Top 10 – 4/25/2021

Congratulations to the State Champions of the Montana Economics Challenge, students Jacob Murray, Steven Stewart and Branden Kessler of Great Falls High School! They won The stock Market Game, a nine-week simulation; see KFBB.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 17 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) Colored Snow opened in downtown Great Falls; see KRTV. Get your amazing shaved ice! Sletten Construction has started work on a new multi-tenant retail development on the 1200 block of 10th Avenue South that will include a City Brew. MT Mainstream Movers is opening its commercial location in Great Falls; see TheElectric. The Wake Cup Coffee House in Ft. Benton has expanded; see KRTV. Warhorse Development was featured in a great story in The Valierian. Congratulations all!

2) The SBA’s Shuttered Venue Operator Grant program reopened on Saturday. To learn more about the program, click here. SBA has released updated applicant user guide and FAQ. Use the checklist to make sure you have everything you need to complete your application. If you have additional questions contact Nathan Reiff at 406-403-4937 or

3) The Great Falls City Commission approved a conditional use permit for the Aim High/Big Sky Indoor Aquatics & Recreation Center; see KRTV. The $20 million project is scheduled to start construction in September. The Commission approved $25,000/year of downtown tax increment financing funds for five years to support downtown tree replacement and maintenance. The Great Falls Business Improvement District is leading the effort. We gave the BID $1,000 as our match for the Montana Main Street grant for installing signs to implement the Great Falls Wayfinding Plan. The Commission held a second work session on three proposed new downtown TIF programs to support code compliance, facade, and safety improvements of downtown properties; see TheElectric.

4) Facing a project cost increase? Construction costs have gone up dramatically globally. How is your project? We are here to help with financing to fill the gaps. Call Jolene to discuss, 406.750.4481.

5) MSU Extension has launched a certification program to boost remote work in rural areas. The month-long Master Remote Work Professional Certification course consists of nine core modules delivered in a self-paced, online format, along with four discussion-based virtual workshops. We think this will prove valuable everywhere in the state!

6) Experiencing workforce challenges? Curious to know what tools and resources are available to bolster your existing workforce attraction, development, and retention strategies? Introducing the Workforce Webinar Series: Connecting Employers to Vital Resources Addressing Workforce Challenges. Check out the video announcement, and head over to to learn more and register.

7) We published our GFDA Index for 2021Q1. As part of our efforts to help employers address workforce needs, this week we commissioned a child care market assessment of the Great Falls MSA. The study will build on statewide research and dig into local market opportunities to support additional quality child care facilities and services. We’re investing $12,000 of our GFDA Investors’ funds for the study that will be undertaken by Camoin Associates. We are excited that the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is creating a Workforce Development position on its team to help address workforce issues.

8) Four employers reached out to our Talent Attraction Director this week for assistance with relocating talent to Great Falls or finding talent to attract! Employers – your recruiter, HR Director (or yourself) can reach out to Soren to discuss the collection of tools and resources we have to help attract high quality talent to Great Falls. or (406)781-0736

9) The Great Falls City Commission approved an additional $1,175,380 in tax increment financing funds for brownfield cleanup enabling the development of the 14-acre riverfront West Bank Landing mixed-use project.

10) Research. Research. And more research. Our engagement with entrepreneurs usually starts with, “So I’ve got this idea. What do you think?” When we answer those questions with more questions, the response is usually, “Well how would I do that?” The value of GFDA’s advisory services are not only the asking and answering of questions. The value is that we help brainstorm, evaluate, research to make well-informed decisions, and create linkages. GFDA’s ability to gather and link are what turn ideas into revenue-generating activities, four walls and a roof, new or stable employees, or e-commerce platforms selling to customers thousands of miles away. If that sounds right to you, contact Jason at to start the conversation.

11) Sole proprietors, independent contractors, self-employed individuals, and single member LLC’s who file taxes using a schedule C can use gross income instead of net income for their PPP calculations. The deadline for applying for PPP loans is May 31st or when funds run out. Of the $284 billion originally allocated only $43 billion remains, so we encourage those who are eligible to apply with their bank or credit union as soon as possible. Contact Nathan if you are experiencing difficulties; 406-403-4937 or

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. If you are a restaurant, bar, food truck, or food service business owner who could benefit from additional funding to keep your doors open please join us for one of the following webinar to learn more about the Restaurant Revitalization Fund – April 27April 29May 4 or May 6The LaunchPoint, our catch-all workshop for budding entrepreneurs is back on May 4. Our popular Quickbooks class is back with two session options; Browning, MT April 27 & 28, and Great Falls May 6 & 7. The topic of our next monthly webinar is Generations in the Workforce on May 6.

13) Soren and I had a kickoff meeting with Livability Media on Thursday to get ready for the 2022 Great Falls Livability magazine. This awesome talent attraction tool highlighting Great Falls Montana has been seen by thousands of people around the country. Check out the 2021 magazine here if you haven’t read it yet and request copies from Soren for your talent recruitment efforts.

14) 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.

15) GFDA has two great career opportunities. Investment Director (Fundraising). And, we’re expanding 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. GFDA has launched a College Intern Program starting with five paid internship opportunities. Download application. Help us spread the word!

16) Jolene and I have been working with Dean Barber of Barber Business Advisors and one of his colleagues, Christine Rambo of Upsize Marketing Strategies, to help us map out market assessments and strategic planning GFDA plans to undertake over the next year to best take advantage of the many economic changes driven by the pandemic.

17) This week I was excited to participate in two new courses in entrepreneurship-led economic development offered by the International Economic Development Council. We’re looking for new ways we can support more entrepreneurial startups and expansions in the region, in addition to the volunteer entrepreneur mentor network we are developing and the new Women’s Business Center we are a partner in.

It was a great week of progress on some key projects moving toward construction. Stay tuned! We took in another COVID recovery emergency loan application late Friday from an excellent local business fighting through the pandemic. Let me know if you hear of a business that could use a helping hand to get back on its feet.

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 you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
John Wooden

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 490

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 Brett Doney at 406-750-2119 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.