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GFDA Top 12 for 3/26/17


Here's the GFDA Top 12 for this week, celebrating great things happening to move Great Falls Forward. Flew this morning to Chicago, another windy great city, to network at the International Council of Shopping Centers' leadership summit and to meet with targets.

1) Northwestern Energy announced it will begin construction this year to upgrade three turbine units at Ryan Dam. The $3.7 million project will increase generating capacity by 5 MW, bringing the dam to 71 MW.

2) Kicked off engaging our GFDA public and private investors to develop our next strategic plan, Great Falls 2022: What's Next?, with a lunch keynoted by Sen. Steve Daines. We discussed future opportunities to grow and diversify the Great Falls regional economy and support the creation of higher wage jobs. Steve, and Greg Thayer representing the Montana Chamber, announced the Montana Ag Summit to be held in Great Falls at the ExpoPark on May 31-June 1. See more info This promises to be a great event to promote food/agricultural production and processing!

3) Hosted 40+ at the annual Fire It Up! A networking event to in preparation for The Fire Within. Thank you to Electric City Coffee for interrupting their new dinner menu service and hosting our rowdy bunch! Hosted our monthly Manufacturers Roundtable. Signed on to sponsor the Innovate Montana Symposium, July 12-13 in Billings. Completed a phase 2 hazardous materials assessment for a new potential riverfront redevelopment site. Worked on three new primary sector leads.
4) Join us on Thursday March 30 as we celebrate two incredible business women. Beth Leatham is the winner of the 2017 Inspire award. Beth is the co-owner/operator of Bighorn Outdoor Specialists. Brain Thompson of Hi-Line Climbing Center nominated her for her enthusiasm, business savvy nature, and love of Great Falls make her an inspiration to others. Kattie Meyers owner/operator of Motifs is the 2017 Aspire winner! For being in business under 5 years Kattie has had a tremendous impact on downtown says her nominator Tracy Perry of the Blue Rose (also a former Aspire winner). Doors open at 5:30 PM for 7th Annual Fire Within sponsored by EmbarkClick here to register

5) The February unemployment rate in the Great Falls metro area (Cascade County) was 4.0%, our second ever lowest rate for the month of February, according to data released by the Montana Dept. of Labor. The only February in which we had a lower rate was in 2007.
6) Began underwriting a $1.6 million SBA 504 loan to purchase and renovate a building as part of a major expansion of one of our fantastic, local Great Falls businesses. If you would like to expand your business please contact GFDA's loan officer Mike Archer at 406.284.1789 to discuss financing tools that may be available to help you.
7) The City issued an RFP for entrepreneurs interested in putting kayak/canoe/standup paddleboard rental stands in City parks this season. Pick up a copy at the Park & Rec Dept. or call 771-1265. Deadline April 12. Let's get some excitement going on the river this summer!
8) Did you know that one of the founders of the National Transload Association is here in Great Falls? Patty Schlager will bring her years of experience and connections to our Transload Taskforce meeting on Monday, 3/27 at 4 PM at GFDA (300 Central Avenue #406). We are asking you to RSVP, click here.
9) Great Falls College MSU has partnered with Bitterroot College to provide high-quality Commercial Drivers License training in the Great Falls area. Classes begin April 3. Students will complete three weeks of classroom training followed by one week of field training prior to taking the Department of Transportation CDL test. The classroom training will take place at Great Falls College MSU, 2100 16th Ave. S. The field training, where students will work in large tractor-trailers, will be held at Bitterroot College in Hamilton. Cost for the program is $4,500 per student. Financial assistance is available through Embark Credit Union and Job Service for those who qualify. Space is still available. Registration for the course is due March 29. For more information on how to register, contact Roch Turner at 406.360.8478.
10) The City Commission approved a special allocation of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to purchase a play structure and outdoor fitness stations in Gibson Park and a pavilion in West Bank Park, and to support affordable housing and economic development. GFDA will receive $90,000 for revolving loan capital to help us finance an agri-processing expansion and $30,000 so we can commission a household labor supply survey. Similar surveys we commissioned in 2003 and 2009 helped us to land Centene and Blue Cross Blue Shield (Health Care Service Corporation).
11) Participated in the first annual SBDC Day celebration in Helena with Play n Learn Academy of Great Falls. The hashtag #SBDCDay trended #5 on social media throughout the country. The nationwide effort, initiated in Montana, is to grow awareness of the no-cost technical assistance available to entrepreneurs starting, growing or expanding. See photos of the Montana event or search #SBDCDay on most social media platforms. To connect with GFDA's Small Business Development Center, email Jason Nitschke 
12) Blackfeet Community College won a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Montana Dept. of Commerce to expand its nursing and public health programs. The grant will help fund construction of a $5.89 million 9,200 square foot health sciences facility.
Untame Your Entrepreneurial Spirit in Great Falls, Montana!


Brett Doney
President and CEO
Connect with me on LinkedIn to network with the Great Falls region.

"Leadership is action, not position."
Donald H. McGannon

Congratulations to the Great Falls Americans on a great season!

Cost-Effective 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. Contact Brett Doney at 1-406-750-2119 or

Maximizing Business Value
The Montana Manufacturing Extension Partnership and MSU have partnered to offer a webinar and workshop series to help business owners maximize their value and successfully sell their companies. The series starts on April 7. See
Economic Growth, Diversification and High Wage Jobs
Montana's first Accredited Economic Development Organization.
We provide SBA 504 Real Advantage loans statewide.
GFDA and High Plains Financial are Equal Opportunity Lenders.
Untame Your Entrepreneurial Spirit!
For more info, click to our website.


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