Friday Flash 8/14/2020

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Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Wildfire Updates

The Montana Department of Commerce will again provide relevant wildfire updates for tourism partners and the traveling public at our webpage TRAVELAWARE.MT.GOV. The page will be updated daily or as fire activity impacts popular destination areas.


Montana Aware Badge

Montana Tourism Industry Unites for ‘Montana Aware’ Campaign

17 CVBs, 6 tourism regions to participate in statewide effort to promote safety measures

The “Montana Aware” initiative is a formalized effort encouraging Montana’s tourism partners and local businesses to use flyers, posters, social media messages, customer emails and business websites to help inform guests about public health guidelines and best practices. The Montana Department of Commerce’s Office of Tourism and Business Development first began promoting a safety message on June 1 and worked with tourism partners to do the same. Through the formal “Montana Aware” campaign, 17 of Montana’s Convention and Visitors Bureaus and six tourism regions share $5 million to promote the initiative.

"Montana Aware" Campaign Making Headlines

Montana Aware Toolkit

You can find the downloadable toolkit and other resources at MARKETMT.COM

COVID-19 Relief Funding

Montana Coronavirus Relief Funding Resources

Families, small businesses, non-profits, health services centers and individuals across Montana hardest-hit by impacts of COVID-19 are eligible to apply for grants through new programs created in response to the emergency. For a complete list of available grant programs, eligibility requirements and to apply, visit COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV.

Second Round of Business Stabilization Grant Now Available

Nearly 8,000 Montana businesses have been paid a Business Stabilization Grant and now each of those businesses is eligible for a second payment. 

Businesses awarded a grant prior to Aug. 12, 2020 are eligible to receive a second award equal to the first as long as they still meet the original criteria of the program: Montana-based, 50 or fewer employees, sustained loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in good standing with the Secretary of State or tribal government.

Businesses must use the additional funding to support their business operations by December 30, 2020, per CAREs Act guidelines. Funds may be used as working capital for small businesses to support payroll, rent, accounts payable, debt service and expenses related to shifts in operations in order to retain existing businesses, retain current employees or retain business viability for future re-employment.

Applicants do not need to re-apply to receive a second round of funding. Watch for an email from the Montana Department of Commerce instructing awardees on how to accept a second award. Responses are required by September 2. 

New applicants are eligible to apply for up to six months of working capital or $20,000 whichever is less.

NEW! Live Entertainment Grant Program

The Live Entertainment Grant Program is available to Montana-based businesses and non-profits that are directly engaged in the business of live entertainment, and whose revenues primarily come from live entertainment events.

This grant is intended to ensure the long-term viability of live entertainment in Montana that has been severely impacted by COVID-19. Bars, restaurants, and other facilities whose primary business is anything other than live entertainment are not eligible. Businesses that are not directly responsible for the production of live entertainment events in Montana are not eligible. Examples of ineligible businesses include wedding venues, event support software, event rentals, and event planners.

To be eligible, applicants must have derived at least 33% of their 2019 revenue from the sale of tickets for live events. Eligible applicants’ revenue for Q2 (April 1 – June 30) 2020 must also no greater than 10% of 2019’s Q2 (April 1 – June 30) revenue. Total funding available is $10 million. Apply at COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV

NEW! East Edge of Glacier Park Tourism Business Grant

Tourism-reliant businesses in the Babb – St. Mary - East Glacier corridor may be eligible to apply for a grant of up to 25 percent of their 2019 gross revenue based on a 2019 tax return. The maximum award available is $40,000. Any Business Stabilization Grants or Agriculture Adaptability Grants awarded to the business will be deducted from the eligible East Edge of Glacier Park Tourism Business Grant total.

The business must be located along the eastern edge of Glacier Park in the immediate vicinity of East Glacier, St. Mary or Babb, and must be a Montana-based business, pay Montana taxes, in good standing with the Secretary of State or local tribal government. To be eligible, a business must have exhausted the grant opportunities made available through the Business Stabilization or Agriculture Adaptability grant programs. Nonprofit entities are not eligible. Total funding available is $2 million. Applications open August 19, 2020 at COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV.

Transparency Dashboard Updated Weekly

The state of Montana has launched a dynamic dashboard that shows the Coronavirus Relief Fund grants that have been awarded to businesses and nonprofits. This dashboard will be updated weekly until all grant dollars have been expended. 

