Top 10 – 9/13/2020

A long awaited groundbreaking! Flanked by the dental hygiene students at the groundbreaking for the dental wing at Great Falls College MSU, locals Bill Stott with Guy Tabacco Construction and Ryan Smith with Nelson Architects celebrate with Dean Dr. Susan Wolff.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 21 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) Great Falls College MSU broke ground on expansion of its dental wing. The college has the only dental hygiene program in the state. This addition will provide an additional 11,000 square feet to increase the number of students the program can train for these much needed high wage career opportunities. Watch the Facebook Live video. Read more about project in Great Falls Tribune.

2) We sent a preliminary incentives package to a manufacturing lead considering future expansion in Great Falls.

3) USAF awarded a $13.3 billion contract to Northrup Grumman to design a new intercontinental ballistic missile system. The Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent will extend Malmstrom AFB’s largest mission for decades to come. Read more in Air Force Magazine.

4) Want to expand your skills as an entrepreneur or business manager? Last chance to register for The Website Boot Camp: Converting to Online Sales starting this Tuesday September 15th. Boots to Business for entrepreneurial service members, veterans and family members will be held at Malmstrom Air Force Base September 17th-18th – register hereProfit Mastery is back by popular demand on September 23rd-24th – register to learn how to take control of your business’ finances. Closing out the month is LaunchPoint: A Pre-Business Workshop on September 30th.

5) Steel is going up for the new Benefis Women’s and Children’s Center, see KRTV. Benefis Health System purchased land in Helena to open a new clinic, see KRTV. P. Gibson’s Sports Grill opened in Great Falls, see KRTV. The new European-style coffee shop, Luna Coffee, is scheduled to open in downtown Great Falls at the end of the month, see KRTV.

6) We are hosting short 30-min discussions on topics designed to help businesses survive and thrive in the wake of COVID-19. This Wednesday, September 16th at 2:00 PM the topic is Social Media, Websites, and Messaging – register here. Tuesday, September 22nd at 12:00 PM we’ll offer Accessing State COVID Relief Resources – register here. Contact Nathan Reiff at or (406) 403-4937 for more information.

7) The Montana District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will be formally presenting Levi Clark, owner of Hybrid Steel Design of Geraldine, with the 2020 Young Entrepreneur Owned Business of the Year on Wednesday, September 16th at 11:00 AM. The ceremony will take place at the INDHemp facility in Fort Benton. INDHemp is one of the numerous facilities throughout the Golden Triangle fabricated by Hybrid Steel Design.

8) Great Falls has the second lowest residential total utility bill rates in Montana (for systems serving over 5,000 households) according to the 2020 Utility Rate Survey released by AE2S. The combined utility bill rate assessment includes water, sewer and stormwater charges based on an average of 6,000 gallons.

9) Mark your calendars for a one-hour Talent Attraction Virtual Event on October 1st at 1:00 PM. If you are wondering, “What is Talent Attraction and why are we doing it in Great Falls?” this event is for you! We are putting our local investor dollars to work to attract new skilled employees with the help of Development Counsellors International (DCI). They will give a presentation about what talent attraction is and why it’s important. We will also hear from other communities on the success of their talent attraction initiatives. For more information on our Talent Attraction Initiative, contact Soren Chargois at or (406) 836-0147.

10) Congratulations to Central Avenue Meats in downtown Great Falls on winning the Most Improved Commercial Property of the Year Award from NeighborWorks Great Falls! See all the award winners here.

11) Governor Bullock announced additional funds will be committed to the Montana Meat Processing Infrastructure Grant Program. The program was initially funded at $2 million and received more interest than anticipated. Governor Bullock added additional funding to the program to award $7.5 million in grants. The Montana Department of Agriculture will review existing applications that have not yet been funded to determine additional awards through the program. GFDA’s Food and Ag Development Center Director Barnett Sporkin-Morrison is available as a resource for entrepreneurs working on projects within the livestock and meat production sector. Barnett can be reached at 406-750-3285 and

12) The Governor also announced an expanded nonprofit stabilization grant program of up to $150,000. See info about all state CARES Act grants here. Contact our COVID “survive and thrive” specilist, Nathan Reiff, for help, or 406-403-4937.

13) SBA 504 loan rates (fixed including all fees) for September came in at 2.406% for 25 year loans, 2.361% for 20 year loans, and 2.274% for 10 year loans. Contact Jill Kohles to learn how these loans can combine with your bank to lower your rates and required equity, or 406-590-1056.

14) Rural communities in the Golden Triangle are seeing more home purchases from out of state, see Cut Bank Pioneer Press.

15) As increased focus is placed on meat production and marketing amidst COVID-19, Montana State University Extension, in conjunction with Oregon State University, will offer a new agriculture business development course on direct marketing of meat. The Western Meat School, Montana Edition, is a six-week online/hybrid course that will meet on Wednesday evenings beginning Nov. 4th. The course will cover key topics in the production, processing, and marketing of high-quality meat. online registration. For more info and to ask about possible course discounts, contact Tommy Bass at MSU Extension, or 406-994-5733.

16) Two business resources from our friends at the Montana Chamber. The COMMIT Foundation is offering Becoming Veteran-Ready Employers virtual training (great training that only takes an hour) on September 30th at 9:00-10:00 AM — register here — or October 13 at 9:00-10:00 AM — register here. The Chamber is offering a succession planning webinar, “Planning and Executing Successful Montana Business Transitions,” on September 30th from 12:00-1:30 PM — register here.

