Top 10 – 4/21/19

Plan showing new section of Rivers Edge Trail coming soon to downtown Great Falls!

GFDA Top 10

Here is our Top 19 for this week, celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy. Great to be back in town for Easter after a 12 day Denver-LA-DC trip. Kudos to the raid warriors, remote workers, gig freelancers, and entrepreneurs who live through the headaches of business travel to support our economy. Great Falls is such an easy and pleasant airport to fly in and out of!

1) Hosted a prospect visit by a company looking at potential sites in our region for re-shoring its manufacturing. Like many companies, they were enticed overseas for manufacturing 20 years ago but the business climate has changed and now their business will benefit from being back in the US. If you know of any companies looking for new locations, give us a call so we can work with you to put together a competitive proposal! Jolene Schalper 406.750.4481.

2) Employment in the Great Falls MSA (Cascade County) increased by 112 in March, bringing our unemployment rate to 4.0%. This still leaves 1,521 local residents actively seeking work and another 800+ we can draw back into the labor force just to get our labor participation rate to the state average. So, let’s get going on those business startups and expansions!

3) Congratulations to the City of Shelby and the Carousel Rest Area on winning the Public/Private Collaboration Award at the Governor’s Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Conference! See Great Falls Tribune story.

4) Our monthly pre-business workshop, The LaunchPoint, saw its largest attendance since we began this training in 2015. With those 16 attendees, GFDA has now trained over 150 people in 2019. We’ve also now trained over 250 aspiring entrepreneurs with The LaunchPoint since 2015. Up next on GFDA’s Business Education Calendar, Profit Mastery, on April 24-25. Profit Mastery makes managing a company’s financials easier and simplifies how to plan for growth. Every advisor and entrepreneur we’ve guided through Profit Mastery sings its praises. Join us by registering here.

5) The Great Falls City Commission approved using downtown tax increment financing funds to make capital improvements to the City’s parking garages. See Tribune. And, check out this story about the new Elevation 3330 Public House downtown. The Children’s Museum of Montana in downtown Great Falls held a public meeting to get input on planning for its future new facility. See KRTV for details.

6) Join us as we celebrate our own Raegan Breeden, owner of Play N Learn Academy, along with many other exemplary small business owners at the Montana Small Business Administration Awards on Thursday, May 2nd at the Meadow Lark Country Club. Spots are filling up, so reserve your spot today 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.

7) We’d also like to invite our bank partners and economic developers in the state to a special Lender Training event in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration on May 1-2. This two-day course walks through the SBA 7(a) program, the SBA 504 program, USDA’s Rural Development programs, New Market Tax Credits, the Montana Board of Investments, and risk mitigation tools through the Montana Department of Commerce. Join us for the training and the SBA Awards ceremony.

8) MaltEurop’s Great Falls facility was featured in an article in Site Selection magazine about the globalization of malting barley. KFBB ran a nice story about Fresh Start Coop in Geraldine, click here.

9) Congratulations to the Downtown Great Falls Association and the Great Falls Business Improvement District (BID) on celebrating one year in their new downtown office. If you are looking at a downtown project we recommend working with Joan Redeen at the BID. She is incredibly knowledgeable and the BID has tools and resources that can help!

10) SBA 504 interest rates were down yet again for April. The 25-year note came in at 4.527%, the 20-year note at 4.360% and the 20-year refi at 4.393%. The 10-year note funds every other month and came in at 4.616% in March. These interest rates are FIXED for the life of the loan and inclusive of all ongoing fees. In this interest rate environment it is hard to get a better deal. Add to that the SBA 504 program can get you a loan with a down payment as low as 10% and financing your commercial real estate or equipment purchases through with an SBA 504 loan becomes a no-brainer. If you’re curious about whether the SBA 504 program may work for you, please contact Mike Archer at 406-284-1789 or

11) Housing is a critical component of our economic development strategy to grow and diversify the Great Falls regional economy while creating higher wage career opportunities. The Homebuilders Association of Great Falls is hosting David Logan, Lead Economist  for the National Association of Home Builders, for a discussion of the impact of housing on Great Falls, a report titled Brick by Brick. Be sure to get this on your calendar for May 6 from 3-5 PM in The Portage Building at West Bank Landing, 405 3rd St NW – second floor across from GFDA.

12) THANK YOU to the Montana Legislature for passing House Bill 52 which reauthorizes many of the core economic development programs that we use to implement our regional economic development strategy. And, THANK YOU to the businesses who supported the legislative effort. The bill reauthorizes the Small Business Development Centers, Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, Food & Ag Development Centers, Growth Through Agriculture, the Export program at the Montana Department of Commerce, support of the Montana Cooperative Development Center, and others.

13) THANK YOU to the Montana Legislature for approving funding to expand the Dental Hygiene program at Great Falls College MSU! Now we need to raise local money to make the project a reality. Check out the details of this great project here.

14) The Legislature also named the fourth Saturday in July to be National Day of the Cowboy, see Giddyup in Tribune.

15) Is exporting part of your company’s revenue? Should it be? The Montana Department of Commerce will be hosting an Export 101 training at the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce on May 2nd from 2-4 PM. Exporting is an option to diversify revenue to stabilize through seasonal dips or when evaluating growth opportunities. Click here for more information.

16) Worked with a local small business helping them invoice on a project with the National Park Service. Assisted several businesses with their capability statements and elevator pitches in preparation for the upcoming GovMatch 2019 event in Billings this May. For more information on trainings, events and counseling in the government contracting area, contact Lillian Sunwall at or (406)750-1253.

17) The second round of proposed Opportunity Zone regulations were released this week and we’re getting closer to having regulatory certainty around this new and exciting investment option. If you are looking to defer and reduce your capital gains by investing in an Opportunity Zone but aren’t sure what qualifies, or if your business or project is located in an Opportunity Zone and is seeking investment, please reach out to Mike Archer at 406-284-1789 or to discuss.

18) Networked with federal officials, financial leaders and Montana Congressional staff in Washington, DC. Spoke at the International Economic Development Council’s Federal Forum. Participated in the Council of Development Finance Agencies’ Federal Summit, in the Aspen Institute’s Opportunity Zone event, and the Fourth Economy’s Agents of Change event.

19) Thank you to this week’s Investor in Economic Development, the Cascade County Tavern Association, for their continued investment at the Community Division. When you invest in our community, not only are you helping us remain competitive, but you are ensuring that we adapt to the changing conditions involved in community development. Our dynamic team works hard to ensure that your investment dollars are utilized strategically and always with a growth mindset.  If you want to further discuss how investment works, 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.

“The world needs many more dreamers. Unreasonable souls who fight the urge to be ordinary.” – Robin Sharma

Great Career Opportunity

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.

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.