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of August 10 from Destination Analysts

Younger travelers drive some positive movements in travel sentiment this week, while Colorado, Alaska and Montana join the usual suspects of top aspired destinations for the next year.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • Americans of all ages continue to say staying safe from infection is their top lifestyle priority over the next half-year. Compared to two months ago, younger travelers are now further prioritizing many psycho-emotional needs like escaping stress and relaxation, while Baby Boomers are placing less emphasis on these.

  • Nearly 6-in-10 agree that planning a vacation for sometime in the next 6 months would bring them happiness.

  • Driven by younger travelers, excitement for near-term travel and openness to travel inspiration returned to levels last seen in early June, and there was a small increase in travel readiness.

  • Compared to how they felt in April, Americans are now less likely to agree that the types of travel destinations they choose will change after the pandemic, and less likely to say they will avoid many types of experiences.

  • Colorado, Alaska and Montana have joined Florida, Las Vegas, California and New York as some of the top destinations Americans are saying they most want to visit in the next year.

  • Americans find airline, hotel and restaurant discounts most appealing.

  • Convention travelers’ trust in their fellow attendees to behave in a way that minimizes the spread of COVID-19 has lessened slightly.

Read more from the Destination Analysts report here.

Save the Dates...

  • Tourism Partner Call—This regularly scheduled call is dedicated to the six tourism Regions, 19 CVBs and specific industry stakeholders. Upcoming meetings are listed below. Please update your calendars. For assistance or information regarding this bi-monthly call, please contact Kev Campbell or call her at 406.841.2887.
    • September 23
    • November 25
  • October 5-6, 2020—TAC Meeting 
  • February 8-9, 2021—TAC Meeting 
  • June 14-15, 2021—TAC Meeting 

Made in Montana

Choose Local

As Montana is reopening, we encourage you to support your local businesses. If you are interested in locally sourced ingredients, check out this list of our Taste our Place members and savor Montana flavor. You can also find Made in Montana producers and retailers in your area by visiting   

MT Local Food Challenge


Northern Plains Resource Council hosts the 5th Annual Local Food Challenge
Are you up to the challenge? The Northern Plains Resource Council is challenging you (and ourselves) to eat more local foods, to ask for more local foods in your community, and to help support Montana agriculture in a giant way. Learn more and take the challenge here

Office of Indian Country Economic Development

2021 Indian Equity Fund Small Business Grant

Assist startup or expanding Native American businesses in Montana.

GRANT APPLICATION PERIOD: Aug. 1 to Sept. 30, 2020

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS: The funds are available to enrolled members of the tribes in Montana. All applications must include documentation of tribal enrollment in the form of a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) or tribal ID. An application will be considered incomplete without this information.

GRANT AMOUNT: Awards for individual businesses can be up to $14,000 with a minimum dollar-to-dollar cash or in-kind match ($1:$1) and must be firmly committed and documented in the application.

For more information, click here

Heritage/Cultural News

Montana Dino Trail COVID-19 Masks Available

One of the cool projects completed by the Montana Dinosaur Trail Partners is the creation of a series of fun, fanciful images representing each of the 14 Trail Facilities and their communities. Artist Jenn Hall with the Carter County Museum in Ekalaka created the images with funding assistance from the Montana Office of Tourism.

Products featuring these images are available through the trail’s website in the “SHOP” tab and at many of trail facilities gift shops. 

Blaine County ccm2

Outdoor Recreation

FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Updates

  • All watercraft inspection stations are open except for the Eureka station due to the ongoing border closure with Canada. Most stations are operating during daylight hours seven days a week. See the watercraft inspection schedules at
  • A record number of watercraft have been inspected this season with over 90,000 inspections and high levels of out of state boat traffic.
  • 25 mussel fouled vessels have been intercepted at the Anaconda, Dillon, Flowing Wells, Hardin, and Nashua watercraft inspection stations.
  • Working with area resource managers, Montana Trout Unlimited is stenciling the “Clean-Drain-Dry” message on boat ramps and other structures around the state, including at the Clearwater Junction inspection station and the Shannon boat ramp at Canyon Ferry.

Best Marketing Practices

Ogren Stadium

Inside Out

Two Missoula businesses appear to have hit a homerun pairing their operations during the COVID-19 crisis. Minor league baseball team Missoula Paddleheads and the Roxy Theater joined forces to create the Centerfield Cinema series - movie night under the stars at Ogren Park every Thursday.

