Top Ten 11/13/22

McLaughlin Institute
Community partner the McLaughlin Research Institute for Biomedical Sciences celebrated their 70th anniversary with an open house. Andrea Grindeland, Assistant Professor and Institutional Veterinarian provides a tour of the lab where she conducts research on chronic wasting disease during the institute’s open house. McLaughlin Research Institute in Great Falls is world-renowned for their contributions in mouse genetics and work on Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, Chronic Wasting Disease, among others.
GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 13 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) Met with companies and new/old partners at Select USA Canada. Canada is the country that provides the third largest amount of foreign direct investment into the United States and here in the Great Falls Region of North Central Montana we know that to be true. While in Canada, we met with one of the many Canadian companies that invest in our community and are now working on a major expansion project. Oh Canada! To discuss our foreign direct investment strategies, give Jolene a call 406.750.4481.

2) Fundraising is underway to create a second Farm in the Dell in the area near Fairfield; see KRTV. Les Schwab Tire plans to build a second Great Falls location in the Marketplace. New City Church plans to begin renovations of the former riverfront Tribune building. Broke Axe Throwing plans to open on November 16th. Chrysalis Flowers is expanding to become the Graceful Living Emporium — ribbon cutting on November 15th. See TheElectric’s Business Bites for more info on all of these.

3) Did you know buying a building is often more cost effective than leasing? GFDA’s Loan Committee approved a gap loan for a local agency that is doing just that! This project will allow a nonprofit business to not only own their real estate but expand their operations. If your commercial space is not keeping up with your growing business or you’d like to buy instead of lease, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

4) Leslie Hansen-Clewien comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Leslie began her journey of business ownership with the gift shop and boutique Rustic Mug in Columbia Falls. This fall she returned to Fort Benton and opened Rustic Mug and Boutique on Main Street. Learn more about Leslie’s business in our Announcement of the Week.

5) JobsEQ issued preliminary 2022Q2 labor data. Average annual wages in the Great Falls MSA (Cascade County) increased by 7.2% in the four quarters ending in 2022Q2, climbing by $3,260 to $48,819. This topped USA average wage growth of 6.7% and Montana average wage growth of 6.8%. Total wages in our MSA increased by 10.2% or $171 million in the four quarters ending in 2022Q2. That is a significant growth in local spending power! Business establishments data for 2022Q1 was released showing an increase of 109 establishments in our MSA in a year.

6) We will be hosting two Business Pitch events in the upcoming weeks. The first will be on November 22nd at the Magpie in downtown Great Falls. The second will be November 29th at The Alibi in Shelby. For more information please check out our Business Pitch page here. Please reach out to Tony Peres with any questions at 406-750-2099 or

7) Alluvion Health updated the community on their Rocky Mountain Building project. Representatives from Sletten Construction and Nelson Architects gave updates on the project slated to be completed in 2024. Based on 2021 UDS data, the project will generate economic impact including 248 total jobs, $31.3M total economic impact of current operations, and $3.4M total tax revenues.

8) The agenda has been finalized and the registration is now open for the upcoming Montana Brownfields workshop on November 16-17th at the Darkhorse – Celtic Cowboy in Great Falls following the MEDA Conference. Please check out the workshop’s webpage for additional information and to register for the event. This workshop is free, but we request that you register so that we can prepare the room accordingly. If you have questions, contact Lillian Sunwall at

9) We’re offering a new low interest loan participation product in partnership with the Montana Department of Commerce that provides 50/50 loan participations with your bank or credit union. We are a processing potential deals to move projects forward that otherwise could not. These funds are limited, first come first serve, 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 or 1-406-590-1056.

10) Miles City Community College is hosting a webinar on new CDL regulations, November 15th at 7:30. Webinar link or dial-in information 1-866-749-7984.

11) We kicked off our Microlearning Webinar series this week on Introduction to Small Business Certifications with 15 in attendance. Our next webinar will be in December 13th at 11:00 AM on “Can A DBE Certification Help My Woman-Owned Business?” featuring Shannon Hahn at MDT. To register, click here. For more information, contact Lillian Sunwall

12) Resources make projects happen. Right now we have resources to devote to projects. Some are very specific, like our meat processing funds and some are more general. The key thing to remember is resources are limited and our resources are first come first served. If you are thinking about an expansion or starting your business, now is the time to get started. Call Tony to discuss available resources to move your project forward,1.406.750.2099.

13) With the help of our INVESTORS, a broader and more impactful scope of work is being achieved throughout our community. Each check they write allows our team to continue to attract business, work with entrepreneurs, and create high wage jobs for our residents.  Recent investments include: Pacesetter Division—Hybrid Steel Design, LLC. Their continued support is the reason we can keep working towards our mission. If you want to support the team that is growing Great Falls, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or

Have a great week!

Brett Doney

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

Career Opportunity

We’re looking for a new team member. We have a great career opportunity: Business Advisor — Small Business Development Center Regional Director.

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. Contact Jolene Schalper at 1.406.750.4481 or

October SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) came in at 6.439%; 20-year at 6.362%; 10-year equipment loan at 5.598%; and, 20-year refinance 6.457%; 25-year refinance 6.380%. 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
The Veteran’s Administration (VA) stopped accepting new applications for Veteran-owned small business verification or reverification as of October 24th. This transition is part of a government-wide effort that streamlines and consolidates all certifications offered to VOSBs and SDVOSBs under the Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA will assume responsibility for the program as of January 1, 2023. For more information or questions, contact Lillian Sunwall at

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

Attention Veteran-Owned Businesses! In less than a year the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) will transfer to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). As of January 1, 2023, all functions of VA’s CVE will be handled by the SBA. To help make this a seamless transition, we encourage all self-certified SDVOSBs to complete the verification process through the VA now before the transfer becomes effective. Please start the verification process at For more information on starting the verification process, contact Lillian Sunwall 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.