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GFDA Top 12 8/28/2016


GFDA Top 15


Here's the GFDA Top 15 for the week, celebrating great things happening to move Great Falls Forward.

1) The Great Falls metro area (Cascade County) economy had a great second quarter according to the JobsEQ online system we use to track economic performance. Average annual wages per worker increased 4.7% during the preceding four quarters, compared to 4.2% in Montana and 4.1% in the U.S. Total wages increased 5.47% in 2016Q2 compared to 2015Q2. Total wages for the last four quarters were up 5.23% from the previous four quarters, an increase of $72 million in annual earnings. Total annual wages increased 8.38% or $112 million in the last 8 quarters; 10.61% or $139 million in the last 12 quarters. The 5 year average annual growth in manufacturing employment (2011Q2 to 2016Q2) was 7.0% in Great Falls, compared to 3.1% in Montana and 1.1% in the U.S.

2) Wheat ingredients manufacturers in the Great Falls Region supply food, pet food, biofuels, and feed industries. The combination of cost effective energy, water, property, pulse commodities, and human resources all work together to provide a superior business environment for the establishment of wheat ingredients for foods, pet foods, biofuels, and feed manufacturing operations in the Great Falls Region. This industry cluster has ample opportunity for growth. We've outlined this business opportunity in our newest agricultural processing business case Wheat Ingredient Opportunities in the Great Falls Region. For more information on our value added business cases, contact Jolene Schalper 406.750.4481.

3) To keep growing and diversifying our economy, and supporting the creation of higher wage jobs, Great Falls needs to maintain and strengthen our reputation as a community with great schools. We can't do that unless we address years of deferred maintenance in our school buildings. GFDA's Board has unanimously voted to endorse the Great Falls Public Schools facilities bonds. We urge everyone who cares about the current and future Great Falls economy, our property tax base, our workforce, and our kids to support these bonds.
4) Super 1 opened its new grocery store on 10th Avenue South. We received confirmation from a fast casual chain and a restaurant developer that they are moving forward with Great Falls projects. Stay tuned.
5) GFDA's Loan Committee approved a critical $2 million bridge loan package to a developer that will be constructing a large number of market-rate apartments in Great Falls. Began underwriting a loan to provide funds for clean-up and infrastructure improvements of a large mixed-use development by the river. If you are an entrepreneur in need of loan capital to start or build your business, but you are short on collateral, contact Mike Archer at  to learn about our gap and bridge financing options.
6) The Mehmke Steam Tractor Museum re-opened after a 7 year hiatus. Congratulations to the Mehmke Family and all involved in bringing back this historic treasure to the public. Another boost for Great Falls tourism! More details in Tribune story.

7) Conducted the pre-final inspection of the new rail line serving the Great Falls AgriTech Park in preparation for the first train scheduled for September. We invite you to join us to celebrate the grand opening of the Park, Friday morning, September 9th at 9:00 AM at the Park. Look for the tent on 18th Avenue North at the new rail crossing.

8) Great Falls College MSU is offering new advanced training for fitters to support our growing steel fabrication industry, in partnership with Anderson Steel and ADF.

9) Looking for assistance in making your fixed asset project happen.  Please come and talk to our staff about our SBA 504 loan program. The August interest rate is 4.093% for the 20 year loan. For additional information please contact Jill Kuntz at 406-771-9026 or

10) HUD released FY 2016 Fair Market Rents this week and the Great Falls MSA saw significant increases: one-bedroom up 11% to $559; two-bedroom up 14% to $738, three-bedroom up 10% to $1,028; and, four-bedroom up 30% to $1,239.

11) For the 4th year in a row, Montana was ranked as the top state in the country for entrepreneurial start-ups in the Kauffman Foundation's annual Index of Startup Activity.

12) Austin attended the Northwest Economic Development course to learn how to increase opportunities in community and workforce development, and entrepreneurship.
13) Montana community colleges were ranked 5th best in the nation by WalletHub.
14) Forward Great Falls investors and those interested in joining our public/private economic development partnership are invited to join us for our next monthly Development Coffee this Friday, September 2nd, 7:00 AM at TD&H Engineering.
15) The Native American Development Corporation's MicroEnterprise Business Center is offering an extensive series of Back to Basics webinars through the end of September. Check them out at or call Tim Guardipee at 1-406-259-3804.
Untame Your Entrepreneurial Spirit!

Brett Doney
President and CEO


"Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises."


Upcoming Business Events
The Western United State Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA) and the Montana State Dept. of Agriculture will hold a special seminar on exporting agricultural products on September 6, 2016 in Great Falls, 9:00 AM-Noon. You will learn about WUSATA's programs to support your export efforts and have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with WUSATA's management for a personalized consultation and the Montana Dept. of Agriculture to learn about their exporting resources. Cost: $10 per person. Registration Deadline: September 1st. Suitable Products: All agricultural food and beverages including but not limited to retail products, food service products, ingredients, natural/health products, produce, seafood; nutraceutical; pet food products; and nursery. TO REGISTER
Our next LaunchPoint workshop, a course dedicated to early stage entrepreneurs looking for direction and guidance is scheduled for Wednesday, September 7th at the GFDA offices. For more information or to RSVP, contact Jason Nitschke at or click here:



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Great Falls, MT 59401
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Great Falls, MT 59403