Top Ten 2/19/23

Last September, I has the pleasure of visiting a very impressive economic development operation, the City of Hamilton, Ontario’s Economic Development Department. This sign is on their office wall. Their creative problem solving has helped transform Hamilton from a distressed industrial community into a vibrant manufacturing, education, tourism, tech, and entrepreneurial fast-growth city, a great inspiration for Great Falls!

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 14 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) Alluvion Health has applied for a building permit for the third phase of the restoration of the Rocky Mountain Building in downtown Great Falls, estimating the work at $25 million. A new Buckle clothing store is coming to Great Falls. Crooked Tree Coffee is opening a second location in the city. Bourbon Chicken (across from Independence Bank) and the first Great Falls Les Schwab Tire Center have opened; see The Electric’s Business Bites.

2) Our Business Pitch is coming up quickly this week on February 21st from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at Annie’s Taphouse in downtown Great Falls. This is a great chance to network and pitch your business idea or current business. We have resources available to help your business or idea grow! Reach out to Tony Peres at 406-750-2099 or with any questions.

3) There are 233 manufacturers in Cascade County and another 211 manufacturers in the rural Golden Triangle counties, according to Montana State University Extension. They counted 4,494 manufacturers across the state. We’re a proud supporter of the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center as part of our efforts to expand and diversify manufacturing in the Great Falls trade area.

4) Nominations for the Fire Within Inspire and Aspire Awards are open. We started the Fire Within Award program began 12 years ago to inspire and celebrate female entrepreneurs in North Central Montana’s 13 county region. If you know a stellar female entrepreneur who excels in her industry, nominate her for a Fire Within Award! Thank you to Alluvion Health for sponsoring this years’ Fire Within!!!

5) Flour Power Gluten Free Bakery & Beyond is expanding to a larger location in downtown Great Falls. The bakery will offer seating and a larger menu. Follow them on Facebook for information on the new location. Turn your side hustle into a full-time business by taking our Business Basics Startup course.

6) Are you in the planning and development phase of expanding your agricultural product or adding value to Montana agriculture by expanding your product into new markets? Montana’s Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) Business Acceleration Program (BAP) and Market Development Program (MDP) grants could help! Funds are available; click here for more information or contact Katesha at

7) A trip to Morocco inspired Brittany Riley to start International Spice District, a small business in Great Falls specializing in exotic, personalized salt-free seasonings. Brittany has now expanded her online business to include retail. Learn more about her business journey in our Announcement of the Week.

8) GFDA approved a Brownfield Grant in the amount of $583,925 for the hazardous and contaminated materials clean-up of the Baatz building located in Downtown Great Falls. This is a high mission project, and contingent on EPA’s approval, the grant will not only remove contaminants of a dilapidated building but allows the property to be further redeveloped into a supportive housing project.  If you have an opportunity to purchase a commercial building that could have possible contamination issues; please contact Lillian Sunwall to learn about potential solutions at

9) Threshold Real Estate in Great Falls is celebrating its one-year anniversary. Threshold Real Estate has four agents and is owned and operated by Ashley Friesen. Looking to start a business? Our Small Business Development Center offers FREE one-on-one business coaching to help you with everything from creating a business plan, financial projections, establishing a digital presence, marketing and more. Contact Small Business Advisor Rich Gannon at (406) 836-2078 to get started!

10) Are you in the planning and development phase of expanding your agricultural product or adding value to Montana agriculture by expanding your product into new markets? Montana’s Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) Business Acceleration Program (BAP) and Market Development Program (MDP) grants could help! Funds are available; click here for more information or contact Katesha at

11) Great Falls Public Schools is using ARPA funds to add four classrooms to Meadow Lark Elementary School to make room for more students; see The Electric and KRTV. The City of Great Falls is going forward with improvements to Morony Park, removing the old natatorium and installing a new play structure, pavilion, updated basketball court and sidewalks; see KRTV.

12) We are awaiting the second tranche of the State Small Business Credit Initiative Program (SSBCI 2.0) funds to open soon. This program provides a lower interest rate option to entrepreneurs who are trying to expand their business by purchasing equipment and real estate. If your project is ready to move to the next step please reach out to Jake at ASAP, as this is a competitive program drawing from limited funds!

