Top Ten 5-14-23

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Celebrated the first shipment of Montana Renewables’ Sustainable Aviation Fuel with leaders of Calumet Specialty Products Partners, Montana Renewables, Delta Airlines, Shell, American Express, and Governor Gianforte. By 2025, Montana Renewables will be producing 250 million gallons of Sustainable Aviation Fuel per year! See KRTV and TheElectric.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 10 for the last two weeks 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) We made a $500,000 loan to Little Shell Pet Products LLC to purchase equipment. The purchase of this equipment will allow the new company to take over the operations of a Cascade County primary sector manufacturing operation that was in the process of closing. We are excited to help keep the manufacturing of these pet products in Great Falls and to support the Little Shell Tribe’s economic development efforts! Contact Jill Kohles to learn about the different financing tools available to help your business to start, expand or innovate,

2) Congratulations to Julie Curtis, new owner of Nosh Catering & Kitchen, on their new location at 4307 North Star Boulevard in Great Falls; see KRTV. Congratulations to Annie Olson on opening Badger Track Customs in Choteau. The business does embroidery, signage and more. Read the Choteau Acantha for the full story.

3) Met with dozens of companies looking to locate in the United States at the US Department of Commerce’s annual SelectUSA Investment Summit in DC. This event allows us to meet US consult services across the globe in a centralized location. Many times the consulates are the first point of contact for a foreign company looking to move to the US so we work to build strong relationships with them. GFDA is proud to have participated in every SelectUSA annual summit.

4) The Great Falls Area Career Expo is this Wednesday, May 17th, 3-6 PM at the University of Providence McLaughlin Center. To register as an employer, please return your completed registration form and a copy of your payment confirmation to Job Service – Great Falls, Career Expo, e-mail to To pay your $10.00 table fee, click here.

5) Great Falls Public Schools was recognized as one of the Best Communities for Music Education for the 12th consecutive year; see TheElectric and KRTV. GFDA is proud to be a supporting partner of Kids Education Yes that supports public education in Great Falls.

6) At our Talent Attraction Reception at Independence Bank in Great Falls, we launched the new Livability Great Falls Magazine, heard from Branch President Chad Simonson about the company’s growth, and the owner of Spices and Spurs and Mise en Place Kitchen Cassie Campbell on her business expansion. Recruiter Collette Brown talked about ways ADF uses GFDA’s talent attraction tools. Several new Great Falls residents shared reasons why they chose to move to the community, including Richard Armstrong, a software engineer who works remotely, and Anna Flies, owner of the newly opened Alder Acupuncture.

“On the 4th of July weekend, we visited for the first time and fell in love with the community, The Newberry, ElevationThe Enbar – all the spots. We put an offer in on a house on our third visit and moved here six weeks later. It feels like our social schedules are even busier than they were in Seattle,” said Anna.

“It’s been nice being here and able to afford a house. In Seattle, we would have needed to add an extra zero to the price of the home. It’s been a really cool opportunity, great environment and wonderful people,” said Richard.

Find and share Livability Great Falls online or contact Lyndsay Bruno at or (406) 590 – 1539 for hard copies of the magazine.

7) Often times there is a portion of a project that the bank cannot finance and the borrower cannot fund. This is where GFDA financing may be available to help fill that gap. Our Loan Committee approved two gap loans this week. The first loan was in the amount of $2.5 million dollars to help fill the gap on cost overruns on a major construction project. The second was for $1.75 million dollars to help a meat company expand in several different areas within their current business. Both businesses would not have been able to proceed if not for the resources available at GFDA. Does your project have a financing gap? Please reach out to Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or to discuss your options.

8) We completed a free Phase I Assessment for a developer of a potential housing project that could add much need housing for the Great Falls regional market. Do you have a site or property that you are interested in for a project? A Phase I Assessment could give you information to determine if there are potential environmental conditions that may need to be assessed. Contact Lillian Sunwall with any questions to look at next steps for your project at

9) Are you an agricultural producer or rural business owner who has a project that will reduce your businesses energy costs and consumption? The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) summer grant opportunity provides grants and loans to help! This grant opportunity’s first cycle will close at on June 30th. Click here  for more information or contact Katesha at 406.788.0860 or

10) We’re getting excited for Downtown Great Falls’ newest upscale boutique hotel, The Gibson, opening this season as part of Choice Hotel’s Ascend Collection. Check out the modern design by Spark Architecture.

