Top Ten 4/15/23

Tony and Rich headed to East Glacier after receiving an invite from Blackfeet Manpower to cohost a pitch training and pitch event at The Peak Restaurant. We partner with NACDC Financial Services through these events to increase entrepreneurial knowledge of the multiple resources available to assist in positive business growth and development in the region. If you would like to host a pitch training/event or learn more about what is available to you and your business please reach out to Tony at Represented in this photo are Blackfeet Manpower, NACDC Financial, GFDA and the SBDC as well as 4 of our 5 presenters.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 20 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 Great Falls Fire Rescue on winning a $990,500 FEMA grant to purchase an aerial fire truck! See KRTV.

2) Fire Within is April 20 at The Haute Hive at 721 Central Ave in Great Falls from 5:30-7:30 PM. Join us as we recognize 26 outstanding women in business with the Inspire and Aspire Awards. Fire Within is sponsored by our friends at Alluvion Health. If you have questions about the event reach out to or at (406) 590-1539.

3) Another 18-hole disc golf course is coming to Great Falls. The Electric City Disc Golf Club received approval from the Great Falls Park and Recreation Department to install a course at Wadsworth Park. See TheElectric’s Business Bites for recent business updates.

4) We approved providing a free brownfield assessment to support the Carter Commons senior affordable housing development in Great Falls. The purpose of Phase I Environmental Assessments is to do due diligence on sites and is a requirement of both investors and lenders of affordable housing developments prior to taking ownership. They plan to develop the property to build 25 rent and income restricted affordable senior (age 55+) homes. We are excited to see this project move forward. For more information on environmental assessments for buildings/site redevelopment, contact Lillian Sunwall at

5) Congratulations to Kalen McKelvey owner of Sunshine Stables in Cut Bank on being selected as one of three finalists for the extremely competitive state wide women’s business impact grant from Prospera Women’s Business Center.

6) Great Falls residents Sean and Rachael Kelly have turned their passion for health and fitness into a business. Their new venture, Battleground Supplements, manufactures two products – a Strength liquid collagen shot and an Alert caffeine shot. Rachael worked with our SBDC advisors to set up an ecommerce site and establish a marketing plan to launch the business. Learn more in our Announcement of the Week.

7) The Great Falls MSA (Cascade County) reached record employment in 2022Q4 according to data released today by Chmura Economics’ JobsEQ. Employers added 1,217 jobs in the twelve months ending in December, a growth rate of 3.3%. Our average annual wage increased by 9.6%, almost twice the national average of 5.0% over the twelve month period. Our average wage reached $51,568, equal to 74.9% of the national average. This is the highest we have ever reached compared to the national average. Not too many years ago when GFDA was created our average wage was 63% of the national average. Total wages earned in the Great Falls MSA in the four quarters ending in 2022Q4 increased $233 million over the previous four quarters, a 10.54% increase.

8) We know recruiting excellent, committed employees has its challenges. As an employer, you sell working at your company to potential job candidates. We can help you sell the location – our great community in Great Falls. The Live in Great Falls website is a one-stop-shop for everything a person considering a move to Great Falls would want to know. Share Live in Great Falls with candidates and potential candidates to show them what Great Falls has to offer. To learn more about our talent attraction tools and resources contact Lyndsay Bruno at or at (406) 590-1539.

9) The 2023 Montana Food and Beverage Show, hosted by the Montana Department of Agriculture, is scheduled for October 16 in Missoula. The show allows Montana businesses ro showcase their food and beverage products to professional buyers from restaurants, hotels, bars, retailers, and more.

10) Helped Great Falls Tourism review five proposals from firms to help develop a new Great Falls Tourism Strategic Master Plan to guide work to grow our important tourism industry which also supports talent retention and attraction, and quality of life for residents of the region. I’m excited to see this project moving forward and once again thank the Great Falls City Commission for providing funding to make this possible.

11) How can we grow food, ag, and bioprocessing across the region? We work across North Central Montana in the counties of Blaine, Cascade, Choteau, Fergus, Glacier, Hill, Judith Basin, Lewis and Clark, Liberty, Meagher, Pondera, Teton, and Toole. We are excited to that with our increased team we can help more businesses start and grow! We need your help to frame our strategies. We have a brief survey focused on food, ag, bioprocessing, and farm derived renewable energy. Click here to add your voice!

