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. 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, subsidiary's 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. Reasonable in-kind services, in-kind labor, and/or volunteer hours not count as applicant match. 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 and recommended for funding 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.