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GFDA Top 28


Here's the GFDA Top 28 for the last three weeks, celebrating great things happening to move Great Falls Forward. We've had a very hectic 3 weeks with 3 new exciting deals confirmed -- stay tuned for announcements this quarter.
1) The Fire Within presented by Embark Credit Union saw another year of double digit growth in attendance and a record-breaking 17 women-owned business starts in 2014. Thank you to all who participated and who helped make the event possible, including My Viola, Penny's Gourmet to Go, Montana Academy of Salons, Autumn June Photography, AirHost, Fern Films, and Art Taft. A very special THANK YOU to Embark Credit Union. Female entrepreneurs are very important to our Great Falls economy and we couldn't celebrate their success without your support. Mark your calendars for March 31, 2016!
2) Great Falls College MSU received a $650,000 scholarship endowment from Ms. Nancy Cameron! The College also added a new Practical Nursing program that will offer an Associate of Sciences in Nursing degree starting in the fall of 2016.
3) The Great Falls metro area unemployment rate was 4.6% in February. Here is our updated Great Falls Growth Highlights that you can use to spread the word about economic growth and opportunities.
4) Worked with an out-of-state design-build company looking for a potential location for a distribution facility in Great Falls. Worked with several companies looking for financing for real estate and equipment projects in the 13-county Great Falls trade area.
5) Exhibited and networked at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, DC with 2,600 companies from 80 countries looking to open new facilities in the U.S. Met with dozens of companies, including Japanese and Chinese agricultural-processing interests. Thank you to the Governor's Office of Economic Development for partnering on this amazing opportunity. Download our Agri-Processing, Energy, and AgriTech Park marketing flyers that we updated for the event.
6) Hosted the first annual Downtown Great Falls Investment Showcase that featured tours of recent downtown renovation and new business successes, and a special peek into properties available for redevelopment. Thank you to the real estate developers, brokers, bankers, entrepreneurs, public officials and downtown supporters who participated. And, a big Thank You to our partners the Business Improvement District, NeighborWorks Great Falls, and the Great Falls Realtors Association for helping us put the Showcase together. Download our new Downtown Great Falls Investment marketing flyer.
7) The SBA approved our 504 loan for a new Great Falls restaurant that will be called the Roadhouse Diner. We're partnering with Stockman Bank on the real estate financing. The April SBA 504 rate was 4.591%, including all fees, FIXED for 20 years. Our economist is predicting that interest rates will be 2.00% higher a year from now. Learn how to use fixed-rate SBA 504 loans for your real estate and equipment needs, contact Jennifer Rogers at or 1-406-350-1204.
8) Networked with federal officials at the International Economic Development Council's Federal Forum, briefed Montana Congressional delegation staff on key economic development programs, and moderated a panel with the head of HUD's CDBG program and the head of SBA's 504 program.
9) Presented to the Montana Department of Agriculture's Growth Through Ag committee a proposal to fund 4 more specific agri-processing industry business cases. We will use the cases to present Montana's competitive advantages to targeted agricultural processing companies. This is part of our long-term effort to grow and diversify the Great Falls region's manufacturing sector.
10) Participated in the annual Site Selection Consultant Connect event in Greenville, South Carolina and met with site consultants from the Southeastern and Midwestern United States. Began following up with these site selectors to discuss the competitive advantages Great Falls offers in our target industries. Put together a list of Montana Regional Target Industries to help in planning for upcoming foreign direct investment trade missions coming to Montana.
11) Worked with the City Commission and staff on tax increment financing details for the Great Falls AgriTech Park. Met with BNSF in Washington, DC to discuss project details. One more 23 acre lot is available for construction start this season. Contact Jeremiah Johnson at or 1-406-750-3285.
12) Worked with two clients looking to purchase existing businesses in the region. Evaluated historic financials and created cash flow projections to help determine purchase feasibility. Worked with a new client on planning to secure financing to purchase land and construct a building for a new business. Worked with a new client on how to best apply networking techniques to grow their business. Reviewed four business plans to help local entrepreneurs with two expansions, a business purchase, and a start-up. For free business technical assistance, contact Jason Nitschke at 1-406-771-9022 or
13) The Entrepreneurial Spirit Tour 2015 kicked off in Conrad with 9 partners joining GFDA to present information on opportunities to start and grow. This week the Tour was in Cut Bank. 11 more Tour stops throughout the Golden Triangle are planned for 2015.; next up Shelby on May 12th, 1:30 PM at Marias River Electric Cooperative, 910 W. Roosevelt Hwy. Network with local bankers, US SBA, Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, Procurement Technical Assistance Center, Small Business Development Center, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program, Montana Department of Commerce International Trade Bureau, GFDA and more! For details or to RSVP, contact Rebecca Engum at
14) Worked with a newly retired veteran to develop a plan for marketing his manufacturing services to local, state and federal agencies and contracting officers. Contact Lillian Sunwall for free technical assistance for government contracting; or 1-406-750-1253.
