Top Ten – May 17

Cut Bank Brewery

Nearly 40 people gathered for the launch of our first Business Pitch In at Cut Bank Creek Brewery. Kim Stolz, co-owner of the Cut Bank Creek Brewery, summed up the event — “It felt good to be in a room with all this energy.” Seven entrepreneurs gave informal five-minute pitches about their business or idea. The crowd then asked questions and offered up suggestions or advice to the presenter. If you would like to partner with us to hold a Business Pitch In event, contact Lyndsay at or 1-406-590-1539. Above, Luke Fecteau of Deep Tree IT support services gives his pitch. Thank you to all the partners who helped make the evening a great success!

Here is our Top 10 for last three 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. Sorry to fall so far behind. Hectic, but great days!

1) TDS Telecommunications announced it will construct an all-fiber broadband network throughout the City of Great Falls. The system will offer speeds up to 2Gig. The company made its announcement the morning after the City Commission unanimously approved a franchise agreement; see KRTV.

2) We hosted visits by a major housing developer and started the next phase of due diligence for a major manufacturer. This week were hosting a regional transloading company. Transloading is a need in our service area to provide diverse shipping options for our local businesses. The company will meet with businesses that have a need to load and unload goods and material brought in by rail. If your business would benefit from a transload facility in Great Falls, please contact Jake Clark at

3) We announced the Winners of the 2022 Fire Within Inspire and Aspire Awards. This year we had over 60 nominations – the most ever in the event’s history! We decided to expand the two categories to include multiple winners. This year we have 32 Inspire/Aspire Award winners! Celebrate fantastic local women entrepreneurs at the 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.

4) The Great Falls City Commission unanimously approved the Calumet Montana Renewables Project tax abatement. This tool is a great way to aid companies in successful capital investments in our community. Margins are tough and new projects need time to get established. The City or County still gets taxes but the increase is staggered over a period of time, in this case ten years, allowing the company time to grow and stabilize. We are excited and thankful Calumet decided to invest here!

5) Great Falls city taxpayers have benefited from an increase in city mill levy due to newly taxable property of $8,750,727 since 2002, much higher than the city mill levy increase due to the inflationary factor totaling $2,172,608.

6)Wayfinding signs are being installed throughout Great Falls, implementing the Great Falls Wayfinding Plan; see KRTV and TheElectric.

7) Our first Announcement of the Week featured Tres65 Celebration Studio. This downtown event space is perfect for a variety of occasions; visit the [http://tres65%20celebration%20studio/]Tres65 Facebook page. Our next Announcement of the Week was All The Things Charcuterie!

8) Labor data for March showed that the Great Falls MSA has added 443 jobs compared to pre-pandemic March 2019 and that our labor force has grew by 353 people in the first quarter of this year. The local labor market continues to be very tight with a March unemployment rate of 2.8%.

9) Congratulations to Lewistown native Josie Stokken who recently moved back to Lewistown and opened Restorative Physio a physical therapy practice. Benefis Teton Medical Center in Choteau recently made large investments with upgrades to computer, x-ray and lab equipment. Read the Choteau Acantah for full story.

10) GFDA is hosting a regional transloading company visiting Great Falls May 16-19. Transloading is a need in our service area to provide diverse shipping options for our local businesses. The company will meet with businesses that have a need to load and unload goods and material brought in by rail. If your business would benefit from a transload facility in Great Falls, please contact Jake Clark at

11) Congratulations to Brett Gilleo, owner of Big Sky Therapeutic Services, who has been awarded a Claim Allowance for Relocation Expenses (CARE) grant from Montana ARPA funds. Big Sky Therapeutic Services, an autism and behavioral health provider, will use the award to offset the cost of hiring and relocating up to three new, high wage care providers. For more information or to apply, visit

12) We launched our first cohort of our new accelerate course for pre-venture and early stage startups, Accelerate Your Startup. Six entrepreneurs are participating in this first cohort. One participant shared after the completion of Module 1: “This is a crash course. This is a really cool way for everyone to set their own goals at their own pace.” Another participant said: “I have read 100 books on business. A book can’t deliver this.” A third participant left the class with: “My first word at the start of today was ‘anxious.’ Now I feel excited.” For more information on Accelerate Your Startup, click here.

13) The average annual wage in the Great Falls MSA increased 3.2% to $46,437 in 2021, according to data released in the JobsEQ system. The average annual wage increased $1,430. Since 2013Q4, the average annual wage has increased every quarter except for one. Total wages increased by $103 million in 2021, adding to local wage earner spending power.

14) Jason Nitschke was awarded the national Boots to Business Instructor of the Year from the U.S. Small Business Administration! Join us for celebratory ceremony tomorrow, March 18, at Electric City Coffee at 4 PM. See KRTV.

15) The GFDA team visited Job Service Great Falls to learn about the many programs they offer job seekers and employers. If you are a job seeker Job Service Great Falls offers technical assistance, career coaching, veteran services and more. If you are an employer Job Service Great Falls can help with recruitment, retention, and workforce training. Visit Job Service Great Falls to learn more.

