Top Ten for 4/16/22

Here is our Top 21 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) A snowy week but we needed the moisture. Ready for summer? Downtown Great Falls Summer Jam concerts and 4th of July Hootenanny are back for 2022! See TheElectric. Buy tickets online or in person at The Newberry. The Great Falls Voyagers season opener is May 25th. ArtsFest Montana will add more fantastic murals to downtown Great Falls August 12-19; artists email Joan Redeen at for an application or call 1-406-727-5430. The Big River Ruckus announced its 2022 concert lineup August 11-12. The C.M. Russell Museum will host The Russell art auction August 18-21. Check out many, many, many great things to do this summer at

2) Networked with leading startups and scaleups at the StartUp Grind Global Conference in Silicon Valley, partnering with the Montana Department of Commerce’s Bay Area-based business attraction specialist. Legislators take note, this guy is great!

3) Our Top 10 has been getting so long that we’ve moved most of the info on upcoming business trainings to a Monday eblast and posting. Here is the link to a preview of Monday’s list. Please help us spread the word to business leaders and future entrepreneurs who may not hear about the wide array of resources available to support their efforts.

4) Employment in the Great Falls MSA (Cascade County) in March topped pre-pandemic levels according to data released by the Montana Dept. of Labor & Industry. It was our highest number of employed in the month of March since the loss of the 564th missile squadron. Our labor force continued to recover form the pandemic, with just 393 people less than February 2020. The population of Cascade County continued to grow in 2021 according to the U.S. Census, though we think they undercounted growth at 0.1%.

5) Congratulations Justin Flaten and the JM Grain team on the launch of their new brand of products! Trutana Foods launched with the flagship product – Crave Cakes. Crave Cakes is a pancake and waffle mix made of chickpea flour that is gluten free; see KRTV. The real star of the mix, chickpea flour, is 100% Montana-grown. Crave cakes are high in fiber and protein, and have a low glycemic index which makes for healthy carbs. For more information or to order Crave Cakes visit

6) Hosted an excellent out-of-state housing developer who visited Great Falls this week. The developer was able to meet with several of our partners in the pursuit of increasing housing production in Great Falls. This developer was attracted to the Great Falls market by our recent housing market demand assessment. If you are interested in developing property in Great Falls to help meet the demand for new housing, please contact Jake Clark at

7) Congratulations to Toby’s House on being recognized with the 2022 non-profit of the year strengthening families award from the Montana Children’s Trust Fund! See KFBB. 3 Rivers Communicationsis bringing fiber to Valier; see The Valierian. MSU-Northern is adding an Equine Center; see KRTV. 2022 if off to a good start in Great Falls; see KRTV. Congratulations to local author Karen J. Hardwick on the publication of her first book, The Connected Leader!

8) Time to register for The Fire Within 2022 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana and Alluvion Health! May 19 starting at 5:30 PM at the Haute Hive in Downtown Great Falls. Registration is capped so register early here.

9) What is the story your brand is telling and where are you telling that story? What are the sales you need to achieve to be successful and how do you figure that out? Those are some of the questions Jolene and Marguerite explored with over 50 Indigenous Women Fashion designers who gathered for the Indigenous Business Symposium and Gala, hosted by our new partner the Montana Native Growth Fund; see KRTV. Would you like to dig deeper? Email Jolene at

10) Alluvion Health plans to purchase the former Roosevelt School building from Great Falls Public Schools and renovate it to provide family and children services; see KRTV and TheElectric. Northwestern Energy and the Madison-Missouri River Fundannounced that three Great Falls area river improvement projects were awarded grants; see TheElectric. The Children’s Museum of Montana in Great Falls has opened a children’s after school program called “Whizzard Academy” offering STEAM Projects, reading, writing, accelerated learning, and homework help; see KFBB.

11) Are you an Indigenous Artist? Are you on Triia? You should be. This is an artist collective promoting and supporting Indigenous Artists. Check out the video here. Call Laura McGee to discuss, 406.259.3804.

12) 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 are 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.

13) The Blackfoot Confederacy Tribal Council recently announced the launch of the Blackfoot Confederacy Entrepreneurs Steering Committee. The aim of the committee is to help Blackfoot business owners in the US and Canada connect with one another to help promote business linkages, opportunities for growth and development. See Cut Bank Pioneer Press for the full story here.

