Top 10 – 2/9/2020

Everyone is gearing up for shovel season. If your project is not yet ready, we may be able to help you make it happen!

Here is our Top 26 for this week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy!

1) Carved Axe Throwing and Chase Your Dreams VR opened in Great Falls; see KRTV. The Great Falls Association of Realtors announced that we set new housing records in 2019 with the median prices of homes sold up 8%; see KRTV. The United Way of Cascade County achieved a record campaign raising $1.16 million, see Great Falls Tribune.

2) The Great Falls Development Authority’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to support the Great Falls Public Schools elementary schools operating levy. Join us in supporting the critical efforts of Kids Education Yes! Our Board also approved our 2020 Business Development Plan. We issued our Quarterly Investor Letter.

3) The Downtown Development Partnership of Great Falls released progress milestones for 2019. Over $8.8 million was invested in renovating downtown buildings, up from $3.1 million in 2018. Over 13 new businesses opened downtown. Volunteers donated over 42,000 hours, up from 32,000 hours in 2018. See KRTV.

4) Great Falls has been recognized by LendEDU for shrinking its gender pay gap at one of the fastest rates in the country over the last decade. The report used earnings data from the U.S. Census Bureau to analyze nearly 1,000 US cities. In 2010, the gender pay gap in Great Falls was 26.28%, while it improved to 18.75% in 2018. This 7.53% drop ranked Great Falls #88 in the country for closing the gender pay gap, and #1 in the state of Montana. Thank you to all our Great Falls businesses for prioritizing equal pay! See other top performers here.

5) Flew down to Salt Lake City to participate in an Opportunity Zone workshop at the University of Utah with investment groups, the Milken Institute, Sorenson Impact Center, federal agency leaders and other OZ experts. Let us know if we can help with your Opportunity Zone projects. We have five zones in the Golden Triangle with great investment opportunities.

6) SBA 504 rates came in at insanely low levels in February. The 25-year note came in at 3.460%; 20-year at 3.388%; 20-year refinance at 3.3.389%; 10-year at 3.791%. These rates are FIXED for the life of the loan and are inclusive of all on-going fees. NOW is the time to stop leasing your business location and look at purchasing! If you would like to find out how to get financing for commercial real estate and equipment please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

7) Check out this great virtual walkthrough video of the new Longfellow Elementary School, part of the Great Falls Public Schools facility improvements.

8) We are looking for business ideas that utilize our Urban Missouri River Corridor. Want to do a party boat? Dinner cruise? Paddle board rentals? Food truck court? The Missouri River Corridor Pitch Fest is an evening sharing, discussing, and supporting business on and along the Missouri River. We want to connect ideas with people who can make them happen. We’ll bring business coaches, financial professionals, and others – you bring ideas!

9) While we comb through dozens of incredible nominations, we encourage you to register for The 10th Annual Fire Within sponsored by Embark Credit Union. Are you a woman entrepreneur or do want to be one? This year’s event is focused on YOU! Quick inspirational stories of women making it in business, and speed dating-style table topics presented by our previous winners, business coaches, and Embark!

10) Up next on GFDA’s Business Education Calendar is The LaunchPoint: A Pre-Business Workshop. This free, one-hour, monthly workshop walks prospective entrepreneurs through the process and best practices of starting a business. Tell a friend or join us this Tuesday, February 11th from 4-5 PM in the GFDA office. Space is limited. Please register to attend here.

11) MSU Extension is offering a free hemp seminar in Great Falls this Tuesday, February 11, 9:30 AM in Heritage Hall at Great falls College MSU. See details in The Valierian.

12) 23 people attended our webinar “A beginners guide to SEO, 5 things you can do to get found online” presented by our rural business advisor Rich Gannon. A recording of this webinar can be found here. Rich will be presenting this information live this week in conjunction with the Conrad Area Chamber of Commerce. That meeting will take place at noon on Thursday, February 13th, at the Coach’s Corner in Conrad all are welcome to attend. Rich can be reached at or 406-836-2078.

