Top Ten 12-30-22

Another beautiful mural added to Downtown Great Falls during the 2022 Montana ArtsFest.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 10 for 2022 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.

It’s a challenge to condense a great year into a Top 10, but here it goes!

1) Excellent progress has been made on Touro University’s new Montana Medical School in Great Falls with construction of the 100,000 square foot campus, first scholarships announced, and applications being accepted for the first class of medical students who will start in 2023.

2) Great progress has also been made on Calumet’s Montana Renewables renewable diesel and green hydrogen project, the largest value added ag project in the state’s history.

3) The first apartments opened in the 216-unit Arc Apartment Homes and construction started on the 124-unit Milwaukee Station and 216-unit Benefis and Farran Group apartment developments. Developers announced proposed projects totaling over 1,175 more apartments. NeighborWorks Great Falls made progress on getting the Baatz permanent supportive housing into construction. Tax credit allocation was secured for the 24-unit affordable carter Commons project to move forward.

4) Funding was secured for major infrastructure projects across our region, including $85 million for the St. Mary Diversion water project, $57 million for the Rocky Boy North Central Montana Rural Water System, and significant broadband projects being undertaken by the Blackfeet, 3 Rivers, and Charter. TDS announced it plans to build a high speed broadband fiber network throughout the City of Great Falls.

5) Numerous business expansions took place including the Great Falls Clinic Hospital and Outpatient Surgery Center, TC Glass, Independence Bank, Western Feed Corral, and Mountain View Coop. We recognized a record 32 female owned businesses at our annual Fire Wihtin event.

6) New businesses opened in many industry sectors. To name just a few, Big Iron Truck & RV Wash, Sustainable Oils, Farm Power Malt, Jersey Mike’s, and Coffee Republic. Numerous property redevelopments moved forward along Great Falls commercial corridors and many of our rural communities benefited from new businesses.

7) Downtown Great Falls momentum continued with construction starts on Alluvion’s Ricky Mountain Building redevelopment and The Gibson boutique hotel. New businesses opened including the Wild Hare, Hometana, Honey Hippo Play Cafe, and the Omerta Cigar Lounge. ArtsFest Montana added new murals and the City continued progress on Civic Center renovations.

8) Key community projects moved forward with construction started on the Aim High Big Sky Aquatics & Recreation Center. The auto signage part of the Great Falls Wayfinding Plan was installed. Great Falls USAF made good progress on the future GBSD missile system. The Great Falls International Airport secured new flights and capacity and continued to make infrastructure improvements. Great Falls College MSU launched a new CDL training program with business support. The Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce launched the World of Wonder event to encourage students to aspire to great career opportunities.

9) GFDA and our partners made significant progress on our deep dive strategic planning, publishing a housing market assessment, COVID industry impact report, and industry assessments including defense, transportation and logistics, food/ag/bio processing, and bioscience. GFDA’s Board adopted new mission and vision statements and a framework for a new regional economic development strategy with four areas of focus: People, Place, Opportunities, and Team.

10) With fantastic support from our investors and partners, GFDA was able to substantially increase our resources and capacity to begin to implement parts of the ambitious new plan. We secured $6 million in new loan capital, purchased 250 acres for the Great Falls AgriTech Park, and created three new staff positions: Small Business Navigator, Resource Director, and a second Business Development Officer focused on expanding and diversifying regional food/ag/bio processing industries. We were recognized with six national and state economic development impact awards.

My apologies for the many achievements and advancements across the region in 2022 that I’ve missed in this quick summary. THANK YOU to every entrepreneur, business, real estate developer, nonprofit organization, public agency, and community member who invested and/or made great things happen in our region during the year!!!

If you want a look at great exciting things planned for the region in 2023, register to attend, or present, at Ignite 2023 on January 13, 2023 sponsored by Payne West Insurance! This annual event showcases major investments, business expansions, new businesses, and construction projects starting or completing in the 2023 calendar year. We have some exciting announcements lined up for the event. Register HERE!

Happy New Year!

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

December SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) came in at 6.110%; 20-year at 6.032%; 10-year equipment loan at 6.534%; and, 20-year refinance 6.050%; 25-year refinance 6.128%. 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
Certification with SBA allows service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) to compete for federal sole-source and set-aside contracts across the federal government. Certified veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) have additional opportunities to pursue sole-source and set-aside contracts at the Veterans Administration (VA) under the VA’s Vets First program. SBA’s new Veteran Small Business Certification program implements changes from the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (NDAA 2021) which transfers the certification function from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to SBA as of January 1, 2023. The transfer will provide veterans with a central support point for their small business certification needs. The final rule, which provides program and governance guidance, was published in the Federal Register on November 29, 2022. Learn more here or contact one of our government contracting specialists, Shannon Clancy at or 1-406-590-1184.

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.

The Department of Ag is hosting a Speed Pitch Competition at their MT Ag Tech Innovation and Investment Summit in Great Falls on January 24th. The summit will bring together entrepreneurs and investors. Do you have an AgTech Innovation? Are you ready to pitch to investors? We can help! Do you have a Montana business that strengthens and diversifies Montana’s ag industry? The Department of Ag is hosting a Speed Pitch Competition at the summit. Three prizes are offered, $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 AND numerous investors will be present. We can help you refine your pitch! Call Katesha to chat about your idea, 406.788.0860. To register or learn more about the summit, click 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.

The Montana Energy Office at DEQ will host a second meeting on the funding the state of Montana qualifies for under Section 40101(d) of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). These formula Grid Resilience funds are a subset of transmission related funding from DOE under IIJA and are unique in that they will be managed by states. The program will be available for 5 years and DEQ will be submitting its first application for funds by the deadline of March 31, 2023, after which it intends to issue a competitive solicitation for qualifying projects. The second public meeting will be held via Zoom on January 4th from 9:30-11:00 AM. Meeting information and registration is available here. Registration is required for this meeting. DEQ has some information available on its website here under the “Grid Resilience Formula Funding” drop down but the best source of information currently is hosted by the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

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.