Top 10 – 8/15/2021

A look back to reflect on progress — the Hotel Arvon and Celtic Cowboy “before” photo in 2012 of the historic Arvon Block; GFDA exhibiting at Alberta energy trade show in 2013 to attract the attention of Canadian companies; and, exhibiting at food industry trade show in Chicago in 2014 to attract the attention of food processing companies. Perseverance produces results!

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 14 for this week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy — Montana’s Golden Triangle. And, sharing business resources and skill-building opportunities to empower your success.

1) With the perseverance of great partners, the Downtown Development Partnership of Great Falls has been working hard since 2011. Through 2020, the partnership, a fully accredited National Main Street organization, has helped produce real results. From 2011-2020, 119 businesses opened downtown, $ 61,334,106 in building permits were issued in the downtown master plan area, and volunteers donated 267,991 hours to downtown organizations. From 2010-2019 property values in the Business Improvement District increased 61%. Coins for a Cause, the Downtown Safety Alliance, the pedlet program, ArtsFest Montana, and Music on the Mo are just a few of the many programs that have helped makes things happen downtown. GFDA is proud to have been able to provide $2,572,559 in gap and bridge loans downtown, over 20 free brownfield property assessments, and over $800,000 in brownfield cleanup grants downtown. THANK YOU to the entrepreneurs, businesses, developers, and fantastic partners who have made this possible! As we all like to say, we’re just getting started! Save the date for Invest Downtown Great Falls, October 28 from 10:00 AM – Noon in The Newberry!

2) This week we submitted two proposals for new business attraction projects and continued to work on several others. When businesses look at our community, we help them asses the fit and gather details they might not be able to ascertain from a google search. This year we are seeing a higher level of inquiry than we’ve ever seen before. In FY 21, we generated 169 new leads, 213 new projects, and 583 companies to our pipeline.

3) How important is the Cascade County population growth announced by the U.S. Census this week? From 1970-2010 the population in Cascade County shrunk by 477. Yes, it went up and down over those 40 years, but the net growth was negative. From 2010-2020 the population in Cascade County (which is the Great Falls MSA) grew by 3,087. The 3.8% decade growth was a modest 0.4% average annual growth rate. We’d like to get this up to 1.0% per year. We may already be there. The census count was through April 1, 2020. Join us in the Live in Great Falls marketing effort!

4) Our Loan Committee approved a $300,000 working capital loan to support the expansion of a business that has been in Cascade County for over 20 years. If your business needs assistance with financing to start, innovate or expand please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or at

5) Town Pump Reinvests in Great Falls Market with New Express Carwash. Check out the video announcement here! Town Pump employs over 325 team members in the Great Falls community and operates seven Town Pump Convenience Stores, eight casinos, and the Sleep Inn/MainStay Suites Hotel.

6) We had a great turn out discussing the new Downtown Great Falls TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Program with a representative from the city and several business/building owners. Read about the three programs here and view a video recording with Deputy City Attorney, Jeff Hindoien about Prevailing Wages and how that applies to the Program. If you have questions going forward with your application, please contact Christian at 406.836.0136 or

7) A couple of new Great Falls businesses are in the news. The N Thai food truck sounds delicious; see TheElectric. Carlson Q plans to open next month. Montana Apothecary and Compounding is building a 3,887 square foot building. Nourish food truck has opened a teaching kitchen and small event space downtown; see TheElectric. The electric scooter company Bird has come to Great Falls; see KRTV.

8) We are already planning GFDA entrepreneur/business convenient virtual trainings for September! Model Canvas/Value Proposition Design is the topic of our monthly webinar on Thursday, September 2nd. Boots to Business, our workshop for active military personnel, veterans and military families looking to transition to a life of entrepreneurship is back on Thursday and Friday, September 9 & 10. The LaunchPoint, our catch-all workshop for budding entrepreneurs is back on Thursday, September 9. And wrapping up the month is our popular Website Bootcamp: Website in a Day in Lewistown on Tuesday, September 28.

9) Great Falls College MSU and Montana State University Northernsigned an agreement that enables student to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Education in Great Falls; see more info. The University of Providence partnered with the Catholic Health Association of the United States to create a Community Health Investment Certificate Program, the first of its kind in the country; see more info.