13) The Blackfeet Nation will be hosting an Industry Day for the Four Horns Dam Modification Project. The Industry Day event will be held in Great Falls on Wednesday, February 19th from 9 AM-1 PM at the Hilton Garden Inn. The purpose of this Industry Day is to introduce the project, get construction feedback, and gain an understanding of how the construction industry can support this project in preparation for bidding. For more information and to RSVP click here.

14) The Board of Cascade County Commissioners, Great Falls Montana Tourism, Montana ExpoPark Advisory Board and the Great Falls Area Lodging Association invite the community to preview concept plans for proposed facility updates of Montana ExpoPark on Thursday, February 20, 2020 in the Exhibition Hall, at 400 3rd St. NW in Great Falls at 7:00 PM. Project staff will present the proposed concept plans in a 45-minute presentation and then disperse to tabletop displays where attendees can engage in further discussion about the proposed plan.

15) The City of Great Falls won a $11,300 Big Sky Trust Fund planning grant from the Montana Department of Commerce to help the proposed Big Sky Country National Heritage Area to develop a business plan. Bear Paw Development won a $27,000 grant to help Montana Premier Protein develop a feasibility study for a potential processing plant in the Golden Triangle. Snowy Mountain Development won $16,200 to complete a childcare feasibility study.

16) Did you know governmental agencies buy everything from paper clips to nuclear submarines? Government contracting is a great way to expand your business. Attend our FREE half-day Introduction to Government Contracting workshop on Wednesday, February 26th and figure out how your business can get a piece of the pie!

17) Every improvement is a step forward! Oakwells just finished a $350,000 renovation of the banquet rooms at Great Falls International Airport. The Airport Board approved $1.7 million in road improvements; see The Great Falls City Park & Rec Department completed two parks projects, opening the renovated bathrooms at Gibson Park and an accessible wildlife river viewpoint in West Bank Park; see

18) We met with a local business to discuss using GFDA’s Brownfield clean up funds on a business expansion. They had previously done a Phase 1 prior to purchase so they qualify to use the RLF. If you are looking at a site to purchase that might be hindered by the possible presents of contamination, give us a call to see if we can help; call Lillian at 406-750-1253 or

19) Bass Clef announced that it is expanding and purchasing the Time Square Building in downtown Great Falls; see and KRTV.

20) Met with a start-up business and 2 existing businesses this week that are planning to plant roots in our beautiful Downtown. If you have a business idea, or want to relocate Downtown, please contact Christian at 406-836-0138 or

21) Congratulations to Blackfeet Community College on achieving final state certification of its Nursing Program! See the Glacier Reporter.

22) Our Talent Attraction Plan is in full swing. Talent Attraction Director Soren Chargois has met with over a dozen HR Directors and recruiters around town in the past two weeks, and is excited to meet more! For copies of the Great Falls Livability Magazine and other recruitment resources, and to have a conversation about talent attraction best practices, email Soren at

23) Congratulations to Central Catholic High School on winning State Class B Championship in speech and debate! See Great Falls Tribune.

24) Jolene Schalper earned her Economic Development Finance Professional certification. This two year course by the National Development Corporation provides in depth education for structuring real estate and business deals and credit analysis. She joins Brett and Jason on our team who have secured their certifications as well. Congratulations!

25) Can you use $12,125 per employee? If over half your income comes from outside of Montana and you are hiring new workers you may qualify for Big Sky Trust Fund Job Creation and Primary Sector Workforce Training Grants. The Deadline for is March 11. Call Jolene to discuss your project and check eligibility, 406.750.4481.

26) Thanks to this week’s Investors in Economic Development Detailed Construction for their Pacesetter Division investment, and Homebuilders Association of Great Falls and Five on Black for their Community Division investments. Teresa would love to talk about how investment in GFDA furthers growth in the Golden Triangle. Contact Teresa Schreiner at 406.781.9499 or Here is a current list of our great investors. Well, current as of Thursday — it keeps growing!

