Big Sky Cheese gets $2.27 million bridge loan through GFDA


The Great Falls Development Authority has approved a $2.27 million bridge loan package to the Madison Food Park for their Bid Sky Cheese project.

Madison Food Park has submitted an application for a special use permit in April and no hearing before the Zoning Board of Adjustment has yet been scheduled, according to the county planning office.

Cheese processing plant proposed as first part of Madison Food Park; application submitted to Cascade County planning

The bridge loan to Big Sky Cheese is for pre-development work, potentially some infrastructure, according to Brett Doney, head of the Great Falls Development Authority.

“The new cheese manufacturer which will produce a variety of cheese products made from milk sourced from local and regional dairy producers. We want to see more value-added ag producers in our region,” Doney wrote in GFDA’s Top 10 email newsletter.

This is the ninth bridge loan package approved by GFDA, Doney told The Electric.

Each package is different, he said.

Previous bridge loans included two for two phases of the Talus Apartment; the Staybridge in West Bank; Arvon Block; the Maclean Animal Adoption Center; Montana Specialty Mills and Pacific Steel and Recycling in AgriTech Park; and the Springhill Suites in West Bank Landing, according to Doney.

The bridge loans are typically larger packages over shorter periods of time, Doney said.

In the case of Big Sky Cheese, it’s a one-year bridge loan to help the project get going while the company gets its financing together, he said.

GFDA already has a real estate project identified in the city to next use the bridge loan funds toward, Doney said, but wouldn’t disclose the project.

Doney said the fund has about $12 million in loan capital now and the goal is to build it to $15 million in the hopes of generating more projects in the region.

Doney said GFDA has worked to diversify the funding sources in the loan fund and some is federal, some state and some through the city’s downtown loan fund but those dollars are specifically for downtown projects.

In total, GFDA has closed 17 loans of all types totaling $6.5 million this fiscal year, which ends June 30.