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What should companies look for when evaluating communities? That was the focus of Jolene's remarks at the SelectUSA Alberta Summit hosted by the US Commercial Services in Calgary. Joining Jolene for the panel were Frederick Van Den Abbeel of the Montana Department of Commerce and Lynette Tremblay, founder of the site selection consulting firm Iconoclast Solutions. About 60 companies attended who are looking at entering the US. We have follow up activities with several of the companies specifically interested in our region.

1) While in Calgary, Jolene met with leaders of BHE Montana as part of our ongoing business retention and expansion efforts. They are hiring in the Great Falls Montana Region! If you are interested in learning more about their open positions, email Heather at

2) The Great Falls City Commission voted unanimously to approve a change in zoning to enable a new 92-unit riverfront housing development. Housing production remains our number one priority to maintaining affordability in our market. Many businesses reached out to the Commission to voice their need for new housing in Great Falls to accommodate their business growth and talent attraction needs.  

3) Our High Plains Financial affiliate closed two SBA 504 loans in the amount total amount of $599,000 for a Great Falls business that decided to purchase and renovate a building in Downtown Great Falls for their practice. Mountain View Physical Therapy is a locally owned private practice physical therapy clinic that specialize in hands on care. Thanks to the great work of their banker, Matt McKamey, of Opportunity Bank of Montana, Mountain View Physical Therapy will now get to enjoy 25 years of a low, fixed interest rate and only had to come in with a 10% down payment. If your business is ready to stop leasing and secure a permanent location for your business, please contact Jill Kohles at 1-406-590-1056 or

4) In partnership with the Home Builders Association of Great FallsNeighborWorks Great Falls, and the Great Falls Association of Realtors we commissioned an updated housing market demand assessment by the Concord Group. We will be releasing the study, hearing about recent housing developments, and hearing from companies driving the demand on April 17 at Great Falls College. Register for the 2024 Great Falls Housing Summit!  

5) KRTV ran a great story about the major grant Big Sandy Organics won to support their expansion! Helping Hands celebrated moving into their new facility in Great Falls donated by the First Lutheran Church; see KRTV. Community partners cut the ribbon on the new Safety Town at the Skyline Early Learning Family Center in Great Falls; see KRTV. The program is the result of a partnership between Great Falls Public Schools-Community Enrichment, the National Safety Town Center, and Great Falls Public Schools Foundation.

6) This week, seven businesses initiated the process of preparing to register as vendors with Northrup Grumman for the upcoming Sentinel Project project. It can take up to two years to be approved so don’t get left out. Contact Lillian Sunwall today at or 1-406-750-1253.

7) Congratulations to Morrison-Maierle on their new downtown Great Falls office located at 21 3rd St North! With operations officially underway in their new 6400 sq.ft. space, the move signifies their impressive growth from 5 to 15 employees over the past four years. The new space was designed by LPW Architecture to accommodate their expansion, and the shift was necessary due to outgrowing their previous 2200 sq.ft. location. They chose downtown Great Falls due to its current growth and vibrancy. Still, they're not done expanding yet, as they actively seek to add 5 more team members. If you've been considering expanding your business to downtown Great Falls, call Christian at 1-406-836-0136 and let's discuss tools and resources that are available for your growth. 

8) Gave a presentation to the board and leadership of a company that is expanding into Great Falls and has put a downtown property under agreement to purchase and renovate. Stay tuned for more exciting news!

9) Shannon and Lillian participated in the District 3 Pre-Bid Networking Conference hosted by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), aimed towards educating businesses about the MDT contracting process. Whether you’re a new or experienced contractor, we can help you navigate the complexities of contracting with MDT or obtain the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) or Small Business Enterprise (SBE) State Certification that can set you apart from the competition. To learn more about these opportunities and how your business fits into government contracting on the local, state, and federal levels, contact Shannon Clancy at

10) Often times there is a portion of a project that the bank cannot finance, and the borrower cannot fund. This is where SBA 504 financing may be available to help by providing fixed, low interest rate financing for up to 25 years. The High Plains Financial Board approved two SBA 504 loans this week. The first loan was in the amount of $519,750 for the construction of a new business. The second approval was for $480,000 to help a company expand their current business. Does your project have a financing gap? Please reach out to Jill Kohles at 1-406-590-1056 or to discuss your options.

