Top 10 – 5/17/2020

Renderings of the newly announced 83-unit Milwaukee Apartments and renovation of the historic Milwaukee Train Station project on the riverfront of downtown Great Falls. Renderings courtesy of LPW Architecture and Big Sky Select Properties.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 18 for last week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy — Montana’s Golden Triangle.

1) The Great Falls Planning Advisory Board unanimously supported rezoning for Big Sky Select Properties‘ second exciting downtown development! The Opportunity Zone fund plans to include a new 83 unit riverfront apartment building in the project. See Great Falls Tribune and stories. Stay tuned for exciting details to be announced soon.

2) The Big Sky Cafe in downtown Cut Bank will re-open under new ownership with financing help from the the Native American Community Development Corporation in Browning; see Pioneer Press. The historic Stone School Inn in Valier has a new owner and is under new management; see The Valerian.

3) The SBA approved a $199,000 SBA 504 loan as part of a $544,000 purchase and renovation of a building in downtown Great Falls! With a low down payment and FIXED interest rate the company will be able to expand their business while preserving working capital, which is so important for growing businesses. If your business needs money to grow please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or to find out how we can help.

4) Terry Hurley and Beth Branam have created the Great Falls Take Down & Take Out Facebook group to promote local businesses; see KRTV. A new coffee shop called Hinman Coffee House is opening on Monday in Browning; see KRTV.

5) We closed and funded a Business Stabilization and Recovery Loan to Woith Engineering and Surveying. These GFDA loans help previously profitable businesses who are struggling with working capital due to COVID 19 impact. Does your business need a working capital boost to deal with the effects of COVID? We’re here to help. Call Jolene to discuss, 406.750.4481. Since March 18th we’ve closed $809,147 in loans and approved another $199,000. We have secured more loan capital to help us keep supporting local businesses and real estate developments.

6) The Governor’s Office of Economic Development, MT Department of Commerce, and the US Small Business Administration are hosting a discussion on the Montana Emergency Grants and the national EIDL and PPP programs this Wednesday, 5/20, at 11 AM. Join Zoom Meeting: Meeting ID: 927-7340-6717 or by phone at 646-558-8656, Meeting ID: 927-7340-6717.

7) Exposure has proven to be the silver lining emerging from transitioning all of GFDA’s training events online during the last two months. We held two training events this week with 46 attendees included participants from 14 Montana counties, in addition to participants from Los Angeles, California and Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Special thanks to labor law attorney Bobbi Berkhof from Church, Harris, Johnson, Williams PC in Great Falls for presenting our webinar, Protecting Your Business From Legal Liability During Reopening. When posted, this webinar – and all seven other COVID-19 related presentations – will be linked on our website. In our eight COVID webinars, we’ve hosted 413 attendees from throughout Montana.

8) Our Executive Committee approved a brownfield cleanup grant of up to $134,225 to Cascade County to remove the asbestos and lead paint from the historic old jail in downtown Great Falls. We also approved providing free Phase I assessments for two other downtown properties, one for Habitat for Humanity that is looking at purchasing the building they lease for their Restore and one for a local business looking to expand into a downtown property. For more information on how Brownfields funding can help with move a “stuck” project forward, contact Lillian Sunwall at (406) 750-1253 or

9) Does your business need a website to help it convert to online sales? Adding an online sales option can help your company diversify your revenue stream and access more markets. If you are ready to take on this challenge, join us for our new four part Website Boot Camp. We will teach you how to build your own website from start to finish including a fully function online store. For more information and to sign up click here.

10) Great Falls PTAC worked with Pharm406 in Havre to help with the eMACS State Procurement process needed to pursue State contracts. The company just announced that they are expanding to provide mobile immunization clinic services beginning in August. Mobile clinics will be available throughout Montana; contact the company to set one up. If you would like to learn more about contracting with the government, contact Shannon Clancy at 406.590.1184 or

11) The latest video in our Doing Business in the Golden Triangle series features Chef Matt Black from Harvest Craft Kitchen. Hear about his new restaurant in downtown Great Falls, and why it is a prime location for new businesses! Next week we will take a behind-the-scenes look at a new food truck in town – Nourish! 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!

12) Be on the lookout for upcoming Downtown project announcements! The current momentum Downtown is positive and energizing. Do you have a downtown business, property, or project? We’re here to help. Call Christian at 406.836.0136 or

13) The Montana Cooperative Development Center has put together a free online Montana Cooperatives 101 course. This self-paced resource includes recorded presentations, activities and custom videos that will help you learn about the cooperative business model and successful Montana coops.

14) Tyler networked with digital marketing professionals across the country in an International Economic Development Council (IEDC) course. The takeaway? COVID-19 has dramatically changed the digital landscape. Now is an excellent time to get a fresh perspective on your digital assets (website, social media, etc.). Both Tyler and Rich are available to empower and enhance your digital presence, and are eager to take your call! Tyler Menzales — (406) 750-1539 or Rich Gannon – (406) 836-2078 or

15) Two businesses in Toole County were awarded grant money this week from Toole County Forward. GFDA helped these businesses write business plans using Live Plan, a cloud based business plan software. If you own a business in Toole County and need help applying for funding from Toole County Forward, contact Rich at 406-836-2078 or

16) 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 21 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.

17) GFDA Investors and community leaders held virtual video discussions with Senator Tester and Senator Daines to discuss economic impacts and recovery efforts. April was a challenging month for GFDA financially and May is going to be even worse. Despite that, we’ve doubled down on our economic development work focusing on business retention and expansion, entrepreneurship, and attracting investment into our communities including our downtowns.

18) Thank you to this week’s Investor’s in Economic Development, Holman Aviation for their Pacesetter Division investment, Tyree Investment GroupFalcon, Lester & Schaff, P.C. and Cappis Consulting & Tax, LLC. for their Community Division Investments. Your support allows our team to provide responsive and innovative services in a changing economic landscape. Thank you for your continued engagement! To discuss investment, contact Teresa Schreiner or call 406.781.9499.

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.

“Nothing comes easy. Success doesn’t just drop in your lap. You have to go out and fight for it every day.”
Dana White

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

Montana has nine new grant opportunities to help address the COVID crisis. Visit

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.