Top Ten 1/15/23

Dave Loboy and Chris Knight with Montana Specialty Mills join officials from the Montana Department of Commerce, the City of Great Falls, and GFDA at Ignite 2023 to announce a major expansion of their oil seed processing facility in the Great Falls Agri-Tech Park.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 22 for this week celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy — Montana’s Golden Triangle. And, sharing business resources and skill-building opportunities to empower your success.

1) A total of 18 companies and partners presented at Ignite 2023 sponsored by PayneWest Insurance! We heard from healthcare, education, manufacturing, and more! The CMR Drumline joined us for our two big announcements from Montana Specialty Mills and Pasta Montana and Bison Business Students joined as well. We will have a full recap going out on Tuesday! Cheers to 2023! See KRTV and KFBB.

2) Montana Specialty Mills announced a major expansion at Ignite 2023! The oil seed crush and refining plant will be growing from current processing of 50 tons per day to 150 tons per day. This expansion will bring more high wage jobs and a substantial capital investment. Thank you for investing in Great Falls, Montana!

3) Pasta Montana announced a $7 million expansion at Ignite 2023! The noodle company will add an additional short goods line to keep up with demand for their premium pasta. Pasta Montana buys high quality wheat from area farms which is milled next door at General Mills and piped into the plant for the freshest pasta in the world. Thank you for investing in Great Falls Montana!

4) We are hosting a Business Pitch this Tuesday from 5:30-7:30 PM at Fire Artisan Pizza in downtown Great Falls. Feel free to come out and network with other entrepreneurs and business owners and pitch your idea or small business.  For questions or assistance please reach out to Tony Peres at 406-750-2099 or via email at

5) Touro University Montana College of Osteopathic Medicine in Great Falls is now accepting applicants. Learn more about Touro’s medical school and scholarships available to Montana students in our Announcement of the Week.

6) The Great Falls Planning Advisory Board voted to support the rezoning for a proposed 531-unit apartment development. The Board also supported the annexation of a property that the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians plan to use as a groceries cold storage building for tribe members; see TheElectric. We testified in support of both projects.

7) January 31st is the deadline for employers to register for the Montana Job Growth Tax Credit Program. The job growth incentive tax credit (JGTC) encourages the growth of high-paying Montana-based jobs. The credit applies to certain industries and offers a tax credit equal to 50% of employer-paid payroll taxes for qualifying new employees. Visit the web site to see eligibility or click here to go directly to the application. Chris Bradley and Logan Hendrix are our contact people for the Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit Program.They can be reached at

8) Met with a housing developer regarding potential new projects. We are still looking for a developer to take on a large scale homeownership project. Per the HousingMarket Demand Assessment there is a market for the 2-3 bedroom products – all types. Contact Jake to discuss, 406.403.4937.

9) New business openings include the Backroads Bar and GrillHighwood Dental StudioTres65, and the Golden Goose; see TheElectric’s Business Bites.

10) We will be in Browning this Wednesday from 11 AM-2 PM at the Glacier Peaks Bingo Hall hosting a business pitch training along with NACDC Financial ServicesBrowning Manpower and Sweetgrass Development. This training event will prepare entrepreneurs and business owners to successfully organize their ideas into a format to pitch to a network of other entrepreneurs and business minded individuals.  Please reach out to Tony Peres at 407-750-2099 or to learn more.

11) Eighteen businesses participated in our monthly Microlearning webinar series this week on “Can a DBE Certification Help My Woman Owned Business?” by Shannon Hahn (MDT). Our next webinar will be on Tuesday, February 14, 2023, 11:00 am. The topic is “Does the Government Buy My Products/Services?”. If you would like to register, CLICK HERE. If you have any questions, contact Lillian Sunwall at or (406)750-1253.

12) Met with a local business looking to expand into primary sector manufacturing! Our economy loves expansion deals, especially primary sector deals (when more than half the income comes from outside of our region bringing new money into our economy). First step is to discuss the idea with our Business Advisor Rich Gannon to map out the action plan. If you’re interested in discussing your business idea, give Rich a call at 406.868.2078.

13) ArtsFest Montana will return to downtown Great Falls August 11-18. The Business Improvement District is looking for property owners who would like to have a professionally painted mural installed on their building. Contact Kellie at or 1-406-727-5430. See TheElectric for more details.

14) Are you a farmers market vendor or have aspirations of becoming a vendor? Do you want to learn how to make your business a success at the famers market? Then make plans to attend the virtual Farmers Market Success Vendor Workshop Monday February 13th from 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM offered by National Center for Appropriate Technology and the Community Food and Ag CoalitionRegister here.

