Great Falls Economic Development Top 10 for 9-13-22

Here is our Top 15 for last 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) We launched a new low interest loan participation product in partnership with the Montana Department of Commerce that will provide 50/50 loan participations with your bank or credit union. We are already processing potential deals to move projects forward that otherwise could not. These funds are limited and will be put to work very quickly to help our economy recover and come back stronger than ever. If you have a business startup or expansion planned that could benefit from a loan participation, contact Jill at [email protected] or 1-406-590-1056.

2) Discount Meats, a Great Falls butcher shop locally owned by Ben and Rosy Handl, was featured in a KRTV story on how they used Growth Through Agriculture Grant funds from the Montana Dept of Ag to repair their one of a kind meat vending machines. For more information on the now open Growth Through Agriculture Grants and how they might help your value-added ag business please contact Justin Loch at 406-590-1301 or visit the Montana Department of Agriculture website.

3) The Great Falls City Commission unanimously voted to invest $1.4 million in GFDA’s Gap and Bridge Revolving Loan Fund. These funds are used to help make good deals happen that wouldn’t without our loan capital. We have a proven track record. Over the past 26 years, we have closed $51,253,885 in loans, leveraging over $255 million of investment. In the last two fiscal years, we made $12,177,798 in loans. In the first two months of this fiscal year we have made $708,000 in loans. These loans have made possible total investment of $55,009,486. The City of Great Falls is leveraging their CAREs Act money by investing it in our future economic development! Thank you! See TheElectric.

4) Signature Med Spa opened in the Hub International building in Great Falls. This business is a great addition to the Broadwater river front area. Learn more in the Announcement of the Week.

5) Please join us this Thursday, September 15th for the third in a series of STAR Roundtables with Northrop Grumman hosted by the Montana PTAC. This is an excellent opportunity for MT companies to become informed of the potential business opportunities associated with the Sentinel project (Minute Man III upgrade/replacement) and other government contracting possibilities. Sentinel is the largest federal contract in the history of the United States. $13.3 billion over a multitude of years. It will present business opportunities for companies all over the state and region. Register here.

6) GFDA and our partners won three national 2022 Impact Awards from the National Association of Development Organizations. The first award is for the Downtown Development Partnership of Great Falls and key partners NeighborWorks Great Falls, Business Improvement District, City of Great Falls, and the Downtown Great Falls Association. The second award is for our Top 10, today in its 549th edition. The third award is for our use of videos to enhance our marketing of services and the Great Falls Montana Region.

7) Our Health and Bioscience Economic Development Strategy consultants will be back in town for a working retreat on September 28th. The Tripp Umbach team will join us in-person to share the results of their study and facilitate working groups with key players in our local Health Bioscience and education community. Retreat registration is available here.

8) USDA awarded GFDA a $2 million grant to create a Meat & Poultry Intermediary Loan Program. Our application scored first in the nation! The new loan fund will help finance meat and poultry processing operations in the region to increase and diversify production, process a higher percentage of livestock raised in the region, and grow the industry in such a way as to lower operating costs for processors and create high-wage career opportunities that improve quality of life and the environment. Loans can be used to start, operate and expand meat and poultry processing facilities throughout the region.

GFDA has made 24 food processing loans totaling almost $11.5M and leveraging $67.5M. Of 19 processors that we are working with or identified, we conservatively estimated $24M in immediate capital needs among ten companies. We also have 7 other clients who wish to start a business. Our outstanding track record coupled with a strong application earned us the distinction of the highest scoring proposal. If you want to support Montana meat processing, we need to raise $200,000 in matching funds for the new loan fund.

9) We’re starting to develop a fantastic lineup for Invest Downtown 2022 on October 20th from 10 AM-Noon. Save the date. We also have some great tools that are available to help in your Downtown project. If you have been looking to start or expand your business in Downtown Great Falls, contact Christian at [email protected] or 406.836.0136.

10) Tony Peres, our Small Business Navigator, was invited by the Conrad Chamber of Commerce to speak at their monthly luncheon last Thursday. Tony identified the collaborative mission of our organization and the many resources available to the thirteen counties within which we serve. While in town, Tony also actively recruited presenters for a Business Pitch to be held September 15th at Folklore Coffee in Conrad as well as meeting with entrepreneurs seeking guidance and resources for two new potential projects in Conrad. If you have a business idea or expansion and would like to pitch that idea please contact Tony at 406-750-2099 or via email at [email protected].  

11) Lock in long-term fixed interest rates and lower your equity requirements for business real estate acquisitions, renovations, and expansions and long-term equipment purchases. SBA 504 rates for September, including all fees, are 5.437% fixed for 25 years, 5.338% fixed for 20 years, and 5.320% fixed for 10 years. Some refinancing is also eligible. Contact Jill Kohles at [email protected] or 406-590-1056.

12) Team members Jason Nitschke, Rich Gannon and Lyndsay Bruno joined over 1,400 Small Business Development Center partners at the America’s SBDC Annual Conference in San Diego. Small business advisors from all over the country networked, shared best practices and enjoyed professional development opportunities that enhanced their skill sets to help entrepreneurs start or grow their business.

13) Join the best economic team in the galaxy! GFDA is looking to add a Business Development Officer to expand our efforts to attract investment in food, ag and bio processing industries in the region. Help existing businesses to expand and new businesses to start-up. Target and pursue companies elsewhere to expand into our region. Here is a complete position description. Send cover letter and resume to Brett at [email protected]. GFDA is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer.

14) I visited the City of Hamilton, Ontario economic development team as part of their reaccreditation process, volunteering for the International Economic Development Council. What an impressive full-court economic development effort!

