Top 10 – 11/7/19

Congratulations to the developers of West Bank Landing on your outstanding progress to date and THANK YOU for tackling the most ambitious redevelopment in our City’s history! In this new aerial, you can see the Five on Black building under construction next to the Peak West Bank Landing.

GFDA Top 10

Here is our Top 17 for last week, celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy.

1) Eagle Jet Solutions is about to open the largest private hangar in Montana which it has constructed at Great Falls International Airport. See KFBB for details.

2) Studio Barre celebrated its one-year anniversary this week. Owner Keeley Baker has taken her passion and turned it into a great downtown successes. Curious what else might be possible in downtown Great Falls? Come to the Visioning Unveiling on November 20.

3) TODAY! For those of you considering the purchase of an existing business in the region, our next webinar will step through the process of how valuation professionals place value on a business. Business Valuation – More Art Than Science presented by Tom Kerr from WestPac Wealth Partners in Missoula is Thursday, November 7th from 11-11:30 AM. Our webinar series is produced in partnership with MSU-Extension, UM’s Accelerate Montana program, and the Montana Economic Developers Association. To join us live or watch the recorded content, please register for the November 7th webinar.

4) ALSO TODAY! Please join us for the Community Board Budget Meetings. Your involvement is important as Great Falls Public Schools begins to prepare the budget for 2020/2021. Thursday, November 7th, 5:30 PM at Giant Springs Elementary and Wednesday, November 20th, 5:30 PM at Great Falls High School New Addition (the HUB). Your input is needed – please come to these important gatherings.

5) We welcomed 14 entrepreneurs and business managers to our final QuickBooks course of 2019. QuickBooks Pro Advisor Wendy Weissman CPA, PC led participants through the nuts and bolts of bookkeeping, entering data into the program, and extracting reports to enable well-informed business decisions. Thank you as well to sponsoring partners at the Montana Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program.

6) This year’s Innovate Montana Conference celebrated a GFDA Investor. The Montana Ambassador Entrepreneur of the Year was awarded to David Erickson, founder of Water and Environmental Technologies (WET). David founded the engineering company with partners Elizabeth Erickson and Josh Vincent in 2000 in Butte. They started the company with 4 employees and have grown to over 70 today with additional offices in Anaconda, Bozeman, Kalispell and Great Falls. Thank you for keeping engineering and high wage jobs in Montana!

7) “All I have to say right now is that you’re AWESOME! I’m so glad I didn’t cancel this appointment.” Those are the words of a entrepreneur who initially came to us for guidance on buying a business. After some recommended due diligence procedures, she decided to not move forward with the purchase. However, her research process gave her a new idea and she has now pivoted to starting her own, unique business. GFDA does a handful of things to help startup businesses get started. We provide monthly pre-business classes and one-on-one coaching to facilitate startup activity. If you’ve got an idea and are in the Great Falls or Lewistown areas, contact Jason at If you’re in Glacier, Teton, Toole, or Pondera counties reach out to Rich at

8) Congratulations to local entrepreneur Aaron Weissman and the team at Teriyaki Madness for winning franchise of the year!

9) Our regional Procurement Technical Assistance Center was busy last week working with several businesses to improve their options on finding contract opportunities that fit their business profile.  We looked at creating capability statements to include in their marketing efforts to contracting officer and “Sources Sought” prospects and using the BID Match tool to find solicitations. For more information or assistance to jump into or enhance your government contracting efforts, contact Lillian Sunwall or Shannon Clancy

10) Our region is proud to celebrate Great Falls’ own Channing Hartelius, who won one of the Montana Ambassadors’ Plenipotentiary Award at this year’s Innovate Montana Conference. Channing was celebrated and recognized by fellow Ambassadors for his four decades of legal leadership practice for the State of Montana.

11) Since the interest rates are so low, received several telephone calls inquiring about what the SBA 504 loan is and how it can benefit business owners. The Small Business Administration created this program to increase the accessibility of business property loans to entrepreneurs, with competitive interest rates and fees, fixed terms, and a low down payment. It is a loan that allows a business owner flexibility to maximize benefits while promoting business growth and job creation. If you have questions or want to know more about the SBA 504 loan program, please contact Jill Kohles at or 406-590-1056.

12) The Montana Farmers Union held its 104th annual state convention in Great Falls on October 25 and 26th. During the convention MFU members elected Geyser agronomist, rancher, and agricultural advocate Walter Schweitzer as president for a three year term. MFU is headquartered in Great Falls and is a part owner of Farmers Union Industries.

13) Montana State University held its Celebrate Ag Weekend on November 1st and 2nd, which included the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics’ Fall Economics Conference entitled “Managing Risk and Uncertainty in Agriculture.” The M.L. Wilson Lecture was presented by Dr. Barry Goodwin, Interim Department Head and William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor, North Carolina State University. His talk was entitled, “Climate Change and Agricultural Yield Risk.”

14) The U.S. agricultural sector is currently facing low commodity prices due to a variety of reasons ranging from global supplies to U.S. trade policy. The effects of low commodity prices don’t just hit agricultural producers, they also affect input and service sectors associated with agriculture. Building resiliency within businesses to weather economic downturns is important. GFDA’s Food and Ag Development Center Director Barnett Sporkin-Morrison is available to work with companies in the fields of agriculture, agro-tourism, bioscience, biofuels, food and beverage, and natural resources and can be reached at or 406-750-3285.

15) We celebrated the first morning of November with another invigorating and filled room at NeighborWorks Great Falls discussing development, growth, jobs, housing and talent attraction. Thank you for engaging in the conversation. The more folks at the table, the better the partnership. This Investment Director’s biggest to take-away from the morning- “Success attracts Success.” Remember to celebrate success. The more successes we have, the more resources we have. The more resources we have, the more options for investment in our region.

