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Through our talent attraction efforts we often hear stories of Great Falls natives returning to the community after experiencing out-of-state living. They are drawn to the small town feel of Great Falls, the bountiful recreational opportunities, and low cost of living. Tara and Jason Beam chose to move back to Great Falls and started Roadhouse Diner. Tara is a recipient of this year's Fire Within Inspire Award hosted by GFDA and presented by Alluvion Health. Hear what Tara and Jason like to do in Great Falls when they aren't making burgers in this video produced by our friends at Visit Great Falls.
GFDA's Top 10

Here is our Top 24 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.

1) Congratulations to Davidson Investment Advisors, part of DA Davidson headquartered in downtown Great Falls, on its acquisition of Caprin Asset Management. With the close of the acquisition, Davidson Investment Advisors' assets under administration exceeds $4.6 billion. See press release.

2) GFDA co-hosted Boots to Business, an SBA entrepreneurial education and training program for transitioning service members and their spouses. Over twenty airmen participated. The next Boots to Business at Malmstrom will be held June 22-23. For more information and to register click here.

3) The major Calumet Montana Renewables project in Great Falls continues to make great progress. The renewable hydrogen unit began startup on March 4. The feedstock pretreatment unit is scheduled to be operational in April. Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production is also scheduled to start next month; see SAF Magazine.

4) We hosted our Quarterly Site Selector webinar in conjunction with the state and other Montana Economic Development Organizations. Based on feedback from site selectors, we focused this call on Montana Industries and Assets. Site Selectors are the professional consultants who advise companies where to locate.  

5) The Great Falls City Commission approved annexation and zoning for Discovery Meadows, a 264-unit multifamily housing project near Siebel Soccer Complex. The commission also approved a minor subdivision allowing a lot in West Bank One, behind Kobe Steak House, to move forward with a new restaurant. That leaves just one lot left in West Bank One. We are excited to see these projects move forward! Advocacy for projects is one of the concierge services we provide to help clients more projects into reality. If you have a project and need support, please reach out to Jake Clark at Jake@GrowGreatFalls.org. 

6) We presented a training this week to a large business in the region on “Working with Sub-Contractors in the Federal Contracting Marketplace”. Are you looking at exploring the opportunities for your business in government contracting but aren’t sure where to get started? Contact Shannon Clancy at SClancy@GrowGreatFalls.org to find out if government contracting is a fit for your business.

7) There were several great stories in local press this week about the tremendous success of the C.M. Russell Museum's Art and Soul of the West campaign; see KRTV, KFBB, and Great Falls Tribune.

8) We want to help entrepreneurs start businesses, help existing businesses grow, and attract more market opportunities for food, ag, bio-processing, and farm-derived renewable energy producers! If you're in the North Central Montana counties of Blaine, Cascade, Choteau, Fergus, Glacier, Hill, Judith Basin, Lewis and Clark, Liberty, Meagher, Pondera, Teton, and Toole we need your input! Please take a few minutes to fill out our survey here so we can begin building our strategy. We’d like to have responses in by April 9, but late responses will be accepted! 

9) Congratulations to Kim and Casey Kotthoff on the long and challenging finalization of the Lovers Lane Subdivision in Fort Benton. This subdivision not only added a new business to Fort Benton, it also enabled two local businesses to expand and build new facilities. If you would like assistance starting or expanding a small business in your region please reach out to Tony Peres at Tony@GrowGreatFalls.org or 406-750-2099. Source: The River Press  

10) As one of the nine regional Food and Agriculture Development Centers in Montana, we were honored to celebrate Montana Agricultural Day at our State Capitol! Lunch was served in the Rotunda where various agricultural organizations and many of our state legislators came together to share a meal in honor of Montana’s #1 industry. 

11) Congratulations to Christopher Lightner on opening a new business in Choteau, Critters Heating and Cooling. Read the full story in the Choteau Acantha. The Shelby school system is growing! The enrollment in the Shelby school district topped 500 for the first time since 2010. Read the full story in the Shelby Promoter. Choteau is creating a dog park thanks to a T-Mobile grant; see KRTV.

12) Tony traveled west this week to Missoula meeting with numerous financial institutions discussing SBA 504 loans that we can deploy throughout the state to assist in moving deals forward. If you have a project that might require additional financing please reach out to Tony at Tony@GrowGreatFalls.org or 406-750-2099 to learn more about our lending resources.  

