Street Art Cities has spotted Cobre’s Eyes Mural in Great Falls and named it one of the top 100 murals of 2022 – in the WORLD; see TheElectric. Only eight murals in the United States made the list! To get to #1, Street Art Cities has an app you can download in the app store or google to vote for the winner. You can vote 10 times. Click on Let’s boost our visibility and thank Cobre by voting!

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 23 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 Great Falls City Commission unanimously approved up to $972,373 in tax increment funds for infrastructure improvements that will make possible private investment of over $26 million in the next phase of West Bank Landing, the outstanding riverfront mixed-use brownfield development in the City’s West Bank Urban Renewal District. This phase will include a new hotel, fast casual restaurant, and more. West Bank Landing and West Bank One have been keystones of our riverfront redevelopment efforts. We’re excited that Talcott Properties is moving forward with this next phase of West Bank Landing, as well as some great additions to West Bank One!

2) Alluvion Health completed its purchase of the former Roosevelt Elementary School from Great Falls Public Schools. Alluvion plans to begin construction this fall on the Roosevelt Collaborative Project that will include a pediatric clinic, autism services, employer-sponsored childcare, and housing units; see TheElectric and KFBB. We are proud to have been able to provide over $18,000 in environmental assessments to support this great redevelopment.

3) We approved providing a Phase II environmental assessment for a project in Great Falls looking to expand daycare opportunities. If you are looking at purchasing an older building, give us a call to discuss how we can help you move your project forward. Contact Lillian Sunwall at LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org.

4) This week Tony headed to Browning to host a Business Pitch training at Glacier Peaks Casino’s bingo hall along with Blackfeet Manpower Tourism and Economic Development and NACDC Financial Services. We had almost 40 attendees with half of those being business owners from the High Line. Regional resources were shared from all participating organizations and the Business Pitch training was well received in preparation for the video pitch contest being held through February 15th. To find out more about a Business Pitch or to participate in the video pitch contest, please reach out to Tony Peres at 406-750-2099 or Tony@GrowGreatFalls.org.

5) Expanding your agricultural processing business and need funding? Attend USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG ) workshop this Monday, January 23rd, from 11:00 AM – 1:30 PM or Wednesday January 25th, 4:30 – 6:30 PM. Applications for the grant will open February 1st. This workshop is an opportunity to learn more about the specifics and what to expect. For more information click here or contact Katesha at Katesha@GrowGreatFalls.org

6) Cut Bank Creek Brewery celebrated its 5th anniversary; see KRTVNorthwest Distributors, a Sweetgrass based company that specializes in shipping and receiving packages to and from Canada announced this week that they will be opening a location in Cut Bank. See Northwest Distributors Facebook for their announcement. Amber Hofstad, owner of Windrift Hill in Conrad was the keynote speaker at the Havre Chamber’s annual meeting; see Havre Daily NewsCongratulations to Fort Benton High School senior, Emerson Giese, on the publication of her first novel, The Miserable Lives of the Perfect Ones; see KRTV. You can buy the book at your local bookstore, Barnes and Noble, or on Amazon.

7) A total of 18 companies and partners presented at Ignite 2023, sponsored by PayneWest PayneWest Insurance! We heard from healthcare, education, manufacturing, and more! Here’s a look at the major announcements and projects moving forward in 2023!

8) 43% of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses and attacks are becoming more frequent. The Montana Department of Commerce has launched an ARPA Cybersecurity Program. Businesses can apply for up to $8,000 in reimbursement for newly implemented cybersecurity measures paid to an accredited Montana cybersecurity company. For guidelines and the application, click here.

9) We hosted a Business Pitch in downtown Great Falls at Fire Pizza with exciting and well thought out pitches from local business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Ensuing conversation was excellent with fantastic questions and suggestions from the energetic audience. If you are interested in hosting or participating in a Business Pitch please reach out to Tony Peres at 406-750-2099 or Tony@GrowGreatFalls.org.

10) With several exciting new apartment developments announced, Jake has sharpened our focus to pursue developers to undertake production of more homeownership opportunities. One area of interest is condo production in Great Falls. If you know of a lender with experience financing such projects or, even better, a company currently producing condos in Montana, please reach out to Jake Clark at Jake@GrowGreatFalls.org.

