Top 10 – 8/2/2020

Nicole and Lee Wiegand, owners of Let’s Play Games and Toys in downtown Great Falls Montana, are featured in our latest Doing Business in the Golden Triangle video. Next week we will take a behind-the-scenes look at 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 21 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) The Great Falls VA Clinic opened its expanded location this week. Congratulations and thank you to all who helped make this happen! See Great Falls Tribune and KRTV.

2) We have three upcoming business trainings: Best Practices for PPP Forgiveness webinar on August 6 from 11:00-11:30 AM; Digital Marketing Strategies Workshop on August 12 from 8:30 AM-3:30 PM; and, The LaunchPoint Pre-Business Workshop on August 25 from 4:00-5:00 PM.

3) Spectrum held a groundbreaking ceremony in the Town of Cascade to announce coming high speed broadband offerings. They are expanding to offer GIG level service in Cascade. See KRTV.

4) Worked with several businesses to access State Grant Programs. Did you know you could get up to $10,000 in reimbursements for Personal Protective Equipment and other business adaptations necessary to keep employees and customers safe from COVID-19? The program has been expanded from $5,000. If you have questions about how to access this and other COVID business funding, contact Jolene Schalper at or 406-750-4481.

5) Congratulations to Tracy’s Diner on opening new outside dining along with their new beer and wine license. You can see pictures of the new space as well as read about it on Tracy’s was also voted one of the best restaurants in Great Falls by TheElectricGF readers. See all the winners here.

6) 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!

7) Congratulations to Kate and Mitch McKamey on their purchase of RPP Fitness from Christian Nichols. Christian will continue to work as the business transitions to new ownership. Kate is excited to bring on several new coaches and continue to grow the company.

8) Helped a sole proprietor connect with a bank and get a PPP loan. If you haven’t yet explored this forgivable loan opportunity, PPP loans are set to close applications on August 8th. Sole proprietors, LLCs, and other non-employee based businesses may still be eligible for a PPP loan. See your bank or credit union if you have questions. If you have questions, contact Jason at or 406-750-0314.

9) Cascade County awarded the hazardous materials cleanup project contract for the Old Cascade County Jail in downtown Great Falls, funded by a grant from GFDA’s EPA brownfield fund. See Tribune.

10) GFDA Investor Development Coffee. Every first Friday of the month GFDA invites investors and potential investors to a coffee hour to discuss real estate development projects, current economic issues, topics, leads, and trends throughout the region. Join us virtually this coming Friday, August 7th at 7 AM to be a part of the conversation. Contact Teresa for registration details.

11) 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 Chamber’s annual summer economic update is being held virtually on August 4 and 6; details and registration here.

12) 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.

13) SBIR Week in the Rockies: Montana starts August 10th. If you’re a researcher, innovator, inventor, tech entrepreneur or you support tech-based companies in Montana, this event is for you! The 2020 Regional SBIR Weeks are virtual, collaborative outreach efforts connecting entrepreneurs working on advanced technologies to the country’s largest source of early-stage funding – the SBIR/STTR programs. Also known as America’s Seed Fund, the SBIR/STTR programs provide over $3.7 billion in funding to small businesses each year in a wide variety of technology areas. August 10th through the 14th SBIR Week is in the Rockies. Hear from and speak with national speakers, Montana-based innovation supporters, government agencies and more.

14) 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!

15) 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.

16) 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.

17) The Montana Women’s Business Center (hosted by the Prospera Business Network in Bozeman) is offering two webinars this month: Intro to Email Marketing on August 4th from 1:00-2:30 PM; and, Customer Service During Challenging Times on August 14 and 21 from 9:00-10:30 AM.

18) Thank you to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, Energy West, NorthWestern Energy, Central Plumbing, Heating, and Excavation, and Alluvion Health for their Advanced Division investments, and Macek Companies, Inc. for their Community Division investment. The region depends on your investments to boost the economy, generate revenue, and be a catalyst for job creation. Thank you for your support of economic development work! To discuss investment in GFDA, email Teresa or call at 406.781.9499.

19) We published our GFDA Quarterly Investor Letter announcing that the U.S. Economic Development Administration has awarded GFDA a $4,829,000 grant to boost our gap financing capacity so we can help more businesses survive and thrive and help more entrepreneurs to start new businesses.

20) 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.

21) This week I participated in the virtual annual retreat of the Economic Development Research Partners, a special group of forward-looking economic development organizations of the International Economic Development Council. GFDA is a proud member of this effort that publishes practitioner-driven economic development research focused on making our work more impactful. GFDA is the only research partner member in Montana.

MASK UP to keep our economy open and save our local businesses and local jobs!

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.

“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
Marcus Aurelius

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 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!

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.