14) Hometana is coming home to its roots, expanding to Downtown Great Falls, grand opening May 5th at 112 1st Avenue South! See our Announcement of the Week. Projects in Downtown Great Falls have been continuing to move forward as we get into the Spring construction season. The Alluvion’s redevelopment of the Rocky Mountain Building has been making great progress, as is The Gibson Hotel. There are tools in the toolbox to help with redevelopment and it’s been a big topic this week. If you are a building owner in Downtown Great Falls and are looking for some help, call Christian at 406.836.0136 or email and let’s discuss how we can best apply these tools to assist in your redevelopment project.

15) The Montana DNRC released its ranking of community infrastructure projects seeking state ARPA funds. Many projects in our region are ranked; see the ranking list here. The White House released a Rural Playbook to help rural communities access federal infrastructure funds. GFDA advocated for this at the White House Economic Development Summit in December.

16) Mission West Community Development Partners is offering a Concept to Consumer workshop to help new food businesses across the state develop and launch new food products; April 21st at 9:00 AM in Ronan or online.

17) The Montana Pulse Crop Committee is seeking an Executive Director Proposal. Help address pulse industry needs and improve return on investment for Montana’s producers. Proposals for funding will be accepted from: public and private agencies and organizations, business and industry, educational institutions, state and local Governments, and individuals. To learn more and view the full RFP or visit the department’s website.

18) Discussed the housing market assessment and other economic issues facing our region at the Pachyderm Club. We appreciate opportunities to speak with clubs and organizations, call Jolene to get scheduled 406.750.4481.

19) We distributed the Environmental Scan Findings of our strategic planning consultants to GFDA investors and partners. This is the seventh 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, Defense Industry Findings, and Transportation & Logistics Findings.

20) Our investors and public partners are the reason we can keep working toward our mission to grow & diversify the regional economy. They understand the importance of economic development and support their partners in business. Recent investments include: Advance Division—Loenbro. Because of their continued support, we can keep working to Grow Great Falls! If you want to help us grow the region, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or

21) We worked to leverage our local GFDA investor funds, submitting an application for more loan capital to the Community Development Financial Institution Fund, part of the U.S. Treasury. Thank you to GFDA investors for providing the required 1:1 cash match for grant funds and to the Montana Board of Investments for its $500,000 loan commitment to provide the required 1:1 match for a loan capital loan we requested. Keeping up with local opportunities that can’t move forward without our gap and bridge financing is a struggle, but we’re trying! This month we submitted a package to a bank seeking to borrow $1 million in loan capital, an application to a foundation seeking $50,000 to support our entrepreneur and small business services, and a request to another bank to borrow $1.4 million.

THANK YOU to the many investors, partners, colleagues and clients who are making so many positive things happen in our region. Your risk-taking, smart investments, hard work, and confidence are what is moving the Great Falls region forward.

Happy Easter and Passover!


Brett Doney

President & CEO

Connect with me on LinkedIn to network with the Great Falls Montana region. Forward the GFDA Top 10 to friends and colleagues. You can join our distribution list HERE or text GFDA to 22828.

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“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

John C. Maxwell

Edition 530

Here is a 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 2022Q1 Quarter Index. In case you missed it at Ignite 2022, we unveiled our new We Are Great Falls video!

GFDA Career Opportunities

Thanks to the Montana Department of Agriculture, we are creating a second Food/Ag Business Development Officer position to boost our efforts to grow the food, ag and bio-processing industries in the Great Falls region. Thanks to the Montana Department of Commerce, we are creating a Small Business Navigator to strengthen our region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by connecting more entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs with resources that can help them succeed. 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

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

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 will be hosting another Website Bootcamp in Great Falls on May 11th. Space is limited, sign up early!  For questions email Rich at

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

What’s it like to live in Great Falls Montana? Get a glimpse through the new 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.

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

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 Servicecan 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 JNitschke@GrowGreatFalls.orgor 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.

Couldn't find what you are looking for? Give me a call or shoot me an email - I'd be happy to tell you more about Great Falls!

Jolene Schalper

(406) 750-4481

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