The O’Haire Inn in downtown Great Falls is undergoing a retrovation to restore the exterior of the Inn to look exactly as it did when it opened in 1962.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 12 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) Delta Airlines announced it is bringing back daily direct Great Falls – Minneapolis flights starting February 17th! See TheElectric and KRTV.

2) A big thank you to Montana Specialty MillsColumbia Grain and Meadow Gold for being recognized for donating thousands of pounds of much needed food to the Great Falls Food Bank and Montana Food Bank Network. Food donated included oats, flour, beans, milk, cheese and cottage cheese. See the story on KRTV.

3) We submitted another primary sector business attraction proposal to the Montana Department of Commerce (MDOC) in response to an out of state business considering expansion. Since July, 2021, the has sent us 25 requests for information or proposals for primary sector business site searches. This is about five times the total requests we received from the state in the prior 15 years. We submitted responses to 23 of the requests, winning seven site visits to the Great falls trade area (Golden Triangle) with a few more still pending. In business attraction, these are amazing numbers. This week we participated in a brainstorming virtual statewide meeting hosted by MDOC to make plans for partnering in 2023. Thank you MDOC business attraction team! Keep the leads coming!!

4) There is still time to register to attend, or present, at Ignite 2023 on January 13, 2023 sponsored by Payne West Insurance! This annual event showcases major investments, business expansions, new businesses, and construction projects starting or completing in the 2023 calendar year. We already have some exciting announcements lined up for the event. Register HERE!

5) We purchased another 24 acres of land for the Great Falls AgriTech Park, a BNSF-certified Premier rail-served heavy industrial and logistics park. GFDA now owns just under 250 acres for further business investment in the Park, alongside park tenants Pacific Steel & Recycling, Montana Specialty Mills, Helena Chemical, and FedEx Ground. The Park offers customizable lots with rail, water, sewer, gas, electric, and fiber.

6) The Montana Department of Commerce has done a great job putting 100% of the first tranche of State Small Business Credit Initiative funds to work in loan participations across the state, including helping some great businesses in our region. We’re already hard at work on potential loans in the second tranche. These unique low interest loan participations help businesses to start or expand. GFDA partners with your bank or credit union to structure creative deals to enable you to get the capital you need. These are first come first get one-time only funds. If you have a startup or expansion and haven’t been able to get all the capital you need or can’t make the numbers work because of higher interest rates, contact Tony ASAP or have your bank or credit union partner contact Tony at Tony@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-750-2099.

7) The White House released a Guidebook to the Inflation Reduction Act. There are many tax incentives that will be available for businesses, non-profits, and public agencies to reduce their energy costs and build new power generating facilities. We’ll be organizing briefings and trainings to help you learn and take advantage of these as more guidance is released. For now, download the Guidebook here. The National Association of Counties has prepared a summary of the IRA; view it here.

8) Downtown Great Falls is full of opportunities for retail, restaurant and upper level housing development. If you’ve been interested in expanding Downtown or opening a new space, we have tools that can help start your business or renovate your new space. Call Christian at 406.836.0136 or email CLeinhauser@GrowGreatFalls.org and let’s start putting those tools to work.

9) The Montana Department of Commerce awarded $320,000 in grants to 24 Native-owned small businesses across the state including C&C Meat Processing in Babb, Sweet Pine Outfitters in Browning, Iron Shield Creative in Browning, Chachi’s Tacos in Box Elder, Creeations in Box Elder, Inspired Life in Box Elder, Unity Enterprises in Hays, Cowgirl CharLee’s in Harlem, Attention to Detail in Hays, Auto Works Repair and More in Great Falls, Mobile Coffee in Havre, and Havre Historic Tours and More. Congratulations!

10) The Montana Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be held April 23-25 in Helena.

11) Please join us in congratulating Dr. Jake Clark, one of our outstanding Business Development Officers, on his promotion to a Vice President of GFDA!

