Top Ten 9/18

If you are looking for something fun and exciting to do with the family and connect them with agriculture, check out the Applestem Cornmaze and Pumpkin Patch in Craig. Join Raina Blackman at her farm for an experience that includes a cornmaze, pumpkin patch, petting zoo, grain train, tube slide, hay jump and more. The farm and cornmaze is open from September 17 to October 30. In the summer, Applestem boasts a beautiful sunflower farm with over 30 species of sunflowers.

GFDA’s Top 10

Here is our Top 17 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) The O’Haire Motor Inn in downtown Great Falls, home of the famous Sip’n Dip, is going retro with a new facade that evokes the early days of the inn. The renderings look great! See KRTV and TheElectric’s Business Bites.

2) We approved our first low interest loan participation in the new Montana State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) program to help a local business to expand. We hosted a training for commercial lenders in the region in partnership with the Montana Department of Commerce. We’re processing several more potential deals to move projects forward that otherwise could not. 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.

3) Brick House Bakery opened at 721 6th Street SW in Great Falls; see TheElectric’s Business Bites. Great Falls students broker ground on the 45th High School House; see KRTV.

4) We approved providing two phase two brownfield hazardous material assessments, one for a redevelopment on the 10th Avenue commercial corridor in Great Falls and one for Alluvion Health’s redevelopment of the former Roosevelt School. EPA approved close-out of our long-time Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund which means we can now make clean-up loans and grants throughout Cascade County and 100 miles from the country borders. We’re working with EPA to launch our second Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund next month. If you are undertaking redevelopment of a property that may contain hazardous materials, including lead paint or asbestos, contact Lillian Sunwall for help at 1-406-750-1253 or

5) The Montana Innovation Partnership (MTIP) is holding a SBIR/STTR Funding virtual lunch and learn session on September 22nd at Noon. Learn how MTIP has achieved a client SBIR/STTR grant award success rate of over 41%. More info and registration here.

6) We’re starting to develop a fantastic lineup for Invest Downtown 2022 on October 20th from 10 AM-Noon. Save the date. We also have some great tools that are available to help in your Downtown project. If you have been looking to start or expand your business in Downtown Great Falls, contact Christian at or 406.836.0136.

7) Accelerate Montana is offering two free online accelerator programs, Reimagining Retail and The Future of Food and Beverage. The programs kickoff the last week of September and run through November with weekly materials and evening learning labs. More info and registration here.

8) Lock in long-term fixed interest rates and lower your equity requirements for business real estate acquisitions, renovations, and expansions and long-term equipment purchases. SBA 504 rates for September, including all fees, are 5.437% fixed for 25 years, 5.338% fixed for 20 years, and 5.320% fixed for 10 years. Some refinancing is also eligible. Contact Jill Kohles at or 406-590-1056.

9) Our Health and Bioscience Economic Development Strategy consultants will be back in town for a working retreat on September 28th. The Tripp Umbach team will join us in-person to share the results of their study and facilitate working groups with key players in our local Health Bioscience and education community. Retreat registration is available here.

10) A big topic around Downtown Great Falls this week has been CPACE, Commercial Property Assessed Capital Enhancement. Are you a building owner and have been considered doing some energy efficient upgrades? Well, CPACE may just be the tool for you. Call Christian at 406.836.0136 if you would like to learn more about this program to help you save money.

11) The Center for Community Ownership is presenting a workshop series on “Local Investing in Montana.” This four-part “pay what you can” online series will run from Oct. 4th through Nov. 1st. The content will be a deep dive into practical strategies for investing locally to support entrepreneurs, and boost our local economies. All of the details on the four part workshop can be found here. For those not quite ready to commit to the full workshop series, there will be a free introductory webinar on Sept. 27th that will provide an overview of the topic. More information and registration about the introductory webinar can be found here.

12) Our regional Procurement Technical Assistance Center exceeded all of its goals for its program year that ended on July 31st. We had 166 active clients. Our outreach efforts to serve new clients paid off. We helped 109 new clients which was 191% of our program goal. 102 of these new clients had small business concerns that we were able to help with which was 179% of our program goals. We held 10 trainings, 250% of our program goal. If we can help your business get into government contracting, expand or diversify your government contracting, or earn a special certification to become more competitive in winning government contracts, reach out to Shannon Clancy at 1-406-590-1184 or

13) We signed up to exhibit at the SelectUSA Canada Day foreign direct investment event in Toronto in November, part of our targeted business attraction lead generation efforts.

14) We are already planning for IGNITE 2023! This event is our annual kickoff where we announce projects and major investments in the Great Falls area that are starting or finishing in 2023. If your project, or one you know of, meets these criteria please reach out to Jake Clark at

15) Heidi Gibson, our Resource Director, participated in a Basic Economic Development Course in Washington, learning about the fundamentals of what we do and why we do it to build a stronger regional economy.

16) Join the best economic team in the galaxy! GFDA is looking to add a Business Development Officer to expand our efforts to attract investment in food, ag and bio processing industries in the region. Help existing businesses to expand and new businesses to start-up. Target and pursue companies elsewhere to expand into our region. Here is a complete position description. Send cover letter and resume to Brett at GFDA is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer.

