Top 10 – 5/27/19

Great Falls was ranked the 11th best small city in the nation in which to open a small business by! See Great Falls Tribune.

GFDA Top 10

Here is our Top 22 for the last three weeks, celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy. I fell behind getting the Top 10 out, but you can see below that we have been busy!

1) Choteau has a new specialty grain miller, Conservation Grains; see Great Falls Tribune. Broadwater Coffee Brewing opened in Great Falls. You can find them at 721 6th St SW Monday through Saturday 6 AM to 2 PM; see TheElectricGF.comMrs. Wright’s Pastys opened its new location; see KRTVAuto Zone is opening a second store on the west side of Great Falls; see Franz Bakery opened in Great Falls.

2) We closed a $305,000 SBA 504 loan on a $740,000 project for Big Sky Managed Care in Great Falls. Big Sky Managed Care has been growing fast and was bursting at the seams in their old building. We were able to help them purchase a more spacious office at a low interest rate and down payment of only 10%. Many thanks to their excellent commercial bankers Chad Simonson and Kevin Eckhardt at First Interstate Bank for recommending this great product to them. If your commercial space isn’t keeping up with your growing business or you’d like to buy instead of lease, please contact Mike Archer at 406-284-1789 or to find out how we can help.

3) Joined Great Falls Public Schools to celebrate the ground breaking for the new Longfellow Elementary School! Here is a link to a cool video that shows what the new school will look like.

4) Submitted a proposal requested by a major advanced manufacturer considering expansion locations.

5) The Great Falls Homebuilders Association and the Great Falls Association of Realtors presented a powerful report prepared by the National Homebuilders Association that details the economic impact of new home construction in the Great Falls metro area. The one-year impact of building 100 single-family homes includes $23.6 million in local income, $1.5 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and 363 local jobs. The additional annual recurring impact of building 100 single-family homes includes $3.5 million in local income, $696,000 in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and 71 local jobs.

6) We closed a $500,000 loan to Pardue Grain for working capital to operate their brand new state-of-the-art pulse processing facility outside of Cut Bank. Many thanks to Ryan Eney from First Interstate Bank in Cut Bank for his tireless shepherding of the lending aspects of this project from the very beginning.

7) Great Falls seniors celebrated National Career Signing Day, signing letters of intent to pursue careers with Sletten Construction, Wadsworth Builders, Liberty Electric, Cascade Electric, and Paradise Fencing. Career technical education is an excellent partnership between our industrial trades at Great Falls Public Schools and community employers. Several students signed with Great Falls College MSU to pursue careers in Health Sciences and Information Technology, taking advantage of dual-enrollment opportunities. See the story on KRTV.

8) Met with developers, brands, and brokers at the RECON commercial real estate annual event. While we still have work to do attracting population, we had more interest this year than in past years. There are numerous franchise opportunities. Contact Jolene to discuss 406.750.4481.

9) Governor Bullock signed bills reauthorizing key Montana economic development programs for another eight years and funding critical infrastructure projects, including expansion of the Dental Hygiene Program at Great Falls College MSU, and numerous rural water and sewer projects in our region.

10) Four new businesses opened in downtown Great Falls last quarter. Building permits were issued for 13 downtown construction projects totaling $5,108,627. Downtown volunteers donated 7,827 hours!

11) Approved a $2.271 million bridge loan package to support the development of an exciting new local business. We can be flexible with our financing in ways that banks can’t, which can be especially important for the beginning stages of a project when the development process, timeline and end date are not well defined. If you have a project that could use some support before the banks are able to step in, contact Mike Archer at 406-284-1789 or

12) Mother-daughter team Deena Maier and Amber Hofstad of Windrift Hill, the skin care products manufacturer in Conrad, won the top prize $6,000 Impact Grant from the Women’s Business Center at Prospera Business Network in Bozeman to help increase their production capacity by 500%; see ABC Fox Montana story. Windrift Hill products can be found at many Great Falls area retailers, including 2J’s Fresh Market, at the Windrift Hill retail store in Conrad, or online at Congratulations to Amber and Deena for their continued efforts to employ more people, pay more in wages, and drive primary sector dollars into the local economy!

13) SBA 504 rates were down yet again in May! The 25-year note came in at 4.387%, the 20-year note at 4.260%, 20-year refi at 4.293% and the 10-year note at 4.351%. These interest rates are fixed for the life of the loan and include all on-going fees. If you’re in the market for a commercial real estate or equipment loan and would like fixed interest rates like these with down payments as low as 10%, please contact Mike Archer at 406-284-1789 or

14) USDA is hosting two opportunity workshops in Great Falls on June 6 for businesses, farmers and ranchers: Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) in the morning; and, Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) in the afternoon.

