the holiday rush, register for our Website Boot Camp: Holiday Edition.

14) 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

15) 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.

16) Company investments have created facilities in the Great Falls AgriTech Park valued by the Montana Department of Revenue at $38,106,912 generating $596,500 in annual property tax revenue, according to new property tax bills. Not bad for the first few projects in the BNSF Premier Park certified rail industrial park. We have shovel-ready sites available (with rail, road, water, sewer, gas, electric and fiber already installed to your lot line) and can customize your lot from a few acres to hundreds. Contact Jolene Schalper at 406-750-4481 or and ask her about “Brett’s Special Pre-Thanksgiving Rail Industrial Lot Sale Price If You’re Ready To Break Ground Next Spring.”

17) Check out these upcoming trainings from our partners. Our friends at Big Sky Economic Development are hosting 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.

18) It’s time to move forward with the next big project to improve Great Falls! Ready to volunteer your time to support Montana ExpoPark? The Montana Expo Park for All committee is seeking business leaders to join our effort to create a bright future for the Montana ExpoPark. Email them NOW if you are interested in learning more: Or contact me. I was excited to be part of the charter meeting this week. GFDA is contributing $1,000 to get the ball rolling. We also committed $1,000 to help implement the Great Falls Wayfinding Plan.

19) GFDA has two great career opportunities. We’re boosting our lending team with a new Loan Officer position. 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.

20) Governor-Elect Greg Gianforte has launched a website seeking interest from Montanans interested in serving the state in his incoming administration. Visit

21) Please join us in welcoming John Gilbert to GFDA’s Board of Directors representing the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe. Download an updated list of our Boards and Staff.

22) 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.

23) Rejoined the Urban Land Institute this week to help us connect with outstanding developers across the west to get them to consider investing in our region. We are hungry for more downtown and river corridor redevelopment, high quality housing (both rental and homeownership products), and industrial development.

We added a wonderful dog to our family this week. Thank you to everyone who helped create and sustain the wonderful Maclean-Cameron Animal Adoption Center!

The most important competitive advantage of communities, regions and states in growing and strengthening their economies is a shared and sustained public/private commitment to teamwork and partnership. Thank you to our investors — the private, public and nonprofit partners who have come together and put skin in the game to work together to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy. Our 13-county trade area extends across the Golden Triangle and beyond. We are an investor-driven partnership. Our investors decide how we use their resources to achieve our mission. Great Falls and the surrounding Golden Triangle suffered too long from a lack of teamwork. The formation of GFDA changed that. If you want to help grow our regional economy, come join us!

Stay warm and safe through the storm. Please continue to support the MASK UP MONTANA effort so we can overcome the virus surge in our region, get everyone back to work, and keep growing our economy.


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.

“Teamwork is a strategic decision.”
Patrick Lencioni

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 a new Loan Officer position. And, we’re looking for a Food & Ag Processing Business Development Officer to lead our Food & Ag Development Center. 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.

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

November SBA 504 Loan Rates
The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 2.552%; 20-year at 2.523%; 10-year equipment loan at 2.417%; and, 20-year refinance 2.566%; 25-year refinance 2.593%. 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.