11) On Thursday Jake presented a webinar on opportunities in the Great Falls housing market hosted by the Urban Land Institute district of Idaho – Montana. More than 20 people registered for the webinar, most of whom represented housing developers in the Boise area. Jake is headed to Boise, ID for follow up meetings on June 8-10. If you know of housing developers in the Boise, ID area that Jake should reach out to, let him know at

12) Cut Bank is home to the new hub for business Marketplace on Main. Owned by Rod and Lisa Cline Marketplace on Main is a central location for several businesses, two art galleries, an event space and more. Learn more about this unique business marketplace specializing in Made in Montana products located in the heart of Cut Bank’s downtown in our Announcement of the Week.

13) Our small business advisor, Rich Gannon, in conjunction with Montana State Extension Service, presented at a webinar on Using AI to Enhance Your Marketing Strategies. If you’d like to learn how to integrate artificial intelligence for marketing into your business contact Rich at or call him at 406-836-2078.

14) The State Small Business Credit Initiative 2.0 (SSBCI 2.0) low interest rate program is accepting new applications. If you have a project that could move forward with the benefit of low interest rate funding. These funds are limited and will be put to work very quickly to help our economy recover and come back stronger than ever. If you have a business startup or expansion planned that could benefit from a loan participation, contact Jill at or 1-406-590-1056.

15) Tony headed north to Glacier County to visit with companies gearing up for the summer tourism season and to meet with lenders and business owners identifying loan funds that can be used in Glacier and Blaine counties. Funds that can be utilized for working capital, startups, expansions, workforce, and more. That’s just one of many loan funds we can deploy in our 13 county region and even throughout the state. If you’d like to know more about how we can work with your bank to help get a deal done for you please reach out to Tony at or 406-750-2099.

16) Angel Care is expanding in Montana to include five locations. Based in Havre, Angel Care provides home healthcare for seniors, the elderly and people with disabilities. Learn about Angel Care’s tremendous work with the Alzheimer’s Association and the company’s growth in our Announcement of the Week.

17) Wheat and barley aren’t the only crops grown in North Central Montana. Our region is a top producer of peas, lentils, honey, and more. Call Katesha to chat about OUR Montana Specialty Crops and the impact they make all over the world! Call 406.788.0860 or email

18) The 341st Contracting Squadron at Malmstrom Air Force Base (MAFB) in coordination with the GF PTAC/APEX Accelerator office (GFDA) is holding a “Meeting With Industry” event for a potential Multiple Award Construction Contract (MACC) with an anticipated aggregate capacity of $200 million. The event will be held at the Holiday Inn & Convention Center at 1100 5th Street South, Great Falls, MT, on 31 May from 9:00 AM to approximately 11:00 AM. Presentation topics will include the following: Capabilities of the PTAC/APEX Accelerator office, Mission and unique contracting requirements at MAFB, Roles of relevant agencies and personnel at MAFB, including the Small Business Program, and MACC general scope, estimated timelines, and “checklist items” for potential offerors. There will also be time for questions and answers. Attendees should bring copies of their capability statements and can reference the relevant Sources Sought posted to for more information. For more information, contact Lillian Sunwall at To register for the event click here.

19) GFDA supports the Great Falls Library Mill Levy going for a vote in the special election on June 6 and this week the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Board also voted to support the Library levy. 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

20) Brett and Jake are headed down to Helena for the Montana Housing Partnership Conference. We will be networking with housing partners throughout the state and exhibiting, promoting the Great Falls housing market to potential developers. Headed to the conference? Be sure to stop by the “Economic Developers as Partners to Meet Housing Needs” panel, Jake is a panelist!

21) Help put together the new transportation plan for the Great Falls area. The Great Falls Metropolitan Planning Organization is developing the 2023 Great Falls Area Long Range Transportation Plan. They are holding a public open house on Monday, May 22, 4:00-6:00 PM in the Commission Chambers of the Great Falls Civic Center. More info on TheElectric.

