Top Ten 4/23/23

We celebrated 26 Inspire and Aspire Award winners at the annual Fire Within in Great Falls. The Haute Hive was packed with outstanding women in business and over 160 people who came to support their achievements; see KRTV. Each winner pre-recorded a unique and inspiring video sharing their business journey. Follow our social media pages to see the winners’ videos. Nominations are open for next year’s Fire Within. We want to celebrate female entrepreneurs across our region, including our rural and tribal communities, and encourage more women to start new entrepreneurial ventures. To nominate a female entrepreneur in the thirteen-county Great Falls region for Fire Within 2024, please get in touch with Lyndsay Bruno at or at (406) 590-1539. Thank you to our partners at Alluvion Health for sponsoring Fire Within 2023!

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 16 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) Calumet announced that it achieved design throughput capacity on its renewable hydrogen production facility in Great Falls in March, another key milestone in the Montana Renewables project; see Calumet press releaseCongratulations!

2) Montana is the 4th cheapest state to start a business in, according to TheStreet.

3) Save the Date for our Talent Attraction Reception – The 2023 Great Falls Livability magazine is hot off the press! We will release the newest edition at a Talent Attraction reception on May 10 at Independence Bank in Great Falls from 4:30-6:30 PM. At the reception we will have team members to help recruiters produce short videos to use in recruitment efforts. This is an opportunity to tell your company’s story and highlight some open positions to be featured on social media in our talent attraction campaigns. Contact or at (406) 590-1539 to learn more about our talent attraction tools and resources.

4) Our Downtown Business Development Officer is BACK! Christian has been away on Air National Guard training for the last 2 months and he’s ready to continue the work on Downtown Great Falls. If you’ve been interested in opening a business in Downtown or purchasing one of the many buildings for sale, call Christian at 406.836.0136 or email at

5) Help put together the new transportation plan for the Great Falls region. The Great Falls Metropolitan Planning Organization is developing the 2023 Great Falls Area Long Range Transportation Plan. They have a survey open until May 10th to get your input. Take survey here. More info on TheElectric.

6) Testified in support of keeping tax increment financing authority for local governments in Montana. Even the senator carrying one of the bills to limit TIF testified that “Great Falls does a fabulous job with TIF…” Taxable property values in Great Falls TIF districts have increased substantially since their creation, working as they are intended to attract more private investment. The downtown district has increased 36%. The north industrial area district by MaltEurop has increased 157%. The airport district has increased 246%. The West Bank district has increased 408%. And, the AgriTech Park district has increased a whopping 22,128%!

7) FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Region 8 will be hosting a virtual Industry Outreach Event/Webinar on “How to Do Business with FEMA” on Tuesday, May 16th at 11:00 – 2PM (MDT) for interested Vendors/Businesses. For more information or the link to the Zoom Meeting, contact Lillian Sunwall

8) Julie Curtis launched Nosh Catering Company last summer as a food truck operation. Recently, Julie has expanded the business to include a Take & Go Kitchen in Great Falls. Learn more about Julie’s business journey in our Announcement of the Week.

9) The Great Falls City Commission updated downtown TIF district grant allowances for the life safety/code compliance program; see TheElectric.

10) The USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grants program is for farmers, ranchers, ag producers, and ag cooperatives that are starting or expanding processing operations or marketing processed ag products. Applications are due May 11. Contact Katesha Campbell on our team if you would like help with applying; or 1-406-788-0860.

11) Tony travelled to the Highline with stops in Havre and Chinook meeting with economic developers and lenders identifying our services and loan funds available throughout the 13-county region we serve.  If you have a project that requires additional financing, or you are a lender looking for gap and bridge loan options please reach out to Tony at to learn how we can help with those projects.

12) Jake and Brett are headed to Las Vegas in May for the International Council of Shopping Centers conference. There will be national and regional brands, brokers, and retail industry professionals looking for their next move. If you have a space in mind for a business to locate in Great Falls, send Jake a marketing flier or reach out to If you have a retail, restaurant, or other company you think would be successful in our market, reach out to Jake as well!

13) Agricultural producers and rural small business owners, the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) summer grant opportunity provides grants and loans to help reduce energy costs and consumption. This grant opportunity’s first cycle will close at on June 30th. Click here for more information or contact Katesha at 406.788.0860 or

14) Navy Week – Doing Business with the Department of Navy & GovMatch Event (Billings Depot on Montana Avenue) – Join the Montana APEX Accelerator (formerly known as Procurement Technical Assistance Center – PTAC) August 9th from 9 AM – 5 PM as they welcome Mr. David E. Walz to Billings. Mr. Walz is the Deputy Small Business Program, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport. He serves as the principal advisor and advocate to the commander, senior management, contracts, and the technical department on all matters pertaining to small business program. During this event, businesses will receive information on the following topics: 1. Department of the Navy (DON) Office of Small Business Programs’ Achievements and Goals 2. The DON OSBP Mentor-Protégé Program 3. Preparing for the DON procurement process 4. Resources and assistance to help businesses 5. GovMatch event in the afternoon. You will be able to meet with various other federal agencies in the afternoon. To register, click here. If you have any questions, contact Shannon Clancy

15) GFDA supports the Great Falls Library Mill Levy going for a vote in the special election on June 6. The library is an important component of the health and vitality of the Great Falls community. We encourage you to spread the word and vote in favor of the levy on June 6. For more information and to join the effort, visit

16) Our goal is to strengthen and diversify the economy by promoting and supporting the growth of businesses, industries, and entrepreneurship. We can’t achieve this alone; we rely on the continued support from our INVESTORS & public partners, learn more about them HERE. Recent investments include: Flagship Division–Arc Apartment Homes. They are driving the growth in our region and helping us achieve our goals. If you want to join the team of investors and support economic development, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or

I’m off to Helena for the Governor’s Tourism Conference and more legislative excitement. Have a great week!

