2020 Tourism Main Street Expansion Grant Program announced


The North Dakota Department of Commerce announced on Dec. 2 the 2020 Tourism Main Street Expansion Grant Program.

The purpose of the Main Street Expansion Grant Program is to support new or expanding businesses that provide an improved visitor experience, with an emphasis on attracting visitors to a city or town’s downtown.

“By developing more enjoyable experiences in our downtown cores, our communities will have more to attract residents and visitors, Tourism Division Director Sara Otte Coleman said. ”Today’s visitors are drawn to the unique architecture, local culture and diverse activities that are offered by creating a vibrant downtown.”

The program’s intent is to fund new projects that attract visitors from outside of North Dakota for at least one overnight stay with the goal of giving the community and state another experience to entertain visitors and potential new residents.

Grant funds are to be used for building new attractions, expansions offering a new experience and supporting services for visitors. Funds are not allowed to be used for marketing or ongoing operating expenses.


Applications will be judged on individual merit. Stronger emphasis will be placed on projects that address the following:

  • Projects that clearly demonstrate a role in attracting and retaining visitors to their community and region. The project will enhance or expand the visitor attraction or amenity.
  • All project funding is in place and grant funding will complete a project rather than provide money to start a project.
  • The demand for the project is clearly demonstrated through research and analysis.
  • Restoration and/or repurposing of existing buildings serving as an attraction or destination to visitors.
  • Creation of a unique niche in a downtown business district that can be used as an asset to attract visitors.
  • Projects that fill gaps in visitor services, such as unique dining or lodging in a downtown business district.
  • New entertainment venues that could attract not only locals but out-of-town visitors and tour groups.
  • Downtown beautification projects – planters, benches, unique lighting, pocket parks, alley utilization and directional signage.
  • Businesses with the potential to be a catalyst for downtown core vibrancy, attracting visitors and residents year-round and during evening hours.
  • Projects will score higher if they retain or attract regional and out-of-state visitors to a community hub, creating an activity-based culture of entertainment, recreation and personal interaction.

The required match is 1:1, and all grant payments will be made on a reimbursement basis. Matching dollars cannot be from other North Dakota state grants.
The match must be an actual money investment. In-kind services will not be considered as part of the reimbursement amount.

Money that has been put toward the project in the current and previous fiscal year may be considered as part of the hard match but must include documented verification. Pledges for future donations will not be considered part of a reimbursement match.

Applications are due by Jan. 3, 2020. Successful candidates will be notified by Feb. 3, 2020. The grant-eligible portion of the project must be completed by June 1, 2021, with all documentation due by June 20, 2021.

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