12) Thank you to GFDA’s INVESTORS. They help support the local businesses who contribute to the workforce and help to ensure that our community is successful. Recent investments include: Advance Division—Central Plumbing, Heating & Excavation. Because of them and other investors, we can continue working towards maintaining, increasing, & diversifying the tax base, business retention & expansion, self-sufficiency & overall economic vitality. If you want to support economic development in our region, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or Jenn@GrowGreatFalls.org.

Merry Christmas!

Brett Doney
President & CEO

Download our GFDA Services and Staff Team handout or our GFDA 2022Q3 Quarter Index. View the We Are Great Falls video!

GFDA Staff Openings

We have two great career opportunities to join the GFDA staff team. Download info on Small Business Advisor — Director Regional Small Business Development Center and Loan Originations & Closing Associate. GFDA is proud to be on Equal Opportunity Employer!

Cost of Living in the Great Falls metro set a record for competitiveness in 2022Q3 at 85.6% of the national average, according to the C2ER (the Council for Community and Economic Research). Compare our local rate to Seattle’s 152.2%, Portland’s 122.2%, Bozeman’s 125.0%, Denver’s 111.2%, Salt Lake City’s 107.4%, Boise’s 105.4%, or Spokane’s 103.5%. Use our Cost of Living Calculator when trying to recruit new employees from our of town.

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; download AgriTech Park Flyer. Contact Jolene Schalper at 1.406.750.4481 or JSchalper@GrowGreatFalls.org

December SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) came in at 6.110%; 20-year at 6.032%; 10-year equipment loan at 6.534%; and, 20-year refinance 6.050%; 25-year refinance 6.128%. 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 JKohles@GrowGreatFalls.org.

Events, Business Training, and Opportunities
Certification with SBA allows service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) to compete for federal sole-source and set-aside contracts across the federal government. Certified veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) have additional opportunities to pursue sole-source and set-aside contracts at the Veterans Administration (VA) under the VA’s Vets First program. SBA’s new Veteran Small Business Certification program implements changes from the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA 2021) which transfers the certification function from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to SBA as of January 1, 2023. The transfer will provide veterans with a central support point for their small business certification needs. The final rule, which provides program and governance guidance, was published in the Federal Register on November 29, 2022. Learn more here or contact one of our government contracting specialists, Shannon Clancy at SClancy@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-590-1184.

The 2023 Montana Economic Outlook Seminar is headed to Great Falls on January 24th. The theme is the Future of Montana and will highlight the latest economic trends for local economies and the state of Montana, with special focus on the new wave of in-migration and what it means for the state. To register, visit Economic Outlook Seminar’s website here.

The Department of Ag is hosting a Speed Pitch Competition at their MT Ag Tech Innovation and Investment Summit in Great Falls on January 24th. The summit will bring together entrepreneurs and investors. Do you have an AgTech Innovation? Are you ready to pitch to investors? We can help! Do you have a Montana business that strengthens and diversifies Montana’s ag industry? The Department of Ag is hosting a Speed Pitch Competition at the summit. Three prizes are offered, $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 AND numerous investors will be present. We can help you refine your pitch! Call Katesha to chat about your idea, 406.788.0860. To register or learn more about the summit, click here.

Join us in person at GFDA on February 9th from 8:00-10:00 AM for the first in a quarterly series of STAR events designed to assist businesses with navigating and benefiting from doing business with government agencies and large federal contractors (often referred to as Primes). The Northrop Grumman team will present via Zoom and we will have Q&A after the meeting. Connect with panelists from a variety of large and small businesses currently successfully performing as prime and subcontractors. Learn helpful tips to assist your company in achieving its government contracting goals. Learn about new opportunities nationally and on or near missile wing Air Force Bases (Cheyenne, FE Warren, Malmstrom and Minot) Gain insight and information about the importance of registering with the large contractors, SAM.gov, and others to make your company more visible and propel your contracting opportunities. Find out about free resources to help you on your journey. Register here.

Have You Reviewed the New FCC Map? The FCC recently released a new map showing broadband availability across the country. Why is this important? There is more than $42 billion in federal grant funding available for broadband infrastructure development projects, and it will be allocated based on the number of unserved and underserved locations identified in the FCC map. The FCC Broadband Map is available online, and you can enter a specific address to see the data on broadband speed and availability for a specific location. If you have questions or concerns about the information, the deadline for submitting challenges to the map is January 13. Online resources can guide you through the challenge process.