15) Join us for a Great Falls Public School Community Forum on Youth Wellness, Tuesday February 2nd 6:00-7:30 PM at the University of Providence Conference Center. An overview of the issues currently facing youth in our community along with a panel of stakeholders will share data and discuss what is currently being done by the school District and its partners to address the challenges. The audience will be encouraged to interact with the panel throughout the session. For more information, call Great Falls Public Schools Superintendent Office at 406-268-6001.

16) Christian spoke at Neighborhood Council #7 this week per a request from the council for project updates and to talk about the ongoing revitalization efforts. He was also able to share with them our new material on SBA 504 loans and Bridge/Gap financing and talk about how to effectively use those tools, among many others. If you have a project in Downtown Great Falls or are interested in a project, contact Christian at 406.836.0136 to discuss your Downtown development project.

17) MSU Extension’s Community Development team is offering a monthly Reimagining Rural Inspiration Hour webinar the third Wednesday of each month from 11:30 AM to 12:45 PM. The first webinar is this Wednesday, January 18th, titled “Supply and Demand of Leaders in Small Towns.” See all the topics and register for free here.

18) Three of our team members: Jill Kohles, Christian Leinhauser, and Jake Clark successfully completed a real estate finance course through the National Development Council towards their Economic Development Finance Professional certifications. This certification will help team GFDA better serve businesses in the Great Falls region and better offer our financial tools to attract, retain, and help businesses expand.

19) Great Falls College MSU’s physical therapist assistant program has introduced a limited-residency option that opens up the opportunity statewide; see KFBB.

20) The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary invited us to provide an introduction to GFDA and our economic development strategies as well as how they can be involved. We love bringing more people onto the Team and were excited to see several of our new fans join us at Ignite 2023. Can we speak with your team or club? Call Tony to arrange a presentation, 406.750.2099.

21) I drove down to the capitol to testify in support of the Governor’s budget for the Montana Department of Commerce and to commend the department’s new business attraction efforts.

22) GFDA relies on our team of INVESTORS. With each check, they are helping our community make positive changes & take control of our future. Recent investments include: Flagship Division—Great Falls Public Schools; Leadership Division—TDS Telecom; Pacesetter Division—Detailed Construction; Community Division—Great Falls Association of Realtors.  They are committed to long term support which will help our region grow. If you want to join the team that is driving growth, Contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or

Have a great new week!

Brett Doney

President & CEO

Download our GFDA Services and Staff Team handout or our GFDA 2022Q3 Quarter Index. View the We Are Great Falls video!

GFDA Staff Openings

We have two great career opportunities to join the GFDA staff team. Download info on Small Business Advisor — Director Regional Small Business Development Center and Loan Originations & Closing Associate. GFDA is proud to be on Equal Opportunity Employer!

Cost of Living in the Great Falls metro set a record for competitiveness in 2022Q3 at 85.6% of the national average, according to the C2ER (the Council for Community and Economic Research). Compare our local rate to Seattle’s 152.2%, Portland’s 122.2%, Bozeman’s 125.0%, Denver’s 111.2%, Salt Lake City’s 107.4%, Boise’s 105.4%, or Spokane’s 103.5%. Use our Cost of Living Calculator when trying to recruit new employees from our of town.

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; download AgriTech Park Flyer. Contact Jolene Schalper at 1.406.750.4481 or

January SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) came in at 6.310%; 20-year at 6.282%; 10-year equipment loan at 6.433%; and, 20-year refinance 6.300%; 25-year refinance 6.327%. These rates are FIXED for the life of the loan and are inclusive of all fees. If you would like to find out how to get financing for commercial real estate and equipment at potentially lower rates than you’re paying for your home mortgage, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

Events, Business Training, and Opportunities
If you are trying to redevelop a property that involves an environmental cleanup (including lead paint and asbestos) and you have a gap in your financing, your project may qualify for our low-interest brownfield redevelopment loan funds. We can make loans anywhere in Cascade County or within 100 miles from the borders of Cascade County which covers much of the region. We’re eager to help make your project move forward. Contact Tony Peres at 1-406-750-2099 or We also have some small business or nonprofit startup or expansion loan funds available for Glacier and Blaine counties.

