We have fascinating businesses throughout the Great Falls trade area — Montana’s Golden Triangle. One of our business outreach visits this week was with Warhorse Development LLC, owned by former Marine Chas and his wife Dawn, in Valier. They are a leading supplier of support bags for rifles.
GFDA’s Top 10
Here is our Top 18 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 the local high school entrepreneurs who participated in the Montana Chamber Foundation’s The Prospects competition. Six winners from the Golden Triangle! Graze, Ben Archer, Fergus County High School in Lewistown second place $2,500 prize for New Business Idea. Dual-Metal Reality Heatbreak, Cialeo Smith, Fergus County High School in Lewistown, third place $1,500 prize for New Business Idea. These two finalists also won $10,000 scholarships from the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Montana State University. Wow! Paris Gibson Education Center in Great Falls won a $500 prize for Community Inspiration. Wholesome Hal’s, Hallie Thompson, Great Falls High School won a $250 gift card Honorable Mention and the Marketing Mentorship sponsored by Tara Beam of the Roadhouse Diner in Great Falls. Thanks Tara! Sun River Valley Robotics and Via’s Productions each won $500 prizes for Golden Triangle Awards provided by GFDA. See Montana Chamber Foundation’s press release for more details. Congratulations to all involved for Untaming Your Entrepreneurial Spirit!
2) A number of projects made the news this week. We’ll fill you in on more details as these exciting developments move forward. Read about Independence Bank and River’s Edge Trail on KRTV, Colored Snow shaved ice on KRTV, Black Eagle SmokeStack Amphitheater and a ski/tubing hill on Great Falls Tribune, and Starbucks on TheElectric. KRTV ran a great story about the expansion of Jeremiah Johnson Brewing.
3) The American Rescue Plan adopted in DC this week has a number of things in it that we’ll be following and getting you information about. The SBA will have a new Restaurant Revitalization Fund that includes restaurants, caterers, food trucks, and bars. Additional funds were appropriated for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). SBA is still accepting applications for these loans. PPP loan eligibility was extended to 501(c)(5), 501(c)(7), and 501(c)(8) non-profits. The size of eligible 501(c)(3) non-profits was increased to 500 employees. Congress may soon approve an extension of the current March 31 PPP deadline. We’ll keep pushing out more details as they become available. Please rely on official agency info and beware of the many scam thieves out there! Contact our SBDC COVID business specialist, Nathan Reiff, for help with accessing these programs; NReiff@GrowGreatFalls.org or 406-403-4937.
4) SBA 504 loan rates for March, including fees, were 2.995% fixed for 20-year real estate loans and 2.684% fixed for 10-year equipment loans. Contact Jill for more info about how you can use these loans to reduce your equity requirements and save money on interest in partnership with your bank or credit union. JKohles@GrowGreatFalls.org or 406-590-1056.
5) Upcoming GFDA entrepreneur/business convenient virtual trainings: Boots to Business, our pre-business workshop for transition military personnel starts March 18th. Spots are still open for free one-on-one consultations with retail/restaurant/event business guru Barbara Wold. Learn Five Things to do Today to Manage Risk in Your Company in our next webinar coming up April 1.
6) Did you know that SAM.GOV is changing? The latest GSA’s target date for transition and retirement of legacy SAM is May 24th. At that time beta.sam.gov and SAM.GOV will merge. A new Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) generated by the System for Award Management (SAM) will replace the proprietary D-U-N-S® (DUNS) number as the official identifier for entities doing business with the federal government. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed agencies to complete their transition to using the SAM-generated UEI by April 2022. Until then the DUNS number will continue to be the UEI for assignment, monitoring, and validation of businesses involved with the federal government during the extended transition period. For more information on these changes contact Shannon Clancy at SClancy@GrowGreatFalls.org.
