Top Ten April 10

Top Ten April 11, 2022

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) Congratulations to IND Hemp on your recent expansion! IND Hemp in Fort Benton, MT recently revealed a new product line of animal bedding at the Global Pet Expo in Orlando. All Walks Premium Hemp Small Animal Bedding is made from 100% hemp hurd. It is cleaned, dust free, highly absorbent and great for small animal bedding. What a great value added agriculture expansion! Call Justin to discuss your project, 406.590.1301.

Our Loan Committee approved a $950,000 gap loan for the renovation of a downtown Great Falls property. Due to increasing costs there was a gap in the financing that the bank nor the client could cover. If you have project that needs some further assistance and you want to discuss different options that GFDA may be able to provide please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

Great Falls is the most pet friendly city in Montana, according to Meat processing has increased 50% in Montana so far in FY 2022 according to the Montana Dept. of Livestock; see KFBB. Montana is the 4th best state for doctors, according to WalletHub; see Montana Digital News.

The new Great Falls Housing Production Task Force held its kick-off meeting. We started brainstorming creative ideas to help make housing more developments more feasible across all price points. If you would like to receive notice of future task force work, email me at

Partners of Touro College Montana, Great Fall’s new medical school, will now be able to begin construction on apartments! The City Commission passed the subdivision and zoning that will allow the property adjacent and to the east of Touro’s med school site to begin construction. The Farran Group has announced their plans to build a lifestyle complex to support that area. MSU College of Nursing plans to construct on the far eastern side of the parcel. Thank you all for investing in Great Falls, Montana!

Worked on nine business attraction projects – all moving at Mach-10 speed! We offer a variety of tools and resources to help projects happen from advocacy, location assistance, gap and bridge loans, state grants, data and more. If you are interested in learning more about how GFDA can help in business attraction, call Jake at 406.403.4937.

Congratulations to the Wild Hare in Downtown Great Falls on their Grand Opening! Check out the walk through we did with Matt Robb, one of the partners on the project. You can view the video on our YouTube page.

Our affiliate High Plains Financial approved a $147,000 SBA 504 loan for a Black Eagle business that wants to secure its future by purchasing the building where they are located. With the SBA rates being low this business decided to take advantage of the FIXED rate for up to 25 years. If your commercial space isn’t keeping up with your growing business or you’d like to buy instead of lease, contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

Congratulations to Windrift Hill in Conrad for winning Best in Show Overall at the 2022 Made in Montana trade show! Life in Bloom florists opened in the Times Square building in Downtown Great Falls. The Little Shell Tribe opened its new Health Center in Great Falls; see KFBBGreat Falls College MSU celebrated the first year anniversary of its certified nursing assistant program ; see KRTV. The program has successfully graduated 52 CNA students, a 100% completion rate. 94% of graduates have passed their certification exams and are working for five health care providers in the region. Congratulations!

Do you need a Transload or warehousing services to import or export your goods/products? Jake networked at the Transload Distributors Association of North America TDANA 2022 Annual Conference in Denver this week looking for transloaders to develop a facility in Great Falls. We now have two transloading companies planning trips to Great Falls to consider expanding to our market. Contact Jake if you have interest or want to be involved, or 406.403.4937.

The U.S. Dept. of Interior announced $57 million in funding for improvements to the Rocky Boy North Central Montana Rural Water System; see KRTV. The St. Mary Diversion water project is going to get $85 million; see Havre Daily News. The U.S. Air Force announced that the new Ground Based Deterrence System is going to be called Sentinel; see TheElectric. The Montana State Fund announced a $40 million refund and an average 3% cost reduction for the state’s largest workers compensation program; see Helena Independent Record.

Join us and other business resource partners for a Business Pitch In Event on April 28th at 6:00 PM at the Cut Bank Creek Brewery in Cut Bank. Our Business Pitch In events designed to spur innovation and entrepreneurship and give attendees an opportunity to pitch, discuss their business idea, and meet like-minded people. We’re excited to bring these in-person fun events back! If you would like to partner with us to hold a Business Pitch In event, please contact Lyndsay at or 1-406-590-1539.

We distributed the Transportation & Logistics Findings of our strategic planning consultants to GFDA investors and partners. This is the sixth assessment conducted as part of our post-pandemic deep-dive strategic planning process. Since last fall, we have released child care and housing market assessments, a COVID economic impact and recovery analysis, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) assessments of the Great Falls regional economy and GFDA, and Defense Industry Findings.

What’s it like to live in Great Falls Montana? Get a glimpse through the new Livability Magazine that we launched this week! 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.

Thirty-eight entrepreneurs and HR professionals from around the state participated in this month’s Small Business Webinar Series: Structuring Effective Meetings presentation. To view the recording, click here. Special thanks to this month’s presenter, Marguerite Thordarson, a business advisor with our new Women’s Business Center (WBC). Marguerite focuses on supporting female entrepreneurs specializing in managerial accounting and operations management. Schedule a no-cost meeting with Marguerite. Email her at or call her at (406) 668-0456.