13) Students at Great Falls High School are part of Skills USA in Montana, a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce; see KRTV. GFDA has tools to help with workforce development and talent attraction including our Trailing Partner Email Group. Submit your name and email on the Employer Resources page of LiveinGreatFalls.com to opt-in to this email group that allows you to share resumes of trailing partners of candidates you’re hiring with other local employers, giving other employers an opportunity to add to their team.  

14) We presented our application for research and marketing to the Montana Pulse Crop Committee, a group funded by Pulse producers who have voluntarily agreed to a self-tax for the funding of industry growth. There were many more applications than funds available in this go round which is great for Montana as the top producer of peas and lentils in the US! There is more opportunity than ever to grow Specialty Crop production and processing in our region of North Central Montana! We submitted a Specialty Crop Block Grant to support that growth by bringing more players on the field, more training opportunities, and more marketing. Are you making food or ingredients? Need help? Call Katesha and tell her about your business or business idea, 406.788.0860 or Katesha@GrowGreatFalls.org

15) Great Falls resident Tammie Ogg has turned her passion and experience in the pet industry into a full-time pet boarding and daycare business. Tammie renovated the former Montana Shed Center building to accommodate her business Mother Puppers, located near the Walmart on 10th Avenue South. Learn more about the business in our Announcement of the Week.

16) USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grants program is open! This program helps independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer businesses to start or expand processing operations or marketing of processed ag products. Applications are due May 11. Contact Katesha Campbell on our team if you would like help with applying; Katesha@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-788-0860. 

17) Area Development published its annual corporate executive survey and site selection consultant survey. 86% of corporate executives said the availability of skilled workforce is an important or very important factor in their site selection for new facilities. No surprise that housing production and talent attraction are two of GFDA's top priorities! 82% said that the availability of energy is an important or very important factor which is why GFDA has a new priority to increase regional electric and natural gas transmission capacity. 78% said available land is an important or very important factor and 56% said shovel ready sites were important. This drove our decision to purchase 250 acres for the Great Falls AgriTech Park last fall. Quality of life is important or very important to 87% of corporate executives which is why we invest so much effort in downtown and riverfront revitalization, support Kids Education Yes, supported the Cascade County public safety levy, support the Great Falls Public Library levy, and other community amenities like the C.M. Russell Museum. 61% said raw materials availability is an important or very important factor. These companies include the food, ag and bio processors we target to add more value to Montana's agriculture production, create higher wage manufacturing jobs and huge off-site economic impact, build tax base, and create more market options for farmers and ranchers.

18) Where's the BEEF? The Montana Beef Council isn't the only one in the meat business. We've got funding and we're looking to help get more processors in the region! Are you a meat processing business looking to expand or a startup processor?  Reach out to Katesha at 406.788.0860 or Katesha@GrowGreatFalls.org.

19) Main Street America and American Express announced that applications for the 2023 Backing Small Businesses Grant are now open now through Friday, April 7. The grant program will award $2.3 million in small business grants to 350 eligible businesses. Read more about the program, qualification requirements and application here. One of the key requirements is the business must be in a brick-and-mortar location and operate in an older or historic main street, downtown, or commercial district in the United States. For more information, contact Christian at 406-836-0136. 

20) GFDA supports the Great Falls Library Mill Levy going for a vote in the special election on June 6. The library is an important component of the health and vitality of the Great Falls community. We encourage you to spread the word and vote in favor of the levy on June 6. For more information and to join the effort, visit VoteYesGreatFallsLibrary.org.

21) We have three great career opportunities to join the GFDA team as an Executive Assistant, Business Development Officer or Small Business Adviser. Download all three of our current career opportunities.

22) GFDA's Board completed a self-assessment through Boardsource. We will use the findings to strengthen our board engagement and teamwork.

23) GFDA's Executive Committee extended my contract for another three years until September 2026. I'm very excited to continue growing the great team momentum we have going and accelerate our efforts as we roll out our new strategic plan.

24) We are constantly working to maintain & build a healthy, economically viable community. Our actions are deliberate with the goal of bringing an overall better quality of life to our residents. We can’t achieve this alone. We rely on the support from our INVESTORS and public partners. Learn more about them HERE. Recent investments include: Leadership Division—Douglas Wilson & Company, PC. By supporting us they are driving the growth of our region. If you want to support economic development in our community, contact Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 406-781-9499 or Jenn@GrowGreatFalls.org.

I'm lucky to be part of the 7-person Downtown Great Falls team that travelled to Boston this weekend to learn at the National MainStreet annual conference.


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!

"If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it."

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Edition 576

Download our GFDA Services and Staff Team handout or our GFDA 2022Q4 Quarter Index. View the We Are Great Falls video!