7) Met with two developers who are interested in downtown real estate re-development projects. Timing was perfect for Christian to take the International Economic Development Council’s virtual Real Estate Development and Reuse course to gain additional tools to aid developers. If you’re interested in pursuing a downtown Great Falls real estate project, call Christian 406.836.0136 or CLeinhauser@GrowGreatFalls.org.
8) Is Great Falls positioned to take advantage of the emerging post-pandemic remote workforce? More and more remote workers are looking for places to set up and spread out, and we want to make Great Falls that place. Join us for an online brainstorming workshop, Making Great Falls A Remote Ready City, on Friday, March 19th at 10:00 AM.
9) There are 589 short term rentals (STRs) in the Golden Triangle according to a report issued by the University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research. Every county has some with cascade County leading the way at 242 STR’s, 179 of which are within the City of Great Falls. Download the full statewide report.
10) Short term rentals and population growth have created market opportunities for housing developers across the Golden Triangle. This was emphasized by rural partners during our monthly Golden Triangle Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Network virtual meeting this week. If you’re a housing developer looking to gather more information about demand in rural communities, Rich can put you in contact with our rural economic development partners. We have been using subordinate bridge loans to spur apartment construction in Great Falls and can do this throughout the Triangle. We’re always looking for more business supporters to join our Network. Our goal is to help existing businesses to survive and thrive and spur more startup entrepreneurs. Email Rich at RGannon@GrowGreatFalls.org.
11) Do you need working capital for your business? The EIDL loan can offer up to 6 months of working capital capped at 150,000 at 3.75 percent interest for up to 30 years. Or if you haven’t done Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) it is open till March 31st. There is also a new calculation for sole proprietors Independent contractors, and self-employed individuals. If you would like help applying for or comparing these loans give Nathan Reiff a call at 406-403-4937 or email NReiff@GrowGreatFalls.org.
12) USDA announced that it is making an additional $35 million available this year in the Value-Added Producer Grant Program to support agricultural producers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, $76 million is available. USDA extended the application deadline to May 4. Read the full announcement here. Contact Lea McGiboney for help at 406-770-4291 or email@example.com.
13) The Great Falls Association of REALTORS® invites you to register for Policy, Practice, Process: Transforming Neighborhoods through Equitable Revitalization – a free webinar series presented by the National Association of REALTORS® in partnership with the Center for Community Progress. The six-part series focuses on realizing equitable revitalization strategies, exploring why vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated (VAD) properties exist and how they affect community stability; how data can guide equitable, effective, and efficient solutions; how to transition VAD properties into assets; and opportunities for building partnerships between REALTORS®, local government, and community stakeholders focused on addressing VAD properties. The first webinar is scheduled for Tuesday, March 16, at 2:00 PM EDT. You can review the full series description and register here.
14) Check out this upcoming training from our partners at the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce: Google Page Experience Workshop, March 25th at 9 AM and 2 PM. Do you want to stay relevant and visible in the online world? Google is launching an algorithmic page experience update in late spring and it’s going to be a pretty significant impact on everyone.
15) Jeff Tripp started work this weekas a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Project Manager to assist in designing and launching a volunteer entrepreneur mentorship network. Jeff is an entrepreneur with a background in community and economic development supporting veterans, housing projects, businesses, and mentorship in the Denver metro area. In creating a network of volunteer mentors, we hope to build internal capacity, bridge gender, racial, and rural/urban divides, and leverage partnerships to spur entrepreneurship throughout the Golden Triangle. Jeff can be reached at Jeff@GrowGreatFalls.org. We welcomed Jeff as our announcement of the week.
16) Now Hiring! Women’s Business Center Manager. Our University of Montana partners, Pursue Your Passions and Montana Enterprise Technology Center (MonTEC) seek a manager to launch the new Women’s Business Center. The WBC Manager will provide business counseling, create and promote classes and trainings, and host events for current and aspiring women business owners. The WBC Manager will manage operations of the decentralized center including the supervision of two, full-time WBC Business Advisors to be hired in Great Falls and Fort Belknap. For more details or to apply, visit the online MonTEC Submittable Application. The application deadline has been extended to March 21.
