Top 10 – 12/29/2020

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 10 for the end of 2020, celebrating the silver linings of this extraordinarily challenging year.

1) Nothing stopped entrepreneurs from opening new businesses in the Great Falls Montana region. We started the year with Five on Black, Montana Pints, and North 40’s second Great Falls store on the west side of Great Falls, then added North Border Analytics in Chinook, Central Avenue Meats in Downtown Great Falls, and the Main Stay Suites/Sleep Inn and True Brew Espresso’s second location. In all, we celebrated 40 business startups in our Top 10’s!

2) We celebrated 16 local business expansions!

3) We celebrated 12 commercial construction starts, including the Citizens Alliance Bank building at West Bank Landing, the Benefis Women’s & Children’s Center, the 18-unit Northern Lofts above Mighty Mo Brewing, the downtown Metropolitan Building renovation, Hub International’s new building, IND Hemp’s new plant in Ft. Benton, Siyeh Communications’ new headquarters in Browning, expansion of the Great Falls College MSU Dental Center, and the Great Falls Clinic’s Harold & Carmen Poulsen Legacy Housing Facility!

4) We celebrated 11 new project announcements, including The Station mixed use development downtown, Silver Falls Distillery, The Gibson boutique hotel, the Skyline Heights 48-unit apartment project, the Aim High Big Sky Recreation Center, Mountain Wave Distilling, an innovative industrial bay development at the Great Falls International Airport, and future expansion of the C.M. Russell Museum!

5) We celebrated numerous community improvements including the Shelby SkatePark, ribbon cutting of the new Longfellow Elementary School, the Rivers Edge Trail Skillz Trail, more improvements to Great Falls City Parks, and progress on the Little Shell tribal facilities!

6) We celebrated milestone progress on key community enhancements with completion of the Great Falls Wayfinding Plan, multiple brownfield cleanups, the Pioneer Baseball League’s new agreement with Major League Baseball, and approval of the Great Falls Civic Center facade renovation.

7) We celebrated voter approval of the Great Falls Public Schools elementary school operating levy!

8) We celebrated the cost of living in the Great Falls MSA being certified at 89.7% of the national average, making us one of the most affordable cities in the Mountain West.

9) We celebrated launching the talent attraction effort and an aggressive economic development response to the pandemic economic upheaval to support entrepreneurs and businesses throughout the region.

10) Most importantly, we celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, generosity, partnering, and perseverance so prevalent throughout our region during this challenging year!

Coming Up

Get ready for a new year of excellent entrepreneur and business training opportunities. Our monthly webinar on Thursday, January 7th at 11:00 AM MST is focused on Steering Your Business Through Change. New year, new business? Our LaunchPoint workshop on Wednesday, January 20th at 4:00 PM MST walks you through what is needed before, during, and after you open your doors.

2021 is going to be a fantastic year for the Great Falls region! We’ve got entrepreneurs lined up who are eager to unveil their upcoming projects at Ignite 2021, presented by PayneWest Insurance on Friday, January 22nd at 10:00 AM MST. Have a business startup or expansion, or a real estate development you would like to unveil? Contact Nathan Reiff at or call (406) 403-4937.

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.

THANK YOU for your support and encouragement throughout 2020.

Happy New Year!

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.

“When you are enthusiastic about what you do, you feel this positive energy. It’s very simple.”=
Paulo Coelho

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.