Links Calendar News    

GFDA Top 15 for 4/3/17


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

1) 170+ attended our 7th Annual Fire Within, a celebration of women entrepreneurs! Thanks to Embark CU for their sponsorship that makes this great event happen! Get the next Fire Within on your calendar now, 3/29/18.

2) Progress is being made in the Montana Legislature to address years of deferred infrastructure needs across the state. THANK YOU to our state legislators who are supporting these efforts to fix roads, bridges, and water/sewer systems! GFDA is a member of the Montana Infrastructure Coalition spearheading this critical work.

3) Networked with retail and commercial real estate leaders at the International Council of Shopping Centers annual Leadership Summit in Chicago. Met with GK Development to discuss future mall plans.

4) Back when GFDA was created to step up Great Falls economic development efforts, the average annual wage in the Great Falls MSA was 67% of the national average. By the end of 2006, we had brought it to 69%, then to 71% by the end of 2008. It climbed to 72% by the end of 2013, and reached 75% at the end of 2016, all the while holding our cost of living steady at 99% of the national average. Supporting the creation of higher wage jobs is a key part of our mission, so this measure is something we monitor every quarter. We are making steady progress to close this gap. Higher wage jobs tend to also offer better benefits and opportunity for advancement.

5) Great Falls International Airport GTF announced that seat capacity will increase by 5,300 this summer. Alaska Airlines will add a second daily flight to Seattle. United will increase its weekly Chicago seasonal service from 2 to 3 times a week. Delta is bringing in a mainline Airbus 320. See more details in Tribune.

6) Check your calendar for availability on May 8, 9, and 10th. We are taking a road trip! Join us as we go to Boise to meet with community groups and leaders in an aspirational adventure. We're going to be exploring first-hand successes in downtown revitalization, a new event center, innovative housing, workforce attraction, and cluster industry growth. There will be a small cost to help cover expenses that will be based on how many people come on the trip. If you are interested, please pre-register here to receive additional details.

7) Worked with a local business to create a capability statement and do research on potential opportunities with Febbiz and other bid platforms to sell their product to federal agencies. Met with a client looking to bid on contracts and talked about benefits of starting out with subcontracting to get experience in federal contracting. Smaller risk and chance to get "feet wet". 

8) Met with Brian Elliot at Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS). They are staffed up to 130 and still hiring! They also have increased their base pay. Kudos to the BCBS leadership team for maximizing their workforce through creative scheduling, benefits, and wages.

9) The Downtown Development Partnership submitted a tax increment financing application to the City for funds to pay part of developing a community-wide way finding plan to boost tourism.

10) Engaged industrial leaders in our second Transload Taskforce meeting. The focus this month was on the types vessels needed for in market demand - box car, hoppers, center beam rail versus containers (which are very difficult to sustain volume to make worth while for in-land facilities). If you have interest, join us for our next meeting 5/1 at 4 PM at GFDA. Call Jolene Schalper to learn more, 406.750.4481.

11) We received three excellent proposals from economic consulting firms to conduct a household labor survey. The survey will fill gaps in available labor data, particularly in regard to underutilized workforce skills and the reasons why our labor participation rate is below the state and national averages. Similar surveys we commissioned in 2003 and 2009 helped us to land companies such as Centene and BCBS. The survey is being funded by the City as part of our combined efforts to create jobs for low and moderate income residents. Officially, there were 1,504 unemployed residents in the Great Falls MSA in February. If we could increase our labor participation rate back to the national average, that would add another 1,360 residents to our workforce. The Great Falls MSA labor participation rate is estimated to be 59.7%, compared to the national average of 63.3% and Montana's average of 63.6%.

12) Our next Forward Great Falls Investor Development Coffee will be hosted by AE2S this Friday April 7 at 7 AM (300 15th St S #7). 

13) Jill and Julie attended the Portfol Conference 2017 in Denver. Portfol is our new loan software program that will streamline many aspects of our lending activities, helping us become more efficient to better serve our clients.

14) GFDA's office space lease runs out on September 30. We're exploring options to either stay in place or relocate to another property. We need roughly 2,800-3,500 square feet depending on how efficiently the layout is. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.
15) The Governor's Office of Economic Development encourages Montana businesses to apply for the Inc. 5000 list by May 1, 2017. Placement on the Inc. 5000 list increases business' credibility with lenders, investors, and customers alike. To qualify, your business must be privately-owned, based in the United States, independent (not a subsidiary or division of another company), have started earning revenue by March 31st, 2013, had revenue no less than $100,000 in 2013, had revenue no less than $2,000,000 in 2016, and had revenue in 2016 that exceeds revenue in 2013. Click here to apply.
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.

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement."
Helen Keller

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

Upcoming Business Events/Training

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
Montana Ag Summit will be held in Great Falls at the ExpoPark on May 31-June 1. See more info at This promises to be a great event to promote food/agricultural production and processing!
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.


Signup to get news emailed to you



Home | Site Map | Policies | Employment | Contact Us Phone 406-771-9020
Fax 406-454-2995
Physical Address
300 Central Ave. Suite 406
Great Falls, MT 59401
Mailing Address
PO Box 949
Great Falls, MT 59403