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.

OK, who’s slacking off? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said this week that productivity across the country increased 1.7% in 2019. Our GFDA goal is 10%++ a year!

Brett Doney
President & CEO

Connect with me on LinkedIn to network with the Great Falls region.
Forward the GFDA Top 10 to friends and colleagues. You can join our distribution list HERE or text GFDA to 22828.

“Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.”
Thomas Edison

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 3.71%; 20-year at 3.641%; 25-year refinance at 3.712% and 20-year refinance at 3.641%; and, 10-year equipment 3.791%. 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

Events, Business Training, and Opportunities

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!

The Downtown Development Partnership signed up for the 2020 National Main Street Center’s Advanced Principles webinar series. These will be available for viewing at the BID/DGFA Downtown office. First up, Quality Design for downtowns, February 11, 18 and 25, all from 12:00-1:30 PM. Contact Kellie Pierce at the Downtown Great Falls Association if you would like to participate,

Hire a Bobcat! Montana State University is holding its “Almost Spering” Career and Internship Fair on February 20 in Bozeman. Go get some of those students to move to our region! Details here. And, use the new Great Falls Livability digital/print magazine to help with your recruitment. Contact Soren at and see KRTV.

Do you have ideas for businesses on or along the Urban Missouri River that runs through the middle of Great Falls? We want to hear about them. The Missouri River Corridor Pitch Fest is an evening sharing, discussing, and supporting business on and along the Missouri River. What do you want to open? How do you want to help? What is missing? We want to connect ideas with people who can make them happen. We’ll bring business coaches, financial professionals, and others – you bring ideas! Click here to register.

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

USDA has open grant rounds for the Value-Added Producer Grant, Rural Business Development Grant and Renewable Energy for America Programs. Visit or contact Lea McGiboney for more info, 406-770-4291 or Let us know if we can help!

Malmstrom AFB will be hosting their second Career and Education Pathway Fair on March 19, 2020 from 2:30-5:30 PM. The focus is military members and military spouses as well as military members/families who will be transitioning out of the military — providing information on how to pursue careers i.e. required education, certification, or how to utilize the resources you offer. The event includes a hiring fair for businesses/companies that have open positions. This will be open Active Duty Military, Guard, Reserve, DoD Civilian, and dependents. For any questions, call Carmen Kubiak at (406) 731-3060 or email

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center is offering a Business Transition Readiness workshop in Great Falls on February 13 from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Although the focus is on manufacturing companies, any business owner who does not yet have a succession plan will find this workshop to be very valuable. Details and registration here or download flyer. MMEC is also offering an excellent Lean Principles 101 introduction to lean manufacturing in Great Falls on March 26. Download flyer here.

The Montana Department of Commerce (MDOC) is accepting applications for its new Montana Historic Preservation Grant program. Deadline is February 28th. MDOC’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is offering grants to help businesses pay for translation of marketing materials to boost exports. The program also offered trade show grants and assistance.

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.

Wholesale Buyers can register for the Made in Montana Tradeshow, March 13-14 in Helena. The 2020 show will feature 150 Made in Montana producers including more than 40 new exhibitors and a Native American Made in Montana Pavilion.

All 26 of our recorded monthly business strategy webinars are available online for viewing anytime, click them out here.

Mark your calendar for the Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Recreation, April 26-28 in Billings.

The Montana Department of Commerce is accepting applications for it’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grants. This program reimburses for trade show expenses and travel stipends to attend and exhibit at international trade shows. For more information visit the ExportMontana website at

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center offers a great array of workshops and trainings for all sizes of manufacturing companies.

The Montana Department of Commerce’s Film Office is offering powerful new incentives to promote filming and production in Montana. Click here for details.