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GFDA Top Ten 10/18/15

Here's the GFDA Top 10 for the last three weeks, celebrating great things happening to move Great Falls Forward. Sorry for falling so far behind! My son has challenged me to condense the last 3 very busy weeks into a true top 10, so here goes.


1) The Cascade County Commission approved the economic development infrastructure loan for Loenbro's new 52 acre headquarters and fabrication complex in what we call the north industrial area just above Black Eagle. The City Design Review Board approved plans for the new Super 1 grocery store on 10th Avenue South and for a new downtown apartment complex being developed by NeighborWorks Great Falls. Moody's upped its projections for the Great Falls economy. It's just published projections show increases since its spring projections, particularly in employment growth in 2017 and 2018, and in single family and multi-family housing permits. The report states, "...higher-wage manufacturing employment is at an all-time high. The better job mix is reflected in higher average wages, which are rising at triple the rate of nearby Billings and Missoula."

2) We helped secure site eligibility from the MT DEQ for the West Bank Two riverfront redevelopment; demolition is underway taking down the grain bins for this exciting mixed-use project. We held the first meeting of our Brownfield Advisory Committee and received proposals from consulting groups to help us launch the new downtown and riverfront brownfield assessment effort.

3) Rail construction started at the Great Falls AgriTech Park and the first building components started to arrive on site. We won a $36,000 Specialty Crop Marketing grant from the MT Department of Agriculture and USDA to support travel to meet with pulse crop fractionation companies around the world. We selected the next three agricultural processing industry niches to develop businesses cases for: Specialty Pasta Production; Pea, Lentil, and Chickpea Butters and Spreads; and, Pea, Lentil, and Chickpea Snacks.

4) The Great Falls Rescue Mission closed its New Market Tax Credits investment for the new Cameron Family Center under construction downtown. Abby and Brian Thompson announced plans to open the Hi-Line Climbing Center downtown. The Downtown Development Partnership elected officers for the next year: Brett Doney of GFDA, Chair; Kellie Pierce of DGFA and Jennifer Reichelt of the City, Vice Chairs; Sheila Rice of NWGF, Treasurer; and, Joan Redeen of the BID, Secretary.

5) Great Falls College MSU held the grand opening for the its expanded welding and industrial trades facilities. The College announced it will begin offering a two-semester degree program for registered nurses starting next semester. The University of Great Falls won a $600,000 grant form the National Science Foundation to provide full-ride scholarships to Montana students interested in pursuing science, engineering, technology, or math degrees. The University won a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support UGF's Peoples, Place and Programs initiative aimed at improving retention and graduation rates. We launched our pilot workforce recruitment initiative with seven leading Great Falls employers and four social service agencies. This United Way supported effort is designed to test ways to better connect Great Falls residents with some of the new higher wage job opportunities being created in our community.

6) We underwrote three new SBA 504 loans to help two existing companies to expand and to help a local entrepreneur to purchase a business. The SBA 504 effective loan rate for October is 4.801% fixed for 20 years with as little down as 10%. Contact Jennifer Rogers at 1-406-350-1204 or

7) Reviewed business plans for two clients working on financing packages to purchase existing businesses. Began work with a new client on operational policies and organizational structure options. Performed a website analysis for an existing business looking to improve its online presence. Worked with an out-of-state couple considering the purchase of a local company. Worked with a number of high priority business attraction prospects including two manufacturers, a technology company, a hospitality company, and several retailers. We continued our business outreach efforts by meeting and touring several primary sector businesses in the region to understand their current challenges and opportunities.

8) Our team networked on the road with businesses and site selection consultants, gave several presentations pitching Great Falls, and learned about cutting edge workforce and economic development efforts. Events included the International Economic Development Council's annual conference and workforce training course, the Main Street Montana Project's Workforce Symposium, the Montana Economic Development Association fall conference, and the International Council of Shopping Centers' leadership summit.

9) We hosted or helped to host a number of business workshops and events, including: Boots to Business training at MAFB; our monthly LaunchPoint, Third Thursday, and Development Coffee gatherings; a special downtown retail workshop; and, Great Falls StartUp Week.

10) GFDA Director Dexter Busby of Calumet Montana Refining stepped down from our board after years of excellent service. Dexter has chaired our AgriTech Park Task Force since the project's inception. Thank you Dexter for your outstanding leadership! GFDA's Board has appointed Brad Newcomb of Calumet Montana Refining as a new Director.


Upcoming Events

Our next CEO Forum is scheduled for October 27th from 5:30-7:30 PM. Montana Milling CEO Greg Thayer will present "Niche Thyself," discussing strategies to grow into untapped markets and how to drive new revenue into your business. To register for free, contact Jason Nitschke at or click here.


The next stops of the Entrepreneurial Spirit Tour have been set. Join us November 4th in Great Falls or Cascade and November 18th in Belt for an amazing resource event to learn about the local, state and federal resources available to help your business grow. For more details, click the community name, see the Facebook event page, or contact Jason Nitschke at


Amazing Job Opportunity

Join the GFDA business development team as our new Manufacturing Partnership Director. Help us to grow and diversify the Great Falls economy and create new higher wage jobs. Help existing companies to grow and create new entrepreneurial startups. Help attract global companies to invest in the Great Falls region. Help us improve Great Falls' web and social media presence. Fantastic opportunity to make a difference! Contact Brett Doney for more details at 1-406-750-2119 or


Manufacturers: 20 or 31.5 acre, rail-served heavy industrial lot in Great Falls AgriTech Park ready for immediate construction start! Gas, electric, water, sewer, fiber, and rail all to your lot line for $30,000/acre. Join Pacific Steel & Recycling, Montana Specialty Mills, Helena Chemical, and Ruedebusch Development in this new industrial park. Contact Jeremiah Johnson at 1-406-750-3285 or


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Great Falls, MT 59401
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