Top 10 – 4/14/19

Flashback to the first train into the Great Falls AgriTech Park. We received the first reimbursement check from the City for the phase 1 and 2 infrastructure this month. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make the rail industrial park a reality, Great Falls’ BNSF-certified Premier Park!


GFDA Top 10


Here is our Top 18 for this week, celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy.

1) Great Falls was ranked 36th Best Small City for Business (out of the 162 cities with 50,000-250,000 population) by Cities were ranked by seven variables: regional price parities, job creation rates, per capita income, percentage of the young population with a Bachelor’s degree or above, the median earnings of 25+ year-olds with a Bachelor’s degree, unemployment rates and total sales figures/number of firms (combined into one variable). These were then averaged into one ranking. Plenty of room to keep climbing!

2) If you missed it, we published our GFDA Quarter Index 2019Q1.

3) We approved a $131,211 working capital loan for Vernon’s Quality Carpentry. Vernon’s Quality Carpentry is a long-time Great Falls business that offers finish carpentry services for primarily commercial and multi-unit housing projects across the state. They were awarded a number of contracts this spring for multi-unit housing projects in Great Falls, Butte and Billings and needed some working capital to help them expand. We’re excited to be able to help a Great Falls company continue to grow and bring money from elsewhere in the state back to Great Falls.

4) We also approved a $33,000 microloan for the Fresh Start Cooperative Association, a cooperative grocery store in Geraldine, MT, to purchase the building they are currently leasing. The Fresh Start Cooperative is an amazing story. The only grocery store in Geraldine was going to close so citizens of Geraldine and the surrounding area got together and formed a cooperative to buy it. They have had 151 people buy shares in the cooperative, which is especially impressive for a town with a population of 261. The share purchases have generated enough money for the co-op to buy the store and run it for the last two years. We love being able to help the rural communities in our trade region maintain these critical businesses and are very happy we were given the opportunity to help with Fresh Start.

5) GFDA is thrilled to be hosting this year’s Montana Small Business Administration Awards on Thursday, May 2nd at the Meadow Lark Country Club. One of our very own, Raegan Breeden, owner of Play N Learn Academy will be honored. This is a state-wide event so reserve your spot soon by clicking HERE. Thank you to our Premier Sponsor Northwestern Energy, and Supporting Sponsor Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana for making this event possible.

6) Just prior to the SBA Awards, on May 1st and 2nd we are partnering with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to host a training event for commercial and economic development lenders. This two-day event will cover the SBA 7(a) loan guarantee program, SBA 504 loans, and other financing tools from the USDA, Montana Department of Commerce, New Market Tax Credits and the Montana Board of Investments. Register to join us here.

7) How do taxes in Great Falls compare to other Montana cities? 2nd lowest per capita, according to an article in the Missoulian. Great Falls collected $465 per capita, lower than $661 in Bozeman, $605 in Kalispell, $512 in Helena, and $479 in Missoula. We were slightly higher than the $451 in Billings.

8) Seats are filling up for our next pre-business workshop, The LaunchPoint. Help us spread the word about this no-cost workshop for early stage entrepreneurs. The next one is Wednesday, April 17th from 4-5 PM. Space is limited. Register to attend here.

9) Our Small Business Development Center (SBDC) client, Windrift Hill, has been awarded a $6,000 Montana Women’s Business Center Impact Grant. Mother-daughter team Amber Hofstad and Deena Maier were one of four companies in Montana, of the 71 applicants, to receive an award. The $6,000 award will be used to fund a reverse osmosis system as part of a new filling line at their skin care product manufacturing facility on Main Street in Conrad. Congratulations Amber and Deena!

10) The Montana Artrepreneur Program is seeking working Montana visual artists for its next cohort starting in the fall. This powerful college-level series of four weekend workshops demystifies the world of business for artists, reviewing 35 practical business tools. Registration deadline is May 15. Information and application at, or contact or 406-444-6548.

11) Our next cash flow workshop, Profit Mastery is April 24-25. This class helps put financial management into a decision relevant format assisting entrepreneurs and advisors to business. Sixteen hours of continuing education credits are also available. Join us to improve your financial skills. Contact Jason for more info at

12) The Downtown Great Falls office, comprised of the Downtown Great Falls Association (DGFA) and the Great Falls Business Improvement District (BID), is hosting an Open House on Thursday, April 18 from 4-6 PM at their office located at 318 Central Avenue. They are celebrating one year in their new office and welcome the community to stop in and say hello! The BID is also celebrating the achievement of their 10-year renewal. Refreshments provided by Electric City Coffee and Mighty Mo Brewing Company.

13) USDA released data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture this week. The Census of Agriculture, taken only once every five years, looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income, and expenditures. USDA data gives a sound picture of our agricultural sector and is the envy of many countries in the world for its independent accuracy.

14) Strategic Investment Grants up to $1,000 are available for professional artists, non-profit art organizations and art teachers (preschool – grade 12) in Montana. For guidelines and more information, visit, or contact Kristin Han Burgoyne at or 406-444-6449.

15) You expect us to know the programs, tools, deals, resources, and connections available to make projects happen. So we invest in our team! Each of us has professional development goals and objectives that enable us to grow the Great Falls Montana region. This week Brett became certified in Economic Gardening® and Jolene completed week three of four to become a certified Economic Development Finance Professional.

16) The City of Great Falls urges citizens and businesses to sign up for CodeRED, the city/county emergency notification system. Sign up at

17) Thank you to this week’s Investors in Economic Development, First Interstate Bank, for its investment at the Advance Division, FCR and Veolia North America, for their investments at the Pacesetter Division, and Cargill, for its investment at the Supporter Division. Never underestimate that without private investment, industry diversification, business expansion and retention, and high wage growth would go unsupported. Let’s stay competitive! Thank you for continuing to Grow Great Falls! For questions about investment, contact Investment Director, Teresa Schreiner at 406.781.9499

18) I’ve been invited to speak at the North Dakota Economic Development Conference in Mandan in June, and to give a presentation at the International Economic Development Council annual conference in Indianapolis in October. And, have been reappointed to serve another year as the lead Montana volunteer for the International Council of Shopping Centers, our professional network to reach commercial developers, brokers, and retailers. More opportunities to pitch the Great Falls region!

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.
“If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”
Woodrow Wilson


Great Career Opportunities

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.

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

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.