Top 10 – 4/26/2020

Guess what new upcoming Great Falls primary sector announcement had me smiling wide this week? Stay tuned and get excited!!!

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) Great Falls was ranked by LendEDU as one of the “Most Budget-Friendly Cities for Homeowners with a Mortgage” based on data from the US Census Bureau! Financial experts generally recommend that no more than 28% of a person’s total household income should be used for monthly mortgage payments. In Great Falls, only 23.7% of homeowners pay over 30% of their income towards their mortgage. That’s awesome! Read more here. Let’s build more great homes to keep moving forward!

2) Two new restaurants announced they will be coming to Great Falls. Dean Grundy will be opening Firehouse Steamers at 1201 10th Street South, serving Bratz, dogs, and desserts; see KRTV. Kyle Carlson will be opening Carlson Q Backyard BBQ in the former location of Big Mouth on 10th. He is currently serving food at the Centerville Bar and does catering. Nourish has launched a new food truck. Fuddruckers is back open for take out orders. The Celtic Cowboy is reopening May 1st with a new executive chef offering a takeout menu and growler wine and beer fills. Sole Dance Academy is building a new studio at 2008 4th Street NE in Great Falls. See

3) Our CDC affiliate, High Plains Financial, approved a $199,000 SBA 504 loan to support a local business expansion in downtown Great Falls. With the SBA rates being so low this business decided it was time to own their own larger location. Take advantage of the low FIXED rates for the life of the loan. If your commercial space isn’t keeping up with your growing business or you’d like to buy instead of lease, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or SBA 504 loans are also great way to purchase an existing business with real estate. Download our new 504 Loan flier.

4) Congratulations to The History Musuem’s 2020 Legacy Award Winners: Gusto Distributing, The Club Cigar, Little Shell Chippewa Tribe, and John Godwin! More on Designs for the new Montana Heritage Center complex to be built in Helena were released; see Great Falls Tribune.

5) Is your business struggling for working capital right now? We hosted a meet up on Thursday morning to discuss avenues to find working capital. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will start accepting applications at 8:30 AM MST tomorrow, April 27. If you haven’t applied or received a PPP loan, call your bank first thing Monday morning as the new round of funding is expected to go within days. Also ask your banker about SBA Express Bridge Loans of up to $25,000, intended as a bridge until EIDL loans fund. The SBA Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program may reopen to accept new applications. The SBA is reviewing the current queue of existing applicants first. If you applied and received a confirmation number, you are in the queue. If you did not, continue to watch the site for if/when they reopen applications. For SBA debt relief information, click here.

6) We approved $55,000 in immediate loans to help local businesses stabilize and begin to recover. GFDA’s Business Stabilization & Recovery Loans are evaluated on a case by case basis. We provide gap and bridge loans to entrepreneurs, businesses, nonprofits and developers in Blaine, Cascade, Choteau, Fergus, Glacier, Hill, Judith Basin, Liberty, Pondera, Meagher, Teton, Toole and northern parts of Lewis & Clark counties. And, we have a number of financing partners in the region and elsewhere to help. Contact Jolene Schalper to talk about your needs, 406.750.4481 or

7) Great Falls was ranked as the least vulnerable MSA in Montana to job loss resulting from COVID-19 by Chmura Economics JobsEQ. Cascade County was ranked second least vulnerable amongst the seven major urban counties in the state, just behind Lewis & Clark. Download spreadsheets to see every MSA and county ranking in the country here.

8) Lillian participated in the Montana Petroleum Tank Release Compensation Board teleconference meeting during which the Board voted to obligate funds for one of our downtown projects. This funding will provide resources to clean up the petroleum contamination from a discovered underground storage tank removed this past Fall at this site. We’re moving forward on a number of brownfield redevelopment projects and have loan funds available to do more. Contact Lillian at or 406-750-1253.

9) The Great Falls City Commission approved a bond sale to pay-off the bridge loans we made to West Bank Landing developers. D.A. Davidson will handle the bond sale. Construction is underway on improvements to the Great Falls Elk’s Riverside Park; see Tribune.

10) We hosted a webinar on our Resiliency Guide — quick tips to help make your business tougher and recover more quickly. You can download the Guide here, or watch the webinar here.

11) GFDA has been working with businesses in Toole County, helping them write business plans as part of the application for funding from Toole County Forward; see Shelby Promoter article for more details. If own a business in Toole County and need help writing you business plan, contact Rich Gannon at or 406-836-2078. For all businesses and startup entrepreneurs in the Golden Triangle, we offer a free great business planning tool called LivePlan, as well as coaching and training support. For existing businesses, we offer Profit Mastery to help improve cash flow and profitability.

12) Two of our long-time rural clients were featured in nice news stories this week. Read about Native Life, located in Browning, in the Glacier Reporter and about Timeless Natural Food, located in Ulm, on KRTV. Renovations of the Hagen Block apartment complex are underway in Ft. Benton with the help of a loan from the City of Ft. Benton’s Tax Increment Financing District. INDHemp is looking to expand its Ft. Benton operation. Read about both in the Ft. Benton River Press.

13) If you have content (photography, video, information about your organization, etc.) you would like us to be include on the new Great Falls region relocation website we’re building, contact our Talent Attraction Director, Soren Chargois, at or 406-836-0147. We are looking for great content to highlight the best of living, working and playing in Great Falls and the surrounding unique communities — the entire Golden Triangle. PLEASE partner with us!

14) GFDA investors, developers and business people throughout the Golden Triangle, our Virtual Development Coffee is this Friday May 1st at 7 AM. We want your experienced input. How can we recover as quickly as possible and get back to growth and diversification? This Development Coffee will focus on: 1) What suggestions do you have for city and county officials to expedite projects that have been delayed by the COVID shutdown; and, 2) what suggestions do you have for city and county officials to give retail/restaurant/bar businesses more flexibility to operate under COVID restrictions (expanded outside shopping, dining drinking)? Join us via Zoom: Meeting ID: 816 5035 4265 Password: 807700. For questions contact Teresa Schreiner at 406.781.9499 or

15) PLEASE VOTE and VOTE YES in the all-by-mail election for the Great Falls Public Schools elementary schools operating levy. The school funding structure in Montana is that the state pays 80% and local taxpayers decide whether to pay the expected 20% local portion to fund teachers and school operations. Here in Great Falls we have not been funding our full 20% share. This has led to cuts over the last 10 years, cuts that have gone too deep. Federal CARES Act funds can only be used for COVID-19 related expenses, not regular operating expenses, so we need the levy more than ever. The Great Falls Development Authority’s Board, representing over 100 leading local businesses and organizations, urges support for this critical vote. If you have time to make get-out-the-vote phone calls, sign up at Here is a great KEY video to share. Also check out KEY’s Facebook page.

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.

“Opening Day. All you have to do is say the words and you feel the shutters thrown wide, the room air out, the light pour in.”
Mary Schmich

These days, Opening Day has a whole new meaning!

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 $45,000-55,000+ 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.