Top 10 – 3/10/19

Congratulations to our 2019 The Fire Within Inspire award winner, Kari Lane Johnson of My Viola, and Aspire award winner, Susan Crocker of The Good Wood Guys! THANK YOU to Embark Credit Union for sponsoring this great celebration of women entrepreneurs!

GFDA Top 10

Here is our Top 16 for this week, celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy. Every industry is important in the Great Falls economy. We support and love them all, because we appreciate and NEED every single one! Read on to see some surprising facts about the housing industry in our MSA.

1) Great Falls has been named as one of the top 100 Best Places to Live by! “The cities on this year’s list represent the best of the best when it comes to affordability and opportunity,” says Editor-in-Chief Winona Dimeo-Ediger. “These 100 cities are not just fantastic places to live in terms of their amenities, education, health care, and infrastructure, they are places where young people can build amazing careers and communities.” More than 1,000 millennials across the country were surveyed regarding what matters most to them when making relocation decisions and the number one and two answers: affordability and job opportunities.

2) Join us for The Fire Within on March 28th as we celebrate two exceptional female entrepreneurs: Our Aspire Winner Susan Crocker (The Good Wood Guys), and Inspire Winner Kari Lane Johnson (My Viola Floral Studio). The festivities take place at the Meadow Lark Country Club starting at 5:30 PM. Admission is free thanks to the sponsorship of Embark Credit Union, but make sure you reserve your seat and REGISTER TODAY.

3) Congratulations Michelle Belknap, President/CEO, Easterseals-Goodwill on receiving the J.D. Robins Jr. Distinguished Career Award at Goodwill Industries International (GII) Conference of Executives. We are proud to be home to your regional headquarters!

4) Barnett was out in Anaheim this week for the Natural Products Expo West trade show. While there he gained knowledge of new natural food trends, talked with influencers, and expanded GFDA’s network in the space. Overall Barnett found there’s significant room for new, innovative products and is eager to work with existing companies and new entrepreneurs who can build brands that connect consumers with Montana. Barnett can be reach at 406-750-3285 and

5) Bob Quinn, president and founder of Quinn Farm & Ranch and Kamut International in Big Sandy released his first book: Grain by Grain: A Quest to Revive Ancient Wheat, Rural Jobs & Healthy Food. Congratulations Bob!

6) The SBA approved a $374,000 SBA 504 loan as part of a $905,000 purchase of commercial real estate in Bozeman for Anderson’s Masonry Hearth and Home! This new real estate will house Anderson Masonry’s newest acquisition, Bare’s Stove and Spa. Thanks to the great and proactive work of their banker, Ben Haag, of First Interstate Bank in Kalispell, Anderson Masonry will now get to enjoy low, fixed interest rates on the SBA portion of their loan for 25 years and will only have to provide a down payment of 10%. With the low down payment the company will be able to complete some renovations as well as maintain the working capital, which is so important for growing businesses. If your business needs money to grow please contact Mike Archer at 406-284-1789 or to find out how we can help.

7) The Great Falls Original Farmers’ Market will be expanding down Central Avenue this summer and will hold a Spring Craft Fair on April 13th in the downtown Mansfield Convention Center.

8) Fifteen entrepreneurs from around the state participated in our March webinar, Finding Customers on Instagram. GFDA has now trained over 100 people in seven events in 2019. Up next, our pre-business workshop for aspiring entrepreneurs, The LaunchPoint on Wednesday, March 13th from 4-5 PM. We’ve also expanded our seating to 20 for QuickBooks on Friday, March 15th. Act quickly to get one of the last seats. Contact Jason with any questions about GFDA’s Business Education Calendar.

9) Montana has the 13th lowest tax burden amongst U.S. states according to an analysis by 24/7 Wall Street. See article on USA Today.

10) Great Falls Tourism has a great career opening for a Content and Social Media Director. Contact Rebecca Engum at

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center is looking for a Manufacturing Business Advisor to be based in Great Falls, working out of GFDA’s new office in West Bank Landing. See posting here.

11) Existing Business expansion will account for the majority of our economic growth this year. More growth could happen if more businesses knew about the professional tools and services provided free of charge to help them. Contact Jolene to learn more about our services for existing businesses, 406.750.4481.

12) The Great Falls Youth Job Fair will be held on Wednesday, April 17, 3:00-6:00 PM at the Paris Gibson Education Center. For more info, contact Becky Nelson at

13) We are working on a set of short videos to promote our region. Our focus is why businesses and entrepreneurs choose to locate and thrive in the Golden Triangle region of North Central Montana. We want to showcase how business gets done AND the outstanding quality of life you enjoyed. If you want to share your story or know someone we should reach out to, contact Tyler at

14) Congratulations to Lillian Sunwall, GFDA Vice President, on earning recognition as a Certified Procurement Professional from the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers!

15) Jason presented to Beth Schmidt’s team at the Job Service Great Falls about ways GFDA and the Job Service can work together more closely to help employers attract and retain talent. To find out how GFDA can work with your organization to help grow and diversify the regional economy, connect with any of our team members at

16) Thank you to this week’s Investors In Economic Development, the Home Builder’s Association of Great Falls and Hybrid Steel and Design, for their Community Division investments. As you know, your financial investment goes directly into assisting our team as we work to leverage capital intensive projects, work with existing businesses that wish to expand or provide coaching to others regarding retention, assist others that may need business loans, from larger projects or budding entrepreneurs. We appreciate your investment to grow our regional economy. Let’s continue the momentum to grow Great Falls. If you have questions or want to talk further about investment, please call Teresa Schreiner at 406.781.9499.

Our Local Housing Industry
The annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Great Falls MSA economy (Cascade County) is estimated by JobsEQ to be $3.147 billion in 2017. Guess which industry sector contributes the second largest portion of GDP after Health Are and Social Assistance. Yep, its Real Estate and Rental and Leasing with an estimated annual GDP contribution of $352 million. Residential real estate accounts directly for 1,357 local jobs last quarter. So hat’s off to the residential builders, framers, masons, roofers, siders, plumbers, and electricians, plus the installers of foundations, glass, flooring, drywall, tile, and carpentry. And, don’t forget the real estate brokers lessors, appraisers and property managers. In addition to those 1,357 jobs, let’s hear it for residential mortgage lenders and brokers, insurance agents, escrow agents, landscapers, site contractors, road and utility installers, nurseries, lumber yards and home improvement stores, and everyone else involved in the housing industry!

Did you know that our homeowner vacancy rate is 24% lower than the state and national averages? [According to JobsEQ] Yep, we need more housing.

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.

Have a great and prosperous week!


Brett Doney
President & CEO