16) GFDA’s Food and Ag Development Center Director Barnett Sporkin-Morrison and Small Business Development Center Rural Business Advisor Rich Gannon made joint visits to entrepreneurs in Northwest Glacier County this week. GFDA’s economic development professionals work as a team to help entrepreneurs throughout the Great Falls trade area.  Whether it’s a small start-up in Babb, second-stage business in Conrad, multi-national corporation in Great Falls, or a loan client in Ft. Benton, GFDA is a results oriented organization with a strong team dedicated to producing results for our clients and our regional economy.

17) Thank you this week’s Investors in Economic Development, NorthWestern Energy, for renewing their Advanced Division Investment, Montana Credit Union and Stockman Bank, for their Leadership Division Investments, Taylor’s AutoMax, for their Pacesetter Division Investment, Hygienix, for increasing their investment at the Community Division and Wendy Weissman, CPA, for renewing their investment at the Supporter Division. Teresa met with many investors and potential investors this week and, through her interactions, garnered consistent feedback from business leaders. In general, business leaders are excited about our rural and talent attraction efforts, appreciate staff engagement and continuous communication, and projects that lead to some tangible benefit for the region. Thank you for your investment and feedback. To meet with Teresa, call or email at 406.781.9499 or

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.

Brett Doney
President & CEO

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

“Momentum begets momentum, and the best way to start is to start.”
Gil Penchina

GFDA has three great career openings. We are on Equal Opportunity Employer and encourage everyone interested to apply! See descriptions below or download all our position openings and help us spread the word!

GFDA Job Openings

Commercial Lending Operations Specialist
Economic Development
Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)

Experienced, dynamic, self-motivated lending administration professional sought for two-person lending team within 15-person nonprofit economic development Community Development Financial Institution. Responsible for loan originations and closings, maintenance of loan files, reports to public and private loan capital sources, loan portfolio management system, and borrower relations. Experience with EDA, USDA, CDFI, EPA and/or SBA 504 loans a plus. Help us to keep growing our gap and bridge financing efforts to support entrepreneurs, businesses, developers and non-profit organizations throughout the Great Falls trade area and across Montana. This position receives, reviews and processes commercial loan documents, maintains loan application files and other duties related to the processing and servicing of the commercial loan portfolio. Reviews all gathered pending documents for accuracy, completeness, loan authority, lien position, insurance, flood insurance, collateral, appraisal, coding, risk rating, disbursements, etc. Reviews documents for compliance purposes, recognizes problems with documentation, and takes appropriate action. Requires the ability to maintain accurate records, work with a wide variety of clients, and have computer and communication skills. Experience with SBA 504 loan servicing and/or economic development loan funds a plus. Must be detail oriented and organized with flexibility to help achieve our overall team mission. Live on the Missouri River along the Rocky Mountain Front and work with a great team! Salary range $40,000-50,000 with excellent benefits, professional development, growth opportunities, and flexible work environment. EOE. Cover letter and resume to Brett Doney, President, Open until we find a great candidate.

Talent Attraction Director
Digital Content Marketing, Events, and Recruitment Services

Dynamic, self-motivated professional sought to join our passionate, creative, fast-paced, results-driven economic development team. We are looking for an experienced digital marketing leader who can learn and utilize best practices to design and implement a program with the goal of getting people to relocate in the Great Falls region. This public relations star will manage content on our website and social media platforms, engage partners and the community, conduct research, and implement PR campaigns to attract people to the Great Falls region. Requires excellent writing, computer, and communication skills. Live on the Missouri River along the Rocky Mountain Front and work with a great team! Salary range $35,000-45,000 with excellent benefits, professional development, growth opportunities, and flexible work environment. EOE. Cover letter and resume to Brett Doney, President, Open until we find a great candidate.

Downtown Business Development Officer 
Main Street Economic Development  

Dynamic, self-motivated professional sought to join our passionate, creative, fast-paced, results-driven economic development team. We are looking for a super star to lead downtown economic revitalization in partnership with the Downtown Development Partnership of Great Falls (an accredited National Main Street program) and the Great Falls Business Improvement District. You will meet with existing downtown businesses to aid in their retention and expansion, conduct market research, work to attract businesses and developers to downtown, and provide overall aid in our downtown business development efforts. Involves coordination, cold-calling, networking, relationship building, project management, advocacy, marketing events, meeting with businesses, listening, and additional client business development services. Position may involve travel in region, U.S. and Canada. Looking for a star with demonstrated achievement in business development. Requires excellent writing, computer, and communication skills. Live on the Missouri River along the Rocky Mountain Front and work with a great team! Salary range $45,000-55,000 with excellent benefits, professional development, growth opportunities, and flexible work environment. EOE. Cover letter and resume to Brett Doney, President, Open until we find a great candidate.


October SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate came in at 3.48%; 20-year at 3.398%; 20-year refinance at 3.40%; and, 10-year equipment 3.553%. 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

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

Events, Business Training, and Opportunities

2019 GFDA Business Education Calendar

Plan to attend the reveal of the downtown visioning process. Over 70 people replied online and over 100 attended the planning session. On November 20 we will have to sessions in the Missouri Room of the Civic Center, one at four and seven. RSVP here.

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center is offering a PCQI Preventive Controls for Human Food Course, December 10-12 in Bozeman. The course will explain the regulatory requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). For more info and to register, click here.

The Montana Innovation Partnership is offering trainings later this month on Market Research for Early Stage Technologies and on Writing Winning SBIR/STTR Proposals. See more info here.

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 Film Office is offering powerful new incentives to promote filming and production in Montana. Click here for details.