Top Ten 3/12/23


West Bank Landing sure looks different from this “before” photo. What’s going to be developed next at West Bank Landing? Stay tuned!

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 16 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) Congratulations to the Little Shell Tribe on the annexation and re-zoning of their property on Stucky Road! We are excited to see the project move forward! See TheElectric for more info.

2) Our loan committee approved a $6,000,000 loan to fill the gap financing need to enable construction start on a significant new Great Falls business. We will submit this loan to participate with the Montana State Small Business Initiative (SSBCI 2.0) program.If you have a new or existing Montana business that wants to start, stabilized, pivot, expand or re-start please reach out to Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or to discuss your options. Funds are very limited and will be on a first come first served basis.

3) This week was Women in Construction Week! The Great Falls Public Schools celebrated with hands on learning and demonstrations by Pacific Steel and Recycling, ADF, and Gerbers in both Great Falls High School and CMR. We have strong construction trades programs in our Great Falls high schools. Check out this inspiring video.

4) Congratulations to Karhu Koski Distillery in Teton county on the approval of a tax abatement moving the distillery project one more step closer to the finish line. The facility will employ roughly 40 people upon completion and utilize locally sourced agricultural products for its manufacturing furthering economic growth in that region. See Choteau Acantha. If you’d like to know more about the agricultural resources we can help with please reach out to Katesha Campbell at or 406-788-0860.

5) Our High Plains Financial affiliate approved an SBA 504 loan in the amount of $142,000 for a Great Falls business that had construction cost needs during the rehabilitation of a downtown Great Falls property. If your commercial space isn’t keeping up with your growing business or you’d like to buy instead of lease, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

6) Congratulations to Rod and Lisa Cline on opening their new business, Market Place on Main in Cut Bank. Read the Cut Bank Pioneer Press for the full story.

7) As the Fire Within 2023 is approaching next month, KRTV featured one of last year’s winners to get a closer look at their path towards starting their business and being recognized for their contributions to the Electric City. See [http://as%20%27the%20fire%20within%202023%2C%27%20is%20just%20over%20a%20month%20away%2C%20we%20checked%20in%20with%20one%20of%20last%20year%27s%20winners%20to%20get%20a%20closer%20look%20at%20their%20path%20towards%20starting%20their%20business%20and%20being%20recognized%20for%20their%20contributions%20to%20the%20electric%20city./]KRTV. Thank you to our generous community partner Alluvion Health for sponsoring Fire Within. Join us April 20 in Great Falls to celebrate female entrepreneurship in the region. Register for the event here.

8) Are you working on a project that will not only bring new agricultural opportunities to Montana’s rural communities but also provide education to youth and adults alike? Then the Montana Farmers Union Grant might be for you! Competitive grants are open to anyone in Montana. Deadline to apply is May 1, 2023; click here for more information or to apply. Additional questions, call 406.788.0860 or email

9) Why I Built My Business in Great Falls, MT (and You Can, Too!) Learn from a local entrepreneur why Great Falls is the perfect place to start a business. The latest issue of Livability magazine is hot off the press. Stay tuned for details on our magazine launch. Check out our talent attraction tools and resources, cost of living and more at

10) Mother and daughter duo Tiffany and Lindsay Ostman have turned their passion for baking into a business. This week the Ostman’s opened a permanent location for Flour Power Gluten Free Bakery & Beyond in Great Falls. Learn about their journey into entrepreneurship in our Announcement of the Week.

11) GFDA supports the Great Falls Library Mill Levy going for a vote in the special election on June 6, 2023. The library is an important component of the health and vitality of the Great Falls community. We encourage you to spread the word and vote in favor of the levy on June 6. For more information and to join the effort, visit

12) Great Falls College MSU is holding a Night out for Science on March 25. The event engages guests in STEAM activities and presentations to learn about the types of high-quality STEAM educations offered at Great Falls College MSU.

13) We have a great new career opportunity to join the GFDA team as an Executive Assistant. We also have great opportunities for a Business Development Officer and Small Business Adviser. Download all three of our current career opportunities.

14) Congratulations to five of our regional economic development partners on securing a joint $9.75 million USDA grant to create a meat processing loan fund: Bear Paw Development, Headwaters RC&D, Montana Business Assistance Connection, and Snowy Mountain Development, Sweetgrass Development; see Lewistown NewsCongratulations to Great Northern Development in eastern Montana who also won a meat processing loan capital grant. We shared our application and materials from our successful application last July with other Montana economic development organizations to try to help get more of these funds into the state. With these new awards and the $4 million we have been awarded, we’re going to be able to support new and expanding meat processing operations across Montana!

15) This week we kicked off development of a Financial Growth Model as part of our strategic planning. GFDA is an economic development Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Filling financing gaps and bridges with creative loans has been one of our most effective ecobnomic devcelopment tools to drive private investment in our region, investment that grow diverse economic opportunities that enhance quality of life — our mission! Back in 2016 we developed a growth model that set what we thought was an ambitious goal to grow our loan capital from $11 million to $15 million. Now we’ve reached $31 million and still don’t have enough capital to finance all the proposed projects in the region. The Growth Model will help us map out goals, financial projections, loan capitalization plans, and the staffing and operational needs to support our continued growth.

16) We rely on the support from our team of INVESTORS & public partners. They are strong leaders in the community and believe that supporting economic development is essential for our stability, growth & will create an overall better quality of life for our residents. Learn more about them HERE. Recent investments include: Pacesetter Division—Mitchell Development & Investments, LLC; Community Division—ERA Advantage Realty,  Hygienix LLC. They are pushing us towards achieving our mission. We couldn’t do what we do without them. If you want to support economic development for our region, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or

I’m flew to DC today to participate as the only Montana representative at the National Association of Development Organization’s annual policy conference then to participate in the CDFI Coalition annual institute. Can’t wait to get back to Great Falls to enjoy Western Art Week!

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 three great career opportunities to join the GFDA staff team. Download info on Business Development Officer, Small Business Advisor — Director Regional Small Business Development Center, and Executive Assistant. 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

March SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) is 6.329%; 20-year at 6.332%; 10-year equipment loan at 6.768%; and, 20-year refinance 6.350%; 25-year refinance 6.347%. 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 Montana Department of Commerce has two new programs that we encourage businesses to take advantage of. The Montana Cybersecurity Program will provide up to $8,000 reimbursement for your cybersecurity expenses; applications due May 30. The Automation Loan Program offers 0% loans for up to 50% of the cost of automation equipment up to $500,000; deadline December 31. These are one-time programs funded through ARPA so don’t miss out. And don’t forget about funds available for your workforce through the Incumbent Worker Training Program and the Primary Workforce Training Grant. We can help you access these programs if you run into snags.

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

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 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 is open for the Montana Housing Partnership Conference that will be held in Helena May 15-17.


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. Informational session for applicants will be held March 8 at 10 AM, [http://%20https//]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.

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.