11) Congratulations to entrepreneur Laura Ewalt, owner of Honey Hippo, for hitting the 1 year milestone as a Downtown Great Falls Business. One year ago Laura took the leap into owning a business and took advantage of many of the tools and resources that GFDA offers to help get her business off the ground. If you’re interested in discussing these tools for your Downtown business, call Christian at 406.836.0136.

12) Brett, Justin, and Katesha networked at the Great Falls Area Chamber’s Ag Appreciation banquet with over 40 Ag businesses and organizations. If you have a new business, expansion, or idea to grow the food, ag and bio processing industries in the region, contact Justin 406-590-1301 or Katesha 406-788-0860 to see how we can help make your project come to life.

13) The site of the former Red Wing Boot Repair shop in downtown Havre is now home to Jenny’s Kitchen, a new gluten-free restaurant. Owner Jenny Parks was inspired to open the restaurant after discovering a lack of gluten-free options for her husband and daughter with celiac disease.The restaurant is part of a larger effort to revitalize downtown Havre and generate more jobs for the community. Learn more about the restaurant’s transformation from the ground up in our Announcement of the Week!

14) Are you buying a business, a commercial building, or equipment? We can help. We have a variety of programs and resources that work together with your bank to lower your equity requirement, lock in your interest rate, and fill gaps in your financing. Our goal is to make business happen! Call Tony to discuss, 406.750.2099.

15) Lillian and Shannon were invited out to Malmstrom AFB to present to the Contracting Wing on government contracting services that we provide for small businesses in our region. We also shared how we could help them get the word out on contract opportunities and partner together on potential matchmaking events.

16) A large construction business in the region reached out to GFDA for assistance with their subcontracting needs. They have been out of the federal contracting market for several years and want to look at how to ramp up again. We will be working with them to look at subcontracting plans, updating information and market research for companies that are certified in federal set-asides. We are excited to be helping a company that will utilize many of the small businesses in our region. Interested in finding out more about government contracting? Email Shannon Clancy at SClancy@GrowGreatFalls.org.

17) We issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for environmental consulting firms interested in providing environmental oversight services for our second EPA Brownfields revolving loan fund. Download the RFQ here.

18) Looking for a new opportunity to capitalize on your farm? Consider adding Safflower, a crop that will be processed into oil, into your crop rotation. Justin attended an informational meeting for potential growers put on by JG Boswell and United Grain Corporation. They are currently looking for growers and acres in the Great Falls region and across Montana to contract with. If interested contact Blake with United Grain at 406-750-2872.

19) The O’Haire Inn in Downtown Great Falls has taken their look, RETRO! They recently completed their façade renovation turning back time to a former look and utilized the Downtown Tax Increment Financing Façade Grant to help cover some of the costs. If you’re interested in how to use TIF funds for your next Downtown project, email Christian at CLeinhauser@GrowGreatFalls.org.

20) This week we met with numerous companies at the MAGIE, Montana’s Agriculture, Equipment, and Technology trade show. A key target industry of our economic development strategy for the region is food, ag and bio processing operations. If you have a project or idea call Katesha Campbell at 406.788.0860 or Katesha@GrowGreatFalls.org.

21) I talked with the Leadership Great Falls class about our efforts to grow local health and bioscience industries and the recent Bioscience Economic Development Strategy we commissioned.

22) We earned the 2023 Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid Guidestar. We are proud to once again earn this highest level of nonprofit transparency. We are the only Montana economic development organization to reach and/or maintain platinum status. Transparency is one of GFDA’s key guiding values. Visit our website to learn about the nine values that guide our work.

23) The continued support we get from our INVESTORS is crucial to the success of our region. They choose to invest their dollars into growing our economy. Recent Investments include: Advance Division—Culligan Water Conditioning; Leadership Division—Big Sky Select Properties; Community Division—Geranios Enterprises, Inc. and Grabofsky, VanHeel & Funderhburk, PC. These and other investors are actively helping to bring more high wage opportunities to our residents. If you want to join the team that is growing Great Falls, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or Jenn@GrowGreatFalls.org.

