Top Ten August 14, 2022

Fifteen artists participated in a mural workshop on Friday to kickoff ArtsFest Montana 2022 in Downtown Great Falls. The artists will be creating new outdoor murals downtown throughout the week. See TheElectric and KFBB.

GFDA’s Top 10
Here is our Top 20 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) Exciting transactions have been announced for major energy assets in the Great Falls Montana region. Berkshire Hathaway plans to buy the Glacier I, Glacier II, and Rim Rock wind farms from NaturEner. The three wind farms along the Hi-line in the Great Falls trade area have a combined capacity of 399 MW. Several years ago Berkshire Hathaway purchased the MATL electric transmission line which connects Great Falls and Lethbridge. Calumet’s Montana Renewables has secured a $250 million investment from Warburg Pincus and Stonebriar Commercial Finance has provided an additional $350 million; see TheElectric.

2) Here is a rundown of business reports from intrepid local reporters. The River’s Edge Trail connection across the 10th Avenue Bridge officially opened. Chipotle plans to open a location on 10th Avenue South. Panda Express plans to open a second Great Falls location at West Bank Landing. Coffee Republic plans to open on August 26th. Mountain View Coop has started construction on a new facility at the intersection of Smelter Avenue and 10th Street North in Great Falls. Construction of the new Starbucks on 10th Avenue South is almost complete. A Tidal Wave Auto Spa and a Les Schwab are under construction on 10th Avenue South. Chad and Megan Taylor opened Digital Karma Tattoo in the Strain Building in Downtown Great Falls. Check out The Electric’s Business Bites and KRTV’s Eye on Great Falls.

3) Congratulations to Western Feed Corral on the grand opening of your new building! Celebrate the agriculture and ranching dealer at their Grand Opening on August 25-27 and check out their new building. They offer a complete line of feed and supplements for cattle, horses, miniature horses, goats, sheep, llamas, dogs and cats. If it eats, they have the feed for it. The open house will offer in-store specials, food, drink, drawings and giveaways. Visit with dealer reps from Milwaukee, Purina and Hardware Hank.

4) Join us for fun Business Pitch In events at Copper Creek Coffee in Choteau on Tuesday, August 23rd from 11 AM – 1 PM and in Conrad at Folklore Coffee on Thursday, September 8th from 11 AM to 1 PM. If you have a business idea you’d like to pitch or for more information, please reach out to Tony Peres at 406-750-2099 or 

5) Triple Divide Boutique on Main in Choteau is satisfying the sweet tooth of residents and travelers through a variety of bulk candies at the downtown candy store. Owner Mischa Welch returned to her Montana roots after living in Arizona for many years. Learn more about Triple Divide Boutique on main in our Announcement of the Week.

6) We have launched another, new learning opportunity designed to support startup activity in our region. Part one of our new quarterly course, Becoming a Franchisee, explored how franchise-owned businesses are substantially more likely to surpass one, five, and 10-year failure milestones. We also discussed the two types of franchises and the pros and cons of this business ownership model. Special thanks to our guest speakers, Aaron Weissman, owner of Teriyaki Madness, and Cooper Thomas, owner of City Motor Company. To watch the recording of Part 1, click here. To join us for Part 2 on August 18th, please register here.

7) Local business leader Dan Bateman has purchased the former Cambridge Court assisted living facility in downtown Great Falls which has been vacant for years and plans to renovate it into 50 one and two-bedroom apartments. The City of Great Falls is considering supporting the development with a $1.2 million Community Development Block Grant loan. See The Electric. Great project Dan!

8) The hemp food and fiber industry is growing exponentially and centered here in North Central Montana! We attended the IND Hemp Montana Summer Summit and were able to engage potential processors on why they should locate their agribusinesses here. The summit brought industry leaders to Fort Benton from across the United States and round the world in the hemp grain and fiber industries to share, discuss, and collaborate business’s place in further developing the industry and supply chain for hemp foods and fiber in America. For more information on industrial hemp ask Justin Loch at GFDA 406-590-1301.

9) Showdown Montana ski resort purchased a hotel in White Sulphur Spring and has renamed it The Edith; see KRTV.

10) Development can be complicated. This week alone members of our team have worked with one housing developer to help navigate state, local, and even national protocol to provide a clearer path to project completion. If you are considering a housing development or complex project in the Great Falls region, please reach out to Jake Clark at and let our team help you as well.

11) Alluvion Health has established a new medical clinic in Choteau. This brings complete healthcare diagnostics to the town including laboratory and radiology services. See KRTV.

12) We’ve invited 10 second stage companies in the region to participate in our first PeerSpectives Roundtable cohort in many years. PeerSpectives is a peer mentoring group for established companies looking to grow. The kickoff meeting will be held in September then the cohort’s confidential meetings will start in October. We have room for two more second stage companies. Contact Jason for more info at

13) The Downtown Development Partnership of Great Falls board voted unanimously to support a proposed alley lighting project being undertaken by the Great Falls Business Improvement District.

14) Met virtually with leaders of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council who I met briefly at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in June. The Permitting Council can coordinate the environmental reviews of multiple federal agencies to speed permitting for some major projects. I applaud their efforts and hope we can take advantage of the Council for eligible projects in our region.

15) Early Stage Montana presents the 2022 Montana Startup Summit September 29-October 1 in Bozeman, a three-day weekend celebrating Montana’s innovation.

16) We expect to soon launch a new low interest loan participation product in partnership with the Montana Department of Commerce that will provide 50/50 loan participations with your bank or credit union. These funds are limited and will be put to work very quickly to help our economy recover and come back stronger than ever. If you have a business startup or expansion planned that could benefit from a loan participation, contact Brett at

17) Congratulations to the Montana Department of Commerce’s Export Montana program on winning a national E Award for Export Service from the U.S. Department of Commerce!

18) Met with the Board of the Helena Branch of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve who visited Great Falls. I tried to explain our need for loan capital to fill gaps and provide bridges that our bank and credit union partners can’t do.

19) The GFDA Board elected Mark Cappis of Cappis Consulting & Tax, LLC as Vice Chair and Forrest Ehlinger of Benefis Health System as Treasurer for FY 2023.

20) THANK YOU to our wonderful INVESTORS! They understand economic development is more important than ever during these times as we strategize for business growth and resiliency. Recent investments include: Leadership Division—BNSF Railway, and Dick Anderson Construction; and, Pacesetter Division—University of Providence. Investing in economic development helps to ensure that our community’s businesses are successful. We couldn’t do what we do without their support. To find out how you can invest in the community, reach out to Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or

A great week in Great Falls with ArtsFest Montana, Big River Ruckus, Montana MultiCultural Fair, and The Russell western art events, along with continued excellent summer weather!

Brett Doney
President & CEO

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.