Both businesses rely on ticket sale and attendance from residents and visitors were negatively impacted by the restrictions put on their respective venues. The stadium has seen more than 4,000 attend a baseball game in past years while the Roxy Theatre has seating for 250 in its three theatre rooms. Now, those movie goers and baseball fans alike have the opportunity to take what was typically an indoor movie experience to the great outdoors. Most fitting, "A League of Their Own", a 90’s comedy based on women’s baseball is part of the series lineup.

With safety a paramount concern, the Missoula PaddleHeads implemented a full COVID-19 Readiness Plan allowing the ballpark venue to reopen safely and responsibly according to Taylor Rush, PaddleHeads’ Director of Marketing and Public. Rush adds “The outpour of support, the willingness of patrons to follow all COVID guidelines that ensure we keep our community safe, and the smiles on every face that leave the ballpark, are truly a statement as to what makes Missoula so special." For more information or tickets, click here.  

Other communities around the state are also hosting outdoor movies at existing drive-in theatres as well as popup sites in businesses that would have otherwise been silent during the pandemic.

Montana in the News
Tourism Partner Shout-Outs, Recognition and News

Missoula“Breadth of Representation” a Good Start for Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority
Late last year, Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier sat in a coffee shop with a view of the downtown rail yard to contemplate the task he had before him. It would involve uniting more than a dozen Montana counties behind a common vision to restore passenger rail service along the North Coast Hiawatha route vacated by Amtrack more than 40 years ago. It would also require support from the state’s congressional delegation and a review of state laws guiding the creation of an authority that doesn’t exist. Nine month’s later, Strohmaier has accomplished the task, but the work is far from over.

On the one hand, it has been a short amount of time but on the other hand, it’s been a long time in coming,” said Strohmaier. “I’m super pleased with the breadth of representation we’ve gotten on that authority so far.”

Gallatin and Missoula counties have both adopted the joint resolution to establish the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority, and two is all that’s required under state law. But another 10 Montana counties have signaled their intent to join, and Strohmaier is eagerly awaiting their vote. Several are expected to make their participation official in the coming weeks. Read more from the Missoula Current here


Complete the 2020 Census Now!

Filling out the Census is quick, easy, and safe. It will take less than 10 minutes to complete and your information and privacy are protected by federal law. Montanans can fill out their Census forms online at or by phone at 1.844.330.2020. The Census is also available via TDD (Telephone Display Device) at 844.467.2020. Learn more at CENSUS.MT.GOV.

Other News

Safety and Empathy: 10+ DMO Communications Tips for 2020

Confident, timely communication is a major challenge for destination marketers during the pandemic. To help kickstart your next content brainstorm, content marketers at Destination Think have gathered observations and examples of successful communication from destination marketers. 

Take inspiration from these 10+ observations and ideas for communicating in times of uncertainty, or skip ahead to your favourite.

  1. Repeat your safety messages
  2. Frame compliance with guidelines as a positive
  3. Show the right behaviours in your images
  4. Create Instagram Stories highlights about COVID-19
  5. Use an infographic for the most important messages
  6. Don’t schedule your social media too far in advance
  7. Show people how to support local businesses (in tourism and beyond)
  8. Continue showcasing the experiences that make your destination special
  9. Adapt cultural experiences to social media
  10. Be calm and empathetic when responding to negative comments

Read more from DestinationThink! here

New TripAdvisor Travel Safe Initiative

Trip Advisor is adding a new level of safety detail to its review process. Businesses will need to update their business listings on Trip Advisor with safety messaging in a new “Keeping you safe during COVID-19” section which includes safety measures, long form response as well as how travelers can contact the business directly or ask questions via the Q&A feature.

Here is a link to a presentation about the new program. Please update your organization listings and forward to businesses in your region or community.

Other Dates/Events to Note

October 6-8, 2020—The 2020 NAISMA (North American Invasive Species Management Association) Annual Conference (Virtual)—The 2020 NAISMA Annual Conference will be held on a virtual platform rather than our traditional in-person meeting in order to keep everyone safe and healthy. 

This year’s virtual conference will be presented live during the conference dates. Sessions will also be recorded for post-event attendee access. Attendees will be able to log in to view presentations for up to 1 year after the event. To learn more, click here

October 20, 2020 (Sidney) and October 22, 2020 (Butte)—Rise and Restore Small Business Summit—The Rise and Restore Small Business Summit is in response to COVID-19. Hear how industry experts and other small business owners have been maintaining their business, stabilizing their profit and protecting their team in response to COVID-19. To learn more or register, click here