Top Ten May 22

Fire Within 2022Fire Within was a huge success! Nearly 200 people joined in celebrating the 32 Aspire/Inspire Award Winners. Visit our website for the list of Aspire and Inspire Award winners. Thank you to The Fire Within event sponsors Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana and Alluvion Health. Watch our social media channels next week for features on each of the Inspire and Aspire winners.

Here is our Top 10 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. I’m still catching up on some of our Top 10 entries.


1) Site work started on the 216-unit student housing project Benefis Health System and Farran Realty Partners are developing adjacent to the Touro Montana Medical School. Construction is underway on the new Great Falls Public Schools dedicated fiber network; see KRTV.

Vision Net has acquired iConnect Montana. The combined companies will operate under the Vision Net brand. The move positions Vision Net to meet increased customer demand across the state and the region in the rapidly-evolving telecommunications industry—notably the need for edge computing.

We closed a $950,000 gap loan to Starry Night Hospitality to aid in the redevelopment of a downtown Great Falls property to create an upscale boutique hotel, The Gibson. Gap financing is available to fill the difference between what a bank or credit union can offer and the equity the client can bring to the table. Many thanks to Sarah Daul of Citizens Alliance Bank for her tireless effort on this project and for being a great banking partner. If you want to discuss different financing options that GFDA may be able to provide, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or

Congratulations to the 12th Missile Squadron at Malmstrom AFB on winning the Omaha Trophy for the best missile squadron in the U.S. Strategic Command for 2021! See KFBB.

Hosted a transportation and logistics firm from Colorado to look at potential sites this week for a potential rail transloading facility. We helped the company meet with several Great Falls businesses to assess needs related to rail, warehousing, and transloading. If you know of a business with similar needs or are interested in improving local business logistics and transportation, contact Jake Clark or Justin Loch at GFDA for assistance.

The Great Falls MSA had its lowest April unemployment rate on record at 2.7% according to data released by the Montana Department of Labor.

Our Announcement of the Week was Independence Bank in Shelby. This full-service branch opened in April and will have its grand opening in June. Congratulations to the Independence Bank team in Shelby! Watch the Announcement of the Week here.

Congratulations to the CMR, Great Falls High, Belt, and Simms high school teams that won $500 cash prizes in the Montana Chamber’s The Prospects entrepreneur pitch competition! And special congratulations to the Simms team that won first runner-up statewide! GFDA and the Great Falls Area Chamber provided the cash for the prizes.

Congratulations to the winners of the Electric City Shark Tank high school entrepreneur competition hosted by the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce: 1st place Haley Tompers with 2th Brush; 2nd place Lezlie Phattavong and Mikayla Saalfeld with SLUMP; and, Emma O’Rourke, Keegan O’Rourke, and Shyla Belcourt with Humanity Hoodie!

Thank you to our partners at Snowy Mountain Development Corporation for hosting two QuickBooks classes and 31 attendees in Lewistown. Thank you as well to GFDA investor and QuickBooks trainer Wendy Weissman for deferring our profit sharing agreement to allow us to reinvest profits from the class to help more clients. Wendy is delivering four QuickBooks trainings in our region in June. Check our events calendar for details.

Networked with angel investment groups from across the country at the Angel Capital Association’s annual conference, part of our planning to launch an angel network in the Great Falls region. Participated in the Montana International Trade & Investment Day event. Travelled to Lethbridge to meet with our economic development colleagues across the border to discuss future partnership efforts. Co-taught the annual ethics workshop for Economic Developers Alberta.

Another redevelopment on 10th Avenue south is moving forward. The Great Falls City Commission approved vacating the alley behind the former Cartwheel at 10th Avenue and 19th Street to make it possible for Talcott Properties to develop a new restaurant there.

The City has earned a better rating from FEMA that will lower flood plain insurance for city residents by 20%; see TheElectric.

Congratulations to Dr. Kristen Boroff and her husband, Barnett Sporkin-Morrison, on opening Moggies & Mutts Family Animal Clinic in Choteau. The new veterinary practice specializes in treating cats, dogs and other small pets. See Choteau Acantha for full story.

Big Sky Processing near Lewistown is set to open a new USDA inspected meat processing plant, see KRTV.

We closed a $173,000 SBA 504 loan for Elk River Books located in Livingston, Montana. Elk River Books is a bookstore that specializes in rare and collectible literature, along with works by regional authors. They have been growing and was ready to stop leasing and purchase their own space. Many thanks to their excellent commercial banker Heather Malcolm at the Bank of the Rockies for recommending this great product to them. If your commercial space isn’t keeping up with your growing business or you’d like to buy instead of lease, please contact Jill Kohles at 406-590-1056 or to find out how we can help.

Congratulations to the CMR and Great Falls High School students on completion of the 44th Great Falls High School House! See KRTV.

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.

The proposed 25-unit affordable senior housing Carter Commons development won a preliminary allocation of tax credits from the Montana Board of Housing. We were proud to testify in support of the project; see TheElectric. The project will be developed across from Carter Park in Great Falls.

Great Falls was named one of the Five Best Cities in Montana by WorldAtlas.

USDA announced that commodity and specialty crop producers impacted by natural disaster events in 2020 and 2021 will soon begin receiving emergency relief payments totaling approximately $6 billion through the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) new Emergency Relief Program (ERP) to offset crop yield and value losses. For more information please visit the USDA website or contact Justin Loch at

An Assistance for Business Clinic will be held in Great Falls on June 8th from 8 AM to 5 PM. The ABC clinics are designed to assist new and established employers, accountants, bookkeepers, HR professionals and attorneys to proactively prevent unnecessary claims or charges. Includes presentations by MT Departments of Labor & Industry, Health & Human Services, and Revenue. Register here.

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

Montana State University will offer a Food Product Development Course this fall, with funding available for students to partner with companies on projects related to market analysis, recipes, shelf-life testing, nutritional labels, consumer evaluation, and other topics. For more information on developing a project opportunity for this course, contact Dr. Wan-Yuan Kuo, Director of the MSU Food Product Development Lab at

Our community is built on supporting one another. GFDA’s investors are truly driving the growth and exciting changes in the region. Recent investments include: Flagship Division—VisionNet, Community Division—Hybrid Steel Design, LLC and McLaughlin Research Institute. We are so thankful for their continued support and because of them we can keep providing businesses & entrepreneurs with the wide range of services we offer. If you want to be a part of the team that is growing the region, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or

Go Great Falls Voyagers!

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.