17) Great Falls is booming, we are seeing exciting growth like never before. A lot of that is thanks to our team of INVESTORS. Recent investments include: Premier Division—Cascade County; Advance Division—General Distributing Co. By investing in GFDA, they are investing in the community. We couldn’t continue the work we do without them. If you are interested in helping to grow the region, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 

Have a great week!

Brett Doney

President & CEO

Here is a Growth Highlights for the Great Falls Montana Trade Area. Our Menu of Services and Staff Team handout. Here is our GFDA 2022Q2 Quarter Index. In case you missed it at Ignite 2022, we unveiled our new We Are Great Falls video!

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. Contact Jolene Schalper at 1.406.750.4481 or

September SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) came in at 5.437%; 20-year at 5.338%; 10-year equipment loan at 5.320%; and, 20-year refinance 5.352%; 25-year refinance 5.450%. 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
Cost of Living in the Great Falls metro remained competitive in 2022Q2 at 87.8% of the national average, according to the C2ER (the Council for Community and Economic Research). Compare our local rate to Bozeman’s 121.8%, Denver’s 111.0%, Boise’s 109.3%, or Spokane’s 102.7%. Use our Cost of Living Calculator when trying to recruit new employees from our of town.

We have nine great companies ready to launch our next PeerSpectives Roundtable cohort. If your company is growing and experiencing the pains of growth, perhaps the insights of others who are going through the same thing could be beneficial. The PeerSpectives Roundtable for second stage companies will meet 10 times per year, share experiences, and work problems in real time. TWe have room for one or two more companies, contact Jason at

A new $300 million program, the Organic Transition Initiative designed to help Ag producers transition land into organic status, was rolled out this week by USDA.  By transitioning to Organic producers have a chance to capture other markets that in many cases can yield a higher premium for their commodities.  The initiative will deliver wrap-around technical assistance, including farmer-to-farmer mentoring; provide direct support through conservation financial assistance and additional crop insurance assistance, and support market development projects in targeted markets.  For more information on this initiative please visit the USDA website or contact Justin Loch at 406-590-1301 or

Early Stage Montana presents the 2022 Montana Startup Summit September 29-October 1 in Bozeman, a three-day weekend celebrating Montana’s innovation.

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.

Invest Downtown 2022 will be held on October 20th from 10 AM-Noon at The Newberry and planning is currently underway. If you know of a great Downtown businesses to highlight or if you have an opportunity that is ripe for development, please email Christian at or call 406.836.0136.

We’re co-hosting the Montana Economic Development Conference at The Newberry in downtown Great Falls November 14-16; see Montana Economic Developers Association. The Building a Winning Montana Team conference will feature exciting panels discussing key Montana economic development issues such as housing, business attraction, talent attraction, tourism and economic development, tribal economic development, and value added agriculture. Keynotes will bring perspectives from other states and provinces, and from leading Montana industry associations and state leaders. Workshops include economic development ethics, new financing collaborations, and supporting local entrepreneurs and existing businesses. Download preliminary agenda. Sponsor a session! Contact Rebecca Myers at or me at

The Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce announced the inaugural Worlds of Work! (WOW). WOW is a career expo pioneered by West Alabama Works. Though NOT a typical job fair, this event opens new avenues of opportunity for middle school students they never knew were possible. The Chamber’s goal this first year is to have sixteen Worlds, each representing one of Montana’s sixteen recognized career pathways. On October 18th, 2022, WOW will be held at Great Falls College – MSU and the University of Providence (inside and outside) from 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM. Area 8th graders will be divided into groups and will have a navigator who will guide them to each of the worlds, where they will explore for approximately 20-25 minutes before traveling to the next world. WOW Varsity, the block for high school students, will be in the late afternoon, and will include sophomores only for this first year. Check out the West Alabama WOW. Contact Scott Wolff for more info at

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.

The Montana Food & Beverage Show will be held November 7th in Missoula. Register at: AGR.MT.GOV/FOOD-AND-BEVERAGE-SHOW.

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 2022 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

Montana Rapid Retraining funds are available to help more people enroll in workforce training programs and expand industry-driven accelerated workforce training courses. The Great Falls Job Service can assist with Rapid Retaining Efforts. Contact Beth Schmidt at 406-791-5869 or For business strategy/planning help to take advantage of this one-time opportunity, contact our Small Business Development Center (SBDC) regional director, Jason Nitschke at

Attention Veteran-Owned Businesses! In less than a year the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) will transfer to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). As of January 1, 2023, all functions of VA’s CVE will be handled by the SBA. To help make this a seamless transition, we encourage all self-certified SDVOSBs to complete the verification process through the VA now before the transfer becomes effective. Please start the verification process at For more information on starting the verification process, contact Lillian Sunwall 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.

We’ve released the Great Falls Childcare Demand Assessment that shows a need for additional childcare facilities to serve 580 children in Great Falls. For assistance with childcare facility business planning, contact Jason Nitschke at

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.

We’ve released the Great Falls Housing Market Assessment that 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.

Looking to take control of your business’s financials, increase profit, and improve your bottom line? We have had interest from businesses in scheduling a Profit Mastery course. These courses are scheduled by demand. If you are interested in taking this two-day workshop, contact Jason Nitschke at or call (406) 750-0314.

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.