Top 10 – 3/22/2020

Rendering of upcoming Dental Clinic expansion at Great Falls College MSU. The college is also a leader in online courses.

GFDA Top 10

Here is our Top 15 for this week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy! I’ll start out with a couple pieces of good news.

1) Congratulations to our fifth and final Fire Within Aspire winner Melissa Dascoulias, owner of the Descoulias Realty Group! See the surprise video here. Aspire winners are women who started younger businesses that show great promise. There are so many incredible female entrepreneurs in our region that we just couldn’t limit the awards to one in each category. Learn more about all our Inspire and Aspire winners by checking out The Fire Within Facebook page to keep up with all the latest in female entrepreneurship within our region. We’ve postponed the celebration and networking event, but will let you know when it’s rescheduled. Thank you to Embark Credit Union for sponsoring the 10th Annual Fire Within!

2) Congratulations to Grace Carr, a student at C.M. Russell High School, on winning Montana Journalist of the Year from the Journalism Education Association!

3) Ok, now to the challenge at hand. First, THANK YOU to the businesses, non-profits, public agencies, volunteers and neighbors who have stepped up and shown their true colors!!! Most importantly, THANK YOU to all the workers who have kept our communities and health care services running smoothly!!!

4) Support the businesses in our communities who have supported you year in and year out! Now more than ever, local businesses in Great Falls and throughout Montana need your support. Many restaurants are offering drive-through, take-out, delivery, and curb-side service. If you’d prefer, pre-purchase a gift card to be picked at a later date to keep these businesses going. And, if you can afford to, now is a great time for BIG TIPS and purchases.

5) We published a Crisis Tool Kit for Businesses with some ideas to help get through. Here is a PDF of the Tool Kit. We keep adding resources to a special section we created on our website. As of last night, all counties in Montana are now eligible for SBA Disaster loans. Here is a SBA Flyer from the Montana District Office about the loans. We have loan funds available and are working to roll out an emergency micro loan product in the next couple of days. If you need help, call, text or email me anytime; Brett Doney at 406-750-2119 or, or just respond to this email or connect with any of our team members.

6) 280 business people participated in our live webinar on Friday that we called Business Crisis Toolkit – Control What You Can. We’ve shared this statewide presentation, a special addition to our ongoing small business webinar series, with other states through the national Association of Small Business Development Centers. Stay tuned to our ongoing efforts to help businesses navigate through at and keep sharing great ideas and resources you come across.

7) Some businesses are set up to transition to sell online/takeout/delivery, and some are not. We’re hosting an online Downtown Business Forum for restaurants, bars and retailers this Wednesday at 2:00 PM to share best practices and help each other thrive. We’ll hear from boutique shops that have added to Facebook and Instagram shopping, restaurants that are offering family meals for take out, and unique gift card promotions. We’re in this together! Register here. Contact Christian Leinhauser with questions or for assistance, 406-836-0136 or

8) We’ll be offering more online brainstorming and idea sharing webinars and digital group chats. And, our business advisers can help with your strategy and marketing to get through this. Contact Rich Gannon at or 406-836-2078.

9) Our team started making phone calls to over 400 business across the Golden Triangle of North Central Montana to check on how they are coping with this extraordinary challenge. We are here to listen and help. Our fear is that a business that needs help won’t know where to turn. We know there’s more than 400 businesses in the Golden Triangle, help us reach out. Please share our contact information widely and freely. Questions, call Jolene at 406.750.4481 or

9) Businesses are mobilizing quickly to meet the new working environment, offering family meals to GO, brunch to GO, painting kits to GO, Facebook boutique stores for downtown shopping from your living room, and more! We’re empowered by the caliber of entrepreneurs in our region and the customers rallying to support them. We’re celebrating these innovations in hopes that others will be inspired. Watch for more tools resources, and events to help connect our communities. BUT the only way this works is if people know about it. So please share our Top Ten and if you don’t receive it weekly sign up:

10) We closed a loan package totaling $280,000 to Talcott Properties, LLC to support continued development of West Bank Landing. Our financing helped leverage an additional $920,000 of private funding. We issued a loan commitment of $214,647 to Andrews-Bundtrock Holdings, LLC for environmental cleanup of their property located just outside the 2nd Avenue North entrance to Malmstrom AFB. The EPA Brownfield loan funds will provide the client low interest funding that will get the property ready for redevelopment. If you want to discuss different options that GFDA may be able to provide, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

11) Call for amazing photographs! We are working on a new talent attraction website to pitch the Great Falls region. We need high-quality photography of Great Falls and the entire Golden Triangle (in summer and winter). If you can contribute or know of someone who can, contact Soren at or 406-836-0147.

