Top 10 – 4/12/2020

Belt rancher Joel McCafferty of McCafferty Ranch delivering first Montana beef to Central Avenue Meats in downtown Great Falls. Owner Drew Hicks and shop manager Stanley Waddell celebrating!

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.

1) Congratulations to Mountain Valley Irrigation for moving into their new 7,200 square foot building in the Manchester Industrial Park. See Demolition started at site of the future Benefis Women’s and Children’s Center.

2) Affiliated Developers secured $3.6 million to acquire and preserve 60 affordable homes at Oakwood Village in Havre thanks to the Montana Boar of Housing and the Multifamnily Coal Trust Homes Program at the Montana Department of Commerce; see more details.

3) The Great Falls City Commission approved rezoning and a street vacation for expansion of the C.M. Russell Museum; see Great Falls Tribune. The Commission also approved updates to the city landscaping code that gives businesses and developers more flexibility. The City earned another Aa3 credit rating from Moody’s; see Tribune.

4) Cassie Campbell opened Spices N Spurs Catering & Food Truck in Great Falls; see KRTV. The Montana DEQ approved permit for Tintina’s Black Butte copper mine project north of White Sulpher Springs; see Tribune and KRTV.

5) We published a Hibernation Toolkit for businesses going through some level of hibernation to survive the COVID crisis; download it here. Join us this Friday, April 17 at 11:00 AM for a webinar on steps you can take to hibernate your business. In this brief, 30-minute webinar we are hoping to give business owners guidance on how to put a business to bed during the COVID-19 crisis. For some, taking the time to hibernate a business properly is an opportunity to start strategic planning to come out the other end. To register for this webinar click here.

6) We have gap and bridge financing available to help businesses, self-employed entrepreneurs, non-profits and real estate developers whether the storm. Our loan capital is limited so if you have other resources, please use those first. Contact Jolene Schalper at or 406-750-4481. She will ask you these questions by phone.

7) Now more than ever we need to support our local schools. We still have a few lawn signs available for pick-up outside our office door or email me your address and I’ll put one up. If you have time to make get-out-the-vote phone calls, sign up at

8) Hosted another discussion for Golden Triangle Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Service Providers. These weekly Zoom Chats help us learn what’s going on across the region and aid in bringing more resources to the table. Our next one will be on Thursday April 16 at 2 PM. Contact Jolene to learn more at

9) We have been fielding a large number of questions regarding unemployment. The CARE act opened up unemployment benefits to sole proprietors and entrepreneurs but the system isn’t ready to process those as of now. We’ve been told that applicants should start and go as far as they can, save their log in information, and check in with the local Workforce Center. The one located in Great Falls that serves the region can be reached at: 406.791.5800.

10) The Montana Department of Labor is holding town hall meetings for businesses via zoom Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11AM to Noon. The link of the zoom meeting and recordings of previous meetings are located here. You can find additional links to labor and employment questions on our website.

11) GFDA hosted a Government Contracting webinar on Friday. We covered the basics of getting your business registered to do business with the federal government. A recording of the webinar can be found here.

12) Spring forward with your business start-up or expansion by utilizing the SBA 504 loan program. Effective interest rates came in at 3.029% for the 25-year term, 2.955% for the 20-year term, and the 10-year term came in at 2.839%. With down payments as low as 10% the 504 is hard to beat for small business financing. Contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or to get started on your SBA 504 loan today!

13) Calling all Food Trucks! The Heritage Inn has extended an offer to all area food trucks to utilize their parking lot as a place to set up shop. If you have a food truck that you would like to set up, please contact the hotel at 406-761-1900 and ask for extension #192 to get started. If you have questions about starting a food truck we recommend reaching out to our Small Business Development Center. Email Jason Nitschke at

14) The Montana Cooperative Development Center is offering a webinar, Meeting our Economic Needs Together:Understanding the Cooperative Leverage, on Tuesday, April 14 at 2:00 PM. This webinar will provide an overview of Cooperatives in Montana and how cooperatives can be built to address the needs of businesses and communities now and through the recovery of the COVID-19 crisis. More info and registration.

15) NeighborWorks Great Falls seeks nominations for Most Improved Properties of the Year. Make your nomination here.

16) Anxiety and depression are running high amid this crisis and Montana State University is helping Montanans access help for free! THRIVE is a confidential, online program that teaches people cognitive behavioral therapy skills. Click here to access the tool.

17) Thank you to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, Veolia North America, for your Community Division investment. Your investment allows our communities to devise strategies for support and revitalization during these difficult times. Whether it is through our crisis toolkits, securing capital, recovery workshops, or other industry-specific considerations, GFDA has the data tools and resources available. Thank you to all of our investors and to the businesses working together to get through this pandemic. If you have questions about investment or would like to invest in GFDA, please contact Teresa Schreiner at 406-781-9499.

18) FUN FACTS ABOUT MONTANA: Did you know that infamous sheriff and outlaw Henry Plummer constructed the first jail in Montana? Also, Montana holds the record for the most dramatic temperature change to occur over a 24-hour period. In 1972 in Loma, the temperature rose from -54˚F to 49˚F.

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.

Happy Easter!

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.

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
Charles Swindoll

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

April SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 3.029%; 20-year at 2.955%; 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

If you don’t have a cybersecurity plan, you may not be able to win a federal government contract. On April 27th, we’re hosting a special training for businesses currently or planning to do business with federal agencies. Evolving Federal Contractor Cybersecurity Requirements, presented by nationally recognized contracting expert Adam Austin, will help contractors meet new cybersecurity planning benchmarks. Register here. Enter code “GFDA” at checkout to receive a $50 discount off the registration fee.

The Montana Department of Agriculture is offering a round of mini Growth Through Agriculture Grants. Projects will need to demonstrate how they expand Montana agriculture, but given the current public health situation with COVID-19 special attention will be paid to projects that strengthen and expand local food offerings, distribution, and infrastructure. Grant application deadline is May 22. See GTA website for more info. Contact Barnett Sporkin-Morrison-Morrison for assistance at or 406-750-3285.

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

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.