 

The Montana Work-Based Learning Collaborative, a network of public and private partners working to expand and improve on-the-job learning for Montana students, has released its first Work-Based Learning Toolkit for Employers. The toolkit provides outlines, forms, and frameworks for employers in four key areas for work-based learning success: meaningful projects, welcoming community, mentorship, and expectations/feedback. Download toolkit.

Export Montana, part of the Montana Department of Commerce (MDOC), is organizing a trade mission to the Czech Republic and Hungary in June. They have grant funds to pay for 75% of the costs plus $2,000 toward travel costs. Grant funds are available for any of your export business development efforts. Contact Angelyn Deyoung, MDOC International Trade Officer, at adeyoung@mt.gov or 1-406-431-5075. We’re thinking about going back to exhibit and network at the Global Energy Show in Calgary in June, participating again in the USA Pavilion. If you may be interested in joining us to connect with Canadian energy, industrial, construction, logistics and related companies, contact Jolene at JScalper@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-750-4481.

The Montana Bioscience Cluster Initiative is offering funding through its 4th “F” Fund (4FF) to provide direct assistance to Montana bioscience entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses in need of money for travel to key conferences, small equipment purchases, or temporary staff assistance in relation to proposal development, etc. This fund is designed for maximum flexibility in support of new and established businesses and entrepreneurs in the bioscience industry. The fund will provide grants of $250 to $5,000. In exceptional circumstances the fund may consider larger applications. Grants may be awarded in phases (e.g. $1,000 initially with additional $1,000 on achieving specific milestone). More info and application here.

The Montana Energy Office at DEQ will host a second meeting on the funding the state of Montana qualifies for under Section 40101(d) of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). These formula Grid Resilience funds are a subset of transmission related funding from DOE under IIJA and are unique in that they will be managed by states. The program will be available for 5 years and DEQ will be submitting its first application for funds by the deadline of March 31, 2023, after which it intends to issue a competitive solicitation for qualifying projects. The second public meeting will be held via Zoom on January 4th from 9:30-11:00 AM. Meeting information and registration is available here. Registration is required for this meeting. DEQ has some information available on its website here under the “Grid Resilience Formula Funding” drop down but the best source of information currently is hosted by the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

We released the Bioscience Economic Development Strategy for the Great Falls Montana region. The report, prepared by Tripp Umbach with the input and assistance of key local industry partners, details four key findings and four strategic actions to grow and diversify bioscience-related industries in Great Falls. This report, along with other key findings from our strategic planning process will help guide the efforts of GFDA moving forward. Contact Jake Clark with questions regarding the report, Jake@GrowGreatFalls.org.

Many businesses that obtained SBA COVID EIDL loans will have their 30-month payment deferral expire soon. Are you one of those businesses? If so, the SBA Montana District office is holding a webinar on how to start making your loan payments. There are five webinar sessions scheduled. For more info visit SBA Montana.

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. TheMontana Manufacturing Extension Centeris offering a series of excellent workshops and trainings this fall.

Cybersecurity challenges for businesses continue to grow. The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC) is offering an array of useful resources to help Montana businesses to protect themselves.

Do you have open government contracts? Is your SAM.gov registered due to renew in the next few months? SAM.gov 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 SClancy@GrowGreatFalls.org for assistance.

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.

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.

USDA is accepting applications for the new Fertilizer Production Expansion Program. $500 million in grants is available to help existing fertilizer producers to expand.

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 RGannon@GrowGreatFalls.org.

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 https://vetbiz.va.gov/vip/. For more information on starting the verification process, contact Lillian Sunwall at LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org.

The best resource we scan daily to stay abreast of business and community innovation is MATR.net (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 RGannon@GrowGreatFalls.org 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 Jake@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-403-4937.

Visit our relocation website LiveInGreatFalls.com. 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 LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org.

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.