Top 10 – 2/21/2021

One of the best workforce training programs we have in Great Falls is the longstanding partnership between NeighborWorks Great Fallsand Great Falls Public Schools. Each year high school students learn building trades and construct a house that is sold at an affordable price to a local family. This year the 43rd house is underway! We need more programs like this in more local industries.

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) Beehive Homes of Great Falls is opening its new 18-bedroom memory care facility on March 1st; see KRTV. The Game Night Lounge restaurant and hi-tech entertainment center has opened in Great Falls; see KRTV. The City of Great Falls won a federal grant to restore more of the riverbank along the Missouri River urban corridor; see TheElectric. REP Space will open on March 1st offering professional services in 3d virtual tours, commercial and real estate photography; see TheElectric.

2) This week’s announcement of the week is the expansion of Bridge Agri-Partners located in Shelby. Check out the video announcement here. We have resources to support would-be entrepreneurs and existing businesses – contact Jolene to get connected (406) 750-4481.

3) Began work with three businesses in the region on expansion planning. Each project will include capital investment, construction, and job creation. We help existing enterprises as a way to help grow our regional economy from within. Every new job created from a growing business means more money into the pockets of the people living here. GFDA has tools, resources, and advice on how to envision growth, turn a plan to action, and capitalize on opportunities that create jobs. If your business has an opportunity to grow our team and partners stand ready to help it happen. Contact Jason at for more on how we assist growing companies.

4) GFDA has earned GuideStar’s 2021 Platinum Seal of Transparency, the highest seal of transparency for nonprofits in America! We are proud to remain the only economic development organization and CDFI in Montana to earn Platinum.

5) Congratulations to Diana Burd, a Blackfoot language teacher at the Cuts Wood Immersion School in Browning on winning the Montana World Affairs Council’s Global Educator of the Year award! See Great Falls Tribune.

6) Upcoming GFDA entrepreneur/business convenient virtual trainings: Grow Your Retail/Restaurant/Event business utilizing tips from consumer behavior guru Barbara Wold in this one-hour session on February 25th; businesses can also sign up for a free one-on-one consultation with Barbara Wold scheduled on a first come, first served basis. 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!

7) The IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate Service launched a COVID-19 Business Tax Relief tool too help businesses determine if they are eligible for tax relief. There are a number of business tax relief options currently available. Your business may be eligible for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). We strongly recommend that you work with a local CPA or tax adviser to investigate this new opportunity which is retroactive to 2020 and the first two quarters of 2021. It is possible your company could qualify for up to $14,000 per employee.

8) How do I finance my expansion? If that question is on your mind, give us a call. We’re happy to help you put together your finance package and figure out how to make that expansion happen! Call Nathan to schedule a one on one appointment, 406.403.4937.

9) Great Falls College MSU has opened its search for its new CEO/Dean. See information about the position and search process. It’s important that the Great Falls business community get involved in this critically important search!

10) Check out these upcoming trainings from our partners: Learn about fire contracting with the U.S. Forest Service – one of two sessions February 23 or February 25, and a Trademarks Basics Bootcamp on February 23rd.

11) We are excited to announce a new GFDA team member! Rustin Lippincot will be relocating to Great Falls from Iowa to serve as a Business Development Officer to help us grow the food and ag processing industries and bio-product manufacturing in the Golden Triangle. Welcome Rustin!

12) MSU Extension and MSU Department of Agricultural Economics are hosting a Spring version of their annual Fall Agricultural Economics Conference on March 5. See Agenda here; free registration here.

13) We are working on a workforce retention and recruitment series of webinars to help local employers. If you have some best practices, tools, and ideas to share, reach out to Jolene to discuss or 406.750.4481.

14) GFDA has two excellent career opportunities. We are looking to expand our lending team with either a Business Development Officer, a Commercial Credit Analyst, or a Loan Officer. We are also 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. Download pdf describing the openings in more detail. Please help us spread the word!

15) Our Economic Development Feature of the Week
Our newest economic development activity is talent attraction — marketing Great Falls to attract talented workers to relocate here and providing tools to help employers attract talent to move here. We started this last January. One of our first things was to launch the Live in Great Falls campaign. Visit We partnered with Livability media to produce an annual relocation digital magazine, Great Falls Livability. We’re using targeted social media posts and this year we’re mounting a number of marketing methods to really step up the campaign. You’ll soon see the second edition of Great Falls Livability, the 2.0 expanded version of the Live In Great Falls website, a series of professional videos featuring people who have relocated here, and more content marketing. Several years ago we commissioned a study estimating the economic impact of modest population growth. The top issue we hear from local employers is their need for more skilled workers. We’ll continue efforts with our partners to train residents for these opportunities, but we also need to pitch Great Falls to residents who have left over time and to new potential residents.

A key component of the attractiveness of our community is its affordability. We are working hard to keep it affordable with continued effort to entice developers to build more quality housing at all price points. One of the first things we did when we started our talent attraction effort was to sign on to the C2ER cost of living index which is the top national tracking system for community cost of living comparison.

That’s it for today. Have a fantastic 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.

“Great opportunities can be and have been created during tough economic times.”
Howard Schultz

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 481

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.