22) Are you a farm, ranch, or other agricultural worker that earns a wage but still has a hard time supporting yourself and your family? Rural Employment Opportunity’s National Farmworker Jobs Program offers opportunities for workers, and/or their qualifying family members, to improve their earning capacity in agriculture or in careers outside of agriculture! Click here for more information or contact Katesha at 4067880860 or

23) Submitted our application to the Montana Department of Agriculture to renew our Food & Ag Development Center. In the last two years, our regional center has served 210 clients in the Golden Triangle. The food, ag, and bio processing industries are core to GFDA’s economic development strategy.

24) Helped teach Intro and Advanced Revolving Loan Fund courses for the Council of Development Finance Agencies, part of GFDA’s giving back!

25) Tracy Heggem started work on the GFDA team as our first Executive Assistant. We’re looking for two more great team members, Small Business Development Center Regional Director and Business Development Officer. Download our Career Openings and help us spread the word.

26) The support from our INVESTORS & public partners is critical to the success of our local economy, and we are deeply grateful for their commitment to our cause. Learn more about our supporters HERE. Recent investments include: Advance Division—Culligan Water and Northwestern Energy; Community Division—Nelson Architects. With their help, we can continue to develop and implement innovative strategies to support our local economy and make our community a better place to live and work. To find out how you can support the economic vitality of our region, reach out to Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or

It’s been an exciting two weeks. The next few weeks look even more exciting as we see more projects move into construction and open.

Have a great week!

Brett Doney

President & CEO

Download our GFDA Services and Staff Team handout or our GFDA 2023Q1 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 Business Development Officer and Small Business Advisor — Director Regional Small Business Development Center. GFDA is proud to be an 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

May SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) is 6.020%; 20-year at 6.072%; 10-year equipment loan at 6.036%; and, 20-year refinance 6.090%; 25-year refinance 6.038%. 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
MDT’s Small Business Enterprise Program is holding a free Highway Construction Bidding & Estimating Workshop and Small Business Office Hours; May 18 Bozeman; May 25 Missoula; see

Recruiters are you hiring for a job position that is a:

  • High level position
  • High salary position
  • Out-of-the-box/unique/creative position?

Help us attract workforce to move to Great Falls – send us a one sentence description of the job, 3-5 of your company’s top employee benefits, salary (if listed), and link to apply for your job to to be included in the Hot Jobs in Great Falls blog post.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Region 8 will be hosting a virtual Industry Outreach Event/Webinar on “How to Do Business with FEMA” on Tuesday, May 16th at 11:00 – 2PM (MDT) for interested Vendors/Businesses. For more information or the link to the Zoom Meeting, contact Lillian Sunwall

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.

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.

Navy Week – Doing Business with the Department of Navy & GovMatch Event (Billings Depot on Montana Avenue) – Join the Montana APEX Accelerator (formerly known as Procurement Technical Assistance Center – PTAC) August 9th from 9 AM – 5 PM as they welcome Mr. David E. Walz to Billings. Mr. Walz is the Deputy Small Business Program, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport. He serves as the principal advisor and advocate to the commander, senior management, contracts, and the technical department on all matters pertaining to small business program. During this event, businesses will receive information on the following topics: 1. Department of the Navy (DON) Office of Small Business Programs’ Achievements and Goals 2. The DON OSBP Mentor-Protégé Program 3. Preparing for the DON procurement process 4. Resources and assistance to help businesses 5. GovMatch event in the afternoon. You will be able to meet with various other federal agencies in the afternoon. To register, click here. If you have any questions, contact Shannon Clancy

USDA opened a new round of Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants and loans. Rural small businesses and agricultural producers can use the funds to make energy-efficiency improvements to lower operating costs or to install renewable energy systems. Quarterly competitions will be held through September 30th. See for more info. USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grants program is also open. This program helps independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer businesses to start or expand processing operations or marketing of processed ag products. Applications are due May 11. Contact Katesha Campbell if you would like help with applying; or 1-406-788-0860.

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center has launched an apprenticeship program. The Certified Manufacturing Associate Apprenticeship is a one-year program that combines on-the-job training with online technical classes on safety, math and measurements, manufacturing processes, and quality control.

The Montana Department of Commerce has an open Recovery Destination Event grant round. Eligible Montana events that attract tourists could win grants up to $25,000.

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.

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


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.

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.

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.

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.