15) Our work is made possible by the continued support of our team of INVESTORS. They are the ones driving growth in the region. Recent investments include: Advance Level—First Interstate Bank. We are thankful and the community is thriving thanks to them and others that contribute annually to our organization. If you want to find out how you can help grow the region, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or [email protected].

Have a creative, profitable week!


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.

Subscribe to the Grow Great Falls Montana YouTube channel!

“Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.

Albert Einstein

Edition 549

Here is a Growth Highlights for the Great Falls Montana Trade Area. Our Menu of Services and Staff Team handout. Here is our GFDA 2022Q2 Quarter Index. In case you missed it at Ignite 2022, we unveiled our new We Are Great Falls video!

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 [email protected]

September SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) came in at 5.437%; 20-year at 5.338%; 10-year equipment loan at 5.320%; and, 20-year refinance 5.352%; 25-year refinance 5.450%. 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 [email protected].

Events, Business Training, and Opportunities
Cost of Living in the Great Falls metro remained competitive in 2022Q2 at 87.8% of the national average, according to the C2ER (the Council for Community and Economic Research). Compare our local rate to Bozeman’s 121.8%, Denver’s 111.0%, Boise’s 109.3%, or Spokane’s 102.7%. Use our Cost of Living Calculator when trying to recruit new employees from our of town.

We have nine great companies ready to launch our next PeerSpectives Roundtable cohort. If your company is growing and experiencing the pains of growth, perhaps the insights of others who are going through the same thing could be beneficial. The PeerSpectives Roundtable for second stage companies will meet 10 times per year, share experiences, and work problems in real time. TWe have room for one or two more companies, contact Jason at [email protected].

A new $300 million program, the Organic Transition Initiative designed to help Ag producers transition land into organic status, was rolled out this week by USDA.  By transitioning to Organic producers have a chance to capture other markets that in many cases can yield a higher premium for their commodities.  The initiative will deliver wrap-around technical assistance, including farmer-to-farmer mentoring; provide direct support through conservation financial assistance and additional crop insurance assistance, and support market development projects in targeted markets.  For more information on this initiative please visit the USDA website or contact Justin Loch at 406-590-1301 or [email protected].

Early Stage Montana presents the2022 Montana Startup Summit September 29-October 1 in Bozeman, a three-day weekend celebrating Montana’s innovation.

Do you have open government contracts? Is your registered due to renew in the next few months? continues to have issues with the transition of the new validation process. It is recommended that businesses start early to renew their registration to keep from going inactive. If you are having trouble getting through the process, contact Shannon Clancy at [email protected] for assistance.

Invest Downtown 2022 will be held on October 20th from 10 AM-Noon at The Newberry and planning is currently underway. If you know of a great Downtown businesses to highlight or if you have an opportunity that is ripe for development, please email Christian at [email protected] or call 406.836.0136.

We’re co-hosting the Montana Economic Development Conference at The Newberry in downtown Great Falls November 14-16; see Montana Economic Developers Association. The Building a Winning Montana Team conference will feature exciting panels discussing key Montana economic development issues such as housing, business attraction, talent attraction, tourism and economic development, tribal economic development, and value added agriculture. Keynotes will bring perspectives from other states and provinces, and from leading Montana industry associations and state leaders. Workshops include economic development ethics, new financing collaborations, and supporting local entrepreneurs and existing businesses. Download preliminary agenda. Sponsor a session! Contact Rebecca Myers at [email protected] or me at [email protected].

The Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce announced the inaugural Worlds of Work! (WOW). WOW is a career expo pioneered by West Alabama Works. Though NOT a typical job fair, this event opens new avenues of opportunity for middle school students they never knew were possible. The Chamber’s goal this first year is to have sixteen Worlds, each representing one of Montana’s sixteen recognized career pathways. On October 18th, 2022, WOW will be held at Great Falls College – MSU and the University of Providence (inside and outside) from 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM. Area 8th graders will be divided into groups and will have a navigator who will guide them to each of the worlds, where they will explore for approximately 20-25 minutes before traveling to the next world. WOW Varsity, the block for high school students, will be in the late afternoon, and will include sophomores only for this first year. Check out the West Alabama WOW. Contact Scott Wolff for more info at [email protected].

The Montana Innovation Partnership is offering a number of trainings and an accelerator program for companies interested in pursuing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.

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

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.

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

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 [email protected].

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 Service can assist with Rapid Retaining Efforts. Contact Beth Schmidt at 406-791-5869 or [email protected]. 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 [email protected]

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 [email protected].

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.

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 [email protected].

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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] or 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 [email protected].

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.

Our Mission

Grow diverse economic opportunities that enhance quality of life.

GFDA is a certified Community Development Financial Institution and a 501(c)3 charitable organization. High Plains Financial is a certified Community Development Corporation that offers SBA 504 loans statewide. GFDA and High Plains Financial are Equal Opportunity Employers and Lenders.

GFDA is proud to host a Montana Small Business Development Center, a Montana Procurement Technical Assistance Center, and a Montana Food & Ag Development Center. We are also proud to provide office space for MSU’s Montana Manufacturing Extension Center and an SBA Women’s Business Center in partnership with the University of Montana and the Montana Native Growth Fund.

GFDA was the first economic development organization in the Rocky Mountain West to earn accreditation from the International Economic Development Council.

For more info, click to our website.

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SBA 504 Loans offered statewide! Real estate and equipment, acquisitions, renovation, and new construction. Low, fixed-rates up to 25 years with as little as 10% down.

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Great Falls trade area. Competitive for food, ag, bioprocessing, energy, and support. Closest U.S. metro area to Calgary. Untame Your Entrepreneurial Spirit!

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