Specialized Loans and Grants for Montana Businesses

As you start your business, it is vital to know the public funds that exist to benefit you financially.

Montana Board of Investments (MBOI)

Note: Most banks will not be well-versed in MBOI because they make less money in interest working with MBOI. Please contact Doug Hill or the current Loan Program Officer to see if you are elligible: 406-444-1217.

Business/Direct Loan Participation Program

  • Long term, fixed-rate interest up to 80% of the loan up to 25 years.
  • If you create at least one job, the interest rate will adjust to a lower interest rate (maximum reduction of 2.5% interest rate reduction if you create 50 jobs). Every time you create a job, there is a reduction in interest.
  • 25% equity down payment in order to do this.
  • Part time employees who make a minimum of $20k can qualify for a reduction.
  • Bank loans using the program.

Infrastructure Loan Program:

  • For Basic Sector businesses (meaning):
    • 50% or more of revenue comes from out of state
    • 1st one of its kind in the state of Montana
  • Board of Investments is the sole lender
  • Four years to create jobs.
  • The formula for the loan= jobs created x $16,666
  • Minimum loan $250k, minimum jobs, 15
  • Maximum loan 
  • Up to 100% of the loan payment can be written off as liability (depending on structure of income taxes).
  • Government entity is who is loaned, but the tenant (business) is who makes payments

Value Added Business Loan Program:

  • Maximum 15 years
  • Interest rate:
    • 2% interest rate first five years
    • 6% interest rate second five years
    • Posted loan interest rate, third five years
  • Jobs created/retained must add value for physical products/materials
  • Sometimes, intellectual property can qualify
  • 75% participation and 25% equity down payment
  • Minimum loan size is $250,000 and Maximum is $8 million.

Montana & Idaho CDC

A Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) focused on business loans to low income people in low income places (who normally cannot obtain a bank loan).

  • $130,000 average loan
  • Non depository institution
  • Interest rates are 2-3% higher than banks (because the loans are higher risk)

Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF):

Job Creation Project Reimbursement Grant:

  • Business Eligibility:
    • Basic Sector Business or Essential Service
    • Business is ready to start or expand within next 3-6 months, is prepared to hire with a plan and is financially ready.
  • Use of Funds Includes:
    • Wages for new jobs
    • Purchase of equipment
    • Purchase of land, building, or lease rate reduction
    • Employee training
  • Awards (based on the number of jobs created):
    • $7500 for high poverty counties
    • $5000 for low poverty counties
  • Match requirement (cash match):
    • $1 for $2 in high poverty counties
    • $1 for $1 in low poverty counties
  • Startups (exra requirements):
    • Require 24-month projections (including the BSTF award)
    • CashFlow, Balance Sheets, PnL
    • Business Plan
  • Apply through Bitterroot Economic Development District (BREDD): 406.258.3435

Missoula Job Service

On the Job Training (OJT)

  • Offers local employers reimbursement for training plans prior to hire.
  • Wages must be defined living wage $12+/hour ($15-17 more likely)
  • Must increase the skill level of the trainee, prepare trainee for advancement opportunities, and require higher than entry level skills (specialty)
  • 90% of wages paid during the training for up to six months
  • Meet income criteria or qualify as a displaced worker

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)

  • Program reduces the federal tax liability
  • Credit! Not deduction.
  • Must fill out the form 28 days of hire
  • Workers include: TANF recipients, Veterans, Ex-Felons, Vocational Rehabilitation clients, SNAP recipients, SSI recipients, Long-term unemployed.

Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF):

Planning Projects

  • Award max is $27,000
  • Typical cash match is 1:1
  • Supports business improvement districts
  • Industrial development, feasibility studies, creation and maintenance
  • Preproduction costs for film or media
  • Nonprofits for planning efforts are welcome to apply
  • Contact BSTF directly to apply

Missoula City/County

Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIF)/Targeted Economic Development Districts (TEDD)

  • Awards/grants vary
  • Supports blighted areas.
  • Costs covered:
    • Acquiring land
    • Demolition and removal of structures
    • Relocation of occupants
    • Public infrastructure (everything but the building) including sidewalks, curbs, pedestrian malls, sewers, etc.).
    • Some administrative costs in Urban Renewal areas
    • More... call 406-258-4763

