Written by The Herald-News
Montana Governor Steve Bullock joined Montana Department of Commerce director Meg O’Leary to announce the award of $500,000 from Commerce’s Tourism Infrastructure Investment Program for eight tourism facility improvement projects in Bozeman, Browning, Fort Belknap, Hamilton, Malta, Poplar, Red Lodge and Terry.
“Tourism plays an important part in the Montana economy. These grants are an important reinvestment of Montana Lodging Tax funds back into tourism facilities across the state that are working to improve the quality of experiences they offer visitors and Montanans, “ said Gov. Bullock. “These important projects will strengthen our communities and attract more visitors to support Main Street Montana businesses.”
O’Leary noted that “the TIIP grant funds will help both established tourism attractions upgrade their facilities as well as give developing attractions a boost in their efforts to expand their appeal and services.” She added that “these projects also benefit Montana residents by bolstering the local economy and adding to their community’s quality of life.”
O’Leary approved the TIIP grant funding for the projects following recommendations made by commerce staff and members of the state’s Tourism Advisory Council. The eight TIIP grant recipients were selected from 24 applications requesting $1.82 million in grant funds from the program. When completed, the eight projects will result in $1.3 million in tourism facility improvements. The $500,000 TIIP grant funds will leverage $768,848 from other private and public sector sources.
The 2013 TIIP grant awards include:
•$54,000 awarded to the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary in Red Lodge for improvements to their Montana native wildlife care and public education facility’s walkways, signage and grounds. Cost: $81,000.
•$20,111 awarded to Hamilton Players, Inc. for the purchase and installation of updated theater technology and performance equipment in their live theater facility in Hamilton. Cost: $36,331.
•$80,000 awarded to the Blackfeet Tribe for improvements and restoration of the Chewing Blackbones Campground near St. Mary on the east side of Glacier National Park. Cost: $191,200.
•$34,266 awarded to the Fort Belknap Indian Community/Island Mountain Development group for the construction and installation of picnic tables and shades at public recreation and campground areas in or near Mission Canyon/Hays, Snake Butte, Lodgepole and the buffalo pasture viewing area/observation platform along MT Route 66, south of the Fort Belknap Agency. Cost: $51,400.
•$132,586 awarded to Bridger Bowl, Inc. in Bozeman for construction of the Alpine Cabin, which will provide visitor services for those using two new ski lifts being constructed on the north side of Bridger Bowl Ski Area. Cost: $325,000.
•$45,310 awarded to the Prairie County Museum for a water mitigation project in the basement of their historic building in downtown Terry. Cost: $31,500.
•$20,000 awarded to the Judith River Foundation/Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta for the purchase and installation of new hands-on learning stations, improved fossil storage and exterior dinosaur displays. Cost: $31,500.
•$113,727 awarded to the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes to assist in the restoration of the historic Poplar Agency Indian Boarding School Dining Hall for use as a visitor information and tourism program facility. Cost: $472,107.
Since 1995, TIIP grants have provided $5.2 million in tourism lodging tax funds to 114 projects in 52 Montana communities. These TIIP-assisted projects represent $48.5 million in Montana tourism facility improvements financed with public and private funds.
TIIP grant funds are provided by the 4 percent Montana Lodging Facility Use Tax which is assessed on the lodging price of all accommodations across Montana, including campgrounds. The grants are awarded through a competitive process and require $1 match for every $2 provided by grant funds.