15) Sixteen aspiring entrepreneurs attended two pre-business workshops, The LaunchPoint and Boots to Business. GFDA’s efforts to spur entrepreneurial startup activity continue to grow. We’ve now trained 64 aspiring entrepreneurs in 2019 compared to 43 last year. Thank you for helping us spread the word to inspire potential entrepreneurs in the region. We’ve also recorded The LaunchPoint: A Pre-Business Webinar for those who can’t make our live events. Click here to learn the basics about starting a business.

16) Student entrepreneurs celebrated the first Electric City Shark Tank. First Place winner was CMR student Samantha Olson, who invented the Tiny Tracker, a complex blue tooth tracker to find lost belongings. Second place winner went to Great Falls High’s Hallie Thompson, Wholesome Hal’s food truck specializing in super food. Third place went to Eean Mann, a CMR student with a 4-in-1 utensil dubbed the neo-utensil, a functional and practical utensil marketed for fast-food restaurants. Competition was incredibly well-poised, and Lincoln Elementary students also had an enlightening presentation. See Tribune story.

17) Livability Media is wrapping up their advertising for the Great Falls Montana talent attraction magazine they are publishing in partnership with GFDA. This tool has worked very well for other communities our size. Check out Southern Idaho’s publication. This is more than a magazine. Livability has an excellent track record in getting interesting community stories picked up by national media. This is one part of a multi-pronged effort to build our reputation and the awareness of what a great place we are to work and live! Contact Jolene if you’re interested in learning more,

18) Worked with a large prime federal contractor to collect business names that were ready to participate in a bid opportunity.We hosted four attendees at Win the Bid: How to Prepare a Proposal, a workshop presented by GFDA’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). This training walked participants through the government contracting process, how to put a company’s best foot forward, and increase opportunities to increase revenue. Our next government contracting workshop is Marketing Tricks to Win Government Contracts on July 16th. For more or to register, click here. Up next on GFDA’s Business Education Calendar is a webinar on converting marketing leads to sales, Thursday, June 6th from 11-11:30 AM. These webinars are recorded so even if you can’t participate live, please register and we’ll send it to your inbox.

19) Great Falls Public Schools Adult Education Program Celebration of Success Cap and Gown Ceremony and Reception was held Wednesday, May 15th. The event honored graduates achieving United States Citizenship, specialized workforce training, accomplishment of Hi-Set Diplomas. Commencement Speaker Gerard Kouassi, from Cote d’Ivoire Africa, obtains his US Citizenship from Superintendent of Great Falls Public Schools Tammy Lacey and Adult Education Program Director Drew Uecker. Gerard worked closely with GFPS Adult Education on obtaining his US Citizenship. While he learned English with GFPS instructors, he completed the CNA program at Benefis Spectrum. Gerard now has a Master’s Degree in Health Administration from Park University and Certificate in Healthcare Information from the University of Montana. Gerard is the Missouri River Center Health Information Management Coordinator.

20) Hosted 17 Pennsylvania State agricultural education majors. The students were part of a domestic study tour of Montana’s agricultural and education sectors coordinated through Montana’s Office of Public Instruction. GFDA’s Food and Ag Development Center Director Barnett Sporkin-Morrison talked with the students about the opportunities and challenges facing Montana agriculture. The students also heard from Mark Black, MaltEurope’s Procurement & By-product Manager. Several of the students are interested in student teaching opportunities in Montana as a result of the tour.

21) Thank you to our Investors in Economic Development, Alluvion Health, for their investment at the Advance Division level, Wells Fargo for its investment at the Flagship Division, Holman Aviation for their investment at the Pacesetter Division, NeighborWorks Great Falls and Falcon, Lester, and Schaff, P.C., for their investment at the Community Division, and Spark Architecture and Hazardous Technologies for their investment at the Supporter level! Your commitment allows us to continue to expand our economic development efforts to grow the Great Falls regional economy and support the creation of higher wage career opportunities. If you have questions about investment, contact Teresa Schreiner at 406.781.9499.

22) We are pleased to welcome Trista Besich, CEO of Alluvion Health, to our Board of Directors. With her expertise in finance, preventative healthcare, and Alluvion’s current capital-intensive projects downtown, we are eager for Trista to join our team!

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.

Memorial Day is always a reflective time for me. Thank you to all who have served and sacrificed to earn and protect our freedoms.


Brett Doney

President & CEO

Connect with me on LinkedIn to network with the Great Falls region.

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“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”

Herman Melville

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

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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 MT PTAC has invited over 25 federal, state, and local government agencies to participate in a GOVMatch 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