Top 10 – 4/18/2021

We’re excited to see the progress in West Bank Landing, the 14+ acre mixed use riverfront development in Great Falls! We’re proud to have our office in The Portage Building at West Bank Landing. There is great space available for restaurants, QSRs, and service establishments.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 22 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 IND HEMP based in Fort Benton, MT on their expansion into fiber processing. Check out the video announcement here. This expansion will create 30+ new jobs and expand their operations to 24 hours per day in the coming years. We are looking for the next companies in the hemp supply chain. Are you looking for a location? Call Jolene at (406) 750-4481.

2) Met with the new director of the McLaughlin Research Institute for Biomedical Sciences, Renee Reijo Pera. Dr. Reijo Pera will join our community in a couple of weeks. Her track record in building public private partnerships with research institutions and private industry is phenomenal. We are pleased to welcome Dr. Reijo Pera to our community!

3) Congratulations to the Montana Native Growth Fund on its official launch! We’re excited to be partnering with this great CDFI on the new Montana Women’s Business Center led by the University of Montana. The Center will launch later this year.

4) Looking for talented people to work in your organization? Maybe they are already there. In the first session of our new weekly series focused on everything workforce, we will visit with Michelle Robinson from the Montana Department of Labor Incumbent Worker Training program. Each week we will engage businesses, resources providers, and national experts to increase employer core competencies of workforce attraction, development, and retention. Register here.

5) Finance site WalletHub released a report ranking Montana as the #1 state in the country for physicians. The report accounted for salary, cost of living, and retention among other dimensions. This is great news for our business attraction and talent attraction efforts! Read more on KRTV.

6) The SBA plans to re-launch the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program soon, followed by the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. We’ll issue notice when these programs open. Contact Nathan Reiff, our business SBDC COVID specialist, for help with all recovery programs and resources. or 406-403-4937.

7) We released our first Ask an Expert video this week, featuring Melissa Dascoulias of Dascoulias Realty Group providing tips for people looking to move to Great Falls! The Ask an Expert video series is part of our talent attraction marketing strategy with DCI – the videos will provide answers to many common (or uncommon) questions people ask when deciding to relocate.

8) Congratulations to the ten families who just completed constructing their new homes as part of NeighborWorks Great Falls’ self-help home ownership program. Perseverance through a 16-month build during the pandemic!

9) Remote technology work is alive and well in our region. Cut Bank resident Bret Wright operates his tech gaming company ToolShed LLC from his home office in Cut Bank. Bret has 15 team members in 12 different countries. The company recently worked with a new client to design and launch a game titled The Guardians Of Peace. Read the full article in the Cut Bank Pioneer Press.

10) Twenty-five business owners tuned into our social media marketing training event presented by KRose Company this week.   Social media guru Karoline Rose helped break down the basics of social media marketing making things easy to understand and gave participants actionable steps to move their social media marketing forward. The event was paid for with CARES Act funding in cooperation with the Montana SBDC. Click here to view a video of the training session.

11) The White House issued an infrastructure report card for every state. Montana Ranked C; download two-page Montana Report.

12) Lots of upcoming GFDA entrepreneur/business convenient virtual trainings: Looking to increase sales and develop repeat customers? Sign up for a free one-on-one consultation with retail/restaurant/event business guru Barbara Wold. Need a website with e-commerce capabilities? Join us for our Website Bootcamp series starting April 20th. Ever considered selling goods or services to the government? Learn how in our Government Contracting 101 workshop on April 21st. Our popular Quickbooks class is back with two session options; Browning, MT April 27 & 28, and Great Falls May 6 & 7.

13) The hazardous materials clean-up of the old Cascade County Jail building in downtown Great Falls has been completed. We’re proud to have been able to provide the County with a $146,489 grant through our EPA Brownfield cleanup loan fund. The EPA approved two more sites in Great Falls for brownfield assessments.

14) Our Talent Attraction Director had several great conversations with employers this week and helped brainstorm solutions for their talent attraction and recruitment problems. If you’re struggling with recruiting talent from out-of-market, check out our talent attraction toolkit and get in contact with Soren Chargois Ebbasi today at

15) Beginning July 1, the City of Great Falls will be accepting small works roster applications from contractors and vendors for several categories of work. The purpose of the roster is to reduce the time it takes city departments to complete repairs and projects, up to $25,000, to reduce administrative and operating costs by using a list of prequalified and approved vendors who can be contracted immediately, and to be more efficient for contractors and vendors in that they will be required to provide insurance and other documentation on a yearly, rather than per project, basis. Service categories include, but are not limited to, acoustical tile, audio/visual, boilers, carpet/flooring, chemicals, concrete, drywall, electrical, excavation, fencing, fire equipment, fire sprinkler systems, general contracting, hazardous waste removal, HVAC/mechanical, insulation, irrigation/landscaping, lumber and supplies, overhead doors, painting, paving/seal coating & striping, pest control, plumbing, recreation equipment, roofing, sprinkler systems, telecommunications, tree/stump removal, vehicle supplies, water testing and window cleaning. Contractors and vendors are encouraged to submit the completed application and supporting documentation via email: Contact City for more info and all the requirements.

