Top 10 – 4/5/2020

Construction underway on the Eastridge subdivision in Great Falls by Woith Engineering and United Materials.

GFDA’s World Famous Top 10

Here is our Top 24 for this week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy — Montana’s Golden Triangle. Many thanks to the multitudes of community heroes who are helping us get through this crisis!

1) Western Art Week has been rescheduled for September 10-12. The C.M. Russell Museum events will be co-located with the OutWest Art Show & Sale and The Great Western Living & Design Show. See

2) FedEx plans to buy its 81,000 square foot facility at the Great Falls International Airport. GTF’s Board approved the sale this week. See

3) Businesses have been applying for Payroll Protection Program loans through their bank or credit union. We also recommend going directly to the SBA for your questions and to learn more. Friday evening the SBA posted another interim rule giving more flexibility for affiliates. Give your banker some slack. They are inundated with applications and the rules they have to deal with are evolving. The President vowed to put more money into the PPP if it reaches the cap approved in the CARES Act.

4) If your business cannot get all the cash it needs from your bank and/or the $10,000 advance on an SBA Disaster EIDL is not enough, we may be able to fill the gap or bridge you until the SBA loans fund. We will put every dime we have of loan capital to work to help businesses throughout the Golden Triangle. 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.

5) The IRS has posted updated FAQs on the tax credits provided to employers in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The Act provides small businesses with refundable tax credits to reimburse employers for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave related to COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Labor issued its temporary rule for paid leave under the Act. Here is a copy of the required employer poster.

6) We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on our Crisis Toolkit and other resources on our website. We are working on two more situation specific crisis tool kits, How to Successfully Hibernate Your Business, and Maintaining Operations for Essential Businesses. We’ll also be providing deeper dives into the Payroll Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Assistance Loan (EIDL). Email Jolene and let her know what information/topics you’re interested in,

7) GFDA approved a brownfield cleanup grant of up to $55,000 to the C.M. Russell Museum to remove asbestos from the ceiling of the museum galleries. If you would like more information on our Brownfield tools, contact Lillian Sunwall at (406) 750-1253 or

8) 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

9) Ten entrepreneurs joined our first virtual QuickBooks training this week. Another 10 logged onto our previously scheduled webinar, Using Opportunity Zones to Start or Grow Your Business, presented by Ben Hobbs, Special Assistant to President Trump on the Domestic Policy Council. The recording of this webinar is available for viewing.

10) Up next is The LaunchPoint: A Pre-Business Workshop this Thursday, April 9th from 4-5 PM. This will be a virtual training. Please register to attend. Join us for a webinar this Friday, April 10th 11:00 AM on Preparing for Government Contracting During COVID-19. In this brief, 30-minute webinar we will give businesses guidance on how to prepare to do business with government agencies during the COVID-19/coronavirus crisis. Our goal is to get businesses not currently set up into the appropriate systems and then search for solicitations. Hear experts provide an overview of small business development topics and phone in or type or chat questions or comments. All webinars are free and open the public and will be recorded and archived. Register here.

11) If you are hiring right now, please let us know. We are trying to get news stories published on TV, newspaper and radio to let the entire region know about your opportunities. Contact our Talent Attraction Director, Soren Chargois at or (406) 836-0147 about your open positions.

12) Local journalism is critical during times of community need. The publishers of the Cut Bank Pioneer Press, Glacier Reporter, Shelby Promoter and The Valierian have combined the publications into one to weather the COVID crisis. Visit them at

13) We hosted virtual meet ups to connect small businesses and resource partners. We will be hosting an additional Zoom for our Golden Triangle Resource Providers this Thursday at 2 PM. We’re facilitating a private FaceBook Group for small businesses to share experiences and resources. Contact Jolene for more information,

14) Are you a young professional? Did you recently relocate to Great Falls? Do you appreciate all that Great Falls has to offer and want to share it with the world? If any of the above apply to you and if you are interested in being featured in the next publication of the Great Falls Livability Magazine, please email Soren Chargois at

15) Not to be lost amongst the chaos of the current crisis, the GAO issued a very important report that emphasizes the need to not delay in replacing our nation’s ICBMs; see Air Force Magazine.

16) 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. A conference call will be held this Thursday, April 9 at 10 AM. Grant application deadline is May 22. See GTA website for more info. Contact Barnett Sporkin-Morrison-Morrison for assistance at or 406-750-3285.

17) Great Falls College MSU will kick off their first virtual information session to learn about everything the College has to offer; see KFBB. Read about the whole series in the Great Falls Tribune. The College’s Career and College Readiness Center can assist with the self-discovery process of finding a new career pathway. You can access their tools here or contact Veronica Griffith at

18) The University of Providence opened applications for its Accelerated or Second Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program; see details here.

19) The Montana World Trade Center and the Montana District Export Council invite all Montana firms engaged in international business to a virtual happy hour this Tuesday, April 7, 4 PM. Discussion topics will include issues being faced by exporters and importers. RSVP here.

20) The Census count is way behind. If you have not done yours it only takes a few minutes online at or by phone 844-330-2020. If our Golden Triangle communities are undercounted, it will cost us millions over the next decade.

21) If you know of someone who has been laid off and has some time on their hands, there is a great series of podcasts about mid-career people who decided to start new businesses in troubled times. Visit

22) 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.

23) Is your association, chamber, economic development organization, club, or other group a GFDA Partner? We hope so and we want to hear from you. How have you/your members been affected by COVID19? Call or email Nathan to share your member experience, or 406.781.2523.

24) Thank you to the Montana Board of Investments which approved a $500,000 loan to GFDA this week that we will use to try to secure a matching loan from the Community Development Financial Institution Fund of the U.S. Treasury. We will use both loans to augment our available loan capital to put to work in the Golden Triangle.

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.

Whether your business has had to go into some level of hibernation to survive or you are struggling as an essential business to stay open, THANK YOU! We will get through this and come out stronger, hungrier and more united.

Take care,

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.

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”
Henry Ford

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

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!

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.