Top 10 – 12/21/2020

The Downtown Development Partnership of Great Falls board voted to move forward to secure funds to construct the Great Falls Wayfinding plan.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 14 for last 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.

Congress is close to passing new economic relief legislation that will provide a wide variety of financial and tax benefits for business. As always, we will wait for confirmed, accurate information before disseminating anything. Our team will continue to help businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the Golden Triangle to access these various programs, adapt business operations, develop new markets, access capital, launch new products and enterprises, find sites, and help with other needs and opportunities. Please take caution in making major business decisions until the details are issued by applicable government agencies and watch out for bad information and scams.

1) Our Loan Committee approved three $500,000 loans last week! These loans are going to help with working capital needs so the businesses can continue their expansion efforts. One loan is for a primary sector manufacturing company located in Black Eagle and the other two are for a Great Falls entrepreneur that has some exciting expansion plans for their businesses. If your business needs assistance with financing to start, adapt to the pandemic, or to expand, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

2) We received the proof of the 2021 Great Falls Livability magazine designed to attract talent to relocate to the Great Falls area. It looks great! It is scheduled to be published mid-February 2021. We are excited to share this great tool with employers and recruiters to assist them in their talent attraction efforts. You can read this year’s magazine here.

3) Ten active duty military members, veterans, and military family members joined us from around Montana and as far away as Knoxville, Tennessee for our fifth and final Boots to Business: An Introduction to Entrepreneurship workshop in partnership with Malmstrom Air Force Base. We also co-hosted a Grow with Google training, our first partnership training with the Great Falls Public Library, to wrap up GFDA’s 2020 Business Education Calendar. Stay tuned as we announce our 2021 Business Education Calendar which will launch on January 7th with The Small Business Webinar Series: Steering Your Business Through Change.

4) Chmura Economics provided us with an Economic Impact of COVID-19 on the Great Falls Montana MSA report. Thank you to the Chmura team for doing this for us pro bono! We are still in the midst of economic impact and there is much uncertainty, however, this early analysis is useful as we continue to help businesses adapt and pursue new opportunities. The report estimates that the Great Falls MSA (Cascade County) lost 2,430 jobs in 2020Q2, gained back 1,867 jobs in 2020Q3, then will end this quarter with a 173 job loss. It predicts we will reach pre-pandemic employment in the fourth quarter of 2021. Let’s hope we can bounce back quicker and get back to growth. As more data becomes available, we will use the Chmura JobsEQ system and other sources to continue to assess impact and identify opportunities.

5) Preliminary November employment data released Friday by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry indicates that the Great Falls MSA had a 4.5% unemployment rate in November. Our labor force grew a bit from 37,389 in October to 37,582 in November. Employment grew slightly from 35,741 in October to 35,896 in November, leaving 1,686 unemployed. In comparison, our labor force in November 2019 was 38,083, 694 more than this November. Employment in November 2019 was 36,868, 972 more than this November. Jobs are one measure. Take home pay is even more important and we are eager to look at data on that as it becomes available.

6) How were we doing before the pandemic? Per Capita Personal Income in the Great Falls MSA grew faster in 2019 than in the Billings or Missoula MSA’s. Great Falls grew 4.0%, compared to 2.8% in Billings and 2.6% in Missoula. Per capita personal income grew by $1,914 in the Great Falls MSA reaching $49,803. Total personal income grew by 3.6% in Great Falls MSA, reaching $4.05 billion.

7) Did you know the government buys everyday goods and services from businesses like yours? Take a look at the current solicitation to see what opportunities you qualify for. You can also “Follow” to get updates. If you would like more information on the GSA Schedule and how your business can contract with the government, contact Shannon Clancy at

8) We’ve put the Great Falls Downtown Visioning to work again this week doing outreach to numerous Multi-Family housing developers, but we are always on the hunt for more. If you know of any developers that are doing Downtown projects around the region, give Christian a call at 406.836.0136 or email If you are a little rusty on the Downtown Visioning for Great Falls, head over to the Downtown Great Falls section of our website where you can find the Visioning, some Opportunities and the recording of our 2020 Invest Downtown Great Falls!

9) This week we helped another business apply for funding assistance from Toole County Forward. If you own a business in Toole County, contact Rich Gannon at or 406-836-2078 to find out how to apply.

