Top 10 – 3/20/19

Congratulations to Raegen Breeden, owner of Play N Learn Academy, on being named Montana Woman-Owned Business of 2019 by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Montana District Office!

GFDA Top 10

Here is our Top 10 for last week, celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy.

1) Celebrated with Scheels and other community partners the raising of $250,000 toward the rerouting of the River’s Edge Trail along the Missouri River from Broadwater Bay to the 1st Avenue North Bridge area. The new route will replace the current trail which makes its way behind the police department, water park and across two active rail lines. See the story on The Electric here.

2) LPW Architecture released the fly around video of the new Longfellow Elementary School! This is a very exciting project for our community! Check it out here.

3) Spots are filling up for the 9th Annual The Fire Within, March 28th at the Meadow Lark Country Club starting at 5:30 PM. Join us as we celebrate two incredible female entrepreneurs: Aspire Winner Susan Crocker (The Good Wood Guys) and Inspire Winner Kari Lane Johnson (My Viola Floral Studio). Admission is free thanks to the sponsorship of Embark Credit Union, but you must register to reserve your seat. Guarantee yourself a spot and register today!

4) Congratulations to the 2019 KRTV Five Under 35: Rebecca Hannant, Hillary Shepherd, Thomas Risberg, Ashley Romeo, and Scott Reasoner! These five were chosen from a pool of 60 nominees. They represent diverse professionals that chose to move here, grew up here, and diverse industries. Shannon Newth asked the winners two questions, what does Great Falls have going for it, and how can Great Falls improve? Click here to check out their answers.

5) GFDA’s Food and Ag Development Center Director Barnett Sporkin-Morrison participated in the University of Wisconsin’s Food Finance Institute Level II training this week. Understanding the current marketplace and the economics behind scaling up a local, regional, or national brand can be tricky at times.  If you have an existing brand or are a new entrepreneur looking to attack the market, Barnett can help you reach your goals as part of GFDA’s team approach to economic development.  Barnett can be reached at 406-750-3285 and

6) We saw a record crowd at our first QuickBooks class of 2019. 18 people attended. Thank you to GFDA investor Wendy Weissman CPA PC for presenting our QuickBooks class. Up next on GFDA’s Business Education Calendar is a webinar, Reach Customers Online with Google, scheduled for Thursday, April 4th from 11-11:30 AM.

7) SBA 504 interest rates came in below 5% again for the March debenture sale. The 25-year rates came in at 4.737%, 20-year at 4.581%, 20-year refi at 4.614% and 10-year at 4.616%. These rates are fixed for the life of the loan and include all on-going fees. The SBA is releasing a new SOP effective April 1st which will make eligible the use of the SBA 504 program for businesses that grow, produce, process, distribute or sell products made from hemp (as defined in section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946). If you’ve been thinking about starting a new hemp rope factory but have had trouble finding the financing please get in touch with Mike Archer at 406-284-1789 or to find out how we may be able to help.

8) Networked with investors at the National Opportunity Zone Summit in Denver and participated in the Colorado Impact Days event. Met with the Colorado Department of Economic Development to learn about their rural co-working space initiative and with the Economic Development Administration to discuss future projects to benefit the Great Falls trade area.

9) 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.

10) Recognizing GFDA’s work in the development of the river front and our shared vision of doing good in the community, Scheels joined the ranks as our newest Leadership Division investor during their River’s Edge Trail Celebration Breakfast. We’d also like to thank this week’s Investors in Economic Development, BNSF for their Leadership Division investment, Geranios Enterprise, Inc. and Douglas Wilson & Co. for their Pacesetter Division investments. Your investments allow our team to facilitate projects that not only push for projects that create opportunities for high wage jobs and diversification, but they improve our overall quality of life. Keeping in theme with one of our key strategic priorities, your investments encourage opportunities downtown riverfront improvement. If you have questions about investment, please contact Teresa Schreiner at 406.781.9499.

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.

“My peers and colleagues inspire me.”

Robin Chase

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

Great Falls Events Weekly Email

Are you bored? There is always something to do in Great Falls! Check out this week’s listing of things going on and get ready to experience our community. Want the list emailed directly to you? Sign-up to get this weekly event notice. Thank you Great Falls Tourism for putting this together!

Events, Business Training & Opportunities

2019 GFDA Business Education Calendar

The Downtown Great Falls Association published an exciting Calendar of Events for 2019.

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

SAVE THE DATE! Discover new opportunities for your business! The MT PTAC has invited over 25 federal, state, and local government agencies to participate in a matchmaking event on May 29th in Billings. The event is designed to facilitate introductions between business owners and government buyers with the intention of possibly doing business together in the future. Business owners will be able to visit with the various government buyers to discuss what products or services they provide, learn more about how the different agencies do business and find out about upcoming projects. If you are interested in seeing what government opportunities may be out there for your business, contact Lillian Sunwall at or register for GovMatch 2019! To learn more or receive assistance with preparing your business for the event give Lillian a call (406) 750-1253 to set up an appointment.

GFDA is looking for investors, potential investors, developers, officials, and entrepreneurs to join us on our Annual Aspirational Tour May 8-10. We will explore information technology and riverfront developments, and other economic development efforts, in Missoula, Coeur d’Alene and Spokane. Join us as we obtain inspiration, visiting with stakeholders, developers and/or burgeoning industries for potential capital enhancements in Great Falls. As you may have heard us say, we are nowhere near satisfied. If you feel the same and you have an appetite for learning more, contact Teresa Schreiner at or 406.781.9499.