Great Northern Development Corporation and the Small Business Development Center present the 3rd Minnow Tank Business Plan Competition: Uniting Northeastern Montana for Economic Growth

Great Northern Development Corporation (GNDC) and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) are excited to announce the commencement of the 3rd Minnow Tank Business Plan Competition. This transformative initiative is set to unfold across the seven-county region of Northeastern Montana, including Valley, Garfield, McCone, Richland, Roosevelt, Sheridan, and Daniels.

 Fostering Economic Development:

The Minnow Tank Competition aims to unite communities with a common goal of economic development by attracting new entrepreneurs and supporting existing businesses. Through the generous sponsorships of local businesses and chambers of commerce, GNDC will award two prize packages of $5,000 each—one to a startup and one to an existing business.


Showcasing Entrepreneurial Potential:

This competition provides a unique platform for startups and expanding businesses to showcase their potential, with the opportunity to win one of two $5,000 cash awards. The vision is to strengthen and support the existing businesses that form the backbone of local communities.

Educational Initiatives:
To empower entrepreneurs, SBDC Director Quincy Walter has organized free business plan development classes in each of the seven counties. These classes cover crucial topics such as Business Plan Basics, Marketing, and Small Business Financials. Entrepreneurs planning to compete in the Minnow Tank Business Plan competition are strongly encouraged to attend one of the classes below.


Key Dates and Events:

Business Plan Submission Deadline: March 13th, 5:00 PM

Minnow Tank Finale: May 3rd 5:30 P.M. – Great Northern Development Corporation Conference Room, Wolf Point MT

 Minnow Tank Finale:
The culminating event will be held on May 3rd, where fourteen finalists will present their business plans live to a panel of judges, and the audience, who will also be able to vote as well. Support your favorite entrepreneur by attending the Minnow Tank Finale; tickets will be available by calling GNDC or RSVP here.

About Great Northern Development Corporation (GNDC):

GNDC is the economic development leader in Northeastern Montana, committed to fostering entrepreneurship and supporting businesses in Northeastern Montana.


Guidelines and Application Procedures to Enter Minnow Tank Promotion: This is a two-phase contest.

Phase 1—Business Plan Submission (March 13th 2024)
In the first phase, all applicants are asked to provide a business plan using LivePlan (for access to LivePlan contact Quincy Walter at or (406-653-2590 ext. 203)).

You business plan must be no longer than 20 pages consisting of;

  1. Executive Summary
    2. Company Summary
    3. Products/Services Summary
    4. Market Analysis Summary
    5. Strategies & Implementation Summary
    6. Management Summary
    7. Financial Plan (including 3 years of projections as well as cash flow)
    8. A community impact summary stating:
    a. How your business will enhance Northeastern Montana
    b. Why your business stands out

Phase II– Minnow Tank Live Pitch,
Finalists will be notified by Wednesday, March 27th, 2024, by 5:00 PM. Finalists will be asked to present their concept and plan in front of a panel of judges in a live presentation format with a question and answer period lasting at most 10 minutes. Visual aids such as products and digital presentations will be allowed. Finalists MUST make arrangements before the competition to use these items. The Live event will occur on May 3rd, starting at 5:00 PM. Winners will be announced that evening following the live pitch. In the event of a tie, winners will split the prize. 



  1. This promotion is open to all legal U.S. residents 18 or older at the time of entry.
    2. Proposed businesses can be independent operations or franchised.
    3. The applicant must be an existing business or is going to start a business in Garfield, Valley, McCone, Richland, Roosevelt, Sheridan, or Daniels Counties.

How to Enter:
1. All business concept submissions must be emailed, delivered, or postmarked to the Great Northern Development Corporation by 5:00 p.m. on March 13th, 2023. Send to or 233 Cascade Street, Wolf Point MT 5920

Coffee and Conversations Video

There will be about 10 minutes of instructions with up to 20 minutes of Q&A. If you are considering applying for one of the $5,000 cash awards but unsure what you should apply for, this is a great opportunity to ask your questions and to get setup with Liveplan. Watch the video below. 

Minnow Tank Business Plan Phase 1 Rubric

Wondering how our judges will score you for the business plan? No worries view the scoring rubric below.

The Blueprint for Business Prosperity: Business Plan Writing 


Unlock the blueprint to your business success with our exclusive free Business Plan Class, expertly curated and led by the Regional SBDC Director, Quincy Walter.

What to Expect:
This class covers the foundational executive summary and the details of financial planning. 

 We will go over creating: 

  • Crafting a Compelling Summary
  • Strategizing effective Products/Services
  • Analyzing market trends with a detailed Market Analysis
  • Implementing Successful Business Strategies
  • Formulating a robust Management Summary

 Why Attend?
Whether you’re navigating the startup waters or charting the course for expansion, this class is your compass. Gain the skills and insights needed to shape your business journey. This isn’t just a class; it’s an investment in your success. If you are considering entering the Minnow Tank Competition we will go over key things that will help to set you apart of the other business plans. 

 Ready to Elevate Your Business?
Empower yourself for the entrepreneurial journey ahead. Join us for this enriching class, and let’s build the foundation for your business triumph together! ??