10) Last few days to help us assess market demand for more child care services in the Great Falls area. Take this brief survey then send the survey link to your employees, colleagues and friends.

11) The Montana Department of Agriculture opened a new round of Growth Through Agriculture grants and loans. This year they are using a two-step process. Initial applications are due by October 4th; finalists will submit full applications in January. We’re happy to help you walk through the process.

12) We have issued an RFP for a Housing Market Demand Assessment and an RFQ for Web Design Services. Our reach is limited, so please pass these along to personal connections and prospective consultants.

13) Congratulations to Northern Transit Inter-local (NTI) on being named the Montana Rural Transit System of the Year! See Shelby Promoter. Racine’s R Snack Shop reopened in downtown Cut Bank; see Cut Bank Pioneer Press.

14) The High Plains Financial Board elected Dave Fink of US Bank to its board. Thank you to Amanda Boutilier of JCCS, Erin Townsend of Embark FCU, and Mike Hawthorne of First Montana Bank for their many years of service on the Board! High Plains Financial is the affiliate we created to offer SBA 504 loans statewide.

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.

“For organisations, flexibility is a must to cope with fluctuations in demand and remain competitive, and people must be able to develop adaptable attitudes to quickly embrace evolving business conditions, new business opportunities, and shifting strategies.”
Alain Dehaze

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.<

Edition 499

Here is an updated Growth Highlights for the Great Falls Montana Trade Area. Our Menu of Services and Staff Team handout. Here is our our Quarterly Investor Letter and our GFDA 2021Q2 Quarter Index.

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

August SBA 504 Loan Rates
The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 2.863%; 20-year at 2.744%; 10-year equipment loan at 2.591%; and, 20-year refinance 2.787%; 25-year refinance 2.904%. 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

GFDA has launched a College Intern Program starting with five paid internship opportunities. Download application. Help us spread the word!

Invest in Great Falls Regional Economic Development
Contact Brett Doney at 406-750-2119 or Here is a current list of our great investors.

Events, Business Training, and Opportunities

Looking to take control of your business’s financials, increase profit, and improve your bottom line? We have had interest from businesses in scheduling a Profit Mastery course. These courses are scheduled by demand. If you are interested in taking this two-day workshop, contact Jason Nitschke at JNitschke@GrowGreatFalls.orgor call (406) 750-0314.

Check out August’s Hot Jobs in Great Falls, a collection of open jobs that we’re marketing to people in talent attraction target markets (Seattle, Portland, etc.). These are jobs that people would relocate for. If you have a particularly high-skill, high-salary or out-of-the-box job opportunity to include in September’s blog, email Soren at

Pro-tip: Post positivity! When you’re using Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn and share something positive about Great Falls, tag @LiveinGreatFalls or @GrowGreatFallsMontana. We will like and share your posts. Follow our talent attraction effort, Live in Great Falls, on InstagramFacebook and YouTube, and follow the Great Falls Development Authority to help us attract entrepreneurs and business investment on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and YouTube.

You are facing tough decisions right now. We’ve developed toolkits to help you decide what is best for your business. Toolkits include: Crisis Toolkit, Hibernation Toolkit, Business Resiliency Guide, Re-Opening Toolkit, and a Child Care Whitepaper. All of these can be found on our website.

We deliver print copies of the Great Falls Livability talent attraction magazine around town every Friday – if you would like copies of this great recruitment tool, email Soren at

version anytime! Visit our relocation website 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.

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

Manufacturers, if you’re not engaged with the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center hosted by MSU, you’re missing out on powerful resources, services, and networking. MMEC clients report cost savings of $160.3 million, new investment of $328.4 million, $1.3 billion in new and retained sales, and 6,186 new and retained jobs since 2000. We’re proud to host an MMEC business adviser who covers the Golden Triangle region. Contact Doug Roberts at or (937) 489-3985.

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.

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

Curious to see how these projects pencil out?For each of the vision projects we have project analysis that includes Project Descriptions, Cash Flow Projections, and Rent Roll Summaries.