11) Join employers across diverse industries at a hiring fair and career exploration on April 24 from 11 AM to 6 PM at the Mansfield Convention Center. Employer booths available fur $25 Great Falls Area Chamber Members and $50 Non-Chamber Members. Admission is free for attendees. Sign up for the event here

12) Anna and Nicki were in Livingston at the Food and Ag Development Center Montana Network annual meeting. The Network exists to help Montanans innovate and grow businesses that produce and commercialize food, agricultural and renewable energy products, and processes. The FADCs support local businesses to create wealth and jobs for our communities, farms, and ranches while expanding Montana’s value-added agriculture industry. The Food Finance Institute hosted the second part of the meeting where Anna and Nicki gained valuable technical skills specific to food focused businesses. If you are looking to start or grow your own food and ag business and would like to know more about resources to support you, reach out to Anna at or 1-406-590-1301. 

13) The State Small Business Credit Initiative 2.0 (SSBCI 2.0) low interest rate program opened their application portal on March 22nd. The application portal is only open until April 12th. These funds can be used for business purposes including purchasing real estate, equipment or working capital. If you have a project that could move forward with the benefit of low interest rate funding, contact Jill Kohles at or 1-406-590-1056.

14) Jake and Nicki attended the 44th Home and Garden Show to meet with builders in our market. The 2021 Housing Demand Assessment noted the need for more subcontractors and companies that support large housing development projects. Is it time to expand your construction business? Reach out to Jake Clark at 1-406-403-4937 or  

15) Are you able to Identify and Satisfy the Needs of Underserved Customers?Underserved markets are those segments of the population (business or individual consumers) that have not been served enough by existing businesses. These markets can be identified by looking at areas where there is a lack of competition, or where existing businesses do not offer the products or services that customers need. By understanding and targeting these underserved markets, businesses can expand their reach and grow their customer base. 

Market Research & Trends Analysis

Market research and trends analysis are powerful tools for businesses to identify underserved customer needs. By analyzing current market trends and customer feedback, businesses can gain insight into what their customers are looking for in terms of products or services. This allows a business to then create or offer products or services that address the needs of their target audience, helping them not only remain competitive but even surpass their rivals in the market.

Trends analysis can also be used to identify opportunities for product or service innovation. By understanding the needs of customers and spotting emerging trends, businesses can create innovative solutions that meet those needs allowing them to gain a larger market share.

By combining market research with trends analysis, businesses can effectively identify underserved customer needs and develop strategies to address those needs while at the same time increasing revenues and building strong relationships with their customers.

Segment Underserved Markets & Reach Them Efficiently

Identifying and segmenting underserved markets is a crucial part of any successful marketing strategy. By understanding the needs of these target audiences, businesses can create customized campaigns that effectively reach them.

Businesses should conduct detailed research to not only identify their target audience but also to understand their needs and preferences. With the right type of research and analysis, business can create campaigns that are customized to its target audience’s interests and needs.

Marketing Strategies 

Businesses seeking to reach underserved customer groups need to have well-thought-out marketing strategies that are designed to reach these customers creating content that is tailored specifically for the underserved target audience. Businesses should focus on building relationships with organizations who can help spread the word about their products or services. 

Identify and Satisfy

A comprehensive outreach campaign is key for businesses looking to maximize their ROI. By leveraging these campaigns, businesses can tap into the potential of previously underserved customer groups and unlock new sources of revenue. Implementing an effective outreach strategy can help a business stay competitive and increase its profitability.

Want more information on customer segments, marketing channels or conducting market research? Please reach out to Al Gohary at or 1-406-750-0314.

16) A second round of Ag Infrastructure funding opened on April 1st. If you are an ag or food manufacturing business looking to purchase equipment, to upgrade your facility, or hire consulting services and have a clear project in mind, please reach out to Anna Flies. She can go over the funding guidelines and discuss eligibility. Reach her at 1-406-590-1301 or  

17) We're excited to share that we've been awarded two additional grants from the FHLB Des Moines Member Impact Fund! A huge thank you goes to First Interstate Bank for their matching contribution, securing us an additional $20,000, and to Wells Fargo for their matching grant, providing us with an additional $120,000! Both bank partners went above and beyond what we initially anticipated. These funds will support our work to boost economic development services, focusing on fostering entrepreneurship & addressing vital needs like housing & childcare. While there's one more announcement pending, these four awards bring our total from this program to $230,000. Thank you to our incredible bank partners for recognizing the significance of our work and standing by us as we strive to fuel growth in the region.

