Top 10 – 5/10/2020

Benefis Health System broke ground on the new Women’s and Children’s Center! The 48,000 square foot outpatient center will be a major boost for health care in the Great Falls Region! See Great Falls Tribune and KRTV.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 10 for last week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy — Montana’s Golden Triangle.

1) Congratulations to GFDA investor, Hybrid Steel Design, owned by Geraldine native Levi Clark, for being named Montana’s Young Entrepreneur-Owned Small Business of 2020 by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)! The SBA Montana District Office presents this award annually to a Montana business owned by an entrepreneur under age 35. Levi Clark started Hybrid Steel Design – a welding, fabrication, and millwright firm – eight years ago and has grown revenue nearly 400% over three years. Stay tuned for an SBA press release announcing all its winners, including more information on celebratory events.

2) Thank you to everyone who voted to support the Great Falls Public Schools elementary schools operating levy and to everyone who supported Kids Education Yes! Passage of the levy is a great step forward for Great Falls!

3) Congratulations to the Rose Petal in Cut Bank on the completion of their major remodeling project.  In addition to celebrating the store remodel, Rose Petal owners Ashley and Nate Kavanagh are celebrating their first year as new business owners. See Pioneer Press. VandenBros Design has expanded into a 17,000 square foot space at 227 East Railroad Street in Cut Bank; see Pioneer Press.

4) The 25-year May SBA 504 loan debenture came in at 2.758%, 20-year at 2.683% and the 10-year at 2.644%. When was the last time you obtained business financing with an interest rate that started with a 2? SBA 504 interest rates are fixed for the life of the loan and are inclusive of all on-going fees. If you are looking to finance commercial real estate or equipment now is the time! Contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or to find out more.

5) Congratulations to another Geraldine native, Drew Hicks, owner of Central Avenue Meats at 422 Central Avenue in Great Falls, for the official grand opening of his new butcher shop. See Tribune.

6) As businesses throughout the Golden Triangle begin to reopen, what legal concerns should entrepreneurs address? That is the topic of our next Small Business Webinar Series presentation, Protecting Your Business From Legal Liability During Reopening. Employment and labor law attorney, Bobbi Berkhof with Church, Harris, Johnson, Williams, P.C. will help business owners understand how to mitigate risk with employees and customers. Register to join this free, live webinar on Friday, May 15 at 11 AM. We also send the recording out to all registrants.

7) Montana opened nine new grant opportunities to help address the COVID crisis. Visit

8) Worked with another great business on a COVID19 Stabilization and Recovery loan. Woith Engineering and Surveying will be able to retain their seven employees and continue operations. If you are in need of working capital support due to COVID19, call Jolene to discuss, 406.750.4481, Since March 18th, we have closed $749,647 in loans and approved another $248,500.

9) Nathan Reiff presented a second webinar on our Reopening Toolkit as part of the SBDC’s small business webinar series. You can watch the recordings of both presentations here. You can access all of our Toolkits and additional COVID-19 resources on our website.

10) Amongst all the challenges and changes the global pandemic of COVID-19 has brought, there are also opportunities for those that are able to harness and use the changes in supply chains, producer capabilities, and consumer demand to their benefit. If you are thinking about ways to navigate the seas of change in the agricultural, agri-tourism, bioscience, food and beverage, and natural resource space, we are here to help you on the journey. Call Barnett at 406-750-3285 or reach him via email at

11) A Brownfields project that has been in the works for years took a step forward this week. The building that was home to McCullough’s Wrecker Service and a former gas station on Second Avenue North, right outside Malmstrom ABF’s main gate, was demolished to begin the cleanup of petroleum & asbestos contamination. We have been working with our partners at EPA Region 8, DEQ, and the Montana Petroleum Board to provide funding for this property. We are excited to see a clean site that will make way for redevelopment. We’re also excited to win another $300,000 EPA brownfield assessment grant this week! For more information on Brownfields Tools, contact Lillian Sunwall at or call (406)750-1253.

12) Downtown is still GROWING! Ten downtown building permits totaling $2,011,400 were issued last quarter. Networked with developers and downtown businesses this week and GREAT things are continuing to happen in Downtown Great Falls. If you have a business you are thinking of opening Downtown or know someone who has an idea, contact Christian at or 406-836-0136.

13) We’ve started our own video series entitled “Doing Business in the Golden Triangle.” Each Tuesday at 2:00PM MST we will be showcasing unique businesses, the entrepreneurs behind them, and why their businesses call the Golden Triangle “Home.” Check out our first video with Drew Hicks, owner of Central Avenue Meats. Next week we will take a behind-the-scenes look at the newly opened Harvest Craft Kitchen. Be sure to like us on Facebook and hit that share button to help us spread the word that the Golden Triangle is a great place to live, work, and do business!

14) We are working hard to increase our outreach to regional businesses. But we need your help. Our fear is that a business will not be able to re-open because they don’t know the business services that are available to them. Please share the top ten and encourage your peers to subscribe. We’re all in this together! Questions, call Jolene 406.750.4481

15) We will be hosting a virtual peer-to-peer discussion designed for partners who provide assistance to entrepreneurs across the Golden Triangle this Thursday, May 7 at 2 PM. We’ll discuss what you’re hearing are the needs of local businesses, and how we can work together to respond appropriately and successfully to the COVID-19 crisis. To register, contact Nathan Reiff at or 406-403-4937.

16) Thank you to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, Wells Fargo for their Advanced Division investment, and Spectrum Enterprise for their Community Division investment. The economic landscape will continue to change, revealing new weaknesses and threats in the market. Now more than ever, private sector investment is crucial for strengthening economic development efforts. At GFDA, your investment is doubled and sometimes tripled through matching additional public and private resources. To discuss how you can have a meaningful impact on the community through investment at GFDA, contact Teresa Schreiner.

17) GFDA’s Nominating Committee is seeking interest from investors interested in serving on our Board of Directors. Eligible GFDA investors can serve on the GFDA Board for a 3-year commitment. As investors, you represent a diverse group of over 120 public/private sector leaders throughout the Golden Triangle whose interests align with GFDA’s mission. If you are interested in representing your company on the GFDA Board, email Teresa Schreiner by Monday, May 25th. If you haven’t invested yet, haven’t renewed your commitment, or you have questions about the scope of this role, email Teresa.

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.

“Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”
Golda Meir

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

May SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 2.758%; 20-year at 2.683%; and, 10-year equipment 2.644%. 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 Montana Innovation Partnership is hosting a virtual meet-up on Monday, May 11 to discuss the Department of Defense 20.2/20.B BAA and answer questions about AFWERX Phase I special topics seeking proposals for dual-use technologies. Register here.

The Montana Cooperative Development Center is hosting three webinars about Meeting Our Economic Needs Together — Understanding Cooperative Leverage. The first will be about cooperative Childcare, May 12, 2:00-3:30 PM. Register here.

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.