Top Ten 11-8-22

Group photo of the presenters at the 2022 Invest Downtown Great Falls event. We have great entrepreneurs and developers investing downtown!

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 19 for last 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) Congratulations to Big Sandy Organics for winning this year’s Trailmix competition presented by Albertsons during Boise Entrepreneur Week. The company is known for its product “Kracklin Kamut”. They were awarded $50,000 along with shelf space at the Albertsons’ Broadway Avenue Store in Boise, Idaho. See KRTV.

2) September labor data released by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry contained more good news for the Great Falls MSA. Employment in Cascade County climbed to 37,931, topping pre-pandemic employment of 37,334 in September 2019, and the labor force grew to 38,867, topping pre-pandemic labor force of 38,455 in September 2019. The unemployment rate in September was 2.4% (not seasonally adjusted).

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

4) Montana Premium Processing, a cooperative member owned meat processing facility in Havre created through the efforts of the Montana Farmers Union, was awarded a $291,900 grant through the USDA Meat and Poultry Expansion Program. The funds will be used to provide independent producers in Montana with an option for a local USDA inspected facility.

5) 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,

6) Congratulations to Lyle and Caroylon Yoder on their recent purchase of Cascade Meat Processors in Cascade. They specialize in processing beef, lamb, and pork.

7) Studio Montage Salon and Spa has served clients in downtown Great Falls for 22 years under the leadership of DeAnna Corn-Murphy. Studio Montage Salon and Spa has expanded with the addition of two partners to join the business and a new, larger location which boasts a boutique and more amenities. Learn more in our Announcement of the Week.

8) Over 30 people tuned in last week for our monthly Small Business Webinar cosponsored with MSU Extension. This month’s webinar featured some tips about dipping your toes into Tik-Tok for marketing and media engagement. The recording for this webinar and past webinars in our monthly Small Business Webinar series can be found here. Next month’s webinar will feature a local case study in customer engagement automations. For more information on that webinar and to register click here.

9) Check out the KRTV stories about two new local businesses, Spy High Mounts and Mise En Place Kitchens.

10) Talked with several banking partners in regards to participating with the State Small Business Credit Initiative Program (SSBCI 2.0) to provide their clients with a lower interest rate option. Their entrepreneurs are trying to expand their business by purchasing equipment and real estate in a market with rising rates. The SSBCI 2.0 program allows for a lower rate in participation with the bank loan, which allows for a lower overall blended interest rate. Projects that otherwise would be stalling out are able to successfully move forward. If you would like more information on the SSBCI 2.0 program please contact Jill Kohles at

11) The Great Falls International Airport Board approved moving ahead with a $900,000 front canopy rehabilitation project; see The Electric.

12) We recently purchased a large portion of the land in the Great Falls AgriTech Park. This land is some of the only shovel-ready industrial acreage with rail access in the Great Falls area. Just this week our AgriTech Park garnered interest from a successful energy company as well as an advanced manufacturing company. If you or your company are considering an expansion or relocation to Great Falls please contact Jake Clark,

13) Our Resource Director will give a 30-min presentation “Developing Relationships for Successful Grants” on November 22 at 10 AM for the Great Falls Area Chamber Nonprofit Alliance. The Chamber welcomes any nonprofit staff or board member to be a guest, so they need not be Chamber members to attend. Please pre-register HERE.

14) Joined Montana Department of Commerce leaders at the Council of Development Finance Agencies annual conference in Denver to discuss latest news on State Small Business Credit Initiative and C-PACE financing. Met with potential sources of new loan capital.

15) We are a member of the Grant Professionals Association and sent our Resource Director to its annual conference in Louisville. We strive to continually improve our professional knowledge and skills in grant research, proposal development, and post-award grant management. The result is building capacity for programs that directly benefit our clients

16) We invest in our team so they can better support businesses across the region. Jolene completed an Entrepreneurial and Small Business Development Strategies on her way to her Entrepreneurship Development Professional Certification. We can only give you the best if we learn the best practices to share!

17) The GFDA Board of Directors has endorsed the Cascade County Public Safety Levy and encourage voters to support the measure. Visit for more info. A few more hours left to vote!

18) Register today for the Montana Economic Development Conference at The Newberry in downtown Great Falls November 14-16; see Montana Economic Developers Association. The Building a Winning Montana Team conference will feature exciting panels discussing key Montana economic development issues such as housing, business attraction, talent attraction, tourism and economic development, tribal economic development, and value added agriculture. Keynotes will bring perspectives from other states and provinces, and from leading Montana industry associations and state leaders. Workshops include economic development ethics, new financing collaborations, and business attraction.

19) Our goal is to make a positive difference in a community and in people’s lives. Our team of INVESTORS share that same goal. By supporting GFDA, they are helping us achieve that so we can continue to work toward our mission. Recent investments include: Pacesetter Division—GPD Consulting Engineers and Transystems, LLC; Community Division—Great Falls Voyagers and K&K Trucking. These and other investors are true champions of economic development and growth in the region! If you want to support our communities’ growth, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or


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!

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

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.

Our Mission
Grow diverse economic opportunities that enhance quality of life.
GFDA is a certified Community Development Financial Institution and a 501(c)3 charitable organization. High Plains Financial is a certified Community Development Corporation that offers SBA 504 loans statewide. GFDA and High Plains Financial are Equal Opportunity Employers and Lenders.
GFDA is proud to host a Montana Small Business Development Center, a Montana Procurement Technical Assistance Center, and a Montana Food & Ag Development Center. We are also proud to provide office space for MSU’s Montana Manufacturing Extension Center and an SBA Women’s Business Center in partnership with the University of Montana and the Montana Native Growth Fund.
GFDA was the first economic development organization in the Rocky Mountain West to earn accreditation from the International Economic Development Council.
For more info, click to our website.


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.