18) We Are Growing Our Awesome Staff Team. Download a description of openings for Loan Officer and Communications & Marketing Specialist.

19) I traveled to DC to network with federal leaders, bankers, and other community development lenders at the Council of Development Finance Agencies annual policy conference.

20) Communities that understand the value of economic development invest in the foundation of their own success, laying the groundwork for thriving businesses, vibrant neighborhoods, and a flourishing economy. Our team of investors and public partners is integral to driving our initiatives forward. Learn more about them by viewing this short video. Recent investments include: Pioneer Division—Wells Fargo; Pacesetter Division—M&D Construction. They understand the importance of our mission-driven work and recognize that collaboration is essential for fostering economic growth and expanding the tax base. If you would like to learn about our economic development strategy and find out how you can join the team that is driving progress in our region, reach out to Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 1-406-781-9499 or

Headed back to DC today to represent the Great Falls region and the Montana Defense Alliance at the Defense Communities National Summit.

Have a prosperous, audacious week!



Brett Doney

President & CEO



Connect with me on  LinkedIn to network with the Great Falls Montana region.

Forward the GFDA Top 10 to friends and colleagues. You can join our distribution list HERE or text GFDA to 22828.

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"The first quality that is needed is audacity."

Winston Churchill

Edition 627


Cost-Effective Rail-Served 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 Jolene Schalper at 1-406-750-4481 or


March 2024 SBA 504 Loan Interest Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) is 6.281%; 20-year at 6.36%; 10-year equipment loan at 6.587%; and, 20-year refinance 6.39%; 25-year refinance 6.31%. These rates are FIXED for the life of the loan and are inclusive of all fees. If you would like to find out how to get financing for commercial real estate and equipment at potentially lower rates than you're paying for your home mortgage, please contact Jill Kohles at 1-406-590-1056 or

Events, Business Trainings & Opportunities

GFDA participates in the Montana State Small Business Initiative (SSBCI 2.0) program that helped provide a lower interest rate on 50% of the funding. We've been partnering with local banks and credit unions to put together some creative financing packages for business startups and expansions, but this low-interest money is vrey limited and first come, first serve so contact us today if you have a business startup or expansion planned that could benefit from a SSBCI 2.0 loan participation. Contact Jill at or 1-406-590-1056 or Brett at or 1-406-750-2119.

The Montana Department of Commerce has extended the deadline for businesses to apply for a cybersecurity grant up to $8,000. Apply by April 30th. More info here.

We need your help! We are looking for accredited investors to join us at Great Falls Development Alliance’s inaugural Angel Investor Networking Event. The purpose of this event is to connect those who are looking for strategic investment opportunities within the Great Falls region with real estate developers, start-up entrepreneurs, and expanding businesses who are seeking equity. If you are an accredited investor looking to put your money to use in the Great Falls region, contact Tyler Menzales at or call 1-406-217-7862

Manufacturers, if you don't get the monthly newsletter from the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center you are missing out on great training and other resources. Check out MMEC's February Newsletter.

The Montana Department of Agriculture is partnering with the USDA and the Agricultural Marketing Services to help strengthen the resiliency of Montana food systems. Is your food company focused on middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, or distribution of targeted agricultural products? If so, there is a new funding opportunity for your projects. Discuss this new opportunity and check your eligibility with Anna by reaching out at or 1-406-590-1301.

Are you planning any international marketing activities in 2024? The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) run by the Export Montana team at the Montana Department of Commerce has a host of export support services and federal grants available for businesses up to $12,000. They're awesome to work with! Our Small Business Advisor, Rich Gannon, can help too and he is also awesome! or 1-406-836-2078.

Have you created or updated your Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) profile? A strong profile can significantly boost your contracting success by increasing your visibility to local, state, and federal agencies seeking goods and services. If you would like more information on how to create or update your DSBS profile, contact Shannon Clancy at or 1-406-590-1184.

The Great Falls Housing Market Assessment shows a need for over 450 new housing units per year in the immediate Great Falls area. For assistance with housing development, contact Jake Clark at or 1-406-403-4937.

USDA has launched a new online tool to assist small businesses in identifying procurement opportunities; see USDA's Procurement Forecast.

Zero to 5 has launched the Montana Child Care Business Connect website to help support the startup and expansion of early childcare businesses. The Great Falls Childcare Demand Assessment shows a need for additional childcare facilities to serve 580 children in Great Falls. For assistance with childcare facility business planning, contact Rich Gannon at or 1-406-836-2078.

