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Congratulations to Jeremiah Johnston Brewing Company! This Great Falls based brewery just shipped their first international sale across the Pacific. In about a month, beer aficionados in Taiwan will be enjoying their first taste of Montana made beer. This sale is part of a larger strategy to move beyond locations in 17 states and into the international markets. JJBC will be helping represent Montana this summer at the International Food Festival in Taipei June 26-29th. They also hope to attend the Montana Festival in Taipei, Taiwan this July. Let's raise a glass to this local success!

1) GFDA's Board of Directors voted unanimously (one abstention) to support the continuation of Montana's very successful expanded Medicaid program which is so important to employers and Montana residents. The Board and Council heard a presentation from Calumet and Montana Renewables, and held lengthy discussions about potential updates to GFDA's Economic Development Strategy.

2) We have several different options to help a business owner or developer with their project needs. Just one of these options is the Gap and Bridge financing tools that we offer. This week we received 5 loan approvals from the state SSBCI 2.0 program that will participate in financing 5 different businesses to help them grow and innovate throughout the Golden Triangle region. If your business needs assistance with financing to start, grow or innovate please contact Jill Kohles at 1-406-590-1056 or -- we also finance real estate development!

3) Attention Great Falls employers and recruiters; GFDA is hosting a Talent Attraction & Livability Launch Reception on Wednesday, May 15th from 4:00-5:00 PM at the Arc Apartment Homes clubhouse. Register here. This event aims to introduce and discuss various tools that can support your workforce needs. Pick up your copies of the 2024 Livability magazine, learn about our many talent attraction resources available to employers, and visit with GFDA staff to answer questions. Recruiters, HR directors, and individuals responsible for hiring within organizations; this event can offer valuable insights and strategies to enhance your recruitment efforts. Contact Tracy Heggem at 1-406-788-1192 or for more information. 

4) Congratulations to J & J Fuel and Water, LLC for receiving their Service-Disabled Veteran Small Business (SDVOSB) certification and Amy Rapp for receiving her Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certification. If you would like more information on how Set-Aside and Montana State Certifications can give your business an edge in bidding on contract opportunities, please contact Shannon Clancy at or 1-406-590-1184.

5) We have scheduled our first Angel Investor Networking Event for Wednesday, May 29 from 4:30-6:00 PM. We're looking to connect accredited investors with entrepreneurs and developers who need cash investment. If you are an accredited investor, entrepreneur, or developer seeking cash investment, register here! For more information, including how to prepare for the event, please contact Tyler Menzales at or call 1-406-217-7862.

6) Jill Kohles and Christian Nichols were in Denver meeting with EPA Brownfield leaders at the regional conference. This conference focused on how EPA funding can be used to help redevelopment projects that may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants. Are you looking at purchasing a commercial property, reach out to the team at GFDA to see how you can have an environmental assessment completed to determine if the property has any risk of contamination. After an assessment has been done, the great news is that GFDA has low interest rate funding that could potentially help with any environmental clean-up that may be needed. For any additional information in regards to the EPA Brownfield program please contact Christian Nichols at 1-406-788-9385 or or Jill Kohles at 1-406-590-1056 or

7) Anna attended the Montana Meat Processing Association Convention where she networked with meat processors from across the state and informed them about the resources available not only at GFDA but with the Food and Ag Development Center Network across the state. If you are thinking of starting a meat processing business or have questions about farm to plate businesses, reach out to Anna at or 1-406-590-1301. 

8) Save the date for GFDA’s Annual Meeting: Tuesday, June 18th, 8:00-10:00 AM at the Newberry. Expect engaging presentations from our team, celebrate this year’s Ally Award winners, and network with fellow stakeholders and community leaders. Mark your calendars now.

9) Jake was in White Sulphur Springs coordinating meetings to support housing production in our region and learning about the exciting economic development challenges we can support as the Black Butte Copper project moves forward in Meagher County, Montana, creating over 200 jobs. Huge thanks to the Meagher County Stewardship Council for hosting! 

