Top 10 – 8/17/2020


The latest video in our Doing Business in the Golden Triangle series features Ox and Jennifer (pictured above) from Ox & Son Towing RecoveryTransport, and Auto Auction of 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!

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 20 for the last two weeks celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy — Montana’s Golden Triangle. Sorry to get behind on the Top 10. It’s great to have so much entrepreneurial activity moving forward! There is much more going on that I’ll include in the next issue.

1) The Great Falls City Commission unanimously voted to award tax breaks for three projects with combined investment of $19.4 million in Downtown Great Falls. We are excited to see the support for these projects and the developers! Learn more about these projects on KRTVGreat Falls Tribune and The Electric.

2) Want to learn more about the Station District? Check out this video announcement we hosted last week to discuss the scope of the project and the local partners involved.

3) We closed a $796,000 SBA 504 loan on a $2.8 million dollar project for Snowline Acres, a new business in the Kalispell area that purchased a Christmas tree business and expanded into a beautiful wedding and event center. We were able to help get them lock into a low interest rate loan, FIXED, for 20 years! Many thanks to their excellent commercial banker Corey Sheplee at Sterling Bank for recommending this great product to them. To find out more about the SBA 504 program please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

4) Congratulations to the new owner of Cassiopeia Books at 606 Central Avenue in Great Falls. Mildred Whalen relocated from New York City to purchase this business. See Great Falls Tribune article. Welcome to the Golden Triangle, Millie!

5) What’s it like for a company to evolve from the 1880’s to now and why did they choose Great Falls for their corporate headquarters? Jeff Millhollin with Pacific Steel and Recycling sat down with us in this week’s Doing Business in the Golden Triangle. These premier on our FaceBook every Tuesday at 2 PM.

6) Another downtown project is moving forward! KellerGeist Pub Theater is renovating their 111 Central Avenue with the help of financing through an SBA 504 and Citizens Alliance Bank. Learn more about the SBA 504 loans.

7) 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.

8) New projects! Arby’s on 3rd St. NW is doing a full remodel, True Brew’s second location opened August 5th at 1801 11th Ave S, Yarn and Honey will be moving into Downtown Great Falls on the 600 block of Central Ave, and the construction of two new residential units on 2nd Ave north are in full swing; see If you are interested in expanding or starting a business Downtown, contact Christian at 406.836.0136 or

9) Helped several clients to apply for state COVID Relief grants and several more opportunities are now available. The business Stabilization has increase from 10,000 to 20,000 or 6 months of working capital, a Live Entertainment grant was added, and you can get reimbursed for up to 10,000 dollars of adaptation expenses. If you have questions about any of these grants contact Nathan Reiff at or 406-403-4937.

10) SBA 504 Interest Rates keep coming in low, low, low! Effective interest rates for August came in at 2.266% for the 25-year term, 2.210% for the 20-year term, and the 10-year term came in at 2.387%. The SBA even offers a business debt refinance loan with 20-year rates at 2.211%. Now is a great time to lock in the interest rate on your commercial real estate or equipment project with an SBA 504 loan. With down payments as low as 10% the 504 is hard to beat for small business financing. Contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or to get started on your SBA 504 loan today!

11) Our virtual Digital Marketing Strategies workshop welcomed 18 participants from throughout the Golden Triangle. Special thanks to our partners at the Montana Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program for sponsoring this training.

12) As a business owner, do you know if your SAM (System for Award Management) login information is secure? Due to increased security, is the current access for a business’s SAM Profile. This week PTAC helped a large business access their SAM account that had been created using a previous employee’s personal data. If you have questions about your SAM profile, contact Shannon at for more information.

13) We signed a contract with DCI to help us boost our new talent attraction campaign. The multi-faceted campaign will help Great Falls region businesses attract high-quality talent to relocate to our area. If you know of someone who has recently relocated here, we’d like to learn about their experience. Please reach out to our Talent Attraction Director, Soren Chargois, at

14) We completed Phase I environmental assessments for two businesses looking to purchase buildings in downtown Great Falls. Are you looking at a site to open or move your business? In order to be eligible for clean up funding in the future, a Phase I is required prior to purchase. If you aren’t sure what that means or have questions, contact Lillian Sunwall at or (406) 750-1253.

