Top 10 – 2/7/2021

The City of Great Falls is making infrastructure and community amenity improvements citywide in 2021, continuing to enhance our 57 parks, 54 miles of recreation trails, 36,000 trees, two 18 hole golf courses, water park, swimming pools, 300 acres of conservation land and 140 acres of land for additional 9 undeveloped parks.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 10 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) 20 new businesses opened in Downtown Great Falls in 2020! That tops the 13 new businesses opened downtown in 2019. Building permits in 2020 totaled $7.7 million. Downtown volunteers donated over 21,000 hours! Downtown business investment is gaining momentum. In just the 4th quarter of 2020, 14 new businesses opened downtown! Contact our Downtown Business Development Officer, Christian Leinhauser, for help making the next projects happen, or 1-406-836-0136.

2) Met with two target companies. Our business attraction industry targets are focused on Food/Ag/Bioprocessing, Advanced Manufacturing and Steel Fabrication, and Backend Office Operations. January has had more inquiries than we typically get in six months! Part of that is because of the economic environment and part is because of our strategic business attraction initiative. Check out our marketing micro-site. Questions? Call Jolene 406.750.4481.

3) The Great Falls City Commission approved a five year lease of the former visitor center on Flag Hill to Great Falls Tourism. The Commission held a work session to discuss three new downtown tax increment financing programs. Bear Paw Development, in partnership with island Mountain Development Group, has issued an RFP to assess the feasibility of a mobile livestock processing facility; see on

4) We closed a $500,000 working capital loan to CCPet in Black Eagle for their primary sector manufacturing business. CCPet LLC is one of the only U.S. companies to make products that include reptile caves, dishes, aquatic decoration, and bottled water for pets. The owners fell in love with the Great Falls community and relocated their business here in 2014. It is exciting to see them innovate and grow their company! If your business needs assistance with financing to start, innovate or expand, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

5) 23 entrepreneurs learned to use social media (TikTok) to engage clientele in our webinar featuring Adriane Good with MSU-Extension in Conrad. The recording can be viewed at your convenience. If you would like to champion social media for your business, reach out to our business advisor Tyler Menzales at (406) 590-1539 or

6) Held a conference with state financing officials and a leading global investment bank to discuss industrial bond financing for a potential large existing business expansion. Existing businesses are the core of our regional economy. If you know of a business that has an opportunity or threat we may be able to help with, contact Nathan Reiff at 1-406-403-4937 or

7) GFDA’s Board approved our 2021 Talent Attraction Plan. We signed a three year agreement with the Great Falls Voyagers to help promote our Live In Great Falls talent attraction campaign. Gave the Great Falls region presentation as part of the Montana Economic Outlook seminar. We had an excellent local entrepreneur panel. We’ve been selected to participate in a Harvard project engaging university students studying economic development finance to assess our gap and bridge financing products and suggest new innovative ideas to meet entrepreneur, business and developer capital needs in our region.

8) LISC is opening up a new round of COVID relief grants of $10,000 dollars starting February 8th. 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.

9) The government buys everything from paper clips to submarines from businesses like yours. Have you considered selling, or are already selling to the government? Join us in our Marketing Tips and Tricks for Government Contracting workshop on February 16th to learn how to craft a winning proposal and make your business more visible to government agencies. For more information on government contacting, contact Lillian Sunwall at or call (406) 750-1253.

10) 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’s announcement is how Great Falls is growing our skilled trades workforce one high school house at a time. Check out the video announcement and KRTV story. To learn more about Montana’s apprenticeship program click here.

11) Upcoming GFDA entrepreneur/business convenient virtual trainings: Retail and restaurant business ideas to Increase Your Customer Base and Satisfaction utilizing tips from consumer behavior guru Barbara Wold in this one-hour session on February 25th. 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.

12) The IRS is offering a webinar to walk through the new income tax guide, Publication 5424, for Native American Individuals and Sole Proprietors this Tuesday, February 9th.

13) Check out these upcoming trainings from our partners: Selling Online with E-Commerce Tools for businesses looking to sell their products online on February 11th, and Industry Day with the National Parks Service for businesses looking to contract with this governmental agency on February 17th.

14) Met with the new Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) team, Brett Simons and Sonny Capece. We partner with other Montana economic development organizations and GOED to raise Montana’s profile amongst site selection consultants. The new GOED Team is interested in actively engaging the Governor in Business Attraction efforts and listening to existing business needs.

15) Testified before the Montana Senate Energy & Telecommunications Committee in support of authorizing the use of PACE energy financing — one more tool to add to help make Montana more competitive in attracting business investment and help existing businesses compete with the 38 other states that offer PACE.

16) The Montana Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) Impact Report was published by the SBDC national association. The report features a video with Drew Hicks, owner of Central Avenue Meats in downtown Great Falls. For more information on how GFDA’s SBDC helps businesses thrive, contact Jason at

17) 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/ag/bio processing 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!

Stay warm and have a SUPER 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.

“The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
Samuel Goldwyn

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 479

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

January SBA 504 Loan Rates
The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 2.692%; 20-year at 2.653%; 10-year equipment loan at 2.438%; and, 20-year refinance 2.696%; 25-year refinance 2.733%. 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.

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.

NIH SBIR/STTR Proposal Lab that will be held virtually during February 9-25, offered by the Montana Innovation Partnership, powered by the MSU TechLink Center.

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.