Top 10 – 7/26/2020

The latest video in our Doing Business in the Golden Triangle series features Candice English, owner of The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers in Great Falls Montana. Next week we will take a behind-the-scenes look at Let’s Play Games and Toys in downtown Great Falls! Be sure to like us on Facebook and hit that share button to help us spread the word that Montana’s Golden Triangle is a great place to live, work, and do business!

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 10 for this week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy — Montana’s Golden Triangle. A number of our clients’ projects are making good progress to become reality!

1) Congratulations to Vision Net on its 25th anniversary! The Great Falls headquartered firm has evolved into one of Montana’s leading technology companies whose world-class 24/7 Network Operations Center (NOC) provides application, network and unified communications support to carrier and business clients both locally and nationwide. Download press release. Congratulations to the Vision Net team!

2) We closed another Business Stabilization and Recovery Loan to help a successful business thrive! NourishFood Truck is looking for a truck and trailer to continue their successful food truck endeavor. We’re excited to help Nourish stabilize and build assets. If you have working capital needs due to COVID19, contact Jolene at 406.750.4481.

3) Dakota Supply Group is opening in Great Falls at 1604 12th Avenue North. Beef O’Brady’s has pivoted to a new local concept called P.Gibsons. See more details on

4) If you or your company’s recruiters are struggling to attract out-of-town talent during the COVID-19 era, let’s chat. Our Talent Attraction Director, Soren Chargois, has been busy researching best practices and developing tools and digital resources to help you attract high-quality talent. Contact Soren at

5) This summer’s Great Falls SafetyFestMT is going virtual August 17-21. The event will include 28 FREE online workplace safety classes spread throughout the week so you have time to pick the ones that will most benefit your business. The ABC Clinic is joining this year’s event to expand resources for employers.

6) We’ve engaged the top economic development marketing firm in North America to aid us in creating and implementing a business attraction lead generation strategy built on global best practices. The Development Counsellors International, DCI, approach is relationship based. The first phase is uncovering why businesses choose our region through interviews. We will then develop a strategy to attract more businesses that make sense here and spend then work to get the right messaging in front of the right people at the right time. GFDA Investors are welcome to join us for a Zoom introduction on August 11 at 1:30 PM. Call or email Jolene Schalper to learn more, 406.750.4481.

7) Published the GFDA Quarter Index for 2020Q2. Contracted with Vertical IQ to enable four members of our business team to access this online market intelligence system to provide our clients with actionable in-depth current data on over 500 industries, including data on COVID’s impact on each industry. We’ll use this new resource to help businesses and entrepreneurs in the region to adapt their strategies to rapidly-changing market conditions. Thank you to the Governors Office of Economic Development for funding this through a CARES Act business innovation grant.

8) Demo’d LivePlan, a cloud based business planning tool that we use, for sixteen Montana Native American Business Advisors. If your start-up or existing business could benefit from the clarity that a written business plan provides, contact Rich Gannon at 406-836-2078 or to schedule a demo. We provide LivePlan for free to existing businesses and startups who become clients of our Small Business Development Center.

9) Started work with owners of two Great Falls businesses that currently rent space and want to realize their dream of owning their locations. With the SBA 504 rates being so low they are taking advantage the of the opportunity to do just that! If your commercial space isn’t keeping up with your growing business or you’d like to buy instead of lease please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or To read more about the SBA504 program or success stories, please visit our website.

10) Have questions about resources, tools, and general business questions? Join us for our first Small Business Coach Open Office Hour on August 18 at 10 AM. Join us for an Open Office Zoom Chat with our SBDC COVID Business Advisor, Nathan Reiff. Email Nathan Reiff for the Zoom log-in, On the call we’ll discuss tools and strategies for your business resiliency.

11) Testified in support of The Crossing at Milwaukee Depot project to the Great Falls City Commission meeting which approved it on first reading. Located adjacent to the historical Milwaukee Station, the project includes 110 unit market rate apartments that will connect between the downtown, River’s Edge Trail, and West Bank Landing. See Great Falls Tribune. This is an excellent example of a mixed use development located within the downtown Great Falls Opportunity Zone. For additional information or to discuss other projects, call Jolene 406.750.4481.

12) Helped a business who was checking into becoming certified as a Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) with information and documents to start the process. PTAC isn’t just for “SAM” (System for Award Management) anymore. We provide trainings, research assistance, bid opportunity reviews and so much more. Contact Shannon for more information,

13) Three entrepreneurs in the startup phase of business attended our monthly LauchPoint pre-business virtual workshop this week. If you are thinking of starting a business and need some help with the basics please register for our next LaunchPoint workshop – scheduled for August 25th – by clicking here, or get help sooner by contacting  Rich Gannon at 406-836-2078 or

14) Issued an RFP for a video production agency to produce four short videos that we’ll use for talent attraction, business attraction and raising awareness of GFDA’s regional services. Download RFP.

15) The Montana Indian Equity Fund (IEF) will begin accepting applications for the small business grant program starting August 1st. Applications will be accepted through September 30th. If you are a Native American entrepreneur looking to start a business or expand an existing business, check out this grant opportunity. For help applying, contact Rich at 406-836-2078 or He can assist with the application process and help you connect with a local Native American Business Advisor.

16) Looking to hire high-quality talent? Consider an ad in the 2021 issue of the Great Falls Livability talent attraction magazine. This online and print resource is targeted toward recruiting out-of-market talented people to the Great Falls region. Show them that your company is a GREAT place to work! Contact Talent Attraction Director Soren Chargois at to get involved.

17) We’re pleased to announce our newest team member, Kira Haumersen. Kira is relocating from Iowa to Great Falls to become our new Lending Operations Specialist. Kira has five years of commercial lending experience and is also a talented chef! We are further boosting our lending team with a new Loan Officer position. Download position posting or visit our website. GFDA is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer and Lender. We encourage all qualified candidates to apply! Please help us spread the word.

18) The Montana Economic Developers Association (MEDA), in partnership with the Montana Chamber Foundation and dozens of partners across the state (including GFDA), commissioned a study to assess the competitiveness of Montana’s economic development tools. The Next Generation of Community and Economic Development Tools Analysis was released this week. Visit MEDA’s website to download the report.

19) Thanks to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, North 40 Outfitters, for their Flagship Division investment, and Opportunity Bank and Prairie Mountain Bank for their Community Division investments. Your investment dollars are matched with our competitive CDFI Fund. Each business financed, project supported, and job created transforms a life, a family, a community, and our region. Because of your investments, we can continue to engage with community partners, leaders, and our investors to deliver creative business solutions. To invest in GFDA, contact Teresa at or 406.781.9499.

Times are tough, but that’s creating new opportunities for Great Falls and the entire Golden Triangle. Let’s keep working together to help existing businesses get through this, entrepreneurs to start new ventures, businesses to expand into our region, developers to invest in new projects, and talented people to move here!


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.

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Walt Disney

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

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!”

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.