Top Ten 8/13/23

Congratulations to Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine Montana for celebrating its inaugural Montana class with a white coat ceremony at the Great Falls Civic Center and a ribbon cutting and open house at the Great Falls campus. See what Dr. Alan Kadish, the Touro College and University System president, had to say about what makes Great Falls an excellent location for the college’s newest medical school.

A packed two-week Top 22!

1) Week to week we talk about the exciting successes of entrepreneurs, businesses and developers in our region, but on a quarterly basis we get our report card on how we’re doing in building a stronger overall economy. JobsEQ released data for 2023Q1 that documents the Great Falls MSA (Cascade County) increased employment by 3.1% over the four quarters ending 2023Q1, hitting the highest employment level on record. Local average annual wages increased by 8.1%, compared to 6.4% statewide and 2.8% across the nation. This enabled our average annual wage to reach 76% of the national average for the first time. Since GFDA was founded, our MSA’s average annual wage has increased from 63% of the national average to 76% while our cost of living has fallen from 93% to 87% of the national average. Our long term goal is to get our average annual wage above our cost of living. We’ve closed the 30 point gap to 11 points.

2) Over the four quarters ending 2023Q1 total wages earned in the Great Falls MSA increased by 11.5% or $208 million. That adds significant spending power for local consumers. The number of business establishments (not including self-employed) increased by 9% with 250 new businesses, both according to JobsEQ data.

3) Jolene travelled to Colorado to network with site selectors focused on transportation and logistics. The Logistics Forum has very limited participation and gives us the chance to really connect with and learn from industry experts. We were invited to attend through Tim Feemster, one of our strategic plan consultants. Questions, reach out to Jolene 1-406-760-4481.

4) Groundbreaking was held for a new youth wellness center that will be located across from the Rocky Boy Health Center; see KRTV. Nineteen year old Avery Allen has opened the Below Zero Dance Studio in Great Falls; see KRTVPlay It Again Sports is planning a new store in Great Falls. The Montana Department of Labor and Industry, Great Falls College MSU, ADF, Allied Steel, and Montana Vocational Rehab have partnered to launch the first 10-student cohort of an accelerated, six-week structural welding course.The comprehensive program is designed to equip individuals with essential skills and qualifications to build careers in the critical welding industry; see The Electric’s Business Bites.

5) We spoke with several facilities in need of an FDA-compliant Food Safety Plan and a qualified individual on staff to create and implement it. Sound familiar? Learn to develop your plan and receive a certificate of completion directly from the Food Safety and Preventive Controls Alliance from Montana Manufacturing Extension Center Instructor, Claude Smith, this month for the Preventive Controls Qualified Individual for Human Food training, August 16-18 here in Great Falls. Click here for more information and to register, or contact Katesha at 1-406-788-0860 or

6) Animal lovers rejoice – Fetch Pet Boutique is expanding in Great Falls to increase capacity for boarding and doggy daycare services. Learn more about this growing business in our Announcement of the Week.

7) Lillian and Lisa travelled to Detroit to participate in the National Brownfields Conference. Lillian gave a presentation on Brownfields Revolving Loan Funds.

8) Arts Fest 2023 is here. August 11-18, artists will enrich our downtown by creating ten new murals, attracting visitors and foot traffic, and boosting local businesses and tourism.

9) As part of putting our new Economic Development Strategy to work, GFDA’s Board adopted a Board Dashboard for FY2024 that sets specific milestones to achieve this fiscal year for the Strategy’s 46 actions. GFDA’s Executive Committee adopted an Executive Committee FY2024 Dashboard that sets specific financial, governance, resources, and operations milestones for the fiscal year.

10) The Cut Bank Farmer’s Market will be hosting a farm to table community dinner featuring locally sourced food on Thursday, August 17th at the Cut Bank Creek Brewery. Tickets can be reserved by contacting the brewery at 1-406-229-0298.