The Veteran Small Business Certification Program Has Moved to SBA. Firms verified by the VA Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) as of January 1st are automatically granted certification by SBA for the remainder of the firm’s eligibility period. SBA intends to grant a one-time, one-year extension of certification to current VOSBs and SDVOSBs verified by the VA as of the transfer date on January 1, 2023. This additional year will be added to the existing eligibility period of a current participant. New applicants certified by SBA after January 1st will receive the standard three-year certification period. SBA will begin accepting applications for certification on January 9th. For more information, contact Lillian Sunwall at or (406) 750-1253.

The Montana Department of Commerce opened the Recovery Destination Event Grant application cycle. These grants assist Montana communities with destination events that will generate out-of-state visitors.

Do you like to learn about new technologies focused on agriculture innovation? Are you looking to invest in or partner with an ag-tech innovation? Then make plans to attend the Montana Ag-Tech Innovation and Investment Summit January 24th at the Great Falls Airport. Are you an entrepreneur with a great idea? Sign up for the Speed-Pitch Competition and have a chance to win a piece of $50,000 in prize money.  For more information on the competition or to practice your pitch call Justin at 406-590-1301.

Employers, are you aware of the Incumbent Worker Training program, Trades education & Training Tax Credit, and other resources available at the Montana Department of Labor & Industry? Check out their latest resource newsletter.

The 2023 Montana Economic Outlook Seminar is headed to Great Falls on January 24th. The theme is the Future of Montana and will highlight the latest economic trends for local economies and the state of Montana, with special focus on the new wave of in-migration and what it means for the state. To register, visit Economic Outlook Seminar’s website here.

Join us in person at GFDA on February 9th from 8:00-10:00 AM for the first in a quarterly series of STAR events designed to assist businesses with navigating and benefiting from doing business with government agencies and large federal contractors (often referred to as Primes). The Northrop Grumman team will present via Zoom and we will have Q&A after the meeting. Connect with panelists from a variety of large and small businesses currently successfully performing as prime and subcontractors. Learn helpful tips to assist your company in achieving its government contracting goals. Learn about new opportunities nationally and on or near missile wing Air Force Bases (Cheyenne, FE Warren, Malmstrom and Minot) Gain insight and information about the importance of registering with the large contractors,, and others to make your company more visible and propel your contracting opportunities. Find out about free resources to help you on your journey. Register here.

The Montana Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be held April 23-25 in Helena.

The White House released a Guidebook to the Inflation Reduction Act. There are many tax incentives that will be available for businesses, non-profits, and public agencies to reduce their energy costs and build new power generating facilities. We’ll be organizing briefings and trainings to help you learn and take advantage of these as more guidance is released. For now, download the Guidebook here. The National Association of Counties has prepared a summary of the IRA; view it here.

Have You Reviewed the New FCC Map? The FCC recently released a new map showing broadband availability across the country. Why is this important? There is more than $42 billion in federal grant funding available for broadband infrastructure development projects, and it will be allocated based on the number of unserved and underserved locations identified in the FCC map. The FCC Broadband Map is available online, and you can enter a specific address to see the data on broadband speed and availability for a specific location. If you have questions or concerns about the information, the deadline for submitting challenges to the map is January 13. Online resources can guide you through the challenge process.


The Montana Work-Based Learning Collaborative, a network of public and private partners working to expand and improve on-the-job learning for Montana students, has released its first Work-Based Learning Toolkit for Employers. The toolkit provides outlines, forms, and frameworks for employers in four key areas for work-based learning success: meaningful projects, welcoming community, mentorship, and expectations/feedback. Download toolkit.

Export Montana, part of the Montana Department of Commerce (MDOC), is organizing a trade mission to the Czech Republic and Hungary in June. They have grant funds to pay for 75% of the costs plus $2,000 toward travel costs. Grant funds are available for any of your export business development efforts. Contact Angelyn Deyoung, MDOC International Trade Officer, at or 1-406-431-5075. We’re thinking about going back to exhibit and network at the Global Energy Show in Calgary in June, participating again in the USA Pavilion. If you may be interested in joining us to connect with Canadian energy, industrial, construction, logistics and related companies, contact Jolene at or 1-406-750-4481.

The Montana Bioscience Cluster Initiative is offering funding through its 4th “F” Fund (4FF) to provide direct assistance to Montana bioscience entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses in need of money for travel to key conferences, small equipment purchases, or temporary staff assistance in relation to proposal development, etc. This fund is designed for maximum flexibility in support of new and established businesses and entrepreneurs in the bioscience industry. The fund will provide grants of $250 to $5,000. In exceptional circumstances the fund may consider larger applications. Grants may be awarded in phases (e.g. $1,000 initially with additional $1,000 on achieving specific milestone). More info and application here.

