Top 10 – 7/19/2020

The latest video in our Doing Business in the Golden Triangle series features Chris and Susan Crocker (pictured above), owners of The Good Wood Guys in Great Falls, MT. Next week we will take a behind-the-scenes look at the The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers – a knitter’s paradise here in Great Falls, Montana! 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!

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 11 for this week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy — Montana’s Golden Triangle.

1) The C.M. Russell Museum announced a $25 million capital campaign, Art & Soul: A Campaign to Ignite the American Spirit. The funds will create an endowment, acquire key pieces of art, and expand the museum facilities. The museum has already raised over $17 million towards its goal! See Great Falls Tribune and Congratulations and THANK YOU to the generous donors!!!

2) Spoke at the Great Falls Neighborhood Council #7 meeting in favor of The Crossing at Milwaukee Depot project proposed by Big Sky Select Properties, a local Opportunity Zone Fund. The Council voted to support the project.

3) Do you have a great idea for a business but you don’t know where to start? Join our next monthly LaunchPoint, a business planning and strategies workshop that will walk you through the key structures, and basic startup procedures to start your venture. This virtual meeting will be held on Thursday July 23rd, at 4 PM. For more information and to register click here. For business startup assistance, contact Rich Gannon at or 406-836-2078.

4) Helped a business walk through the WAWF (Wide-area Workflow) Invoicing Platform to submit an invoice on a completed contract at Malmstrom AFB. FYI: If you have a current open contract, remember to make sure your SAM (System for Award Management) registration is active and your information is current and up to-date. If you have questions or would like assistance contact Lillian at

5) Microsoft has launched a global skills initiative aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year. This initiative combines existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub, and Microsoft. Together, they have identified 10 jobs as having the greatest number of job openings, steady growth over the past four years, pay a livable wage, and require skills that can be learned online. Learn more about the initiative, or go to to start “upskilling!”

6) As COVID-19–related cybersecurity scams have risen, businesses and their employees’ awareness of them may have fallen. Many are still learning how to communicate remotely and meet project goals outside the office.  For more information on how you can protect your business while working remotely, contact our government contracting advisor Sannon Clancy at

7) Started work with several property developers this week discussing potential redevelopment projects in Downtown Great Falls. Discussed residential and mixed use opportunities. If you have a looking at starting a project downtown, call Christian at 406.836.0136 or

8) If you hear of a business that is struggling right now, please pass along our information. Many times there are options that a business may not know exist. We don’t want to lose businesses in the Golden Triangle if we can help but we are limited in our outreach. We need you as our eyes and ears. Send businesses directly to Nathan Reiff,

9) GFDA was approved by the SBA to become an SBA PPP lender. We secured awards of two state CARES Act grants totaling $18,189 that will help us continue to offer economic development services throughout the region. Our Executive Committee approved an increase in the brownfield cleanup grant to Cascade County for the old jail. The grant maximum is now $148,249. We closed out our in-house financial report for FY 2020 that ended on June 30, eking out positive net income for the 10th consecutive year in a row.

10) Thanks to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, US Bank, for their Advanced Division investment, AE2S, Anderson ZurMuehlen & Co., P.C. and Great Falls College MSU for their Pacesetter Division investments, and Bison Ford and Midway Rental for their Community Division investments. Your financial resources are essential for business recovery and growth. Thank you for investing in development and diversity of the regional economy. If you have questions about investment, email Teresa at or call 407.781.9499.

11) The unemployment rate for the Great Falls MSA was 8.1% in May according to the Montana Department of Labor. The number of employed was 34,510, an increase of over 2,000 from the April total of 32,347. However, we had 36,434 employed in March. In May 2019 we had 37,010 employed and an unemployment rate of 2.8%. We do not yet have data on wage earnings which we know have taken a hit as many workers are getting fewer hours. It’s too early to tell how many businesses may not make it despite all our region-wide efforts to help.

MASK UP MONTANA! Whether we like it or not, the most effective, low cost thing we can do right now to protect our local jobs and businesses is to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Brett Doney
President & CEO

Connect with me on LinkedIn to network with the Great Falls Montana region. Forward the GFDA Top 10 to friends and colleagues. You can join our distribution list HERE or text GFDA to 22828.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you … never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

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.

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

July SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 2.406%; 20-year at 2.341%; and, 20-year refinance 2.342%. 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!

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

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.