One of the many tools we have for renovating your building in Downtown Great Falls is the City's Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Grant. This 50% match grant can help with Façade, Building Code Compliance, and Safety & Security. One of the biggest uses of this grant is Fire Suppression and updating the face of your building. To find out more about this grant, call Christian at 1-406-836-0136 or email Let's discuss how TIF and other tools can help you change the face of Downtown Great Falls. 

Employers, are you looking for timely data on our local workforce? JobsEQ for Workforce is a software tool that provides timely data on our local workforce and employers—including demographics, occupations, wages, certifications, and more. Contact Jake Clark at or 1-406-403-4937 to be connected with a JobsEQ-trained Business Advisor today. To learn more about GFDA's other talent attraction tools, visit our website

We still have a few copies of the 2023 Livability Great Falls talent attraction magazine. Find and share Livability Great Falls online, or contact Tracy Heggem for hard copies: or 1-406-788-1192. 

Recruiters, are you hiring for a job position that is:  

  • High level 
  • High salary 
  • Out-of-the-box/unique/creative? 

Help us attract workforce to move to Great Falls - send a one-sentence description of the job, 3-5 of your company's top employee benefits, salary (if listed), and a link to apply for your job to to be included in the Hot Jobs in Great Falls blog post.  

Cybersecurity challenges for businesses continue to grow. The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC) is offering an array of useful resources to help Montana businesses to protect themselves.

USDA opened a new round of Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants and loans. Rural small businesses and agricultural producers can use the funds to make energy-efficiency improvements, lower operating costs, or install renewable energy systems. Quarterly competitions will be held through March 31st. For for help applying, contact Anna Flies: or 1-406-590-1301

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center has launched the Certified Manufacturing Associate Apprenticeship program. This one-year program combines on-the-job training with online technical classes on safety, math and measurements, manufacturing processes, and quality control.

If you are trying to redevelop a property that involves an environmental cleanup (including lead paint and asbestos) and you have a gap in your financing, your project may qualify for our low-interest brownfield redevelopment loan funds. We can make loans anywhere in Cascade County or within 100 miles from the borders of Cascade County, which covers much of the region. We're eager to help make your project move forward. Contact Christian Nichols at 1-406-788-9385 or We also have some small business or nonprofit startup/expansion loan funds available for Glacier and Blaine counties.

Do you have open government contracts? Is your registration due to renew in the next few months? continues to have issues with the transition of the new validation process. It is recommended that businesses start early to renew their registration to keep from going inactive. If you are having trouble getting through the process, contact Shannon Clancy at 1-406-590-1184 or for assistance. 

The Montana Innovation Partnership is offering a number of trainings and an accelerator program for companies interested in pursuing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.

The best resource we scan daily to stay abreast of business and community innovation is (Montana Associated Technology Roundtables), which we are proud to help sponsor. Sign up for their free newsletter.

Join our Trailing Partner Email Group specifically for local employers to share resumes of trailing spouses/partners across the Great Falls region with other employers looking to hire. “Your (Live in Great Falls) website is very impressive and helpful! Great Falls looks amazing, and we love what we've seen real estate-wise, and business-wise.” This quote was from an email sent to us from a couple considering relocation to Great Falls. We will be sharing their resumes (with their permission) on the Trailing Partner Email Group.

Visit our relocation website This website was the #1 request we got from local recruiters and HR professionals for aiding in attracting talented workers to Great Falls.

Of our online business planning tool, LivePlan, one said: "LivePlan is Awesome!" The LivePlan tool is helping streamline her strategy in preparation for presenting to bank partners. We offer LivePlan licenses for FREE to active clients. Learn more about LivePlan on our website.

Grow diverse economic opportunities that enhance quality of life.

Our Mission

Grow diverse economic opportunities that enhance quality of life.

GFDA is a certified Community Development Financial Institution and a 501(c)3 charitable organization. High Plains Financial is a certified Community Development Corporation that offers SBA 504 loans statewide. GFDA and High Plains Financial are Equal Opportunity Employers, Lenders and Providers.

GFDA is proud to host a Montana Small Business Development Center, a Montana APEX Accelerator, and a Montana Food & Ag Development Center. GFDA is a certified Montana MicroBusiness Development Corporation.

GFDA was the first economic development organization in the Rocky Mountain West to earn accreditation from the International Economic Development Council.

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