Business Buzz: Ladies Night in downtown Missoula; new business loan program – The Missoulian


Business Buzz: Ladies Night in downtown Missoula; new business loan program – The Missoulian

Business Buzz: Ladies Night in downtown Missoula; new business loan program

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Business Buzz: Ladies Night in downtown Missoula; new business loan program

Here’s some business news in the Missoula area:

After a year hiatus, a springtime favorite returns to Downtown Missoula on Wednesday, April 21. The Downtown Missoula Partnership has announced they’re bringing back Downtown Ladies Night. It’s a bi-annual event that “brings together friends, cousins, aunts, sisters, mothers and daughters into the Heart of Missoula for an evening of shopping and dining,” according to Bram Moore of the Downtown Missoula Partnership.

Businesses will be offering a wide array of special deals for shoppers and diners, such as 20% off store-wide at One Eleven, Hometana, JL+KO, Imagination Station and Olive & Iron. There’ll be $5 Rose and Rose bubbles at Cranky Sam Public House, buy-one-get-one-free at The Dram Shop and a special treat thanks to Create Art Bar at Sobba Cycle. Many businesses will also have later hours and gifts with purchases. Nearly 30 businesses will be participating.

“Typically, our Downtown Ladies Nights are some of the busiest evenings you’ll see in the spring and fall,” said One Eleven owner Paige Livingston. “It’s been a challenging year for retailers and restaurants and we are excited to get closer to “business as usual.”

She said this Ladies Night is a sign that businesses are ready to welcome the community back via larger, in-person downtown promotions.

“I think my customers have more fun during Ladies Night than any other time they are in downtown Missoula,” Livingston said.

For more information on Downtown Ladies Night, and to view a list of participating businesses and their promotions, visit or contact the Downtown Missoula Partnership staff via phone at 406-543-4238 or email

A Missoula-headquartered nonprofit organization has a new capital loan program with attractive rates to help businesses that may have run through their reserves during the pandemic.

MoFi has announced that it is partnering with Wells Fargo for the new Thrive loan program.

MoFi piloted the Thrive loan program in November and with the help of a recent $2.1 million grant from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, the community development lender has made it even more accessible to small businesses. The Thrive program is expected to help up to 250 businesses across the region, with an estimated average loan size of $40,000. In addition, because Thrive loans support a variety of different uses, the program can help bridge any remaining capital needs for businesses that have already used all available government programs.

“We’ve designed the Thrive program to get flexible capital into the hands of businesses that urgently need it, and at the friendliest rates and terms we could offer,” said MoFi President Dave Glaser. “Through the Open for Business Fund, Wells Fargo acknowledges that affordable, accessible capital can have a transformative impact for disadvantaged business owners and those who have been hit hard by the pandemic.”

He said qualifying businesses must be located in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

“This grant allows us to offer loans with two years of interest-only payments, with a reduced introductory interest rate of 3%,” Glaser continued. “It’s our hope that businesses that were profitable prior to COVID can use Thrive loans to adjust operations and make it through to the other side of this crisis.”

Glaser said the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on low-income business owners and business owners of color. One third of Thrive loan funds are reserved for minority-owned businesses.

Created last year, Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund is providing grants to community lenders and nonprofits to help businesses respond to the challenges of COVID-19. Organizations use the funds to provide capital, technical assistance and long-term resiliency support.

“Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund is another avenue of support and enlists the expertise of our CDFI partners at MoFi to urgently help the region’s entrepreneurs recover and preserve the jobs they provide in their communities,” said Michelle Banaugh, Wells Fargo Commercial Banking market leader. “The funding will funnel much-needed access to capital, equity in resources and technical assistance for local businesses that are the backbone of our local economies and neighborhoods.”

MoFi expects the Thrive loan to complement the relief businesses owners may access through the federal stimulus package, which includes the Paycheck Protection Program. Glaser said Thrive loans can be used for a wider variety of purposes that the PPP may not cover, allowing businesses to pivot their operations and even grow. “We’ve taken all we have learned about the unique challenges for business owners in this region, overlayed that knowledge with the current federal and state programs, and tried to build a loan product that bridges the gaps,” Glaser said.

Thrive loans include:

  • Two years of low, interest-only payments to help businesses stabilize before making regular payments.
  • $2,500 in grant funding to cover loan closing fees and expenses for businesses.
  • Free COVID-19 response consulting services.
  • A fast, simple online application process.

To access MoFi’s Thrive loans, businesses must have been profitable in 2019 and must be located in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington or Oregon. Visit for more information.