15) Thank you to The James Co., Rural Dynamics, United Way, Great Falls College MSU, and US Bank for sponsoring the Workforce Demand Survey that was emailed out this week. 100 companies were selected to complete the online survey regarding workforce demand and effective strategies in finding great employees. The data will be compiled into a report to help area employers focus efforts on workforce recruitment and skills training. For more information, contact Jolene Bach at 1-406-750-4481 or
16) Joined the Foreign Direct Investment Frontlines Coalition to partner with over 150 leading corporations to work together to attract more foreign direct investment into the United States. this will be a very useful network for our efforts.
17) We issued an RFP for Audit Services for our next 3 fiscal years. Responses are due by 4:30 PM on May 1st. Contact Jana Williams for more info at or 1-406-771-9020.
18) Our next StartUp Spark! will be this Tuesday, April 14, 12:00-1:00 PM at GFDA, 300 Central Avenue, 4th floor, downtown Great Falls. Bring your entrepreneurial ideas and questions. Contact Jason Nitschke to reserve your seat or to arrange to participate online;
19) Startup Fireup!, an open mic style evening of sharing ideas that inspire, stories of building our business and communities, identifying problems and the potential innovative solutions to address them while making connection with active and empowered entrepreneurs. This evening depends on you -- come share what fires you up and inspires you about your business and community. April 28, 6:30-8:00 PM, Electric City Coffee, 319 Central Avenue, downtown Great Falls. Contact Rebecca to sign-up to present at
20) The premiere Montana Economic Development Conference will be held in Great Falls May 4-6. The agenda is packed with Keynote addresses from Renowned Experts, Montana Infrastructure Mini-Summit, Economic Development Administration Roundtable, special Housing and Indian Business sessions, Networking with Economic Development Partners, Downtown and Manufacturing Tours, Remarks from Governor Bullock, two great receptions, and much more! Register today here or visit  Follow conference updates at GFDA's Facebook page.
21) The Great Falls Area Food Manufacturers Network will meet on April 15th at 9:00 AM to share resources, experiences, and solutions in order to develop World Class food manufacturers. Join us during this invigorating meeting to engage with industry peers and share experiences that will make the industry stronger. For more details about the Network or to join, contact Rebecca Engum at
22) Mark your calendars for Tuesday, May 12th from 5:30-7:30 PM at the Celtic Cowboy to join GFDA, NeighborWorks, United Way of Cascade County, and Connect Great Falls to present the 2015 Montana SBA Millennial Entrepreneur Award to Jordan Husted, an Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Contact Jason for more info at
23) Startup Weekend Great Falls is coming on May 15-17! Startup Weekends are 54-hour events that bring together active and empowered entrepreneurs to learn the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. You can find all the details on the Startup Weekend Facebook page: and the Up Global Great Falls site at
24) RECon, the global convention for the shopping center industry, is a month away and we're beginning to schedule meetings with prospective retailers, restauranteurs, hoteliers, real estate developers, and commercial brokers. The event draws over 1,000 retail and commercial real estate exhibitors and tens of thousands of attendees. If you have a company you would like us to meet with, contact Jeremiah Johnson at 1-406-750-3285 or
25) Thank you to each and every local business that invests in Forward Great Falls, our collective effort to grow and diversify the Great Falls regional economy! Download our current Forward Great Falls Investor Honor Roll and do business with these leading companies.
26) We have a few select opportunities to gain exposure for your company or organization through sponsorships. These are great opportunities to build brand recognition and generate leads, while supporting our economic development efforts. Contact Jolene Bach at 1-406-750-4481 Upcoming opportunities include exclusive sponsorship of the Great Falls Visitor Center and of the first ever UNTAMED! Entrepreneurial Spirit Celebration event.
27) Spoke about the Great Falls regional economy and our economic development efforts to one of the six Great Falls PEO Chapters. Spoke to the UGF Argo Entrepreneurs Club about starting a business. Contact Jolene above to arrange for a speaker at your next event or meeting.
28) Area Development's annual Corporate Survey indicates that the availability of shovel-ready sites is important to 63% of businesses looking to expand. 47% use a site selection consultant. 44% say water availability is important. 71% say expedited or fast-track permitting is important. Housing availability is important to 70%; availability of skilled labor 82%.
Congratulations if you've made it all the way through our longest Top "10" ever! Untame your entrepreneurial spirit!


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300 Central Ave. Suite 406
Great Falls, MT 59401
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Great Falls, MT 59403