16) More new businesses in Downtown Great Falls! Homtana had their grand opening at 112 1st Ave South; see KRTVOmerta Cigar Lounge has opened on Central Avenue above Pizazz; see TheElectric. Columbia Grain is renovating the former Fair Claim building at 120 1st Avenue North for its offices; see TheElectric. Downtown partners met to brainstorm creation of a child care coop to support employees working downtown; see KRTV and TheElectric.

17) Several projects in Downtown Great Falls are making great progress. The Lofts at the Station broke ground, a tower crane was erected for the Rocky Mountain building and the Alluvion project, and the Gibson Hotel continued the interior demo. With projects such as these, we have tools to help. Some of these tools are Brownfield clean up and Gap financing. If you interested in doing a project or opening a business in Downtown Great Falls, call Christian at 406.836.0136 or email and let’s discuss the tools and resources we can help you access.

18) $580,000 of grant funding has been awarded by the Montana Department of Commerce to 22 Montana businesses for skill based training of new and existing employees through American Rescue Plan Act Workforce Training Grant. Two regional companies were awarded funds: Pasta Montana and Bear Paw Meats. Congratulations! If you are looking for more resources for your business call Justin at 406.590.1301.

19) Jake and Jolene are gearing up for ICSC Las Vegas 2022 (formerly RECON), a gathering of dealmakers and industry experts, who are driving innovation and evolution in the Marketplaces Industry. We are expanding our target list of businesses to approach for attraction to the Great Falls area. If you know of any national or regional brands you think would be successful in our market, please reach out to Jake Clark

20) More options coming to the Foodie capital of Montana, Great Falls. Mountain Berry Bowls, a new food truck, held their grand opening last month. And, as reported by TheElectric: Lyndsay Gutierrez of Nourish and Cassie Campbell of Spices N Spurs hosted a food truck boot camp workshop earlier this year and out of that, six new food truck operations are coming to Great Falls this summer, including Nosh, a catering and food truck operation. Okii Eats is a Korean-Native fusion. Momma Belles is southern style food.

Fiesta Food Truck and Catering is Mexican/borderland style food.

21) Ready to work off all that food? Wild Rose Paintball has opened a location in Great Falls; see KRTV.

22) We have recently increased our capacity to create traditional business plans by investing in five additional seats of our highly productive and popular platform, LivePlan. LivePlan is free to use for our clients, if you’d like to see LivePlan in action, call or email Rich at 406-836-2078 or to setup a demo.

23) The Environmental Protection Agency awarded GFDA $2.65 million in additional brownfield cleanup loan capital that will enable us to help finance more redevelopment projects throughout Cascade County. EPA also awarded $3.9 million to Snowy Mountain Development Corporation for the Lewistown area, $2.15 million to Bear Paw Development for the Havre area, and $500,000 to Fort Belknap. Great news for the Golden Triangle region! See KRTV.

24) Smoot Honey, in Power, MT recently began its 58th year in business and started the middle of April putting out over 5500 hives covering over 5,000 square miles in production area for the honey season. Smoot Honey is a family owned business that specializes in producing quality honey and packaging it for retail sale. To learn more about Smoot Honey or to purchase quality Made in Montana honey visit

25) On Friday, May 20th, Jake will represent GFDA and our talent attraction efforts at the ADF International hiring event. If your business could use some support in attracting the best talent for an open position worth moving to Great Falls for, check out the Great Falls Livability page and reach out to Jake Clark or Lyndsay Bruno

26) This week, Christian is participating in the National Main Street conference in Richmond, VA. He will spend time networking with other Downtown groups from around the United States and attend educational sessions focusing on things like Housing & Small-Scale Development and Main Street Economy. He is joined by the Director of the Downtown Great Falls AssociationThe Electric Great Falls, and the Business Improvement District Board Chair. I was there over the weekend for the Main Street Leadership Workshop.

27) GFDA is now listed as a Community Reinvestment Act aligned nonprofit at FindCRA. This verification makes us stand out to funders as a credible source for loan capital.  The CRA, enacted in 1977, requires the Federal Reserve and other federal banking regulators to encourage financial institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they do business, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods.

28) Join us June 1st at The Newberry in Great Falls as we celebrate the accomplishments of our community partners, clients, and investors at the GFDA Annual Meeting. Register here.

29) We’re excited that Tony Peres has joined the GFDA staff team as our first Small Business Navigator. Tony will be working to strengthen the region’s “entrepreneurial ecosystem” — all of you in the Golden Triangle who existing and would be entrepreneurs turn to for help — so we can work together to support more business start-ups, business successes, and business expansions. Welcome Tony at or 1-406-750-2099.

30) GFDA has a long history of support from our investors and public partners. Because of them, we can keep working toward growing the region and bringing in higher wage opportunities. Recent investments include: Flagship Division—City Motor Company; Pacesetter Divison—Hinebauch Insurance and Holman Aviation; Community Division—Edward Jones Michael PlummerIndependence BankNelson ArchitectsCappis Consulting & Tax, LLCERA Advantage Realty, and Loucks & Glassley, PLLP, and Macek Companies; and, Supporter Division—BSPARK Architecture. They are the true champions of the community! Together, we are continuously working to Grow Great Falls! If you want to join the team that is growing Great Falls, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or

Have a great week!

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.