"Toole County Forward" continues to help businesses (video)

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 23:23:50-04

SHELBY — Toole County Forward, a community-based fund, is helping business owners through tough times.

“When we received our check it was a blessing,” said Stilettos Salon Owner and Stylist Melissa Flesch. “Like wonderful for people, little small businesses y’know to kind of get stuff rolling to help.”

Toole County Forward has distributed $61,000 to area businesses like Stilettos Salon in Shelby. Flesch says she received a check for $5,000 after applying for the program.

“That money is keeping us on track,” said Flesch.

“They ‘gotta get caught up on their bills they ‘gotta get their suppliers paid they ‘gotta get the rent paid,” said TCF Founding Member Dwaine Iverson.

The community-based fund has also helped shape legislation on the federal level - U.S. Senator Steve Daines introduced the Relief For Main Street Act on the Senate in May.

“This bipartisan legislation is about taking the decision making powers out of the hands of Washington D.C. and putting it in the hands of our local communities who know their own needs best,” Daines saidafter introducing the bill. “We need more targeted action that strengthens local response and empowers our local economic development leaders to provide relief for our most vulnerable small and rural businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Iverson says they’ve been in direct contact with Daines’ office to help shape the legislation that will prioritize funding for local economies. “We need the small business to support the large business,” he said. “And if we don't have the small business we don t have an economy.”

Part of the legislation would bring $50 billion to business owners around the country. “Would bring $130 million to Montana,” said Iverson.

Flesch says groups like Toole County Forward are showing the strength and resiliency of Montanans as they help to solve a national problem.

“Even going through something as horrible as this covid-19, I feel that our community is even stronger and bonded together,” she said.

As business owners wait to see more help from federal officials, yhose wanting to apply for local funds through Toole County Forward should keep some things in mind:

  1. You must be a business owner in Toole County.
  2. You need to have a business plan or how you will use the funds.
  3. You need to plan to be open for one year after receiving the funds.

For more information or to apply, contact Lorette Carter at or 406-434-5222.