11) We committed $60,000 of GFDA Investor funds to commission a feasibility study for a major new project by in Great Falls being considered by a prospect. The prospect is invested the other half of the funds.

12) Shannon networked at the GovMatch 2023 Navy Week Event, hosted by Montana APEX (formerly PTAC) in Billings. The event served as a dynamic platform for Montana businesses and entrepreneurs from across the state to network, showcase their capabilities, and meet directly with contracting professionals from 17 agencies including the U.S. Navy, State of Montana, Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to discuss contract opportunities. If you are interested in government contracting, contact Shannon Clancy at

13) Web Panel: Montana Cybersecurity Grants and Tools to Protect Your Business; 2:00-3:00 PM, August 23rd hosted by Montana High Tech Business Alliance with Montana Department of Commerce. Register Here. Through the Montana Department of Commerce’s Cybersecurity Reimbursement Program, businesses can apply for up to $8,000 in reimbursement for newly implemented cybersecurity measures paid to an accredited Montana cybersecurity company. Visit the Montana Grants Application Portal at for details and to apply. Questions? Contact Vena Dagnall.

14) Anna, Katesha, and Tony toured INDHemp’s state of the art facilities to learn more about the production of hemp fiber and bedding materials as well as hemp seed oil and hemp hearts. While in Fort Benton they also visited HybridSteel in their new facility to learn about the amazing work they do for companies in the Great Falls regional food, ag and bio processing industries like INDHempPasta Montana, and Agrolink. If your ag, food, or bio processing company is interested in moving to the next level, contact Anna Flies at or 1-406-590-1301.

15) We have been working on three exciting business attraction prospects, each with the potential to bring high wage jobs and significant investment to our region. If Great Falls could be the next home for your business or expansion, please reach out to Jake Clark at or 1-406-403-4937.

16) The Montana Indian Equity Fund will begin accepting applications for their small business grant starting September 1st, the deadline for applications is October 31st. The grant can be utilized to assist start up or existing Native American owned businesses in Montana. If you need help with the process, contact small business advisor Rich Gannon at 1-406-836-2078 or via email at

17) Registration is open for the Montana Main Street Downtown Conference that will be held in Great Falls, October 18-20.

18) The State Small Business Credit Initiative 2.0 (SSBCI 2.0) low interest rate program is still awaiting their third tranche of funding. This third tranche is on a first come first served basis, so start talking with GFDA now, 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.

19) There’s still time to be part of the welcome team for the inaugural class of students at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine! On Thursday, August 24th, we’re inviting community members to host a group of 3 to 5 students for dinner at a restaurant of your choice. Your kindness will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on these aspiring medical professionals as they begin their journey in our city. To get involved, reach out to Jenn at 1-406-781-9499 or by August 17th. Let’s come together to support these promising students as they embark on this exciting new chapter.

20) GFDA’s Food and Ag Development Team is working with the Montana Department of Agriculture to secure additional resources that will assist agriculture based businesses and producers with energy efficiency and renewable energy systems. If you are a rural small business or agricultural producer interested in learning more. Please contact Anna at or at 1-406-590-1301

21) Do you know an outstanding business in the Great Falls Area that deserves recognition? Nominations for The Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce’s 135th Anniversary & Awards Gala 2023 are now being accepted. Nominate a business today.

22) We want to express our deep appreciation to our dedicated GFDA investors & public partners. Learn more about there here. Their commitment and contributions serve as the foundation of our mission. With their support, we drive economic growth and nurture innovation in our region. Recent investments include: Leadership Division—James Talcott Construction, Inc.; Pacesetter Division—Haute Hive; Community Division—Hoven Equipment Co. and K&K Trucking, Inc. Their partnership is crucial as we work to make a lasting impact. To find out how you can impact the future of our region, reach out to Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 1-406-781-9499 or Together, we can shape a brighter future for our community.

We’re on a roll!

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.