16) Looking to take control of your business’s financials, increase profit, and improve your bottom line? We have had interest from businesses in scheduling a Profit Mastery course. These courses are scheduled by demand. If you are interested in taking this two-day workshop, contact Jason Nitschke at JNitschke@GrowGreatFalls.orgor call (406) 750-0314.

17) The Montana Young Professional Summit will be held June 9-10 in Sydney. Montana Young Professional provides career development, networking, and community engagement opportunities aimed at professionals aged 21-39.

18) Met with a business owner whose store was started as a hobby and has doubled in revenue over the past three years. We discussed the tools to help facilitate that growth online and in their store. If you have a business you would like to grow or need help with one that is bursting at the seams contact Nathan Reiff at or 406-403-4937.

19) Check out these upcoming training from our partners: The United States Patent and Trademark Office is hosting a Trademark Basics Bootcamp. The Prospera Business Network in partnership with One Valley Community Foundation are hosting a workshop entitled Power Up Your Nonprofit: Create your Business, Financial, Fundraising & Marketing Plan starting June 3.

20) The Main Street Now Virtual Conference hosted by Main Street America was this week! Jolene and Christian were able to spend some time attending the Virtual workshops and seminars learning the latest best practices to work towards our Downtown Great Falls revitalization efforts. Some of the favorites were “Calculating the Cost of Empty Storefronts” and “Tools for Ecosystem Building, Built for Main Street”. All sessions were recorded and are available to watch. If you are interested in viewing a session, contact Jolene at 406.750.4481 or Christian at 406.231.8064.

21) GFDA has two great career opportunities. Investment Director — CDFI Economic Development Fundraising. And, we’re expanding our lending team with either a Business Development Officer, a Commercial Credit Analyst, or a Loan Officer. Download pdfdescribing the openings in more detail. Please help us spread the word!

22) Our Economic Development Feature of the Week
We provide a wide variety of entrepreneur and business training to help existing businesses to flourish and grow, and to help future entrepreneurs to launch successful businesses. These free or low-cost learning opportunities help grow our economy by strengthening our entrepreneurial ecosystem. The trainings we offer include a monthly one-hour LaunchPoint workshop for new entrepreneurs, a two-day Boots to Business workshop for active military, veterans and family members looking to start a new business, and webinars and workshops on a wide range of business planning, market research, revenue growth, strategy, capitalization, technology, government contracting, profitability, and management topics. Three popular regular courses are basic Quickbooks for business, Profit Mastery which helps improve business profits and lay the foundation for growth, and Destination Creation which helps grow revenue through developing new market opportunities.

Brett Doney
President & CEO

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

“If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.'”
Tom Peters

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.

Edition 489

GFDA has launched a College Intern Program starting with five paid internship opportunities. Download application. Help us spread the word!

Here is our Menu of Services and Staff Team handout.

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 3.073%; 20-year at 3.016%; 10-year equipment loan at 2.684%; and, 20-year refinance 3.114%; 25-year refinance 3.058%. 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
Do you need additional working capital? The SBA made changes to two of their working capital loan programs. The second round of PPP loans deadline has been extended to May 31st. The SBA also increased the EIDL loan limit to the lesser of 24 months of working capital or $500,000. If you have questions about either of these loans, contact Nathan Reiff at 406-403-4937 or

The Montana Emergency Rental Assistance program provides rent and utility assistance to Montanans who have been financially impacted by the pandemic. Landlords can apply on behalf of renters with the renter’s co-signature and other documentation.

The Montana Department of Commerce opened applications for the new Tribal Digital Tourism Business Development Grant. The pilot program will award up to $6,250 to help tourism-related entrepreneurs with digital assets to reach potential customers and convert them into sales. The application cycle is open through April 30.

The Made in Montana program requires annual membership renewal. Email if you want to reactivate or check your info. The Made in Montana Tradeshow for Food & Gifts is tentatively scheduled for September 10-11 in Helena. The Exhibitor application will be available in early May on the Made in Montana Tradeshow webpage.

Pro-tip: Post positivity! When you’re using Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn and share something positive about Great Falls, tag @LiveinGreatFalls or @GrowGreatFallsMontana. We will like and share your posts. Follow our talent attraction effort, Live in Great Falls, on InstagramFacebook and YouTube, and follow the Great Falls Development Authority to help us attract entrepreneurs and business investment on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and YouTube.

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

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 or (406) 836-0147. Visit our relocation website 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 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.

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.

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,

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

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

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 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.