Top 10 -6/21/2020

Congratulations to Deena and Amber Maier of Windrift Hill in Conrad on their continued success manufacturing handmade, moisturizing Goat Milk Soaps and Lotions!

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) Employers in the Great Falls MSA (Cascade County) brought 2,457 people back to work in May!!! This is according to preliminary data released by the Montana Department of Labor. THANK YOU EMPLOYERS! And, 989 people reentered the labor force!! We ended the month with an 8.0% unemployment rate, down from 12.2% in April. Across the Golden Triangle, including Cascade County, employers brought back 3,455 jobs in May and the labor force increased by 1,345, ending with a composite unemployment rate of 7.2%, down from 10.4% in April. We still have a lot of ground to recover. In the Great Falls MSA, we are still down 1,496 jobs from March; Golden Triangle total down 3,680 jobs. Because May is usually a better employment month than March, a comparison to May 2019 shows how far we have to go. The Great Falls MSA had 2,072 fewer jobs this May than last. The entire Golden Triangle including Cascade County had 4,762 fewer jobs.

2) Back on the positive side, JobsEQ released preliminary data this week for 2020Q1. Average annual wages in the Great Falls MSA increased for the 25th consecutive quarter, reaching $43,160. This was 75% of the national average, a climb from 73% of the national average last year. Our average annual wage grew by $1,602 or 3.9% compared to 3.0% in Montana and 2.4% across the nation. Total wages earned were $58 million higher for the four quarters ending 2020Q1 than in the previous four quarters. In the last six years, our average wage grew far faster than inflation. Inflation was 10.1% while our average wage grew 24.8%. That’s a $5,090 increase in annual average earnings per year above inflation! In the 18 years since GFDA was formed, average annual wage growth above inflation translates into $8,544/year increased earnings!

3) Met with a renewable energy project looking at our region. This solar project would be the largest solar project to date in our region. The project has a two-three year time frame. We work with all types of energy projects. Contact Jolene to discuss, 406.750.4481.

4) Join us on our FaceBook page this Thursday, June 25 at 1 PM for a new downtown Great Falls business announcement!

5) Have your sales been affected by COVD19? If you could would you increase your revenue, sales, traffic, and profitability? The Destination Creation Course helps businesses do just that. The Destination Creation Course retails for $399, but in response to COVID-19 challenges we are offering it free to Montana businesses. The course will be offered for the first time in Montana starting June 30. It will be fully online. This an incredible opportunity to increase your revenue, sales, traffic, and profitability. You can register here. If you have questions about the course, contact Nathan Reiff or 406-403-4937.

6) The Great Falls 4th of July Parade is on! This year’s theme is “Open for Business – Celebration on Parade.” Parade entries are available at Great Falls Lumber, 310 6th Street South. More volunteers are needed this year; contact Lola Sheldon-Galloway at 750-4721. The parade will be at 11:00 AM downtown, on July 4th of course; more info on KRTV.

7) The GFDA Loan Committee approved a loan this week in the amount of $89,837.04 to support an ongoing, mixed-use river front development with environmental contamination clean-up costs. The EPA Brownfield loan funds can provide clients with low interest funding for environmental contamination removal to help get the property ready for redevelopment. If you want to discuss different options that GFDA may be able to provide, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

8) The Downtown Development Partnership of Great Falls once again earned full accreditation from the National Main Street Center, only one of five downtown revitalization groups in Montana to earn the designation in 2020. We signed the partnership agreement this week with the Business Improvement District to split the costs of a Downtown Business Development Officer for FY 2021. Questions about downtown development, contact Christian Leinhauser,

9) Are you still considering getting a COVID related loan or grant. PPP loans are only available through June 30, EIDL loans have reopened, and new Montana grants opened this week, including a business loan deferment program. You can find information about these programs and other COVID-19 resources on our website If you have specific questions or need help we have coaches here to help. Contact Nathan Reiff 406-403-4937 or

10) Over 1,000 votes were cast in The Electric’s Great Falls Greats! Be sure to check out the winners and the runner ups so you are well prepared to vote next year. True Brew Coffee is now being served at Tracy’s Diner. Another great example of local businesses teaming up and showing why Great Falls is such a great place to do business.

11) We welcomed 11 potential entrepreneurs in our two pre-business workshops, The LaunchPoint and Boots to Business at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

12) Great Falls College MSU is offering an array of free professional development webinars; see Great Falls Tribune.

13) It has been one week since the website went live. As of Friday at noon, there have been 1,288 individual page views across several countries. We have received lots of positive feedback – thank you! Contact Soren Chargois at if you have relevant content that could be included on the site.

14) Congratulations to The Block in downtown Great Falls on a great Bozeman restaurant envy story on KISS FM!

15) The latest video in our Doing Business in the Golden Triangle series features Aaron Weissman, owner of Teriyaki Madness (Wok-tossing wizards) right here in Great Falls, MT. Next week we will take a behind-the-scenes look at the newly opened Foster’s Farmacy in Choteau, MT! 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!

16) GFDA has a great spread in the new issue of Signature Montana Magazine about the many partnerships that make up our community, including the new Talent Attraction Partnership bringing talented workers to (or back to) Great Falls. Talent Attraction Director Soren Chargois also had a sidebar about working for GFDA and living in Great Falls.

17) USDA and SBA joined forces on Thursday to present a webinar directed towards Montana lenders and agricultural producers. The webinar gave attendees the chance to learn more about USDA and SBA programs addressing the COVID-19 crisis available to agricultural producers. USDA’s allowance of agricultural producers to apply for operating loans under the Business and Industry (B&I) loan-guarantee program was covered in-depth. The webinar can be accessed here. For more information related to federal government COVID-19 efforts directed towards agricultural producers, visit

18) The Montana Food Show, hosted by the Montana Department of Agriculture, is scheduled to take place on Monday, October 26th in Missoula. Early bird registration for vendors (a $50 savings) ends on July 8th, and all registrations will be refunded if the show must be canceled or postponed for public health reasons. Learn more at

19) We signed a six month contract with CoStar/Loopnet to market the Great Falls AgriTech Park. Attracting new leads to the Park has proven to be great for the entire region because some companies that were drawn to consider the Golden Triangle because of the Park have chosen to locate elsewhere. As long as they locate somewhere in the Golden Triangle region, we’re excited!

20) Thanks to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, NorthWestern Energy for their Advanced Division Investment, Geranios Enterprises, Inc. for their Pacesetter Division investment, and Klinefelter’s Insulation for their Community Division investment! Thank you for your continued support and promotion. Not only has your investment kept our team working to move the needle, but we’ve also been able to provide critical tools and resources to help existing businesses to survive and reposition during an uncertain time. 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.


Happy Father’s Day and Juneteenth!

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.

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”
Bruce Lee

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

June SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 2.597%; 20-year at 2.522%; 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 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. The Great Falls At-A-Glance two-pager is a great complementary resource that highlights Great Falls for people unfamiliar with our community.

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.