Top Ten 9-4-23

      Just one of the 12 amazing new murals created in Downtown Great Falls during the 2023 ArtsFest Montana!

1) The cost of living in the Great Falls MSA (Cascade County) dropped from 86% of the national average in 2023Q1 to 85.7% in 2023Q2 according to the highly respected C2ER Cost of Living Index. Housing in Great Falls came in at 64.6% of the national average. GFDA’s long-term goal is to strengthen and grow our regional economy while maintaining affordability. Bozeman came in at 120.4% cost of living with housing at 151.1% of the national average. Billings came in at 100.6% cost of living with housing at 94.4%. The composite index is based on six categories: housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services.

2) The clean-up of the hazardous and environmental contaminants of the Baatz Building located at 400 2nd Ave South in Downtown Great Falls has begun! This is a major step forward in the redevelopment of the building to transition it into permanent supportive housing. The clean-up was made possible by a $583,000 grant from GFDA’s EPA Brownfield program, which is one of the many tools GFDA has to offer to support development projects. A HUGE thank you goes out to NeighborWorks Great Falls and Homeward, Inc. for continuing to strengthen Great Falls with high mission projects like this one. If you have a project that may need some financing contact Jill Kohles to learn about the different options available to help your business or project, or 1-406-590-1056.

3) We issued an RFP for a Downtown Market Assessment & Strategy Development to continue Downtown Great Falls revitalization efforts. Thank you to the City of Great Falls, Downtown Development Partnership, NeighborWorks Great Falls, and the Montana Department of Commerce’s Main Street Montana program for helping to fund the work. Download RFP here.

4) Native American Development CorporationSweetgrass Development, and GFDA will be co-hosting a training event geared toward helping native owned businesses apply for the Indian Equity Fund Grant in Browning on September 18th, to register for the class click here, The Montana Department of Commerce has four grant opportunities for tribal business development in Montana; see KRTV.

5) Tony and Jake headed to White Sulphur Springs for a Business Focus event with the Meagher County Chamber at Wild Oats Baking on bank and credit union readiness. The event was well attended, and great conversation was had regarding the topic and the various stages of readiness from innovative start-ups to expanding businesses. Many entrepreneurs are unaware of the wide range of support services available to them. If you would like to learn more about financing a business and what resources are available for you, please reach out to Tony at or 1-406-750-2099.

6) Styled by Belt Boutique is a family-owned boutique in Belt, Montana. Owner Jessica Wakeford said she loves owning her own business because, as a mom, it provides flexibility and an excellent work-life balance. Learn more in our Announcement of the Week.

7) Join us on September 21 from 4-5 PM at the City Bar in Downtown Great Falls to kick off our new round of funding. We’ve received an additional $500,000 to put to work in our region for assessment, clean up, and to move projects forward! As EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker said, “We look forward to these efforts as they address contamination and create new opportunities for the residents of Belt, Cascade, Great Falls, Monarch, Sun River, Ulm and Vaughn.”

8) Anna traveled to Helena for the annual Food and Ag Development Center meeting with the Montana Department of Agriculture. The Food and Ag Development Center Network discussed exciting new funding opportunities for the upcoming year. Are you planning to expand your agricultural businesses’ digital or web offerings (including e-commerce)? If so, reach out to Anna Flies to see if you are eligible for an upcoming state funding program at or 1-406-590-1301.

9) 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.

10) We’re excited to announce that Christian Nichols will be joining our team starting September 18th in our new split position 50% SBDC Business Advisor and 50% Project Manager working on our brownfield program. Christian brings small business ownership and management experience. He started and ran RFP Fitness in Great Falls from 2014-2020 then sold the business. He brings excellent leadership and training experience, having served as an Airman Leadership Instructor at MAFB. He served in USAF from 2003-2016. He grew up in the small rural town of Big Sandy, CO. Please join us in welcoming Christian!

11) The support we receive from our investors and public partners is instrumental in fueling economic development, fostering a vibrant business environment, and addressing critical community needs. Learn more about our supporters here. By investing in GFDA, they are investing in the growth & prosperity of our region. Recent investments include: Advance Division—Culligan Water Conditioning of Great Falls; Leadership Division—BNSF Railway Company; Community Division—Woith Engineering, Inc. Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to achieve our mission and continue making a positive impact on our community. Thank you! If you’d like to join the team dedicated to growing our economy, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 1-406-781-9499 or

Hope you had a great Labor Day Weekend!

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.