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The Tourism Grant Program announces a special application cycle to award funds of $5,000 up to $25,000 for an event to be held in Montana by an eligible entity prior to June 30, 2021. The purpose of this grant is to attract non-resident or out-of-area resident visitors to the event enhancing attendance and increasing visitor generated revenues. To prepare for this special application cycle for events only, the Tourism Grant Program will host an Events Application Workshop on Tuesday, January 28 at 2:00 p.m. and on Wednesday, February 5 at 10:00 a.m. The workshop will present an overview of the qualifiers and timeline of the application cycle for events as well as a review of the application. Click this link to register for the Events Application Workshop.

Grant funds are available for either the creation of a new event or to make an on-going event more successful. Eligible events are those held for entertainment, arts, and destination brand events that fit within the following categories:

  • Attendance Event: creating or further developing a lifestyle event that generate attendance at and complete the Montana activity experience.
  • Enrichment Event: activities that enhance the experiences of visitors and residents through cultural and/or heritage activities.
  • Destination Development Event: generating cost effective product development and destination brand awareness through media exposure.

Ineligible events include: county or community fairs, school and league tournaments, high-school or family reunions, professional, or sporting and/or other events that are not identified as an interest to non-resident visitors [see Montana Destination Brand Research Study] as well as members-only events.

Entities in Montana that are eligible to apply include a primary 501(c) non-profit organizations, a city or county government, or a tribal government. Eligible entities are limited to one application for one event, unless the event is a series that attracts non-resident or out-of-area resident visitors to the series and the series will end prior to June 30, 2021.

Applicants will need to demonstrate a partnership with at least two community partners including a tourism partner [Convention Business Bureau/CVB, Tourism Region, Chamber, or Tourist Business Improvement District/TBD] for the event. The role of each partner for the event must be detailed and a letter of support from at least two partners is required with the application.

The time-frame of the special application cycle for events only looks like:

Awards, and funding amount awarded, will be based on the number of total applications received as well as by a review and evaluation process by Montana Department of Commerce staff and a Tourism Advisory Council member. Other factors that may affect the success of an application or the amount of award is the frequency of previous grants to an organization/entity, the amount of previous grants to a community, and/or compliance issues with any grant program within the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development. A high-level of award concentration will be for events in rural communities, under-served regions of Montana, and by tribal communities.

Tourism Grant Program

Overview of the Tourism Grant Program & Frequently Asked Questions

About the Tourism Grant Program Annual Cycle 2-Page Overview [pdf] for Projects

Tourism Grant Program Frequently Asked Questions [pdf] about Annual Application Cycle

Fast Facts on the Economic Impact of Tourism [pdf]

2018 Economic Contribution of Tourism Report [pdf]

 

Tools for Grantees

Request for Funds Template [word] for Projects

How & What to Submit with an RFF [video without sound]

Final Project Report Template [word] for Projects

Federal W9 Tax Form [pdf]

Electronic Funds Transfer Form [pdf]

 

Wednesday Webinar Series Hosted by the Tourism Grant Program

The Destination Development Association has a plethora of resources to inspire and empower local stakeholders and local organizations with their efforts to becoming vibrant, sustainable, and thriving destinations that will attract new investment, are fantastic places to live, and that visitors will gravitate to every chance they get. One of the resources is easy to watch and digest how-to videos and accompanying guides on every place-making, tourism, downtown, and economic development topic you can imagine. As a courtesy to our tourism partners, the Tourism Grant Program is happy to host a Wednesday Webinar Series on the 2nd Wednesday of each month [exception in November due to Veteran's Day].For the year 2020 the line-up of webinars looks like:

Please register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8982407870014068237 if your entity or organization is interested in community efforts to become vibrant, sustainable, and thriving destinations.

Resources & Complementary Programs

  • The Institute for Tourism & Recreation Research [ITRR] conducts travel and recreation research in Montana, with a primary focus on the nonresident travel survey conducted throughout the state. ITRR is perhaps best known for producing the widely used statewide estimates of total nonresident visitation and travel expenditures, as well as visitor characteristics, in the state each year, along with the annual estimate of the economic contribution of nonresident travel to Montana’s economy.
  • The Montana Office of Tourism & Business Development [MOTBD] relies on data to drive Montana's tourism marketing strategy. Utilizing multiple tourism data partners, MOTBD is committed to giving our tourism partners access to cutting edge data resources. Our first step towards achieving that goal is to provide an active view of Montana's Arrivalist© data which is available on the MOTBD website under Tourism Research.
  • The Montana Governor's Office of Outdoor Recreation serves as a centralized point of contact and coordination for the broad outdoor recreation constituency with a focus on advocacy, policy, support, and growing new opportunities within the outdoor recreation industry.
  • The MOTBD Finance Information Center provides summary information to assist the businesses and communities of Montana in achieving economic prosperity, keeping in mind that the vision of prosperity to be achieved must be defined by the businesses and communities.
  • The Community Development Block Grant [CDBG] Program helps local governments fund construction or rehabilitation of infrastructure and facilities that primarily benefit low-income to moderate-income Montanans.
  • The Montana Main Street Program helps communities strengthen and preserve their historic downtown commercial districts by focusing on economic development, urban revitalization, and historic preservation through long-range planning, organization, design, and promotion.
  • The Montana Historic Preservation Grant [MHPG] Program is a state-funded program to support the preservation of historic sites, historical societies, or history museums.
  • The Indian Country Economic Development Programs page provide all of the business resources available to Native American businesses and tribal governments in Montana under one office.
  • The Recreational Trails Program [RTP] provides funds to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities in Montana.
  • The Montana History Foundation [MHF] is a charitable foundation that raises money and provides funding for history and preservation projects across Montana.
  • The Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program provides funding for rural projects through local utility organizations for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas.
  • The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately funded non-profit organization that works to save imperiled buildings, revitalize downtowns, and tell stories that help all people see themselves in our nation's diverse history.
  • The State, Tribal, and Local Plans & Grants [STLPG] Division of the National Park Service manages several grant programs to assist with a variety of historic preservation and community projects focused on heritage preservation.
  • The State Financial Services Division is the subject matter experts regarding procurement when it comes to accountability and effective management of public funds. Tourism Grant funds are public funds so it is each grantee's responsibility to folllow the State Procurement Laws when going out to secure goods and/or services on an awarded project.  