10) We’re ready to kick off 2021 by moving deals forward! Join us for Investor Development Coffee on Friday, January 8 at 7:00 AM, where to discuss ways to move development projects throughout the region forward and into construction. This month’s Development Coffee will take place via Zoom. Please register for login details.

11) Great Falls College MSU is offering two globally certified CompTIA certification courses at a reduced rate with support of an Emergency Education Relief Grant. The 8-week, A+ Certification and the 16-week, Security + Certification courses registration closes January 6th and you can register and get further information by contacting GFC-MSU’s Lifelong Learning at 406-268-3734 or email

12) Help us celebrate all things new at Ignite 2021presented by PayneWest Insurance! Friday, January 22nd starting at 10:00 AM MST we will be virtually hosting entrepreneurs from around the region announcing business startups, expansions, and more. Want to feature your project? Contact Nathan Reiff at or (406) 403-4937. Projects include business startups, business expansions, real estate developments, and institutional capital projects.

13) Looking for last minute gift ideas, and want to shop local? Check out this awesome Holiday Shopping Guide from our partners at the Great Falls ChamberClick here for a directory of Great Falls retailers – grab gift cards, ship from the store, or pick up curbside.

14) Thank you to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, Benefis Health System, for your Executive Division investment, Ferrin’s Furniture, Grabofsky, VanHeel & Funderbunk, PC, Great Falls Association of Realtors, Hybrid Steel Design, LLC, KLJ Engineering, LLC, and Michael Plummer: Edward Jones Financial for your Community Division investments. Your continued support in economic development ensures that we can push for more growth, diversification and opportunities in the new year. Reach out to Teresa at 406.781.9499 if you have questions about investment.

Merry Christmas!!

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.

“You know, as most entrepreneurs do, that a company is only as good as its people. The hard part is actually building the team that will embody your company’s culture and propel you forward.”
Kathryn Minshew

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 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

December SBA 504 Loan Rates
The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 2.622%; 20-year at 2.583%; 10-year equipment loan at 2.417%; and, 20-year refinance 2.626%; 25-year refinance 2.663%. 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

GFDA has two great career opportunities. We’re boosting our lending team with a new Loan Officer position. We’re going to post an alternate position of commercial credit underwriter this week. We really need someone to help with our underwriting and loan packaging because our lending activity is growing so much. 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.

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

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.

Save the date for the SBIR/STTR Cost Proposal virtual workshop offered by the Montana Innovation Partnership, powered by the MSU TechLink Center, on January 21, and their NIH SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab that will be held virtually during February 9-25.

Registration is open for the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research’s popular Annual Economic Outlook that will be held virtually on February 1-2.

Earn a Cultural Heritage Tourism professional certification, offered virtually January 11-February 28 by the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association in partnership with George Washington University.

Job Service Great Falls is hosting online Job Fairs on the first and third Wednesdays of the month from 10-11 AM. Employers should contact a job Service Workforce Consultant at 406-791-5800 to participate.

The Military Spouse Employment Partnership now exceeds 500 member companies offering over 235,000 online job listings. Employers, check out how you can gain access to fantastic employees!

The USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) 2 has almost $14 billion available to help agricultural businesses impacted by the pandemic. More crops and agriculture operations are eligible under CFAP2 than under the first CFAP program earlier this year. Farmers or ranchers can apply directly at or by contacting their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Office. See full story on Montana Standard.

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,

The Blackfeet Tribe announced a grant program to support Blackfeet tribal business owners whose businesses have been affected by COVID 19. For more information.

Montana’s Incumbent Worker Training program just became easier to use. Employers can view the videos at their convenience to learn how to use these grants to fund skills-based training of existing employees. These grants area available to for-profit and non-profit employers with less than 50 employees in the state. We can help you with these if you run into a snag. Or contact the IWT program manager,

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.

A great food processing workshop is being offered by Headwaters RC&D.  Basics of Running a Food Subscription or Community Supported Agriculture Programs, Wednesday January 27th, 1-3 PM, will cover the basics of, and differences between, subscriptions and community-supported agriculture programs. Topics covered will include pricing, packaging, building a program, fulfillment, and more. This program is for farmers, ranchers, meal kits, and food producers of all kinds.

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!

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

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.

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

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 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

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.

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.