Top Ten 9/25

Independence Bank celebrated the opening of their Great Falls location at 901 River Drive North. Independence Bank has nine branches in Montana. The Great Falls location is a full-service bank with expertise in agriculture, commercial, consumer and residential real estate lending. Congratulations to Independence Bank on the expansion! We are proud to have helped with extensive brownfield assessments of this riverfront site.

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) The Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Great Falls is now accepting applications for its first class of students who will start next summer! See TheElectricAlluvion Health won a $400,000 grant to open a child care center as part of its redevelopment of the former Roosevelt School. The new program will provide 40 employer-sponsored childcare slots; see TheElectric. The A&K Diner opened in Great Falls; see KRTV.

2) Visit Great Falls reports that August was Great Falls’ best month for hotel room demand on record! The Great Falls market occupancy was 84.5% and ADR was $132.35, with many properties reporting higher occupancy and ADR. The Office of Tourism has recently updated the “Fast Facts” sheet available on BrandMT, Fast-Facts-Funding-20B.pdf ( The 2021 Montana tourism impacts were significant, with 12.552 million non-residents visitors spending over $5.15 billion while supporting 47,810 Montana jobs. This tourism spending also contributed $387.84 million in state & local taxes.

3) Dr. Tiffany Hensley-McBain with McLaughlin Research Institute has received her first National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant. Learn more about how the funds will advance the institute’s research on Alzheimer’s in our Announcement of the Week.

4) Pitched Great Falls Montana to 23 Site Selectors from across the US at the Site Selector Guild Fall Forum! We also listened to what they need when they are searching for locations for their clients. Site Selectors represent large and mid-size company’s looking to expand, re-shore, or locate initial operations. There are 384 metropolitan statistical areas (like Great Falls) and 543 micropolitan statistical areas in the United States. We build strong relationships with site selectors and companies so that we rise to the top of their searches.

5) Congratulations to automotive entrepreneur Mike Schneider and his team on finalizing the acquisition of Jim Taylor Motors in Fort Benton! Mike moved to Fort Benton from Spokane in 2019 to begin the process of acquiring this business. The purchase was finalized September 7th with the name and product lines remaining the same. Source: The River Press

6) Last chance to register! Our Health and Bioscience Economic Development Strategy consultants will be back in town for a working retreat on September 28th. The Tripp Umbach team will join us in-person to share the results of their study and facilitate working groups with key players in our local health bioscience and education community. Retreat registration is available here.

7) Hosted an aerospace and defense company site visit facilitated by the Montana Department of Commerce. This company is looking for a manufacturing and testing location. Our job is to showcase Great Falls Montana as their best location. The schedule included site locations and meetings with business partners Montana Air National GuardNorthwestern Energy, and Great Falls Airport Authority. Thank you the many partners that come together to make site visits like this a success!

8) Catching up on a few things I missed in the Top 10 over the past couple of hectic months. TheElectric ran a great story on the multiple park improvement projects completed by the City of Great Falls using the park and recreation special district. TheElectric also wrote about the City of Great Falls adopting the latest international building codes as required by state law. KFBB ran a great story featuring Blackfeet artists who participated in the 2022 ArtsFest Montana in Downtown Great Falls. The Great Falls Tribune has been running a series about local artists and musicians.

9) Submitted our first low interest loan participation in the new Montana State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) program to help a local business to expand. We’re processing several more potential deals to move projects forward that otherwise could not. 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 Jill at or 1-406-590-1056.

10) Yaron Goldman, CEO of Rib and Chop House, will be among the presenters at Invest Downtown to talk about their new downtown location. Invest Downtown 2022 will be on October 20th from 10 AM-Noon at the Newberry. We have some great tools that are available to help in your Downtown project. If you have been looking to start or expand your business in Downtown Great Falls, contact Christian at or 406.836.0136. Invest Downtown 2022 is presented by Northwestern Energy.

11) USDA recently announced details of a $300 million investment in a new Organic Transition Initiative that it says will help build new and better markets and streams of income for farmers. Columbia Grain has made sizable investment across Montana and North Dakota to increase capacity and efficiency at 5 locations to better serve producers and offer more delivery options for commodities in this initiative. For more information on this program contact Columbia Grain or Justin at GFDA 406-590-1301.