13) Each year Montana companies to bring their products to the Made In Montana Show. This is an opportunity for businesses to sell their unique items to wholesalers. If you are interested in showcasing your product, we can help you get ready. This year the show is March 10-11 at the Helena Fairgrounds. If you’d like more information, reach out to Katesha at

14) Investing in economic development is a way to take control of our community’s future and assure a thriving and successful local economy. Nobody understands that more than our INVESTORS and public partners. Recent investments include: Advance Division—Alluvion Health; Flagship Division—Arc Apartment HomesVisionNet; Supporter Division—Montana Construction Management. They are the catalyst for growth and are helping us achieve our mission, learn more about them and our other supporters HERE. If you want to join the team that is growing the region, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or

Enjoy a wonderful Presidents Day Weekend!

Brett Doney

President & CEO

Download our GFDA Services and Staff Team handout or our GFDA 2022Q4 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-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

February SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) dropped to 6.010%; 20-year at 5.982%; 10-year equipment loan at 6.433%; and, 20-year refinance 6.000%; 25-year refinance 6.028%. 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 341st Contracting Squadron, Malmstrom Air Force Base (AFB), is contemplating a solicitation for a multiple award contract (MAC) and is looking for responses to this Sources Sought Notification. Awarded MAC indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts would be for the construction of structures and facilities, repair, maintenance, and alteration of real property assets within the confines of Malmstrom AFB, Weapons Storage Area (WSA), and Missile Alert Facility (MAF) and Launch Facility (LF) sites located within the Missile Complex throughout Montana. This is a great opportunity to Introduce your company to the Contracting Wing at Malmstrom AFB. Do you have a Capability Statement prepared that you can provide with your Sources Sought reply? If not, contact us at For more information on the Notice, click here.

The Prospera Business Network is accepting applications for their Women’s Business Center Impact Grants. This year they will be awarding two $6,000 grants, and two $3,000 grants. Montana women-owned businesses are eligible to apply. For a detailed eligibility information and to apply visit the Montana Women’s Business Center Impact Grant page.

43% of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses and attacks are becoming more frequent. The Montana Department of Commerce has launched an ARPA Cybersecurity Program. Businesses can apply for up to $8,000 in reimbursement for newly implemented cybersecurity measures paid to an accredited Montana cybersecurity company. For guidelines and the application, click here.

A Startup Bootcamp for Life Science Entrepreneurs will be offered on March 6th at MSU Bozeman. The Made in Montana Food & Gift Tradeshow will be held in Helena on March 10-11, 2023. The 2023 Montana Manufacturing & International Trade Day will be held March 16th in Helena. The Montana Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be held April 23-25 in Helena.Registration opened for the Montana Housing Partnership Conference that will be held in Helena May 15-17.

The Montana World Trade Center and Bureau of Business and Economic Research are collecting economic data relating to international trade and investment in Montana. If your firm has been involved in exporting, importing, or foreign direct investment, would you consider taking a few minutes to respond to the survey? Your experience and perspective are essential in helping to glean a more complete understanding of Montana’s international trade portfolio and the economic impact of firms like yours engaged in international trade. Click here to take the survey, due February 25th.

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.

The Montana Department of Agriculture released information for a new round of Specialty Crop Block Grants. Applications are due March 17th. Grants are available to enhance the marketability and competitiveness of Montana specialty crops. State and/or local organizations, government entities, producer associations, academia, community based organizations, and other specialty crop stakeholders are eligible to apply either as single entities or in combined efforts. We’re here to help. Give Justin Loch a call 406-590-1301. Informational sessions for applicants will be held on February 22 at 1 PM, click here to join, or March 8 at 10 AM, click here to join.

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.

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. See all the topics and register for free here.

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 is now accepting applications for certification. For more information, contact Lillian Sunwall at or (406) 750-1253.

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 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.

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.

What’s it like to live in Great Falls Montana? Get a glimpse through the Great Falls 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.

The Great Falls Childcare Demand Assessment 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.

The Great Falls Housing Market Assessment 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.