12) Do you have a site sitting vacant or stalled due to the lack of resources to clean up hazardous materials? We have Brownfields Clean Up funds available to be put to use on your project. Lillian has been receiving many inquiries on potential projects and was able to start the process on one site in downtown Great Falls. If you have questions or want to know if your site is eligible, contact her at or 406-750-1253.

13) Thanks to this week’s Investor’s in Economic Development, BNSF Railway for their Leadership Division investment and Montana Milling for their Community Division investment. We are putting your investment to work to help businesses weather this extraordinary event. Reach out to GFDA if you have questions about your investment by contacting Teresa at 406.781.9499.

14) We urge you to support the Great Falls Public Schools elementary operating levy. Now it’s more important than ever. We have Kids Education Yes lawn signs, posters and flyers in our office available for pick-up (and outside our office door — 2nd floor of The portage Building at West Bank Landing, the PayneWest office building next two The Peak at West Bank Landing and Five on Black; 405 3rd Street NW). KEY needs volunteers to make phone calls and help in get out the vote efforts, and of course donations.

15) January labor statistics were published by the Montana Department of Labor. We were at 4.2% unemployment and showed growth in both number of employed and size of our overall labor force from the previous January. We will get through this crisis, get back to those numbers, and work together to make them even better.

Every single business in the Golden Triangle is important. Please help get the word out to every business owner and manager that our team is hard at work and eager to help in any way we can.

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.

Take care,

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.

“Every new situation requires new strategy.”
Lailah Gifty Akita

Support Local Education!

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!

GFDA Career Opportunity — Commercial Lending Operations Specialist. Experienced, self-motivated lending operations professional sought for two-person lending team within 15-person nonprofit economic development Community Development Financial Institution. Help us to continue to grow our gap and bridge financing efforts to support entrepreneurs, businesses, developers and non-profit organizations throughout the Great Falls trade area and across Montana. Responsible for working with borrowers to put together thorough and accurate loan application packages, preparing loan documents, coordinating loans closings, managing our loan portfolio, maintaining digital loan files, preparing reports to public and private loan capital sources, and maintaining excellent relationships with clients and bank partners. Requires working familiarity with commercial loan documents and recording, insurance, appraisals, and lending practices. Requires the ability to maintain accurate records, work with a wide variety of clients and bank partners, and excellent computer and communication skills. Must be detail-oriented and organized with the flexibility to help achieve our overall team mission. Experience with EDA, USDA, CDFI, EPA and/or SBA 504 loans a plus. Live on the Missouri River along the Rocky Mountain Front and work with a great team! Salary range $45,000-50,000+ with excellent benefits, professional development, growth opportunities, and flex-time work environment. EOE. Cover letter and resume to Brett Doney, Open until we find a great candidate.

Economic Development Services

See our updated Great Falls Economic Development Menu of Services which includes our expanded staff team. We provide award-winning and internationally-accredited economic development services throughout Montana’s Golden Triangle, and SBA 504 loans statewide.

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

March SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 2.878%; 20-year at 2.804%; 25-year refinance at 2.88% and 20-year refinance at 2.806%; and, 10-year equipment 2.839%. 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

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!

Protect Your Business An estimated 25% of businesses don’t open again after a major disaster, according to the Institute of Business and Home Safety. Protect your small business by identifying risks relevant to your location both natural and man-made. Smart planning can help you keep your business running if disaster strikes. Potential flooding is a genuine concern in Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota in 2020. Participate in this webinar to find out the right steps to prevent and prepare for disaster, and where to get aid if disaster strikes. SBA is offering a webinar to help you prepare, It’s Your Small Business, Protect It! on Mar 31, 2020 11:00 AM MDT. Register here.

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!

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 State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is offering grants to help businesses pay for translation of marketing materials to boost exports. The program also offers trade show grants and assistance. MDOC’s Film Office is offering powerful new incentives to promote filming and production in Montana. Click here for details.

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.