GFDA Staff Openings

We have three great career opportunities to join the GFDA staff team. Download info on Business Development Officer, Small Business Advisor -- Director Regional Small Business Development Center, and Executive Assistant. GFDA is proud to be on Equal Opportunity Employer!

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; download AgriTech Park Flyer. Contact Jolene Schalper at 1.406.750.4481 or JSchalper@GrowGreatFalls.org

March SBA 504 Loan Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) is 6.329%; 20-year at 6.332%; 10-year equipment loan at 6.768%; and, 20-year refinance 6.350%; 25-year refinance 6.347%. 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 JKohles@GrowGreatFalls.org.

Events, Business Training, and Opportunities

Recruiters are you hiring for a job position that is a:  

  • High level position 
  • High salary position 
  • Out-of-the-box/unique/creative position? 

Help us attract workforce to move to Great Falls - send us a one sentence description of the job, 3-5 of your company's top employee benefits, salary (if listed), and link to apply for your job to Lyndsay@GrowGreatFalls.org to be included in the Hot Jobs in Great Falls blog post. 

The Montana Department of Commerce has two new programs that we encourage businesses to take advantage of. The Montana Cybersecurity Program will provide up to $8,000 reimbursement for your cybersecurity expenses; applications due May 30. The Automation Loan Program offers 0% loans for up to 50% of the cost of automation equipment up to $500,000; deadline December 31. These are one-time programs funded through ARPA so don't miss out. And don't forget about funds available for your workforce through the Incumbent Worker Training Program and the Primary Workforce Training Grant. We can help you access these programs if you run into snags.

USDA opened the Value-Added Producer Grants program on Friday. This program helps independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer businesses to start or expand processing operations or marketing of processed ag products. Applications are due May 11. Contact Katesha Campbell on our team if you would like help with applying; Katehsa@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-788-0860.

The Montana Department of Commerce has an open Recovery Destination Event grant round. Eligible Montana events that attract tourists could win grants up to $25,000.

Are you in the planning and development phase of expanding your agricultural product or adding value to Montana agriculture by expanding your product into new markets? Montana’s Growth Through Agriculture (GTA) Business Acceleration Program (BAP) and Market Development Program (MDP) grants could help! Funds are available; click here for more information or contact Katesha at Katesha@GrowGreatFalls.org.

The 341st Contracting Squadron, Malmstrom Air Force Base (AFB), is contemplating a solicitation for a multiple award contract (MAC) and is looking for responses to this Sources Sought Notification. Awarded MAC indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts would be for the construction of structures and facilities, repair, maintenance, and alteration of real property assets within the confines of Malmstrom AFB, Weapons Storage Area (WSA), and Missile Alert Facility (MAF) and Launch Facility (LF) sites located within the Missile Complex throughout Montana. This is a great opportunity to Introduce your company to the Contracting Wing at Malmstrom AFB. Do you have a Capability Statement prepared that you can provide with your Sources Sought reply? If not, contact us at LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org. For more information on the Notice, click here.

Are you working on a project that will not only bring new agricultural opportunities to Montana's rural communities but also provide education to youth and adults alike? Then the Montana Farmers Union Grant might be for you! Competitive grants are open to anyone in Montana. Deadline to apply is May 1, 2023; click here for more information or to apply. Additional questions, call 406.788.0860 or email Katesha@GrowGreatFalls.org.

The Montana Governor's Conference on Tourism will be held April 23-25 in Helena. Registration is open for the Montana Housing Partnership Conference that will be held in Helena May 15-17. Montana World Trade & Investment Day will be held May 17-18 in Missoula.

ArtsFest Montana will return to downtown Great Falls August 11-18. The Business Improvement District is looking for property owners who would like to have a professionally painted mural installed on their building. Contact Kellie at kellie@downtowngreatfalls.net or 1-406-727-5430. See TheElectric for more details.

If you are trying to redevelop a property that involves an environmental cleanup (including lead paint and asbestos) and you have a gap in your financing, your project may qualify for our low-interest brownfield redevelopment loan funds. We can make loans anywhere in Cascade County or within 100 miles from the borders of Cascade County which covers much of the region. We're eager to help make your project move forward. Contact Tony Peres at 1-406-750-2099 or Tony@GrowGreatFalls.org. We also have some small business or nonprofit startup or expansion loan funds available for Glacier and Blaine counties.

MSU Extension's Community Development team is offering a monthly Reimagining Rural Inspiration Hour webinar the third Wednesday of each month from 11:30 AM to 12:45 PM. See all the topics and register for free here.