12) We received our executed agreement from the EPA to launch a second Brownfield revolving loan fund that will enable us to help finance more redevelopment projects throughout Cascade County.

13) Lock in long-term fixed interest rates and lower your equity requirements for business real estate acquisitions, renovations, and expansions and long-term equipment purchases. SBA 504 rates for September, including all fees, are 5.437% fixed for 25 years, 5.338% fixed for 20 years, and 5.320% fixed for 10 years. Some refinancing is also eligible. Contact Jill Kohles at or 406-590-1056.

14) The Made in Montana Food & Gift Tradeshow will be held in Helena on March 10-11, 2023. Exhibitor applications open October 19th and spaces sell-out fast. The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center is offering a series of excellent workshops and trainings this fall.

15) We are already planning for IGNITE 2023! This event is our annual kickoff where we announce projects and major investments in the Great Falls area that are starting or finishing in 2023. If your project, or one you know of, meets these criteria please reach out to Jake Clark at

16) Brett, Christian and Jake participated in the International Economic Development Council’s annual conference in Oklahoma City, sharing and learning economic development trends and innovations. Jake and I presented an interactive session on housing and childcare that attracted over 100 economic developers from around the world. Met with federal economic development leaders, BNSF, colleagues in Alberta and North Dakota, and site selection consultants. We were the only Montana economic developers at the conference. Christian is a speaker on an upcoming IEDC webinar on Downtown Revitalization called Down by the Storefront on October 6th.

17) Join our great economic development team! GFDA is looking to add a Business Development Officer to expand our efforts to attract investment in food, ag and bio processing industries in the region. Help existing businesses to expand and new businesses to start-up. Target and pursue companies elsewhere to expand into our region. Here is a complete position description. Send cover letter and resume to Brett at GFDA is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer.

18) We issued our FY2022 Audited Financial Statement — another clean audit! Our Executive Committee approved an agreement with the Great Falls Business Improvement District which shares the salary and benefits expenses of our Downtown Business Development Officer — 50% City of Great Falls Downtown TIF District, 25% BIDF, and 25% GFDA. Thank you for supporting downtown economic revitalization!

19) GFDA is able to continue our work because of the support from our public partners and INVESTORS. Without them, we couldn’t provide our clients the tools resources they need to help them succeed. Recent investments include: Advance Division—Energy West and Northwestern Energy. Their continued support in our work is helping to drive the growth in our community. If you want to join our team of investors, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or

20) This week we submitted a major grant application to the Community Development Financial Institution Fund, part of the United State Treasury. The Equitable Recovery Program was created as part of the ARPA Act to help areas most impacted by the pandemic to recover. If we win an award, which we won’t know until 2023, we will use the funds to help finance workforce housing developments in census tracts most affected by the pandemic throughout the Golden Triangle — the 13-county Great Falls trade area.

We have great momentum headed into the fall season. Let’s keep moving projects forward and help entrepreneurs, businesses, and developers to announce new projects!

Brett Doney

President & CEO

Here is a Growth Highlights for the Great Falls Montana Trade Area. Our Menu of Services and Staff Team handout. Here is our GFDA 2022Q2 Quarter Index. In case you missed it at Ignite 2022, we unveiled our new We Are Great Falls video!

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

September SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) came in at 5.437%; 20-year at 5.338%; 10-year equipment loan at 5.320%; and, 20-year refinance 5.352%; 25-year refinance 5.450%. 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

Events, Business Training, and Opportunities
Cost of Living in the Great Falls metro remained competitive in 2022Q2 at 87.8% of the national average, according to the C2ER (the Council for Community and Economic Research). Compare our local rate to Bozeman’s 121.8%, Denver’s 111.0%, Boise’s 109.3%, or Spokane’s 102.7%. Use our Cost of Living Calculator when trying to recruit new employees from our of town.