Another week of hard, smart work to transform our regional economy! THASNK YOU for starting, strengthening, and growing your businesses that are the heart of our regional economy!

Brett

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

January SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) came in at 6.310%; 20-year at 6.282%; 10-year equipment loan at 6.433%; and, 20-year refinance 6.300%; 25-year refinance 6.327%. 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
January 31st is the deadline for employers to register for the Montana Job Growth Tax Credit Program. The job growth incentive tax credit (JGTC) encourages the growth of high-paying Montana-based jobs. The credit applies to certain industries and offers a tax credit equal to 50% of employer-paid payroll taxes for qualifying new employees. Visit the web site to see eligibility or click here to go directly to the application. Chris Bradley and Logan Hendrix are our contact people for the Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit Program.They can be reached at JobGrowthTaxCreditProgram@mt.gov.

Join us for a Great Falls Public School Community Forum on Youth Wellness, Thursday February 2nd 6:00-7:30 PM at the University of Providence Conference Center. An overview of the issues currently facing youth in our community along with a panel of stakeholders will share data and discuss what is currently being done by the school District and its partners to address the challenges. The audience will be encouraged to interact with the panel throughout the session. For more information, call Great Falls Public Schools Superintendent Office at 406-268-6001.

ArtsFest Montana will return to downtown Great Falls August 11-18. The Business Improvement District is looking for property owners who would like to have a professionally painted mural installed on their building. Contact Kellie at kellie@downtowngreatfalls.net or 1-406-727-5430. See TheElectric for more details.

Our next government contracting webinar will be on Tuesday, February 14, 2023, 11:00 am. The topic is “Does the Government Buy My Products/Services?”. If you would like to register, CLICK HERE. If you have any questions, contact Lillian Sunwall at LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org or (406)750-1253.

If you are trying to redevelop a property that involves an environmental cleanup (including lead paint and asbestos) and you have a gap in your financing, your project may qualify for our low-interest brownfield redevelopment loan funds. We can make loans anywhere in Cascade County or within 100 miles from the borders of Cascade County which covers much of the region. We’re eager to help make your project move forward. Contact Tony Peres at 1-406-750-2099 or Tony@GrowGreatFalls.org. We also have some small business or nonprofit startup or expansion loan funds available for Glacier and Blaine counties.

Are you a farmers market vendor or have aspirations of becoming a vendor? Do you want to learn how to make your business a success at the famers market? Then make plans to attend the virtual Farmers Market Success Vendor Workshop Monday February 13th from 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM offered by National Center for Appropriate Technology and the Community Food and Ag CoalitionRegister here.

MSU Extension’s Community Development team is offering a monthly Reimagining Rural Inspiration Hour webinar the third Wednesday of each month from 11:30 AM to 12:45 PM. See all the topics and register for free here.

The Veteran Small Business Certification Program Has Moved to SBA. Firms verified by the VA Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) as of January 1st are automatically granted certification by SBA for the remainder of the firm’s eligibility period. SBA intends to grant a one-time, one-year extension of certification to current VOSBs and SDVOSBs verified by the VA as of the transfer date on January 1, 2023. This additional year will be added to the existing eligibility period of a current participant. New applicants certified by SBA after January 1st will receive the standard three-year certification period. SBA will begin accepting applications for certification on January 9th. For more information, contact Lillian Sunwall at LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org or (406) 750-1253.

The Montana Department of Commerce opened the Recovery Destination Event Grant application cycle. These grants assist Montana communities with destination events that will generate out-of-state visitors.

Do you like to learn about new technologies focused on agriculture innovation? Are you looking to invest in or partner with an ag-tech innovation? Then make plans to attend the Montana Ag-Tech Innovation and Investment Summit January 24th at the Great Falls Airport. Are you an entrepreneur with a great idea? Sign up for the Speed-Pitch Competition and have a chance to win a piece of $50,000 in prize money.  For more information on the competition or to practice your pitch call Justin at 406-590-1301.

Employers, are you aware of the Incumbent Worker Training program, Trades education & Training Tax Credit, and other resources available at the Montana Department of Labor & Industry? Check out their latest resource newsletter.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.