Missoula Redevelopment Agency (Urban Renewal Districts or URDs)

  • Awards/grants vary
  • Funds can be used for:
    • Demolition/site preparation
    • Environmental cleanup
    • Constructuion of streets, alleys, curbs, gutters, sidewalks
    • Construction of parks, bicycle/pedestirian ways
    • Construction of parking facilities and public buildings
    • Utility upgrades and extensions

Missoula Job Service- Incumbent Worker Training (IWT)

  • Montana business
  • Has no more than 20 workers in one location and no more than 50 workers statewide
  • Business provides 20% of the cost in-state or out-of-state for the training, IWT provides 80%.
  • If training is out-of-state, business must pay 50% of the travel and completed a Business Expansion and Retention (BEAR) visit within the last 12 months.
  • Business has a demonstrated need for the training and economic benefit (increased productivity, efficiency of wages, reduced turnover, etc.)
  • Employee must be year-round, past probationary period or 6-months on the job
  • Up to $2,000 for 1.0FTE and $1,000 per .5FTE (can issue 1/year)
  • Really great for several employees who need one big training

Montana International Marketing Assistance Program (MIMAP)

  • For international export/selling
  • Must be made and manufactured in Montana
  • Must determine that the value of the product or service is based in Montana
  • Don't have to be exporting yet, just must demonstrate through export plan in application
  • Programs (grants):
    • Must be International Trade Shows
      • Award: $8,000 maximum
        50% matching reimbursement- you spend $8k, they spend $8k
      • Booth Production for the Trade Show
      • Can apply 2x/year
    • Foreign Language Translation Services for Marketing Materials
      • Award: $3,000 maximum
        50% matching reimbursement- you spend $3k, they spend $3k
      • Physical marketing materials or interpreter
      • Can apply 2x/year
    • US Commercial Service Activities (International Market Research)
      • US Export Center- Carey.hester@trade.gov
      • Gives funds for fees associated with US Commercial Service programs (including Key Service)
      • $1,200 maximum
        75% reimbursement- you spend $900, they spend $1,200
    • Travel Stipend
      • Outside North America- $1200
      • Mexico- $800
      • US- $500

Made in Montana

  • For Products, Retailers/Stores, Restaurants
  • Free to sign up
  • Programs:
    • Made in Montana Trade Show Exibition
    • Trade Show Assistance Program Grant
      • $3,000 maximum
        50% reimbursment- you spend $3k, they spend $3k
      • Selling within the US
      • Qualified expenses:
        • Booth space rental/Gold Key fee
        • Booth equipment, furniture, carpeting rental
        • Booth utility costs
        • Promotional materials
        • Shipping, storage, drayage (cost of moving freight) and show labor

Small Business Innovative Research/Small Business Technology Transfer
(SBIR and SBTT)

Contact: Tech Link or Montana Department of Commerce

  • Three phase program that helps solicit funds (grants and contracts) for projects from agencies like DOE, NIH, DOD, etc. that include innovtion, research, and a commercial application. To land a grant, you must not have already created a product- your idea must require research first.
    •  Phase 1- Feasibility Study
      • $100-150k
      • 6 months
    • Phase 2- Proof of Principal/Prototype
      • Up to $1M
      • 24 months
      Phase 3- Commericialization
      • No SBIR/STTR Funding

Small Business Association

Export Express Loan

  • $350,000 loan from an approved bank with 90% guaranty from the SBA
  • $500,000 with 75% guarantee
  • Eligibility/Entering or expanding into a foreign market
  • Use of proceeds:
    • Export Developed
    • Export transactions (orders)
    • Issuance of standby letters of credit
    • Fixed assets
  • Must work through an SBA Approved lender: Bank of Montana

More SBA Exporting: https://www.sba.gov/managing-business/exporting 

Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im)

CALine (Working Capital Line of Credit)

  • Loan guarantee for 85% of lines of credit up to $150,000 and 75% of higher amounts up to $5,000,000
  • May use the lines to provide credit terms to customers and finance inventory

EWCP (Export Working Capital)

  • 90% Guarantee on loans/lines of credit up to $5M
  • Small businesses that need grater sales
  • Single or multiple transactions

Express Credit Insurance

  • Ex-Im bank does this under the express credit Insurance policy for up to 20 buyers
  • Geared for small business exporters