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

Do you have open government contracts? Is your registered due to renew in the next few months? continues to have issues with the transition of the new validation process. It is recommended that businesses start early to renew their registration to keep from going inactive. If you are having trouble getting through the process, contact Shannon Clancy at for assistance.

We’re co-hosting the Montana Economic Development Conference at The Newberry in downtown Great Falls November 14-16; see Montana Economic Developers Association. The Building a Winning Montana Team conference will feature exciting panels discussing key Montana economic development issues such as housing, business attraction, talent attraction, tourism and economic development, tribal economic development, and value added agriculture. Keynotes will bring perspectives from other states and provinces, and from leading Montana industry associations and state leaders. Workshops include economic development ethics, new financing collaborations, and supporting local entrepreneurs and existing businesses. Download preliminary agenda. Sponsor a session! Contact Rebecca Myers at or Jenn Gallmeier at

The Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce announced the inaugural Worlds of Work! (WOW). WOW is a career expo pioneered by West Alabama Works. Though NOT a typical job fair, this event opens new avenues of opportunity for middle school students they never knew were possible. The Chamber’s goal this first year is to have sixteen Worlds, each representing one of Montana’s sixteen recognized career pathways. On October 18th, 2022, WOW will be held at Great Falls College – MSU and the University of Providence (inside and outside) from 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM. Area 8th graders will be divided into groups and will have a navigator who will guide them to each of the worlds, where they will explore for approximately 20-25 minutes before traveling to the next world. WOW Varsity, the block for high school students, will be in the late afternoon, and will include sophomores only for this first year. Check out the West Alabama WOW. Contact Scott Wolff for more info at

The Montana Innovation Partnership is offering a number of trainings and an accelerator program for companies interested in pursuing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.

The Montana Food & Beverage Show will be held November 7th in Missoula. Register at: AGR.MT.GOV/FOOD-AND-BEVERAGE-SHOW.

Montana STEP grants can pay for 75% of your international export marketing efforts up to $10,000. The Montana TechLink Center at MSU is offering a new round of workshops on how to win Small Business Innovation Research funding.

What’s it like to live in Great Falls Montana? Get a glimpse through the Great Falls 2022 Livability Magazine! Livability Great Falls is a tool for recruiting people from outside our community and is one of the tools for our Talent Attraction campaign. We also have a Email List to share resumes of trailing partners and others and we promote Hot Jobs – jobs that would entice people to move here. If you are recruiting people from outside Great Falls, click here to join our recruiter email list and learn more.

We have migrated our pre-business workshop for early stage and pre-venture startups to a self-paced, video-facilitated, online format. Business Basics for Startups is now live and ready for beta testing. If you’d like to check out the content and provide feedback, we’d appreciate it. Click here to check out the new modules and resources. Please direct feedback to Rich at

Attention Veteran-Owned Businesses! In less than a year the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) will transfer to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). As of January 1, 2023, all functions of VA’s CVE will be handled by the SBA. To help make this a seamless transition, we encourage all self-certified SDVOSBs to complete the verification process through the VA now before the transfer becomes effective. Please start the verification process at For more information on starting the verification process, contact Lillian Sunwall at

The best resource we scan daily to stay abreast of business and community innovation is (Montana Associated Technology Roundtables) which we are proud to help sponsor. Sign up for their free newsletter.

We’ve released the Great Falls Childcare Demand Assessment that shows a need for additional childcare facilities to serve 580 children in Great Falls. For assistance with childcare facility business planning, contact Rich Gannon at or 1-406-836-2078.

Join the Trailing Partner Email Group specifically for employers to share resumes of trailing spouses/partners across the Great Falls region with other employers looking to hire. “Your (Live in Great Falls) website is very impressive and helpful! Great Falls looks amazing, and we love what we’ve seen real estate-wise, and business-wise.” This quote was from an email sent to us from a couple considering relocation to Great Falls. We will be sharing their resumes (with their permission) on the Trailing Partner Email Group.

We’ve released the Great Falls Housing Market Assessment that shows a need for over 450 new housing units per year in the immediate Great Falls area. For assistance with housing development, contact Jake Clark at or 1-406-403-4937.

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

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.