Entities in Montana that are eligible to apply for a Tourism Grant include:

  • A primary, registered non-profit 501(c) organization
  • A Tribal government
  • A City or County government

Eligible entities cannot use funds as a pass-through for ineligible entities, which include for-profit businesses, individuals, subsidiaries of a non-profit, and other State or Federal agencies. Eligible entities must be in good standing with the IRS and the entity or organization information must match the filed Tax I.D. or, for a 501(c), the most recently filed Form 990-N. Eligible entities are limited to one application for one proposed project per funding cycle.

The asset/proposed project must be owned by the entity applying for the grant or the applicant must have a long-term lease with automatic renewal in place with the owner [such as for placing or constructing an asset on leased land or a project that is within a facility that is rented]. If a non-profit is considering submitting an application where the asset or land where asset is constructed is owned or co-owned by a City or County or Tribal government, it is recommended that the City or County or Tribe be a co-applicant.
 

Funds are awarded to tourism and recreation projects that fall within the categories of:

  • Arts / Culture / Heritage Preservation: projects that preserve, protect, or restore Montana’s arts, culture, and/or heritage treasures.
  • Visitor Facility Upgrades / Construction: projects that will enhance the non-resident visitor experience and increase expenditures.
  • Niche Product Development: projects of interest to non-resident visitors as identified in Montana Destination Brand Research Study.

Qualified applicants must demonstrate a cash match of actual and committed money invested in the proposed project. The cash match is $1 applicant to $2 award. For example: if the project costs $9000 to complete, an applicant requesting $6,000 grant award must demonstrate they have $3,000 committed to the completion of the project as match. In-kind services, in-kind labor, and/or volunteer hours cannot count as applicant match.

Tourism Grant funds can only be requested for actual project and activity related costs. Examples of ineligible project costs include but are not limited to: workshops and training; market research or feasibility studies; staff costs including wages, travel, per diem; administrative, overhead, or indirect costs; office supplies; promotional items; subscriptions or membership costs; domain registration and website hosting; social media posts or press releases; routine operation and maintenance costs.

The Tourism Grant Program is not intended to be a sustainable source of funds. A key component of a successful application to the Tourism Grant Program is for the applicant to demonstrate the proposed project has the support of community and tourism partners. These partnerships build sustainability and assist with destination marketing upon successful completion of the project. The amount and frequency of previous grants to an eligible entity will be taken into consideration and may affect the success and/or amount of subsequent potential awards.

Applications are accepted via an online platform beginning July 1st of each fiscal year. The application window closes at 5 pm MST on September 30th of each fiscal year. The typical timeline looks like:

Tourism Grant Application Timeline

Applications are evaluated by a review team comprised of three staff in the Industry Services & Outreach Bureau, a staff member with the Office of Indian Country Economic Development, a staff member with the Community Development Division, and at least one board member of the Tourism Advisory Council. Applications are reviewed by how well the applicant would market the proposed project upon completion to measure the impact to non-resident visitors; proposed projects that are identified by the community as key tourism development projects in a community, strategic, or tourism/recreational plan; and proposed projects that are supported by tourism and community partners. Other factors that may affect the success of an application or the amount of a potential award is the frequency of previous grants to an organization/entity or the amount of previous grants to a community. A high-level of concentration is also given to rural communities, under-served regions of Montana, and to tribal communities.

Approximately $750,000 is awarded annually through the Tourism Grant Program. Since 1995, over $12.1 million dollars has been awarded to 480 tourism and recreation related projects resulting in a positive economic benefit for communities throughout Montana.

Map of 2020 Annual Tourism Grant Awards

Click here to view & download the Cumulative List of Tourism Grant Awards from State Fiscal Year 1995-2020. [pdf]

The Tourism Grant Program awards funds to projects that strengthen Montana’s economy through the development and enhancement of the State’s tourism and recreation industry. Funds are awarded annually to projects that develop and enhance tourism and recreation products that have the potential to increase non-resident visitation.

The Tourism Grant Program is funded by the 4% Lodging Facility Use Tax; commonly known as the “Bed Tax”. Enacted by the 1987 Legislature, the Bed Tax is collected from guests of hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, guest ranches, resorts, and campgrounds. Distribution of these funds looks like:

Distribution of Bed Tax

Of the 61.7% collected bed tax distributed to the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development, approximately $750,000 is awarded annually through the Tourism Grant Program. We encourage interested eligible entities to subscribe to receive email updates from the Department of Commerce for future and other funding opportunities as these become available.


MONTANA OFFICE OF TOURISM AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT | MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
301 S. PARK AVE. | P.O. BOX 200533 | HELENA, MT 59620-0533 |  T: 406.841.2870 |  F: 406.841.2871 | TDD: 406.841.2702

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