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Top Ten 10/22/23

We had 12 industry experts talk about various tools, resources, and opportunities at this year’s Invest Downtown event hosted by The Newberry and sponsored by TDS and NorthWestern Energy.

1) GFDA closed a gap loan in the amount of $6,000,000 to Colter Falls, LLC to develop a 109-room TownePlace Suites by Marriott hotel in West Bank Landing on the Great Falls urban riverfront. GFDA participated with the Montana State Small Business Initiative (SSBCI 2.0) program that helped provide a lower interest rate on 50% of the funding. Because of this limited time funding, this project was able to move forward, which is creating 39 jobs through the construction phase, 15 permanent full time equivalent jobs post construction, as well as leveraging an additional $16,420,000 in private investment. The new hotel will boost our tourism industry and provide more rooms across the street from the Montana ExpoPark. If you have a business startup or expansion planned that could benefit from a SSBCI 2.0 loan participation, contact Jill at or 1-406-590-1056. Funds are very limited and will be on a first come first served basis.

2) NeighborWorks Great Falls hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Baatz Block Apartments in downtown Great Falls, a project creating 25 permanent supportive affordable housing apartments and wrap-around services for those transitioning out of homelessness. See KRTV and KFBB. Renovation work on the block is set to commence this month with completion scheduled for the end of 2024, and the apartments becoming operational in early 2025. This project was made possible through low-income housing tax credits from the Montana Board of Housing, in addition to funding from the City of Great Falls and Cascade County, which includes historic tax credits, HOME fundsARPA fundsHTF fundsHOME ARP funds, and GFDA funds. GFDA also provided assistance through our Brownfields program for site assessment and cleanup. For more details on Brownfields and redevelopment resources, contact Lillian Sunwall at 1-406-750-1253 or

3) Worked on a new major project lead. When we respond to these leads, it is helpful to know all the available properties in our region so that we can get the project here to look at multiple properties. Many of our leads want to be near electrical substations. If you have property that you’d like to see developed, reach out to Jolene at 406.750.4481.

4) Congratulations to Adam and Robyn Lardy on their acquisition, remodel, and grand opening of Coyote Lanes and the Roadrunner Café in Shelby! This project brings bowling back to Shelby with recreational and league bowling available! It’s great to see projects like this across our region. The Choteau Youth Alliance is planning to open a daycare center later this year; see Choteau Acantha. If you have a project that could use help, call Tony Peres at 1-406-750-2099.

5) Invest Downtown 2023 was a resounding success, drawing an impressive turnout of approximately 130 participants, both in person and online; see KRTV. Throughout the event, 12 esteemed industry experts shared invaluable insights on the tools, resources, and opportunities pivotal for downtown development. For those who couldn’t join us, rest assured that we’ll be making the recording available shortly. A huge shoutout goes to our gracious host, The Newberry, and our invaluable sponsors, TDS and NorthWestern Energy. Without your unwavering support, this event would not have been possible. If you are interested in discussing these tools and resources, please call Christian at 1-406-836-0136 or email

6) Downtown Great Falls is home to a new steakhouse. The Rib & Chop House, located at 21 3rd Street North, will host its grand opening on October 23. The Great Falls restaurant is the Finally Restaurant Group’s fifth Montana location. Learn more in our Announcement of the Week.

7) The Montana Department of Commerce has reopened applications for the Montana Manufacturing Automation Loan Program offering 0.0% interest loans for up to 50% of the purchase price of automation equipment. If you are short of cash, we may be able to finance the other half as well as installation expenses. These are one-time funds so apply today. Let me know if you need help.

8) Chipotle Mexican Grill is now open at 1900 10th Ave. South in Great Falls; see KRTV. As announced at Invest Downtown, GRAE + CO will be a new large boutique located at 427 Central Avenue in Great Falls at the Pennington building. Play it Again Sports has opened to buy used gear at 1115 10th Ave. South. Artic Spas has opened at 1908 10th Ave South in Great Falls. See The Electric’s Business BitesLes Schwab opened their second location in Great Falls.