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.

Eight entrepreneurs on the Blackfeet Reservation participated in our Website Boot Camp workshop in Browning. We will be hosting another Website Bootcamp in Great Falls on May 11th. Space is limited, sign up early!  For questions email Rich at

We networked with Downtown Directors and Economic Developers from around the state in Billings for the 13th Annual Montana Downtown & Main Street Conference. They had keynote speakers Jeff Speck, author of Walkable Cities, and Chuck Marohn, author of Strong Towns, as well as other speakers focusing on Downtown development. We were able to come away with some new and fresh ideas to implement in our Downtown.

Thank you to Alluvion Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana for co-sponsoring The Fire Within 2022!. The Fire Within is an annual event put on by GFDA that celebrates female entrepreneurship in our region. The event is scheduled for Thursday, May 19th, 5:30-7:00 PM at the Haute Hive, located at 721 Central Avenue. If you would like more information on the Fire Within, contact Content Marketing Director, Lyndsay Bruno at 406-590-1539 or

Nominations are open for the 2022 The Fire Within – a celebration of women entrepreneurs! We are seeking nominations of female entrepreneurs from throughout the Golden Triangle for Aspire Candidates, women who have been in business under five years, and Inspire Candidates, who have been in business over five years. The awards are achieved by showing strong business acumen and a track record of business success. Nominate your candidates here.

Optimize technology and improve production on the farm/ranch! The College of Agriculture at Montana State University will host a weeklong boot camp highlighting the future of precision agriculture and its potential for use in the state “Sustainable Opportunities in Precision Agriculture” will take place Monday, June 6, through Friday, June 10, at MSU’s campus and its research fields. Each day will run from 8 AM to 5 PM. The event is open to the public. Click here for more information.

The transition is complete! The D-U-N-S number has gone away, and the Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) isnow the authoritative identifier for all U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and Integrated Award Environment (IAE) systems. If you are registered in (active or not), you have already been assigned a UEI (SAM). To register your business in for the first time, get a UEI (SAM), or to find out more information about how this transition affects you, contact your Great Falls PTAC and connect with Shannon at

Looking for a Job? Don’t forget to mark May 4th on your calendar to attend the 2022 Great Falls Job Jamboree. The event will be from 3pm to 6pm at Paris Gibson Education Center at 2400 Central Ave. Over 100 major employers will be on-site and ready to hire. Click here for more information.

For those interested in expansion or improvement of their meat processing facilities please check out these grant funding opportunities: USDA AMS is investing up to $25 million to establish a nationwide technical assistance program for meat and poultry processors. The technical assistance will provide support for meat and poultry grant applicants to navigate the application process and to assist grant recipients throughout their project. Click here for more information. USDA also announced a 30-day extension for the Phase 1 Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program. The new deadline is May 11th. NASDA and other stakeholders sent a letter to USDA Rural Development requesting a 30-day extension. Meat processed in Montana has increased 50% as of Tuesday during the 2022 fiscal year in facilities inspected by the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL). In the 2022 fiscal year there has been a total of 68,906 animals, whereas the 2021 fiscal year had a total of 33,964 animals–an increase of 34,942 animals, according to statistics gathered by DOL. For more information on Department of Livestock please visit here.

Montana released a new student loan program for agriculture students. Qualified farmer and ranchers are eligible for five years The total amount of loan repayment assistance may not exceed 50% of the total loans outstanding the minimum award amount is $5,000 dispersed over a five-year period. Application process is now open and closes May 23rd. Click here for more information.

Networked with economic development colleagues and industry leaders at the annual Alberta Economic Development Leaders’ Summit & Conference. Published our GFDA Quarter Index 2022Q1. Volunteered to teach part of the Advanced Revolving Loan Fund online course for the Council of Development Finance Agencies.

GFDA’s investors are the reason we can keep working towards our mission. They believe in economic growth and are happy to support their colleagues in business.  Recent investments include:  Advance Division—US Bank and North 40 Outifitters; Flagship Division—Arc Apartment Homes;  Leadership Division—ADF Group, Inc. Community Division—The Wendt AgencyCulligan Water of Great FallsFalcon, Lester & Schaff, P.C., First American Title Co., and Hi Line Moving and Storage. They are part of the team that is Growing Great Falls!  If you would like to be a part of the team, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or

Have a great week! I’m flying off to Silicon Valley to network with state leaders at the StartUp Grind event.

Brett Doney

President & CEO



Here is an updated Growth Highlights for the Great Falls Montana Trade Area. Our Menu of Services and Staff Team handout. Here is our our Quarterly Investor Letter and our GFDA 2021Q4 Quarter Index. In case you missed it at Ignite, we unveiled our new Great Falls Promo Video! We are Great Falls Montana! Click here to check it out and please SHARE!