Brett Doney

President & CEO

Download our GFDA Services and Staff Team handout or our GFDA 2023Q1 Quarter Index. View the We Are Great Falls video!

GFDA Staff Openings

We have three great career opportunities to join the GFDA staff team. Download info on Business Development Officer, Small Business Advisor — Director Regional Small Business Development Center, and Executive Assistant. GFDA is proud to be on Equal Opportunity Employer!

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

April SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) is 5.880%; 20-year at 5.952%; 10-year equipment loan at 6.768%; and, 20-year refinance 5.970%; 25-year refinance 5.898%. 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
Recruiters are you hiring for a job position that is a:

  • High level position
  • High salary position
  • Out-of-the-box/unique/creative position?

Help us attract workforce to move to Great Falls – send us a one sentence description of the job, 3-5 of your company’s top employee benefits, salary (if listed), and link to apply for your job to to be included in the Hot Jobs in Great Falls blog post.

The Havre Chamber of Commerce is hosting a hiring event on April 26th from 3-6 PM at the Holiday Village Mall in Havre. Employers seeking employees can register here. If your business needs assistance with workforce issues please reach out to Tony at or 406-870-2644.

The 2023 Montana Food and Beverage Show, hosted by the Montana Department of Agriculture, is scheduled for October 16 in Missoula. The show allows Montana businesses ro showcase their food and beverage products to professional buyers from restaurants, hotels, bars, retailers, and more.

The Montana Department of Commerce has two new programs that we encourage businesses to take advantage of. The Montana Cybersecurity Program will provide up to $8,000 reimbursement for your cybersecurity expenses; applications due May 30. The Automation Loan Program offers 0% loans for up to 50% of the cost of automation equipment up to $500,000; deadline December 31. These are one-time programs funded through ARPA so don’t miss out. And don’t forget about funds available for your workforce through the Incumbent Worker Training Program and the Primary Workforce Training Grant. We can help you access these programs if you run into snags.

USDA opened a new round of Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants and loans. Rural small businesses and agricultural producers can use the funds to make energy-efficiency improvements to lower operating costs or to install renewable energy systems. Quarterly competitions will be held through September 30th. See for more info. USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grants program is also open. This program helps independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer businesses to start or expand processing operations or marketing of processed ag products. Applications are due May 11. Contact Katesha Campbell if you would like help with applying; or 1-406-788-0860.

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center has launched an apprenticeship program. The Certified Manufacturing Associate Apprenticeship is a one-year program that combines on-the-job training with online technical classes on safety, math and measurements, manufacturing processes, and quality control.

The Montana Department of Commerce has an open Recovery Destination Event grant round. Eligible Montana events that attract tourists could win grants up to $25,000.

Are you in the planning and development phase of expanding your agricultural product or adding value to Montana agriculture by expanding your product into new markets? Montana’s Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) Business Acceleration Program (BAP) and Market Development Program (MDP) grants could help! Funds are available; click here for more information or contact Katesha at

The 341st Contracting Squadron, Malmstrom Air Force Base (AFB), is contemplating a solicitation for a multiple award contract (MAC) and is looking for responses to this Sources Sought Notification. Awarded MAC indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts would be for the construction of structures and facilities, repair, maintenance, and alteration of real property assets within the confines of Malmstrom AFB, Weapons Storage Area (WSA), and Missile Alert Facility (MAF) and Launch Facility (LF) sites located within the Missile Complex throughout Montana. This is a great opportunity to Introduce your company to the Contracting Wing at Malmstrom AFB. Do you have a Capability Statement prepared that you can provide with your Sources Sought reply? If not, contact us at For more information on the Notice, click here.

Are you working on a project that will not only bring new agricultural opportunities to Montana’s rural communities but also provide education to youth and adults alike? Then the Montana Farmers Union Grant might be for you! Competitive grants are open to anyone in Montana. Deadline to apply is May 1, 2023; click here for more information or to apply. Additional questions, call 406.788.0860 or email

The Montana Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be held April 23-25 in Helena. Registration is open for the Montana Housing Partnership Conference that will be held in Helena May 15-17. Montana World Trade & Investment Day will be held May 17-18 in Missoula.


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 or 1-406-727-5430. See TheElectric for more details.

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 We also have some small business or nonprofit startup or expansion loan funds available for Glacier and Blaine counties.

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 is now accepting applications for certification. For more information, contact Lillian Sunwall at or (406) 750-1253.

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.

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 or 1-406-431-5075.

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,

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.


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 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.

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 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

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.

The Great Falls Childcare Demand Assessment 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.

The Great Falls Housing Market Assessment 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.