Top 10 – 2/14/2021

More great iron work happening as Town Pump’s Express Car Wash on 10th Ave. South in Great Falls takes shape.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 15 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.

1) Congratulations to Latte’ Da coffee shop, located on the main street of Cut Bank, on their recent remodel! This is another great business in the Golden Triangle that is thriving. You can read about their expansion and their experience in the Cut Bank Pioneer Press.

2) We’ve started a new series to highlight all the development that is happening throughout Montana’s Golden Triangle – the Announcement of the Week. This week Montana was ranked the #1 Best State to Start Your Small Business in 2021 by The Blueprint!Check out our video announcement here. We’ve got resources to support would-be entrepreneurs and existing businesses – contact Jolene to get connected (406) 750-4481.

3) Congratulations to the United Way of Cascade County, its volunteers and everyone who donated to make it a record breaking $1.3 million campaign year! See KRTV.

4) We closed $1,000,000 in loans to support the two businesses of the Great Falls Holiday Inn & Convention Center. These loans will help the businesses be able to continue their expansion and renovation efforts. This includes bringing in a Tony Roma’s and adding 10,000 square feet of convention center space. It’s exciting to see them expand and grow their business, while creating 30-40 new jobs in our Great Falls community. Thank you to the Montana Board of Investments for partnering with us on these loans! If your business needs assistance with financing to start, innovate or expand, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or We fill gaps and provide bridge loans, filling in what banks and credit unions can’t do.

5) Hosted a virtual foreign direct investment event in collaboration with SelectUSA: Select Great Falls Montana for Your Agri-processing and Manufacturing Location! Governor Gianforte welcomed participants to Montana, Acting SelectUSA Director Bill Burwell welcomed participants to the US, we then gave a regional overview followed by two great company interviews. Jean-Francois Boursier with ADF Group spoke about the process of choosing and locating in Great Falls Montana. Hiro Hidaka, CEO, and Dan Bateman, CFO, Pasta Montana, spoke about doing business in the Golden Triangle. Commissioner Briggs wrapped up the event inviting businesses here. Thank you to all of our speakers for an excellent event! We’ll be sending out the video link and some additional information next week. Email Jolene if you’d like to be on the list,

6) Completed a loan package review for a major commercial development and business expansion proposed in Great Falls. This five-week review process included refinement of the business plan, financial projections, and calculation of ratios and performance percentages. Knowing the numbers inside and out increases your ability to speak the language of a credit analyst, underwriter, and commercial loan committee. It also increases the likelihood of securing a bank or credit union loan commitment. If you are pursuing a commercial loan, GFDA’s advisors are here to help get you from 50% ready to 100% ready, increasing chances of a ‘yes.’ For a no-cost consultation, contact Jason at and let’s turn that idea into action.

7) Upcoming GFDA entrepreneur/business convenient virtual trainings: Learn how to craft a winning proposal and make your business more visible to government agencies in our Marketing Tips and Tricks for Government Contracting workshop on February 16th; Increase Your Customer Base and Satisfaction utilizing tips from consumer behavior guru Barbara Wold in this one-hour session on February 25th; and, take control of your business’s financials and increase profit in our Profit Mastery course starting March 4th. Also on March 4th is our monthly webinar focused on Strategic Communications and Support for Women in Business. That’s not all – stay tuned!

8) We have many updates on the talent attraction front. We finalized filming for the talent attraction marketing videos yesterday. We reviewed the beta test of our 2.0 version of the Great Falls relocation website – it looks great and we’re working on a few content edits. We received the first drafts of Great Falls online itineraries – ½ Day and Full Day self-guided tours for job candidates visiting our community that will be hosted on the new website. A new Great Falls Livability magazine webpage was created by Livability Media and highlights the magazine and other articles.

9) We talked with a Great Falls Downtown lead this week and will soon host them for a site visit. We’re very excited with the momentum that Downtown has so far this year and we’re only 6 weeks into 2021! If you’re looking to expand into Downtown Great Falls or are looking to open a new business, contact Christian at 406.836.0136 or

10) Save on interest and preserve your cash for working capital. SBA 504 loan rates, including fees, for February are 2.752% fixed for a 25 year loan; 2.438% fixed for a 10 year equipment loan. These loans work great for business real estate and longterm equipment acquisition or construction in partnership with your bank or credit union. We do 504 loans statewide. Contact Jill Kohles for more info: or 406-590-1056.

11) Check out this upcoming training from our partners: Industry Day with the National Parks Service for businesses looking to contract with this governmental agency on February 17th.

12) We received a nice mention in an article about economic development response to the pandemic in American City and Countywritten by Tom Kucharski, board chair of the International Economic Development Council.