17) Our Economic Development Feature of the Week
This week let me tell you about our Brownfields program that we offer in partnership with EPA. Our goal is to drive more redevelopment of underutilized properties in the region, especially in downtowns and old industrial areas such as parts of the Great Falls riverfront. We provide free hazardous material property assessments to developers, businesses and non-profits, usually during pre-purchase analysis of potential redevelopment sites. The assessments are conducted by highly skilled local firms which specialize in this work. We also provide low interest subordinate loans to clean up properties as part of redevelopment projects, including new construction on contaminated land. Dozens of businesses, developers and non-profits have moved forward with investments with our help, putting these properties back into use and increasing local property values.
18) Participated in meetings of the International Economic Development Council’s Economic Development Research Partners. We’re proud to be part of this network of 71 of the top economic development organizations in the world that pool resources to do cutting edge practitioner-driven research on best in class economic development.
I was lucky to get my first COVID vaccination this week. Thank you to everyone making vaccinations available!
It’s exciting to see so many projects underway and about to start!
President & CEO
“Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”
Madam C.J. Walker
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.
GFDA has an excellent career opportunity. We are looking to expand our lending team with either a Business Development Officer, a Commercial Credit Analyst, or a Loan Officer. Download pdf describing the openings in more detail. Please help us spread the word!
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 JSchalper@GrowGreatFalls.org
March SBA 504 Loan Rates
The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 3.043%; 20-year at 2.995%; 10-year equipment loan at 2.684%; and, 20-year refinance 3.038%; 25-year refinance 3.084%. 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 JKohles@GrowGreatFalls.org.
Events, Business Training, and Opportunities
A new resource for Montana employers will launch on March 17. Workforce Connections Across Montana is the official launch of the new Workforce Connections website, created through a collaborative effort between the Montana Department of Labor and the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce. The website connects today’s employers with tomorrow’s workforce. This event on March 17th at Noon will include panel members from business, education and government and features Gov. Greg Gianforte as the keynote speaker. Register here.
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 Great Falls Livability 2021 digital workforce recruitment magazine has been released. If you’d like some print versions of this awesome talent attraction tool, contact Talent Attraction Director Soren at Soren@GrowGreatFalls.org or (406) 836-0147. Visit our relocation website LiveInGreatFalls.com. 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.
Registration has opened for the 2021 Montana Housing Partnership Virtual Conference, May 18-19. The event will feature more than 20 sessions, including a great one about our Great Falls housing production partnering.
The SBA has released additional information on the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, including updated FAQ’s, eligibility requirements document, preliminary application checklist and additional video tutorials for live venue operators or promoters, talent representatives and museum operators. All SVOG program information can be found on the SBA website at Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (sba.gov). Contact our COVID business specialist Nathan Reiff for help accessing any recovery programs; NReiff@GrowGreatFalls.org or 406-403-4937.
We are looking for a local writer to do a freelance project. The writer should have familiarity with Great Falls and the surrounding region, including history, demographics, economy, and culture. Please reach out to Talent Attraction Director Soren Chargois Ebbasi at Soren@GrowGreatFalls.org or (406) 836-0147 if you are interested or would like to suggest a writer.
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.
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 SClancy@GrowGreatFalls.org.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-937-489-3985.
See calendar of upcoming MMEC online training.
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 madeinmontanausa.com to be sure it is accurate and up to date.
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!
If you missed the Invest Downtown Great Falls event, visit 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, CLeinhauser@GrowGreatFalls.org.
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, email@example.com.
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.
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 SClancy@GrowGreatFalls.org.
Great Falls Tourism has a host of resources available to help local businesses deal with the pandemic. Check out the resources at https://visitgreatfallsmontana.org/COVID-19/. 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.
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.
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 LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org.
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 https://oasis-sbeforms.myngc.com/.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.