9) Kids Education Yes has partnered with Great Falls Public Schools to develop a survey  of community perceptions of Great Falls public schools. Great Falls Montana Tourism is developing a strategic tourism master plan and conducting research to improve the visitor experience in Great Falls. Please take their survey here; see TheElectric.

10) Great Falls Public Schools has proposed a cool idea creating a public charter magnet school that would train much needed new Montana teachers in partnership with the University of Montana Western; see KRTV.

11) Over 80 dedicated professionals and champions from various corners of the state gathered for this year’s Montana Downtown and Mainstreet Conference, held right here in the vibrant downtown Great Falls. They participated in targeted breakout sessions, absorbing invaluable best practices to bring back to their own communities, explored downtown through insightful walking tours and were inspired by the keynote speaker, Jeff Speck of Revitalize or Die.

12) Anna traveled to Helena for the Montana Cut Flower Association convention and then to Missoula for the Montana Food and Beverage Show. If you are in starting your own food business, Anna can help. Contact her at or 1-406-590-1301.

13) Our team toured the Arc Apartment Homes in Great Falls, owned by Farran Realty Partners. GFDA financed a portion of the project. Arc Apartment Homes adds hundreds of much-needed one and two-bedroom units to the Great Falls housing market. Thank you to Jim McLeod, Managing Partner of Farran Realty Partners, and Gina Revelle for giving us a tour of the property. If you want to start a housing project in Great Falls we can help get you started. Contact Jake at 1-406-403-4937 or at

14) The Great Falls City Commission approved rezoning for construction of a 12-unit apartment building that we supported; see TheElectric. An anonymous donor has given $300,000 to the Great Falls Public Library Foundation so the Great Falls Public Library can immediately gear up for expanded services and improvements that will be supported long term by the recently passed library levy; see KRTV. What a great community!

15) Our small business advisor, Rich Gannon, along with Chad Moore, the state director of the Montana Small Business Development Center, co-presented at this year’s Montana Main Street and Downtown conference. The pair highlighted the essential role the Small Business Development Center can play for businesses at all stages, from startups to expansion. Click here to learn more about the Montana Small Business Development Center. If you’re starting a business or need help with your exiting business, reach out to Rich at 1-406-836-2078 or

16) Early Stage MT is hosting a Scaling MT Summit on November 1-2. “This event is set to unlock opportunities, education, and connections for founders and enthusiasts interested in building next-gen businesses across Montana.” Read More and Register.

17) The Great Falls Public Safety Levy & Bond election is critically important to the future of our city. Watch this video to learn the facts about the public safety bond and levy, and why the passage of this levy and bond is critical to providing adequate public safety for the citizens of Great Falls. Vote YES on the Great Falls Public Safety Levy & Bond on your November ballot. The GFDA Board urges you to support the Great Falls Public Safety Levy and Bond. Public safety, emergency service response time, and better insurance rating that benefits both commercial and residential properties were all reasons the GFDA Board vote was unanimous. Visit to learn more.

18) Excited to announce that we have hired a new Small Business Development Center Regional Director who has nearly 20 years of SBDC experience as well as being a successful start-up entrepreneur. Al Gohary will be joining the GFDA team later this fall. Welcome Al!

19) I travelled to DC to participate in the Opportunity Finance Network’s (OFN) annual conference, meeting with potential loan capital sources and sharing ideas with over 2,000 Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) leaders from across the country. Congratulations to our partners in Browning, the Native American Community Development Corporation Financial Services, on winning the top OFN Native CDFI Catalyst Award which comes with a $100,000 grant!

20) Congratulations to our Downtown Business Development Officer, Christian Leinhauser, on being promoted to Master Sergeant in the Montana Air National Guard!

21) Our team of investors and public partners are dedicated to the success and growth of our region. They understand the importance of our mission and the work we do. Learn more about them here. Recent investments include: Leadership Division—Montana Credit Union; Pacesetter Division—Eagle Beverage; Community Division—ERA Advantage Realty. By contributing to GFDA, they are supporting entrepreneurs and businesses and allowing us to help them succeed and grow! If you’d like to learn more about our work and initiatives or join our team of investors, reach out to Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 1-406-781-9499 or

Another great week of progress! Lots more in the works!

Brett Doney

President & CEO