We released the Bioscience Economic Development Strategy for the Great Falls Montana region. The report, prepared by Tripp Umbach with the input and assistance of key local industry partners, details four key findings and four strategic actions to grow and diversify bioscience-related industries in Great Falls. This report, along with other key findings from our strategic planning process will help guide the efforts of GFDA moving forward. Contact Jake Clark with questions regarding the report,

Many businesses that obtained SBA COVID EIDL loans will have their 30-month payment deferral expire soon. Are you one of those businesses? If so, the SBA Montana District office is holding a webinar on how to start making your loan payments. There are five webinar sessions scheduled. For more info visit SBA Montana.


The Made in Montana Food & Gift Tradeshow will be held in Helena on March 10-11, 2023. Exhibitor applications open October 19th and spaces sell-out fast. TheMontana Manufacturing Extension Centeris offering a series of excellent workshops and trainings this fall.

Cybersecurity challenges for businesses continue to grow. The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC) is offering an array of useful resources to help Montana businesses to protect themselves.

Do you have open government contracts? Is your registered due to renew in the next few months? continues to have issues with the transition of the new validation process. It is recommended that businesses start early to renew their registration to keep from going inactive. If you are having trouble getting through the process, contact Shannon Clancy at for assistance.

The Montana Innovation Partnership is offering a number of trainings and an accelerator program for companies interested in pursuing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.

Montana STEP grants can pay for 75% of your international export marketing efforts up to $10,000. The Montana TechLink Center at MSU is offering a new round of workshops on how to win Small Business Innovation Research funding.

USDA is accepting applications for the new Fertilizer Production Expansion Program. $500 million in grants is available to help existing fertilizer producers to expand.

What’s it like to live in Great Falls Montana? Get a glimpse through the Great Falls 2022 Livability Magazine! Livability Great Falls is a tool for recruiting people from outside our community and is one of the tools for our Talent Attraction campaign. We also have a Email List to share resumes of trailing partners and others and we promote Hot Jobs – jobs that would entice people to move here. If you are recruiting people from outside Great Falls, click here to join our recruiter email list and learn more.

We have migrated our pre-business workshop for early stage and pre-venture startups to a self-paced, video-facilitated, online format. Business Basics for Startups is now live and ready for beta testing. If you’d like to check out the content and provide feedback, we’d appreciate it. Click here to check out the new modules and resources. Please direct feedback to Rich at

The best resource we scan daily to stay abreast of business and community innovation is (Montana Associated Technology Roundtables) which we are proud to help sponsor. Sign up for their free newsletter.

We’ve released the Great Falls Childcare Demand Assessment that shows a need for additional childcare facilities to serve 580 children in Great Falls. For assistance with childcare facility business planning, contact Rich Gannon at or 1-406-836-2078.

Join the Trailing Partner Email Group specifically for employers to share resumes of trailing spouses/partners across the Great Falls region with other employers looking to hire. “Your (Live in Great Falls) website is very impressive and helpful! Great Falls looks amazing, and we love what we’ve seen real estate-wise, and business-wise.” This quote was from an email sent to us from a couple considering relocation to Great Falls. We will be sharing their resumes (with their permission) on the Trailing Partner Email Group.

We’ve released the Great Falls Housing Market Assessment that shows a need for over 450 new housing units per year in the immediate Great Falls area. For assistance with housing development, contact Jake Clark at or 1-406-403-4937.

Visit our relocation website This website was the #1 request we got from local recruiters and HR professionals for aiding in attracting talented workers to Great Falls. The Great Falls At-A-Glance two-pager is a great complementary resource that highlights Great Falls for people unfamiliar with our community.


We have Brownfield Clean-Up money that we want to put to work! Our low interest Brownfield Loans can be used to clean up hazardous materials including but not limited to lead paint, asbestos, etc. Are you working on a project that could use some clean up? Call Lillian today to discuss eligibility 406.750.1253 or

Of our online business planning tool, LivePlan, one said: “LivePlan is Awesome!” The LivePlan tool is helping her streamline her strategy in preparation for presenting to bank partners. We offer LivePlan licenses for free to active clients. Learn more about LivePlan on our website.

All of our recorded monthly business strategy webinars are available online for viewing anytime, click them out here.

Curious to see how these projects pencil out?For each of the vision projects we have project analysis that includes Project Descriptions, Cash Flow Projections, and Rent Roll Summaries.