GFDA Career Opportunities

We have new Business Development Officer and Small Business Navigator positions to boost our efforts to grow the food, ag and bio-processing industries in the Great Falls region. We are still looking for a Competitive Improvements Director to lead efforts to address key challenges in Great Falls including housing production, industrial space, logistics costs, and talent attraction. Here is a PDF of our GFDA Career Opportunities. GFDA has a year-round College Intern Program with five paid internship opportunities. Download application. Help us spread the word!


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


April SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) came in at 4.676%; 20-year at 4.615%; 10-year equipment loan at 3.807%; and, 20-year refinance 4.629%; 25-year refinance 4.690%. 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


Invest in Great Falls Regional Economic Development

Contact Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or Here is a current list of our great investors.


Events, Business Training, and Opportunities


Great Falls College MSU is working with partners to create a CDL Truck Driving program in Great Falls. They need full-time and part-time instructors — download job description — and employers to support this important workforce development effort with funds, equipment, and commitments to recruit participants and hire successful graduates. Contact Tammie Hickey at 406-771-5104 or


Nine new micro-courses have been launched by our partners at the new Women’s Business Center at the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership Lab of the University of Montana. Check out the nine new offerings here or contact our newest business advisor Marguerite Thordarson at


Employers, a statewide Job Fair will be held at the Montana State Prison on April 27. Contact Beth Schmidt, Manager of the Montana Job Service Great Falls and all-around great resource for workforce recruitment and training; or 406-791-5869.


The Montana International Trade & Investment Day will be held May 4th in Missoula. The Montana Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Recreation will be in Billings April 17-19.


The Community Food & Agriculture Coalition is offering a Certified Farm Startup Program through Farm Link Montana. This is a certification program for aspiring farmers that will utilize performance based teaching methods to deliver the skills and tools needed to access farmland and start a farm business.


USDA Rural Housing Service opened the application process for 514 rural off-farm labor housing loans and 516 off-farm labor housing grants, due April 25. The Rural Housing Service has several programs designed to help build or improve community housing or essential community facilities. USDA also has the Value-Added Producer Grants round open, also due April 25. These grants help producers generate new products, create marketing opportunities, and increase incomes through value-added activities. If you are interested in additional information, reach out to Justin Loch at or 1-406-590-1301.


We have firmed up the dates for our first cohort of Accelerate: Your Startup. This four module intensive business course designed for pre-venture and early stage startups will run from May 6 through June 3, with a graduation pitch event tentatively scheduled for June 8. If you are (or know of) an entrepreneur in the beginning stages of launching or planning to launch and are asking foundational questions about business, this course is for you. For more information or to register, click here or contact Jason at


USDA is offering a virtual USDA Small Business 201 Workshop on April 13 and April 14 from 2:00 – 5:00 PM EST both days. This workshop is the second in the series of USDA’s efforts to support and showcase procurement opportunities to rural, minority, women, veteran, and other small businesses. The workshop will serve as an opportunity to network with USDA programs and contract officers, other small businesses, partners, stakeholders, and other organizations focused on supporting and growing businesses across the country. Part I on April 13 will focus on the contracting and procurement tools and resources, as well as mission area overviews.  Part II on April 14 will focus on USDA programs, contracts, and procurement opportunities. Register by April 8 or until they reach capacity.


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


What if you could step back for a couple hours a month, discuss issues with similar size companies and work on your business growth? We invite CEOs to join PeerSpectives, a CEO roundtable system with structured, facilitate protocols. When companies reach the second stage (typically 10+ employees, $1m + in revenue) they have unique challenges and this model is designed to maximize your opportunities. Call Jason Nitschke to discuss, 750.0314. Participation is limited by size and industry. Learn more about this proven system here.


We’re partnering with Snowy Mountain Development and the Lewistown Chamber to deliver two QuickBooks Desktop classes May 19th and May 20th. Follow the hyperlinks for more detail or contact Jason at


The White House published a guide to the infrastructure bill to help communities, counties and tribes figure out how to access and compete for funds. 495 ages of exciting reading, if you’re into infrastructure!


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.


The Montana Department of Commerce launched an investment matchmaking website for Montana business projects. The Opportunity Exchange’s – Montana Investment Portal is a website where investors can easily view and connect to projects in the state. Click here to view listed projects. Click here to get your investment project listed on the portal. For help posting your project or property on the Montana Investment Portal, contact Kristian Richardson at 406-841-2032 or


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


The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC) is offering a Cybersecurity Challenge to Montana manufacturers. They are also offering Lean 101 workshops in May. Sign up here to get email notice of all of MMEC’s services and trainings. We’re proud to host an MMEC business adviser who covers the Golden Triangle region. Contact Doug Roberts at or (937) 489-3985.


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.