12) Jake represented GFDA in support of the Vote Yes for Libraries Ballot Initiative Committee fundraising event. The GFDA board voted to take a position of support for the levy scheduled on the June 6th special election ballot. Libraries are an indicator of economic vitality in a community and the success of our library is crucial to downtown revitalization in Great Falls. Find more information about the levy here.

13) Save the Date for our Talent Attraction Reception – The 2023 Great Falls Livability magazine is hot off the press! We will release the newest edition at a Talent Attraction reception on May 10 at Independence Bank in Great Falls from 4:30-6:30 PM. At the reception we will have team members to help recruiters produce short videos to use in recruitment efforts. This is an opportunity to tell your company’s story and highlight some open positions to be featured on social media in our talent attraction campaigns. Contact or at (406) 590-1539 to learn more about our talent attraction tools and resources.

14) We made more progress in building GFDA’s capacity to implement our new strategic plan. This week the U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Fund awarded us a $1,948,632 Equitable Recovery Program grant. We will use these funds to make bridge loans to enable more housing production as part of our effort to keep Great Falls and the surrounding region affordable. Only one other award was won in Montana, $500,000 to the Native American Development Corporation. I believe our success in this highly competitive one-time grant round is due to the great work of our staff team, our amazing clients, and the tremendous support of our GFDA Investors, including major recent funds from Cascade County and the City of Great Falls. Thank You!!!

15) Jolene delivered a session on story telling best practices to a room full of economic developers and like organizations at the regional Economic Development Administration (EDA) Denver Regional Conference. The EDA focuses on deploying resources to promote innovation and competitiveness. We’ve been fortunate to work with the EDA on several projects over the years and hope to bring more great projects to our region in the future.

16) I networked with federal agency, bank, and finance leaders at the Council of Development Finance Agency’s annual policy conference in DC.

17) Testified in support of House Bill 898 that would invest $5 million of the state surplus in the Montana Department of Commerce’s MicroBusiness revolving loan fund program. We became a certified Montana MicroBusiness Development Corporation in late 2012 and borrowed $500,000 from this program in early 2013, matching it with $100,000 from GFDA Investors. Since then, we have used these funds to make 23 gap loans totaling $1,795,990 that leveraged well over $10 million in private investment in micro businesses in the Great Falls region. We would love to borrow more funds to help more entrepreneurs fill financing gaps that banks and credit unions can’t fill. This program provides excellent return on taxpayer funds because we pay interest on our loan and have to repay it whether or not we incur loan losses.

18) GFDA’s Board of Directors voted to create the GFDA Council. The Council will be comprised of GFDA Investors who cannot serve on our Board but who want to be actively engaged in our work. Our Board plans to appoint the first Council members this spring. This is part of our new strategic plan to “put more leaders on the field” to incerase our capacity and community impact. Investors interested in serving on the Council should contact me at or if you want to become an investor and join the team, contact Jenn at or 1-406-781-9499.

19) Our approach to economic development is truly transformative. We’ve already seen the impact that our initiatives have had on the local economy, and we’re excited about the potential for even greater success in the future. Success isn’t achieved alone, we rely on the support from our INVESTORS & public partners. Learn more about them HERE. Recent investments include: Advance Division—City Motor Company. By investing in our organization, they’re not only supporting economic growth in our region, but they’re also helping to create a more equitable and prosperous future for everyone. If you want to join that team that is transforming the community, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or

20) Headed back to Helena this week to try to protect tax increment financing which has proven to be a very effective tool to make tens of millions of private investment in our communities feasible. Just in Great Falls we have private businesses and developers who want to invest tens of millions more, but need the small critical amount of leverage from TIF funds. If we want to see more private investment in downtown and West bank revitalization and the AgriTech Park and Airport industrial TIF districts, we need to keep this tool. Taking it away would be a huge step backward in Montana’s competitiveness.

Have a great, profitable week!


Brett Doney

President & CEO

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.