Top 10 – 3/8/2020

Big Sky Select Properties announced the Northern Lofts development of 18 beautiful new loft apartments under construction in downtown Great Falls above Mighty Mo Brew Pub! See and KRTV.

GFDA Top 10

Here is our Top 19 for this week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy!

1) Walmart is investing $2.5 million in renovations to its older store in Great Falls. The Great Falls Tribune ran a great story about The Gibson boutique hotel development downtown. Great Falls Tourism posted the plans for new events facilities at the Montana ExpoPark. Amy’s Morning Perk has opened its new location in the new west side North 40 Outfitters amazing store.

2) We will be announcing the next Aspire and Inspire winners this week! Make sure you follow The Fire Within on Facebook and register for the event on March 26th! The event is free thanks to Embark Credit Union, but an RSVP is required!

3) Vote May 5 for Great Falls Public Schools! The Kids Education Yes campaign kick-off rally was an overflow crowd with a lot of enthusiasm for supporting a strong community; see Tribune. Our Board, the Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Great Falls, and many other organizations have endorsed support for the elementary schools operating levy and encourage their members and the entire community to do the same. Questions? Call Jolene at 406.750.4481.

4) We issued a loan commitment this week to Talcott Properties, LLC which will enable the continued development in the next phase of West Bank Landing. Many thanks to our lending partner Randy Williams at Stockman Bank for being such a business friendly lender! If your business needs assistance with financing to start or expand, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

5) Congratulations to GFDA Board member Collette Hanson on being named President of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana! See KRTV.

6) Fourteen Great Falls employer recruiters participated in our first Recruitment Roundtable on Tuesday. The peer-to-peer conversation centered on best practices to attract people to Great Falls, how local resources can assist in doing so, and thinking about what tools could be useful for recruiters/HR Directors to help their out-of-state recruitment efforts. Contact Soren at to be included on future communications about GFDA’s Talent Attraction efforts.

7) The new Portage Supper Club held a soft opening March 3rd in the old Eddie’s Supper Club location on the corner of 38th Street and 2nd Avenue North in Great Falls, see KRTV. Owners Dale and Boungyob Yonkin, also owners of Best Sushi and Montana Sub Shop, utilized GFDA’s Brownfields program to assess the environmental status of the property prior to purchasing. The Yonkin’s have the bar and casino open now and are serving Montana Sub Shop sandwiches until renovations are completed. Their goal is to have the full restaurant open by May. Congratulations to the Yonkin’s for redeveloping and reopening a vacant property!

8) From employees to owners! One of our SBA 504 loans helped two women entrepreneurs begin their journey and Great Falls to retain a great local business. Click here to read more about this great success story. Effective interest rates for March came in at 2.878% for the 25-year term, 2.804% for the 20-year term, and the 10-year term came in at 2.839%. The SBA even offers a business debt refinance loan with 25-year rates at 2.880% and 20-year rates at 2.806%. Contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or to get started on your SBA 504 loan today!

9) Traveled to Salt Lake City to meet with developers, brokers and retailers at an International Council of Shopping Centers event. In September, GFDA’s Board approved Five New Initiatives, all of which we have successfully launched. Thank you to our investors and partners who made this possible! On Thursday, our Board approved our Next Five Potential New Initiatives which are contingent on securing funding support from investors and partners. We’ve already started work on finding the funds. We are HUNGRY to grow our 13-county regional economy, and support the creation of higher wage jobs and improved quality of life for everyone!

10) Congratulations to Folk Lore Coffee on the opening of their newest coffee shop in Valier. Folklore Valier is the third location for Folklore following Conrad and Whitefish. The new Valier location has served both as the original bank and post office of the community and is full of character. Folklore is also currently working on its newest project which will be a store in Missoula opening in June.

11) Eight prospective entrepreneurs – including one over the internet – joined us for our monthly pre-business workshop, The LaunchPoint. Eight more people participated in our monthly webinar, Three Steps to Profitable Growth. Five more training events are coming up over the next month. We’re now taking registrations for QuickBooks on April 3rd. March 13th is the deadline to register for Digital Marketing Strategies coming up on March 18th. For all of our upcoming events click here.

12) The City of Cut Bank has won over $350,000 in grants and $500,000 in loan forgiveness for infrastructure projects within the city, see Cut Bank Pioneer Press. Congratulations to everyone working on downtown Havre for earning designation as an affiliate of the Montana Main Street program!

13) The Great Falls PTAC presented an “Introduction to Government Contracting” in Havre this week to help small businesses on the Highline find bid opportunities with Federal Agencies in their area. To find out about upcoming training or how PTAC can help you navigate the Federal Contracting world, give Shannon Clancy a call at (406) 590-1184 or send her an email at

14) Congratulations to the Celtic Cowboy on being recognized by as the best Irish pub in Montana!

15) Join us at GFDA on March 19th at 12:00 for a webinar on Revitalization through Downtown Development Districts. For questions about the webinar, or to discuss any potential Downtown projects, please call Christian at 406.836.0136 or email at

16) The Montana Cooperative Development Center and the Montana Council of Cooperatives are hosting the Montana Cooperative Summit in Great Falls on April 7-9.
The Montana Nonprofit Association is offering two workshops in Great Falls next month. A free Introduction to Nonprofit Boards on April 7th from 5:30-7:30 PM, and a day long Nonprofit Board Leadership and Stewardship on April 8th from 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM.

17) Did you know that if your company plans to do business with the government, cybersecurity plans are now required for compliance? A three hour workshop titled “Evolving Federal Contractor Cybersecurity Requirements” is being held April 27th at the SpringHill Suites to educate small businesses on this important subject. Nationally recognized presenter, Adam Austin, will step companies through the process of getting compliant with these cybersecurity requirements. For more information contact Lillian Sunwall at or register here.

18) The Montana World Trade Center is planning a trade mission to Ireland the week of May 18th. For more info visit their website. The Montana Department of Agriculture is holding the first Montana Beverage Show in Helena on June 29, more info here. Early bird registration opens tomorrow for the Montana Food Show in Missoula on October 26. The Montana Department of Commerce is organizing a pavilion for Montana made products at the Alberta Gift and Home Show that will be held in Edmonton on August 23-26. Learn more here.

19) Thank you to to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, Springhill Suites for your Flagship Division investment, and The Wendt Agency, Big Sky Civil and Engineering and Tyree Investment Group for your Community Division investment. Your investments allow our team to continue their work on our existing operations, while also digging deep on our new strategic priorities across the 13 region trade area. To discuss renewing investment, contact Teresa Schreiner at 406-781-9499 or

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.

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.

“There is NO substitute for WORK.”
Vince Lombardi

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

We have a great job 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.

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. Next up, Economic Vitality for downtowns, March 17, 24, and 31, from 12:00-1:30 PM. Contact Kellie Pierce at the Downtown Great Falls Association if you would like to participate,

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

GFDA has signed up for the 2020 series of webinars offered by the International Economic Development Council. Join us for free viewing in our conference room. Next up, Revitalization through Downtown Development Districts, March 19, 12:30-2:00 PM. RSVP to Nathan at

We’re also hosting the annual webinar series of the Destination Development Association (thanks to the Montana Department of Commerce). Next up, The Five Fastest Growing Tourism Trends, March 18, 9:30-10:30 AM. RSVP to Nathan at

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 offers a great array of workshops and trainings for all sizes of manufacturing companies. They are offering an excellent Lean Principles 101 introduction to lean manufacturing in Great Falls on March 26. Download flyer here.

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.

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 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.