Top 10 – 6/7/20

Keith and Christina Cron announce the renovation of the historic Metropolitan Building in downtown Great Falls.

GFDA’s Top 10

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

1) Congratulations to Keith and Christina Cron on their announcement that they have purchased and are renovating the historic Metropolitan building in downtown Great Falls, taking advantage of the downtown Opportunity Zone and an SBA 504 loan. The upper floors will provide space for the expansion of two-year old Hygienix, a professional industrial hygiene and environmental services company founded by the Crons. See a brief announcement video on our Facebook page. Read more about the project and the building’s history on We’re looking for the next downtown developer or entrepreneur! Contact Christian at 406.836.0136 or

2) We closed an $85,000 loan to a rural start up, North Border Analytics in Chinook. The loan will help purchase equipment to provide a variety of technical and analytical services to our region’s farming and ranching industries. Many thanks to Jessica Aberg from First Bank of Montana for partnering up to help this entrepreneur, and most of all to Brian Grebliunas for taking a risk to create a business that will be such a great benefit for the Golden Triangle and beyond! If you have a business that needs assistance with financing to start or grow, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

3) 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

4) Great Falls was named the Most Patriotic Community in Montana by Insurify for having the greatest share of citizens who have risked their lives for our country.

5) The economic recovery in our region may end up having a lot to do with access to child care. Our Summer Child Care Consortium created and published a white paper this week. There is an immediate need for 300+ child care spots in Great Falls and more throughout the region. There are two opportunities. Businesses could add a child care as a revenue stream. Businesses could also create an in-house option for their employees. Click here to download the white paper. Contact Jason Nitschke to discuss next steps,

6) Congratulations to FCR on the announcement of their third center in Montana, opening in Helena!

7) We closed another GFDA Business Stabilization and Recovery loan to a pre-COVID profitable Great Falls real estate development company, Flat Water the Sequel. The company needed working capital because one of their major tenants was unable to pay rent due to forced COVID19 closure. We were able to provide them with $49,000 in working capital. If your business is looking for working capital that your bank or credit union can’t provide, call Jolene to discuss 406.750.4481.

8) Thank you to LPW Architecture and TD&H Engineering for donating their services to help the City of Great Falls and Malmstrom AFB put together a competitive application to DOD for help to build a new natatorium! See Great Falls Tribune for details.

9) Please join us this Monday, June 8th at 4:00 PM for a Facebook Live celebration of Levi Clark, the owner of Hybrid Steel Design, LLC. The Montana District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration honored Levi as the 2020 Young Entrepreneur Owned Small Business of the Year in Montana. This welding, fabrication, and millwright firm out of Geraldine has grown its revenue by 378% over a three year period. Click here for the Facebook Live video link, and make sure to click “Get Reminder” so you are notified the moment we go live.

10) What it Means to Be Open and Safe was our June webinar topic. We welcomed 19 participants from around the state. Click here to view the recording. Up next on GFDA’s Business Education Calendar is The LaunchPoint, A Pre-Business workshop from 4-5 PM on Wednesday, June 14th. Click here to register.

11) Diesels Counter Punch MMA Gym opened in Great Falls, see KRTV. The KellerGeist Pub is launching Beer and Brats on the Bay with a new food truck and beer garden. Firehouse Steamers is opening tomorrow at 1201 10th Avenue South. The Home Builders Association of Great Falls is taking its 2020 Home and Garden Show virtual. See for more details on all of these exciting steps forward.

12) Our Cut Bank-based Small Business Development Center advisor Rich Gannon joined the makers of LivePlan for a webinar to share how he used LivePlan to help clients put together business plans to receive grants from the Toole County Forward program. If you have a startup business or an existing business that could benefit from the clarity of a written business plan, call Rich at 406-836-2078 or email him at He can setup a demo of LivePlan, a powerful cloud based program that our clients can access at no charge.

13) We held the first class of a multi session series we are calling the Website Boot Camp. This four part class will take business owners through all of the steps to create, design and launch a fully functioning business ecommerce website hosted on the Wix platform. Stay tuned as we plan on offering this course again very soon. To get on the list for the next Website Boot Camp email Rich at

14) Many businesses are challenged by COVID19 restrictions and looking for additional opportunities to keep their customers and staff safe. The City of Great Falls Planning and Community Development wants to help businesses implement ideas for outdoor seating and shopping and more. We recommend businesses across the Golden Triangle work with their local planning and community development departments to find and implement solutions.

15) The latest video in our Doing Business in the Golden Triangle series features Kelly and Heidi Fowler, owners of Gold Fox USA who design plasma-cut signs, and ship custom mining equipment worldwide from their shop 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!

16) GFDA’s Board adopted a budget for FY 2021 starting July 1st that will invest in expanding our economic development work in business startups, retention and expansion of existing businesses, business attraction, and talent attraction, as well as a big expansion of our gap and bridge financing, and brownfields redevelopment. Our board, with the backing of our local investors, has chosen to go all-in on expanding our efforts to help the Great Falls region to recover as quickly as possible and get back to economic growth. It is a very difficult and challenging time for most businesses and organizations, including GFDA. THANK YOU to our Board for being aggressive despite our financial challenges, AND to our investors and partners who have stepped forward, and some who we hope will, to make this possible!!!

17) As part of our new budget, the GFDA Board approved a $75,000 business attraction lead generation contract with DCI, a leading international economic development marketing firm. We will use these services to identify and pursue opportunities resulting from corporate restructurings in supply chains and operations in response to the COVID pandemic. Last week we issued an RFP for talent attraction marketing services to expand the workforce recruitment effort we launched in January.

18) Thank you to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, First Interstate Bank and Transystems, LLC for their Advanced Division investments, Eric Heinbauch Insurance, Montana Federal Credit Union, Citizen’s Alliance Bank, and Hygienix for their Community Division investments. Double your impact through investment in GFDA. Investments are matched, dollar-for-dollar, to stimulate economic growth through GFDA’s participation in the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund and other funding sources. To discuss how you can influence the community, email 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.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Mahatma Gandhi

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

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.

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.