Top 10 – 6/14/2020

Congratulations to Levi Clark and the Hybrid Steel Design team on winning Montana Young Entrepreneur-Owned Small Business of the Year from the Montana SBA District Office!

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 20 for this week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy — Montana’s Golden Triangle.

1) Team Great Falls came together on a business attraction lead this week. On short notice a variety of city department leaders were able to come together for a Zoom with a light manufacturing prospect. Our responsiveness is a competitive advantage when competing for projects. The call resulted in the company committing to a site visit. Great Job Team!

2) Congratulations to Siyeh Communications in Browning on the ground breaking for construction of their new headquarters. Read more about Siyeh’s efforts to bring broad brand internet to the Blackfeet Reservation in the Glacier Reporter.

3) We’re excited to announce the new relocation website is officially LIVE! This website was the #1 request we got from local recruiters and HR professionals for aiding in attracting talented workers to Great Falls. Thank you to Banik Communications for their hard work on the site, The Wendt Agency for our new logos, and all community partners who contributed content for the site. The Great Falls At-A-Glance two-pager is a great complementary resource that highlights Great Falls for people unfamiliar with our community.

4) The state is still offering a variety of Coronavirus Relief Fund Grants, but deadline for some are looming and the nonprofit grant has already closed. Families, small businesses, non-profits, health services centers and individuals across Montana hardest-hit by impacts of COVID-19 are eligible to apply for grants through new programs created in response to the emergency. Visit COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV for a complete list of grant programs, eligibility requirements or apply.

5) We issued a Reality of Unemployment Benefits paper for employers struggling with workforce challenges. KRTV and The Electric ran stories about the new Great Falls Child Care Consortium that is helping to deal with workforce child care challenges.

6) Congratulations to the University of Providence for gaining accreditation from the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education for their Master of Science in Nursing, Nurse Educator. You can read The Electric’s article here and find the program here.

7) The SBA 504 loan program is really starting off this summer with HOT, HOT, HOT interest rates! June’s interest rates came in at 2.597% for the 25-year term, 2.522% for the 20-year term, and the 10-year term came in at 2.644%. 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.

8) Thank you to the Great Falls Business Improvement District Board of Directors for approving continuation of our partnership started in January to split the costs of a Downtown Business Development Officer! The board approved the agreement for FY2021 that starts on July 1st. The new position has enabled us to significantly increase business retention/expansion and business/developer attraction for downtown Great Falls.

9) Have you been thinking about an idea and always wondered if you could make it a business? Are you a business owner but not a business school graduate? Are you passionate about the thing you do and don’t know how to turn that passion into profit? Then join us on Wednesday, June 17th at 4:00 PM for LaunchPoint our 1 hour  business planning and strategies workshop. To register for this virtual class click here.

10) The latest video in our Doing Business in the Golden Triangle series features Amber Hofstad, owner of Windrift Hill, makers of soaps, lotions, and body butters all made from goat milk from their farm in Conrad, MT! Next week we will take a behind-the-scenes look at Teriyaki Madness right here in Great Falls. 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!

11) 5th and Wine welcomed their new chef Lorenzo Rivera, originally from Chicago, who trained under Stephanie Izard winner of Bravo’s Top Chef seasons four. See KRTV story. The Great Falls Voyagers announced a Save the Summer at Centene Stadium schedule of exciting events; see KRTV.

12) Nathan Reiff gathered resources from the Western Governors Association webinar on COVID-19 Impacts to Gateway Communities. You can watch the webinar and previous webinars here. The presenters had several toolkits from the Gateway and Natural Amenity Region Initiative that you can access here. If your business could use some help with COVID-19 related concerns, reach out to our new SBDC COVID-19 specialist Nathan Reiff at or 406-403-4937

13) Be sure to visit Cassiopeia Books at 606 Central Avenue and Harlos Wax and Sugar Spa at 612 Central Avenue in downtown Great falls. Both of these businesses have expanded and moved into the Business Improvement District! Congratulations to both on their achievement! If you’re looking to expand and/or move Downtown, contact Christian at 406.836.0136 or

14) On June 18th and 19th we will be hosting “Boots to Business”.  This is a pre-business workshop for transitioning military service members at Malmstrom Air Force Base as part of the Transition Assistance Program. Active duty military, veterans, and military families are welcome. Please inquire about eligibility prior to registering at

15) USDA is hosting a Battlefields to Farmfields webinar connecting veterans with agricultural programs and other resources in Montana. Monday, June 15, 11:45 AM. Register here.

16) Worked with a local business who is ready to expand! Two of our coaches are now working with them to set up their financial projections, market development, and online presence. We are here to help any business or would be entrepreneur located across the Golden Triangle of North Central Montana. Call Jolene to chat, 406.750.4481.

17) COVID-19 Financial Assistance for Montana Farmers & Ranchers webinar this Thursday, June 18 at 2:00 PM, put on by USDA and SBA. Webinar will cover USDA Farm Service Agency’s Coronavirus Food Assistance program and FSA loan flexibilities, Business & Industry loan guaranties, and SBA PPP and EIDL disaster loans. Register here.

18) Met with a business, their architects and environmental engineer to discuss a redevelopment and expansion project. Talked about environmental conditions and next steps on their 1920s property to qualify for potential Brownfields funding. Contact Lillian at

19) I got tired of looking at economic stats this week, but found a more interesting one! Montana ranked 2nd in the nation for beer consumption per capita, a step up from our previous 4th ranking; see VinePair.

20) Thanks to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, First Interstate Bank, Transystems, LLC, and U.S. Bank for their Advanced Division investments, City Motor Co. for their Flagship Division investment, Anderson Zurmuehlen & Co., P.C. for their Pacesetter Division investment, Citizen’s Alliance Bank, Alanna Ballard, Prairie Mountain Bank and PayneWest Insurance for their Community Division investments, and Spark Architecture for their Supporter Division investment. Each week our team shares how GFDA provides a range of efforts to make the region competitive for private investment. Thank you for allowing us to put your dollars to work! If you haven’t invested in GFDA, and would like to discuss the various ways we leverage investment to work toward growth, email Teresa 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.

Take care, wear a mask out there so we don’t go backwards fighting the virus, and remind everyone you know to fill out their Census so Montana doesn’t lose out for the next decade!

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.

“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.”
H.G. Wells

GFDA Career Opportunity — Commercial Lending Assistant. 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

Community members are invited to participate in the effort to create a wayfinding plan for Great Falls. Visit the Great Falls Wayfinding Facebook page for project information. We’ve set up a mapping website so you can put pins on locations and landmarks that you think should be included in the Wayfinding plan. See article for more details.

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 many 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!

The Montana Innovation Partnership is hosting a virtual meetup covering Intellectual Property for SBIR/STTR candidates and awards on June 11 at 3:30 PM. Register here.

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

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.

Northrup Grumman is working to gather subcontractors for the missile upgrade project. This is a long process and they expect to gather information for three to four years. If you are a small business interested in doing business with Northrop Grumman, please complete the Supplier Information form at

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.

The 4th annual Montana Food Show will be held in Missoula on October 26. Learn more at The Montana Beverage Show will be held in Helena on November 9. Visit for more information. The Export Montana team is hosting Riddle of the Exporter training in Billings on July 28 and Kalispell on July 30. The training is free and will help you learn about and prepare for export markets. Learn more here.

All of our recorded monthly business strategy webinars are available online for viewing anytime, click them out here.