|1) EnjoyTravel ranked the 50 Best Burgers in the United States. Guess who came in 8th in the nation? Congratulations to the Roadhouse Diner right here in Great Falls!! My mouth is watering just typing this!
2) At the MaKamey Ranch West, Governor Gianforte, the Montana Department of Agriculture, the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, the Wool Growers Association, and local lamb and wool producers – including Montana Wool Company– met to discuss some of the issues facing wool and lamb producers especially in regards to the business supply chain. Anna discussed gaps in the wool supply chain and what GFDA can do to support businesses looking to move into this industry. If you are interested in wool or lamb processing, reach out to Anna at Anna@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-590-1301 to discuss opportunities.
3) Kids Education YES is hosting a Legislator Forum & Discussion this Thursday, October 12th from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM at the Great Falls History Museum. Business and community leaders are invited to join the discussion. Please RSVP to attend to Jamie Wyatt Marshall at email@example.com.
4) Another business attraction prospect was in town this week looking to relocate to Great Falls! Find out why your business should consider Great Falls for your next location, reach out to Jake Clark Jake@GrowGreatFalls.org 1-406-403-4937.
5) Bullhook Community Health Center is moving forward with its expansion; see Havre Daily News. Congratulations to Dawn Bushard on opening Bushard Water Delivery in Cascade County! See KRTV.
6) The State Small Business Credit Initiative 2.0 (SSBCI 2.0) low interest rate program is anticipating receiving the third tranche of funding as early as November. If you have a project that could move forward with the benefit of low interest rate funding, start talking to GFDA now. These funds are limited and will be put to work very quickly to help our economy recover and come back stronger than ever. If you have a business startup or expansion planned that could benefit from a loan participation, contact Jill at JKohles@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-590-1056.
7) Invest Downtown 2023 and the Montana Main Street Conference are both coming up in October in Downtown Great Falls. Invest Downtown will be October 18th at 9-11 AM and the Montana Main Street Conference will follow afterwards through the 20th; see TheElectric. If you have any questions about either of these events, please contact Christian at 1-406-836-0136 or CLeinhauser@GrowGreatFalls.org.
8) NeighborWorks Great Falls held its annual Dream Street celebration as ten families near completion of their new homes. These ten will mark 175 owner built homes in Great Falls by families through the USDA-supported program; see KRTV. Great Falls High and CMR students broke ground on the 46th High School House, a collaboration of NeighborWorks Great Falls and Great Falls Public Schools; see NWGF blog.
9) Did you know the Great Falls Public Safety Levy & Bond will cost $1.33/day for a home valued at $300,000? Watch this video to learn the facts about the public safety bond and levy, and why the passage of this levy and bond is critical to providing adequate public safety for the citizens of Great Falls. Vote YES on the Great Falls Public Safety Levy & Bond on your November ballot. The GFDA Board urges you to support the Great Falls Public Safety Levy and Bond. Public safety, emergency service response time, and better insurance rating that benefits both commercial and residential properties were all reasons the GFDA Board vote was unanimous. Visit SafetyintheFalls.com to learn more.
10) We traveled to Fort Benton to meet with businesses in the community. Through visits like these we work to identify resources in our region, both in house and through our partners, that can benefit these organizations and help prepare them for future challenges and assist in dissolving current roadblocks. If you own a small business and want to know more about how we can provide tools and training to help you grow please reach out to Tony Peres, Small Business Navigator, at Tony@GrowGreatFalls.org or 406-750-2099.
11) The Montana Department of Commerce announced that $800,000 of federal grant funding is available to help small Montana businesses accelerate and grow international sales. The federal funding, from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), will be administered through Commerce’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).
12) Anna represented GFDA at the SBA’s ‘Path to Prosperity’ in Billings where she networked with federal agencies and discussed the opportunities for small business support from both federal and state departments. If you are interested in the Growth Through Agriculture grant and loan program or want to exhibit at the 2024 Made in Montana trade show, time is limited. Reach out to Anna at Anna@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-590-1301 for more information as deadlines are fast approaching.
13) We presented our economic strategy, tools, and resources to the Montana Department of Commerce team. We’re excited they invited us and share our continuous improvement mentality!
14) The ambitious Economic Development Strategy 2023-2025 that GFDA’s Board approved in June has four focus areas, 19 strategic priorities, and 46 actions we want to achieve in the next three years. This week the GFDA Board and our new GFDA Council reviewed our first quarter progress on the 47 KPI’s for this fiscal year tied to the 46 actions. We’ve secured the resources and are gearing up to move forward this quarter on more actions, including three market assessments (downtown Great Falls, energy, and transportation/logistics), completion of the professional health-related school feasibility study, and completion of a CDFI Growth Model that will detail plans to further expand our lending and access to capital work. We will soon be issuing RFP’s for the energy and transportation logistics market assessments soon. If you know of any great firms that have extensive knowledge in these industries, please let me know so we can get the RFP to them. We will also soon be issuing an RFQ for qualified environmental professionals to do hazardous material assessments with our new EPA Brownfield assessment grant.
15) Christian dedicated two days to participate in Entrepreneurial and Small Business Development Strategies training through the International Economic Development Council. This program educated him about the challenges encountered by entrepreneurs and how communities can harness their economic development assets to construct tightly-knit networks, thus fostering the success of businesses in the global marketplace.
16) Our mission to foster diverse economic opportunities and improve quality of life is made achievable through the commitment of our dedicated team of investors and public partners. Learn more about them here. Recent investments include: Advance Division—First Interstate Bank; Flagship Division—ADF International; Leadership Division—Dick Anderson Construction; Pasta Montana; Community Division—Big Sky Civil & Environmental, Inc.; Geranios Enterprises, Inc. Thanks to their support, we can continue our vital work in bridging the gap between the cost of living and the average wage, ultimately ensuring that our residents enjoy an exceptional quality of life. If you’d like to find out how you can support our initiatives and contribute to the growth & success of our region, reach out to Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 1-406-781-9499 or Jenn@GrowGreatFalls.org.
Two notes about this past week.
I often tell my team to not be afraid of making mistakes — that they have to be pretty creative to make a mistake that I haven’t made. When we’re charging forward at high speed, constantly trying new things to strengthen the Great Falls regional economy and enhance quality of life, and focusing most of our efforts on helping our clients achieve their dreams, it’s inevitable that once and awhile we’ll make a mistake. This week we posted a local media story without taking the time to do research to verify its accuracy. We sent out an eblast that Great Falls was ranked 28th best small city in the U.S. by WalletHub. Actually, we were ranked in what I would describe in the “we have more work to do category.” Our apologies! Also, to the GFDA team, stop beating yourself up and let’s keep moving forward. It’s all part of our mantra of continuous improvement.
Secondly, thank you to our many partners who figure out a way to solve challenges to help our local businesses and developers succeed. We need to work to get everyone in our community and region to throw out “We can’t do that” and replace it with “Let’s sit down and figure out how we can make it work.”
Have a great week!
President & CEO