10) We are preparing to welcome the next class of Touro COM students into our community. Last year, businesses and community members supported the students by donating items for gift bags, hosting small groups for dinners, sponsoring their white coats, and more. To find out how you can support this new class, reach out to Jenn at 1-406-781-9499 or

11) Nicki is off to Birmingham, Alabama for the National Main Street Now conference, learning about best practices for downtown redevelopment and getting to know the other 8 members of the Great Falls, Montana delegation who work to make Downtown Great Falls thrive. 

12) Unlock the Power of Understanding Your Customers: As entrepreneurs, understanding our customers is the key to driving sales and growing our businesses. Often, we don't know enough about our customers' preferences, challenges, and buying processes. This missing information (Gap) makes it difficult to initiate meaningful dialogue and present solutions that makes since to customers.

The good news, there is a powerful way to bridge this gap - customer surveys. Surveys allow us to ask questions, gather insights, and understand customers without the pressure of an immediate sales pitch. By focusing first on learning about your customers, you establish trust and positively shape their perception of your business.

There are several effective survey methods to consider:

  • Telephone interviews for quick 10-minute conversations.
  • In-person interviews for deep-dive discussions and product demos
  • Questionnaires sent by mail or online to reach a broad audience.

No matter which method you choose, three key tools will maximize your survey's impact:

  1. A solid survey protocol with questions spanning customer facts, needs, viewpoints, and purchase processes.
  2. A strong list of respondents across different customer segments
  3. A customer database for storing and accessing survey insights.

Don't let emotional barriers like fear of overstepping or appearing pushy hold you back. Customers welcome dialogue with suppliers who care to understand their unique situations. Conduct customer surveys, follow up after a few weeks, and unlock a world of opportunity by becoming an expert on your customers' needs. When you understand your customers, they'll understand and buy into you.

Want to learn more? Please reach out to Rich Gannon at or 1-406-836-2078. For a no-cost business consulting from GFDA Small Business Development Center, please click here to sign up.

13) We Are Growing Our Awesome Staff Team. Download a description of openings for Director Regional Small Business Development Center, Lending Solutions Specialist and Communications & Marketing Specialist. Contact Tracy for more info at

14) I travelled to Columbia, Missouri for an accreditation visit to REDI, the economic development organization serving Boone County. I learned about their incubator, accelerator, shared commercial kitchen, business attraction, manufacturing council, and other efforts. Talked with their Chamber President about their workforce efforts -- an impressive 5-star accredited Chamber. Met the head of a new Italian meat processing plant, learned about Mizzou's Veterinary College, and peered into Mizzou's nuclear reactor. Attended the always inspirational NeighborWorks Great Falls Annual Meeting. In 2023, NWGF constructed 14 affordable homes, helped 104 first time homebuyers, made 26 loans, had 262 homebuyer education graduates, supported 408 affordable apartments, and much more! Then I travelled to Billings to celebrate the SBA Montana Award winners with state leaders and SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman and toured Big Sky EDA's impressive downtown incubator and shared work space. Capped off the week celebrating Great Falls College's largest ever class of graduates. Congratulations!

15) A strong economy fosters social stability, enhances quality of life, and promotes equal opportunity for all. Support & collaboration from our investors and public partners is crucial to our work of bringing more high wage jobs, skilled workforce, & housing to our region. Learn more about our key stakeholders by viewing this short video. Recent investments include: Advance Division—Central Plumbing, Heathing & Excavation. Their continued support fuels our ability to create lasting change in our region. To learn about our economic development strategy and how you can support our work, reach out to Investment Director Jenn Gallmeier at 1-406-781-9499 or

Another productive 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.

Subscribe to the Grow Great Falls Montana YouTube channel!

"Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service, and that bring friends with them."

W. Edwards Deming

Edition 631


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


April 2024 SBA 504 Loan Interest Rates

The 25-year loan effective rate (including all fees) is 6.690%; 20-year at 6.760%; 10-year equipment loan at 6.587%; and, 20-year refinance 6.790%; 25-year refinance 6.719%. 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

The 2024 Great Falls Housing Market Assessment shows a need for 650 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.

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.

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

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 June 30th. 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.

Our Mission is to 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.

Great Falls Development Alliance |

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