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GFDA Top 12 2/7/2016

Here's the GFDA Top 12 for this week, celebrating great things happening to move Great Falls Forward. It's been a busy week with several more projects coming together across Cascade County. 2016 is going to be a great year -- watch for more announcements and construction starts!


1) Signed the construction contract for installation of the rail crossing signal for the first phase of the Great Falls AgriTech Park.

2) The Great Falls City Commission awarded the construction contract for the long-planned 25th Street north bike/pedestrian bridge and sidewalk project. This is an important neighborhood connector to Centene Stadium, the Montana Veteran's Memorial and the Rivers Edge Trail. The Tribune ran two great stories about the Trail in Sunday's paper, including details of the many improvements planned for 2016.

3) Worked with several local businesses looking to bid on government contracts.  Answered questions and analyzed system capacities to deal with prime contracting versus sub-contracting.

4) Hosted the first 2016 North Central Montana Food Manufacturers Roundtable. This group is a no-agenda style discussion of current and topical issues focused on addressing the needs of area food manufacturers. If you are interested in participating, contact Claude Smith, 406-868-9474, or Jolene Schalper, 406-750-4481. The next meeting will be April 14 at 4 PM at Mighty Mo.

5) Assisted a client in qualifying for the SBA 504 Green Loan Program. To qualify, the project must meet one of SBA's Energy Public Policy Goals, such as energy reduction or sustainable energy design. The Green Loan Program removes the maximum $5,000,000 SBA eligibility limit per borrower. To find out more, contact Jennifer Rogers at 1-406-350-1204 or

6) 35 Great Falls Public Schools students completed medical internships in our community last year through the support of Benefis and the Great Falls Clinic.  D.A. Davidson has spearheaded a business-focused internship program for high school students to work in various departments throughout the school year.  They hope to inspire other local, professional businesses to follow suit in support of the Graduation Matters initiative.  If you would like to get involved, contact the United Way Graduation Matters Business Quadrant Coordinator at 727-3400.

7) Discussed the Great Falls AgriTech Park and set a meeting with a manufacturing company looking at the potential of a plant expansion. Worked with another company in the Great falls trade area about an upcoming expansion of plant and equipment. Discussed the possibility of the preserving company cash by using an SBA 504 loan to finance the expansion. The SBA 504 loan is advantageous to borrowers in that it allows an existing business to put down as little as 10% equity into a project, reserving much-needed working capital, and locks up to 40% of the overall project financing at a fixed rate for up to 20 years. Today's 20 year rate is 4.8%. If you want to know more or have a project you'd like to discuss, call Jeremiah Johnson at 406-750-3285.

8) Connected with pulse processing prospects who are interested in expanding to our region. Montana is the number one producer of peas and lentils in the nation and we have the potential to significantly increase pulse crop production to meet the growing global demand of processors. We are excited to connect farmers with processors and processors with reasons to invest in our region. If you're interested in the case for pulse crops contact Jolene Schalper to discuss, 406-750-4481.

9) Spencer Woith of Woith Engineering stepped down from serving as Chair of the GFDA Board this week as we move forward to support the West Bank Two redevelopment. Spencer has been a fantastic Board Chair. Thank you Spencer for your leadership and many hours of hard work to Move Great Falls Forward! Vice Chair Ted Lewis of First Interstate Bank has stepped up to Chair our Board.

10) The United Way of Cascade County helped 23,911 people in 2015, made possible by 2,223 local donors and over 200 participating companies!

11) The Montana Department of Commerce is conducting a statewide business capital access survey. Please take a few minutes to participate. If you are a business owner or decision maker:   If you are a lender of business capital:

12) A Gallup report released this week found that only 21% of B2B customers are engaged with the companies they do business with, meaning 79% are at risk of being lost to competitors. Food for thought.


Untame your entrepreneurial spirit!


Connect with me on LinkedIn to connect with other Great Falls business leaders.


To Susan Wolff, CEO and Dean of Great Falls College MSU (and a great GFDA Director), on being named the Montana Ambassador 2015 Educator of the Year!

To Senator Ed Buttrey (a former great GFDA Director) on being named Montana Ambassador 2015 Legislator of the Year!

To the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base on being named the best missile wing within U.S. Strategic Command, winning a 2015 Omaha Trophy!

Upcoming Events


Senator Tester is hosting his 16th Small Business Opportunity Workshop, "Accessing Capital: Financing Your Business in the 21st Century," in Billings on February 16th, from 8:00 AM to Noon at MSU Billings. Agenda here, register here.


Prosperity Matters! United Way of Cascade County is launching the Pathways to Prosperity initiative on March 1 at 8 AM at the Civic Center. Limited space is available. Please RSVP to Lacey at 727-3400 or


All are invited to the Montana Ambassador Annual Conference here in Great Falls on March 10-11. The theme this year is "Working Better Together for Montana." More info at Sponsorship opportunities still available!


Made in Montana Tradeshow wholesale buyer and retailer registration is open for the March 11-12 event in Helena. Visit


Great Falls Job Fair will be held Tuesday, March 29th from 11:30 AM to 5:00 PM at the Montana ExpoPark Exhibition Hall. Employer registration is now open. Visit the website or contact Barbara Hardy of the Great Falls Job Service at 791-5816 or


Two Great Job Openings

Loan Officer. Exceptional professional sought for new Loan Officer position to support the growth of our commercial gap and bridge financing efforts. Join our fun, creative, fast-paced, results-driven team focused on growing and diversifying the Great Falls regional economy and supporting the creation of higher-wage jobs. Duties include business development, deal structuring, underwriting, closing, loan servicing, and reporting to a variety of funding sources. Requires the ability to work with a diverse clientele, banks, and partners to structure often complex financing for businesses, real estate projects and non-profits. Minimum 3 years of experience in commercial lending, economic development or the CDFI industry, and BA or equivalent additional experience. Salary dependent on capabilities and experience, excellent benefits, flexible work environment, professional development and growth opportunities. Send letter and resume to Brett Doney at EOE. Open until we find a great candidate!

Director of Development.Exceptional, positive fundraiser sought to join our dedicated, passionate, results-driven economic development team. Help us grow and diversify the Great Falls regional economy and support the creation of higher wage jobs. Help us engage existing investors, connect with new investors, and enhance our web and social media communications. You will be meeting with business leaders to listen to their challenges and opportunities, engage them in Forward Great Falls efforts, and secure their investment in the future of Great Falls. We're looking for a proven star with excellent speaking, writing and listening skills, social media savvy, tenacity, and integrity. BA/BS and relevant business, marketing, fundraising or communications experience. Salary range $45,000-55,000 with excellent benefits, professional development and growth opportunities, and flexible work environment. Work with a great team, help us move Great Falls Forward, and make a difference in people's lives! EOE. Cover letter and resume to Brett Doney, President, Open until we find a great candidate.


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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