17) We received a nice unsolicited client testimonial this week. “All I have to say is that if it wasn’t for the program and Mr. Rich Gannon, I would not have received this wonderful opportunity to receive this grant. Much, much, much kudos to the program and the awesome help and guidance from Rich! Thank you” Mary Ann Harwood – recipient of a Toole County Forward business grant.

18) The Montana Business of Outdoor Recreation Virtual Summit will be held October 13-15; more info here. Export Montana is offering webinars for Montana Exporters: September 16 – Supporting Montana Exports in Challenging Times; September 17 – Montana Online Global Programs & Grants; September 22 – Website Globalization Three Part Series; and, November 3 – International Market Research Three Part Series. STEP grants may be available to cover the costs for your business, more info here.

19) Registration for our QuickBooks training on November 18 is live! QuickBooks Pro Advisor Wendy Weissman will take you through the basic elements of QuickBooks Accountant 2019 so you’re more efficient in entering revenue and expenses, and better able to communicate with your accountant come tax time. Due to social distancing requirements the enrollment for this class is reduced to 12 persons – register today!

20) GFDA has two fantastic career opportunities for a Loan Officer and a Commercial Lending Specialist. Download a description of this positions here. Please send resume and cover letter to me, Brett Doney, GFDA is proud to by an Equal Opportunity Employer and Lender. Please help us spread the word so we can grow our great team!

21) Thanks to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, Dick Anderson Construction for their Leadership Division investment and Loucks & Glassley for their Pacesetter Division investment. With your support GFDA is able to respond to businesses quickly, offering creative and tailored solutions and supports. If you have questions about investing, contact Teresa Schreiner at or 406.781.9499.

Brett Doney
President & CEO

Connect with me on LinkedIn to network with the Great Falls Montana region. Forward the GFDA Top 10 to friends and colleagues. You can join our distribution list HERE or text GFDA to 22828.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Arthur Ashe

We are HUNGRY to Grow the Great Falls regional economy, create higher wage jobs, build our tax base, improve our market competitiveness, and enhance the quality of life and economic opportunity for residents of Great Falls, Cascade County, and the entire 13-county Great Falls trade area.

Economic Development Services
See our updated Great Falls Economic Development Menu of Services which includes our expanded staff team. We provide award-winning and internationally-accredited economic development services throughout Montana’s Golden Triangle, and SBA 504 loans statewide.

Great GFDA Career Opportunities
We are boosting our lending team with Loan Officer and Lending Specialist positions. Download position posting or visit our website. GFDA is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer and Lender. We encourage all qualified candidates to apply! Please help us spread the word.

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 came in at 2.406%; 20-year at 2.361%; 10-year equipment loan at 2.274%; and, 20-year refinance 2.363%. 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

Invest in Great Falls Regional Economic Development
Contact Teresa Schreiner at 406.781.9499 or Here is a current list of our great investors.

Events, Business Training, and Opportunities

Montana has many grant opportunities to help address the COVID crisis. Visit

The new relocation website is officially LIVE! 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.

The Montana Chamber hosted a webinar helpful for businesses interested in learning more about the Montana Loan Deferment Program. See recording of webinar here.

The Montana Department of Commerce’s Office of Tourism and Business Development has launched the “Montana Aware” campaign to promote safe and responsible behavior among those who are traveling in the state. Through the formal “Montana Aware” campaign, 17 of Montana’s Convention and Visitors Bureaus and six tourism regions share $5 million to promote the initiative. To download the partner toolkit visit MARKETMT.COM.

The Montana Indian Equity Fund (IEF) will begin accepting applications for the small business grant program starting August 1st. Applications will be accepted through September 30th. If you are a Native American entrepreneur looking to start a business or expand an existing business, check out this grant opportunity. For help applying, contact Rich at 406-836-2078 or He can assist with the application process and help you connect with a local Native American Business Advisor.

The Great Falls Livability relocation magazine is a new tool to help you recruit talent from out of town to relocate to the Great Falls trade area. Here is the online link to the magazine. For printed copies, and to have a conversation about best practices for recruiting employees, email Soren at Let’s talk Talent Attraction!

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

The Montana Cooperative Development Center has put together a free online Montana Cooperatives 101 course. This self-paced resource includes recorded presentations, activities and custom videos that will help you learn about the cooperative business model and successful Montana coops.

Northrup Grumman is working to gather subcontractors for the missile upgrade project. This is a long process and they expect to gather information for three to four years. If you are a small business interested in doing business with Northrop Grumman, please complete the Supplier Information form at

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center offers a great array of workshops and trainings for all sizes of manufacturing companies.

The Montana Department of Commerce’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is offering grants to help businesses pay for translation of marketing materials to boost exports. The program also offers trade show grants and assistance. MDOC’s Film Office is offering powerful new incentives to promote filming and production in Montana. Click here for details.

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.

The 4th annual Montana Food Show will be held in Missoula on October 26. Learn more at The Montana Beverage Show will be held in Helena on November 9. Visit for more information. The Export Montana team is hosting Riddle of the Exporter training in Billings on July 28 and Kalispell on July 30. The training is free and will help you learn about and prepare for export markets. Learn more here.

All of our recorded monthly business strategy webinars are available online for viewing anytime, click them out here.