The Veteran Small Business Certification Program Has Moved to SBA. Firms verified by the VA Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE) as of January 1st are automatically granted certification by SBA for the remainder of the firm’s eligibility period. SBA intends to grant a one-time, one-year extension of certification to current VOSBs and SDVOSBs verified by the VA as of the transfer date on January 1, 2023. This additional year will be added to the existing eligibility period of a current participant. New applicants certified by SBA after January 1st will receive the standard three-year certification period. SBA is now accepting applications for certification. For more information, contact Lillian Sunwall at LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org or (406) 750-1253.

Employers, are you aware of the Incumbent Worker Training program, Trades education & Training Tax Credit, and other resources available at the Montana Department of Labor & Industry? Check out their latest resource newsletter.

The White House released a Guidebook to the Inflation Reduction Act. There are many tax incentives that will be available for businesses, non-profits, and public agencies to reduce their energy costs and build new power generating facilities. We'll be organizing briefings and trainings to help you learn and take advantage of these as more guidance is released. For now, download the Guidebook here. The National Association of Counties has prepared a summary of the IRA; view it here.

Have You Reviewed the New FCC Map? The FCC recently released a new map showing broadband availability across the country. Why is this important? There is more than $42 billion in federal grant funding available for broadband infrastructure development projects, and it will be allocated based on the number of unserved and underserved locations identified in the FCC map. The FCC Broadband Map is available online, and you can enter a specific address to see the data on broadband speed and availability for a specific location. If you have questions or concerns about the information, the deadline for submitting challenges to the map is January 13. Online resources can guide you through the challenge process.


The Montana Work-Based Learning Collaborative, a network of public and private partners working to expand and improve on-the-job learning for Montana students, has released its first Work-Based Learning Toolkit for Employers. The toolkit provides outlines, forms, and frameworks for employers in four key areas for work-based learning success: meaningful projects, welcoming community, mentorship, and expectations/feedback. Download toolkit.

Export Montana, part of the Montana Department of Commerce (MDOC), is organizing a trade mission to the Czech Republic and Hungary in June. They have grant funds to pay for 75% of the costs plus $2,000 toward travel costs. Grant funds are available for any of your export business development efforts. Contact Angelyn Deyoung, MDOC International Trade Officer, at adeyoung@mt.gov or 1-406-431-5075.

The Montana Bioscience Cluster Initiative is offering funding through its 4th "F" Fund (4FF) to provide direct assistance to Montana bioscience entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses in need of money for travel to key conferences, small equipment purchases, or temporary staff assistance in relation to proposal development, etc. This fund is designed for maximum flexibility in support of new and established businesses and entrepreneurs in the bioscience industry. The fund will provide grants of $250 to $5,000. In exceptional circumstances the fund may consider larger applications. Grants may be awarded in phases (e.g. $1,000 initially with additional $1,000 on achieving specific milestone). More info and application here.

We released the Bioscience Economic Development Strategy for the Great Falls Montana region. The report, prepared by Tripp Umbach with the input and assistance of key local industry partners, details four key findings and four strategic actions to grow and diversify bioscience-related industries in Great Falls. This report, along with other key findings from our strategic planning process will help guide the efforts of GFDA moving forward. Contact Jake Clark with questions regarding the report, Jake@GrowGreatFalls.org

Many businesses that obtained SBA COVID EIDL loans will have their 30-month payment deferral expire soon. Are you one of those businesses? If so, the SBA Montana District office is holding a webinar on how to start making your loan payments. There are five webinar sessions scheduled. For more info visit SBA Montana.

Cybersecurity challenges for businesses continue to grow. The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC) is offering an array of useful resources to help Montana businesses to protect themselves.

Do you have open government contracts? Is your SAM.gov registered due to renew in the next few months? SAM.gov 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 SClancy@GrowGreatFalls.org for assistance. 

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.

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 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 RGannon@GrowGreatFalls.org.

The best resource we scan daily to stay abreast of business and community innovation is MATR.net (Montana Associated Technology Roundtables) which we are proud to help sponsor. Sign up for their free newsletter.

The Great Falls Childcare Demand Assessment shows a need for additional childcare facilities to serve 580 children in Great Falls. For assistance with childcare facility business planning, contact Rich Gannon at RGannon@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-836-2078.

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.

The Great Falls Housing Market Assessment 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 Jake@GrowGreatFalls.org or 1-406-403-4937.

Visit our relocation website LiveInGreatFalls.com. 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 LSunwall@GrowGreatFalls.org.

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.
Great Falls Development Authority | GrowGreatFallsMontana.org
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