15) Twenty-three business people from nine communities attended our live webinar, Best Practices for PPP Forgiveness, presented by Jake Carter, CPA with JCCS, P.C. View recording here.

16) New guidance continues to be issued by SBA about PPP loan forgiveness. If you are wondering whether to file SBA Form 3508 or 3508EZ or what the Alternative Payroll Covered Period is you. We have resources on our website. Or if you want more hands on help, you can contact our business “survive and thrive” COVID specialist, Nathan Reiff for help with any of these or other state or federal recovery programs; or 406-403-4937.

17) Do you own a tourism related business on the eastern edge of Glacier National Park? If so then your business may be eligible for up to $40,000 in grant funding from the State of Montana’s new East Edge of Glacier Park Tourism Business Grant. If you need help applying, email or call Nathan Reiff at or 406-403-4937.

18) If your business has been denied by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), don’t take no for an answer. GFDA’s SBA Resource Partner program, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) continues to assist businesses with requesting reconsideration from the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. Businesses we worked with last week were denied for unverifiable information and insufficient proof of economic injury tied to COVID. Another client we assisted with a PPP application provided this feedback of a lending partner: “I’ve never had anyone at a bank stay late to help me and accommodate my time.” Contact Nathan at to help access the various capital programs for COVID-related recovery.

19) Thanks to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, Central, Plumbing, Heating and Excavation and Energy West Montana for their Advanced Division investments, Great Falls Public Schools and Springhill Suites for your Leadership Division investments, AE2S for your Pacesetter Division investment, and Liberty Electric, Global Credit, LLC and K&K Trucking, Inc. for their Community Division investments. Economic development agencies are critical for the vibrancy and sustainability of communities and businesses. But especially in times like these, economic development work, with investors like you, is able to make things happen that otherwise would not. Presently, your investments are showing results in the form of affordable workforce housing, talent attraction, and assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses, just to name a few. Thank you! If you have questions about investment, email Teresa or call 406.781.9499.

20) GFDA is pleased to welcome two new board directors who will provide critical leadership, diversity, and insight as we work to grow and diversify the regional economy, create higher wage career opportunities, and improve market competitiveness. Welcome, Jed Henthorne, President of Energy West Montana, and Corey Palmer, Vice President, Sales & Account Management of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana. To our outgoing directors, Becky Fink, Collette Hanson, and David Cerotzke, thank you for your time, guidance, dedication and tireless volunteerism. You have been an integral part of our organization. Stay in touch!

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.

“The best way out is always through.”
Robert Frost

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.

Great GFDA Career Opportunity
We are 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.

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 2.266%; 20-year at 2.210%; 10-year equipment loan at 2.387%; and, 20-year refinance 2.211%. 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 Montana Chamber hosted a webinar helpful for businesses interested in learning more about the Montana Loan Deferment Program. See recording of webinar here.

The Montana Department of Commerce’s Office of Tourism and Business Development has launched the “Montana Aware” campaign to promote safe and responsible behavior among those who are traveling in the state. Through the formal “Montana Aware” campaign, 17 of Montana’s Convention and Visitors Bureaus and six tourism regions share $5 million to promote the initiative. To download the partner toolkit visit MARKETMT.COM.

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.

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 2nd Annual ArtsFest MONTANA will be held in Downtown Great Falls August 21-27. Launched last summer by the Great Falls Business Improvement District and NeighborWorks Great Falls, the mural festival is about bringing people together through art. ArtsFest MONTANA brings artists from around the continent to create meaningful and impactful murals downtown. Donations are sought to match a $5,000 grant opportunity; details at See if you can find all the artwork and tag on Instagram at @downtowngreatfallsmt!

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.

Looking to learn a new professional skill or explore a new career path? Microsoft has launched a global skills initiative aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year. 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 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.