13) Do you know that GFDA hosts a monthly virtual meeting of partners and interested leaders throughout the Golden Triangle to connect and share ideas about how to support existing businesses and startup entrepreneurs? If you would like to be on the invitation list to participate, let Rich Gannon know at

14) GFDA has several excellent career opportunities. We are looking for a Project Manager to help us put together and launch a volunteer mentor network to support small businesses and would-be entrepreneurs. This is a temporary or contract position between now and the end of September. We are looking for a Business Development Officer to focus on growing food and ag processing and bioproduct manufacturing industries in our region. This position involves helping existing businesses to expand and attracting companies from elsewhere to expand into the Golden Triangle. We’re expanding our lending team with a Commercial Credit Analyst or a Loan Officer. Download pdf describing all four and please spread the word!

15) Starting this week, I’m going to include a brief description of one of the things we do in our economic development work and explain why we do it. This week: Pipeline. No, not the Keystone (which should have been built years ago). Our pipeline is our CRM in which we track every target, lead, client, and project. Every Monday, our team meets to discuss new leads, learnings from visits with existing businesses in the region, results of the previous week’s outreach to targets, and the status of active clients and projects. We spend most of our time on clients and projects that are stuck, brainstorming what we and/or partners may be able to do to move them forward. Our value proposition is to help make things happen that otherwise would not. This insures that we’re investing our time where we can make the most difference. Thank you to the Salesforce Foundation for continuing to give use free use of the Salesforce platform for our CRM!

Have a great week!

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.

“My theory on momentum is that the best way to produce it is through small, hard-fought victories that lead to bigger battles and bigger wins. Winning builds momentum.”
Shaun King

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.

Edition 480

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

February SBA 504 Loan Rates
The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 2.752%; 20-year at 2.714%; 10-year equipment loan at 2.438%; and, 20-year refinance 2.794%; 25-year refinance 2.757%. 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
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

LISC has opened a new round of COVID relief grants of $10,000 dollars. Several clients have received LISC rural grants in the past. We can provide tools such as LIvePlan for a stronger application. If you want help on a grant or loan application or just want to strengthen you business plan, contact Rich Gannon at or call (406) 836-2078.

The City of Great Falls has issued an RFP seeking proposals to utilize $475,000 in supplemental COVID recovery Community Development Block Grant funds. Proposals must be submitted to and received by the Planning and Community Development Department by 4:00pm on Friday February 26. Applications, instructions, and other important information can be found at the City of Great Falls Planning and Community Development website at Contact department staff at 406-455-8443 or for questions regarding CDBG-CV funding.

Trisha Gardner, CCHD Health Officer, presented a Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce webinar talking about workplace protocols with employees who have either been exposed, contact traced, waiting for results, and/or tested positive. Click here for the presentation and question and answer afterward.

USDA Rural Development is accepting applications for the Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvements (REAP RES/EEI), with an application deadline of March 31. REAP funds agricultural producers and rural small businesses to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems for their operations. Grant funding is available for up to 25 percent of total eligible project costs with a maximum of $500,000 for renewable energy systems and $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements. Guaranteed loan funding is also available in conjunction with grant funding.

Attention Small Businesses! Sign up Today!- Virtual Capability Briefings with U.S. Army Corps are available…This is a great chance to get a virtual one-on-one meeting to market your business to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. See official announcement. If you would like information on how our Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) can help you with other government contracting opportunities, contact Shannon Clancy at

If your supply chain has been impacted by COVID-19 or if you are researching new product lines, you may be facing challenges sourcing certain items. The MEP National Network is leading a new effort to offer Supplier Scouting, a formal process to connect U.S. companies to domestic manufacturers that can meet specific supply chain needs. The program leverages the knowledge and connections of MEP manufacturing experts in every state. Contact MMEC’s adviser for the Great Falls region, Doug Roberts at or 1-937-489-3985.

See calendar of upcoming MMEC online training.

The SBA hosted a webinar on the new Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program. The recording is available for viewing. Qualifying applicants may be able to receive a grant of 45% of their 2019 annual revenue to use on a wider range of expenses than the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Venues in business on or after January 2, 2019 have a different calculation for their maximum grant amount. The grant and PPP cannot be used together. The grant application period has not been announced yet. As soon as it is, we’ll send out an eblast.

The Made in Montana Tradeshow for Food & Gifts has been rescheduled for September 17-18. Exhibitor registration will open in early May 2021 and wholesale buyer registration will open in early July 2021. Made in Montana members are encouraged to verify their membership status and information in the online directory at to be sure it is accurate and up to date.

Our partners at the Montana Women’s Business Center in Bozeman are taking applications for their third annual Impact Grant Competition. This competitive grant opportunity will award a total of $15,000 in funds to women-owned businesses in Montana.

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 Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Great Falls Public Schools partnered to create a Military Welcome to Great Falls videofor military service members and their families.

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.

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 Help us recruit talent to our region! Be sure to follow Live in Great Falls on Instagram and Facebook. 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.

USDA announced the final rule regulating the production of hemp in the United States. The final rule incorporates modifications to regulations established under the interim final rule published in October 2019. The modifications are based on public comments following the publication of the IFR and lessons learned during the 2020 growing season. The final rule is available for viewing in the Federal Register and will be effective on March 22, 2021. More information about the provisions of the final rule is available on the Hemp Production web page on the Agricultural Marketing Service website.

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

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.