Top 10 – 1/22/2019

Here is our Top 10 for the last three weeks, celebrating work and successes to grow and strengthen the Great Falls regional economy. Sorry this is so late in getting out. We’ve been busy working with clients on exciting new projects and moving into our new office! Our mailing address has stayed the same: P.O. Box 949, Great Falls, MT 59403. Our new physical office address is The Portage Building at West Bank Landing, 405 3rd Street NW, Suite 203, Great Falls, MT 59404.

1) Hosted 200 business leaders for the annual IGNITE Great Falls 2019! The event featured many of the projects that will start or open in 2019. This year we had 17 projects presented and several major announcements! Get ready for a new TOY Store downtown! Nicole and Lee Weigand, Downtown Dice and Games (514 Central Avenue), announced they are excited to bring a new, locally owned and operated toy store to downtown Great Falls. Watch for their new name and logo soon. Dry aged meat, custom sausages, bacon varieties can be hard to find here in the Golden Triangle. Drew Hicks is going to change that with the announcement of his new Central Avenue Meats craft butcher shop in downtown Great Falls, 420-422 Central Avenue, see KRTV. For more about the Ignite event announcements, see Great Falls Tribune.

2) Veggie burgers and many other alternative proteins use ingredients grown in the Golden Triangle. Barnett was a featured speaker, talking about processing opportunities in the our region, at the inaugural Alternative Protein Show in San Francisco. Four hundred venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and established companies came together to discuss innovative and opportunities. To learn more, contact Barnett at 406.750.3285.

3) The newly expanded Play N Learn Academy opened Monday, January 14th on the east side of Great Falls. This 130 student preschool and daycare provides much needed high quality daycare center for families. It has also created 11 new jobs. GFDA has been working on this project since January 2015. Congratulations to Raegen Breeden and her team! They are enrolling now at 4241 2nd Avenue North.

4) Nominations are now OPEN for the 9th Annual Fire Within Awards sponsored by Embark Credit Union! We recognize two types of women entrepreneurs, those who have been in business under five years with strong business sense and drive, the Aspire Award, and women who have been in business over five years, have strong business acumen, and mentor others, the Inspire Award. Nominations are due by February 1, 2019. Click here for the nomination form. Don’t forget to put the even on your calendar March 28, 5:30 – 9:00 PM at the Meadowlark Country Club.

5) Benefis Health System opened the final phase of its Emergency Department expansion, see Great Falls Tribune. Fetch Pet Boutique and Planet Fitness opened. Canyonville Golf Club announced it will locate downtown at 410 Central, see The VA announced it will expand its Great Falls clinic.

6) Mike traveled to Missoula and Kalispell to visit businesses who have taken advantage of SBA 504 loans with us, and to visit with loan officers and brokers about the very low, fixed interest rates SBA 504 loans can provide for their borrowers and buyers. Interest rates for the January debenture sale came in below 5% for the second month in a row, and down from the December rates by 10-20 basis points. Rates for the January sale were: 25-year: 4.877%; 20-year: 4.751%; 20-year REFI: 4.784%; 10-year: 4.647%. These rates are fixed for the life of the loan and include all on-going fees. If your business is in the market for new commercial real estate or equipment and would enjoy fixed interest rates like those above, as well as down payments as low as 10% please contact Mike Archer at 406-284-1789 or

7) Two of our partners won grants from the Montana Department of Commerce that will help our 2019 economic development efforts. Great Falls Tourism won an $8,000 grant to shoot videos of unique Great Falls businesses. We’re providing a match and will shoot more videos of a wide variety of Great Falls entrepreneurs and businesses to use in our business and talent attraction marketing. The Downtown Development Partnership, in conjunction with the City of Great Falls, won a $20,000 grant that we will use to create redevelopment visions for targeted downtown blocks and intersections. We’ll use the visions to help attract private investment in real estate and new businesses.

8) Worked with three potential AgriTech Park prospects, one transload, one construction materials, and one agri-processor. We use the AgriTech Park as a tool to attract businesses to our region. At the end of the day, we don’t care where they end up as long as it’s in the Golden Triangle of North Central Montana! Call Jolene to chat about the AgriTech Park and our business attraction strategies, 406.750.4481.

9) Are you a woman looking for a job that can turn into a full career with great pay and benefits? We want to help connect you to the businesses and resources that can make that a reality! In partnership with area businesses and resources, we are hosting a Jobs Initiative Career Day for women interested in somewhat non-traditional jobs – IT, architects/engineering, construction, plumbing, electricians, steel fabrication/fitting, and more! Click here to learn more and to register. Questions? Call Jolene 406.750.4481.

10) We launched our 2019 Business Education Calendar by hosting a webinar called Marketing Essentials: Getting Found Online. This was our 14th webinar to date and saw our largest live attendance thus far. To view any of our webinars, click here. Our first pre-business workshop of the 2019 helped us break-in the large conference room in our new office space. Ten aspiring entrepreneurs from throughout north central Montana attended. We are hosting a private session of our cash flow workshop, Profit Mastery, this week. Up next are two pre-business workshops, The LaunchPoint on February 5th and Boots to Business at Malmstrom on February 6-7th.Contact Jason for more at or check out our 2019 Business Education Calendar.

11) Lillian facilitated the 2019 Brownfields Assessment Grant Advisory Committee kick-off meeting. Six applications for Phase 1s and Phase 2s were reviewed and have been approved. We are looking forward to moving these funds into great potential redevelopment projects. If you have a site that needs assessment, contact Lillian Sunwall at (406) 750-1253 or to see how we can assist you moving your project forward.

12) I networked at the Montana Chamber Business Days at the Capitol. Lillian went to Helena to testify in support of HB53 revising the Big Sky Economic Development Program by expanding the eligible applicant pool and increasing the funding limits for each job created. We’ll be exhibiting tomorrow in the Capitol Rotunda for Economic Development Day.

13) Thank you to more Investors in Great Falls regional Economic Development, North 40 Outfitters, for your Flagship Division Investment, TC Glass and TD&H Engineering for your Pacesetter Investment, Brad and Diane Livingston, Hi-Line Moving Services and Bison Motors for your Community Division investments, and Ted and Roxie Lewis, for your investment at the Supporter Division. As you know, our strategies are market-driven. As such, your investment dollars are focused on expanding our existing businesses, attracting private investment and talent to boost our marketable resources, and fulfilling the needs of our bourgeoning entrepreneurs. If you would like to discuss investment, please contact Teresa Schreiner at 781.9499 or

14) 2019 is going to be a fun year. I’ve been named chair of the International Economic Development Council’s Economic Development Research Partners. GFDA supports this effort that has produced dozens of useful papers on leading edge economic development. I’ll be speaking at IEDC’s Leadership Summit later this month and at the annual Alberta Economic Development Conference in Banff in April. I’ve rejoined the Great Falls Chamber Board, representing GFDA. And, I’ll be giving the local perspective at the Bureau of Business Economic’s annual Economic Outlook on Wednesday, January 30, 8:00 AM at the Hilton Garden Inn. Be sure to register now because this event usually sells out in Great Falls.

We are HUNGRY to Grow the Great Falls regional economy, create higher wage jobs, build our tax base, improve our market competitiveness, and enhance the quality of life and economic opportunity for residents of Great Falls, Cascade County, and the entire 13-county Great Falls trade area.


Brett Doney
President & CEO