Friday Flash 9/18/2020

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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.

MT Aware Fire

Recreate Responsibly

Given the HIGH to VERY HIGH fire danger, our regional prevention teams are coordinating efforts to raise awareness. 

Public lands across Montana are experiencing unprecedented levels of recreation. Please help spread the message of awareness to those enjoying the great outdoors.


Montana Aware Toolkit

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

Montana Aware Badge

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.

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 September 14 from Destination Analysts

Although the ongoing pandemic has increased travel budget consciousness, lessening concerns about the virus has more Americans planning trips and improved confidence that travel can be done safely. Meanwhile 44% of American travelers say they would take an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • Health and personal financial concerns, while still strong, remain the lowest they have been during the pandemic.
  • This lessening of fear has translated to travel. The average rating of travel activities as “unsafe” continued to fall this week to the lowest levels they have been since March 15. Over 30.0% of American travelers are confident they can travel safely in the current environment, another 24.0% feel at least somewhat confident.
  • There thus has been a measured rise in the number of American travelers who are planning travel: this week, 78.3% report they have at least tentative trip plans. The percent of those in a “ready to travel” mindset is at a pandemic-period high.
  • There remains opportunity for the travel industry to work together to improve safety perceptions around travel: Among those who traveled by commercial airline this past summer, 52.8% report feeling unsafe against COVID-19 at some point(s) during their flight. Such feelings were not as widespread while at lodging properties, but still 27.7% report feeling unsafe against the virus sometime during their stay.
  • The pandemic did appear to mute the economic impact potential of the travel that occurred this past summer. Over 56% said they decreased their spending on these trips to some degree, and 42.3% said they were more budget conscious.
  • One-in-five of American travelers report taking a staycation this summer. While over 60 percent said the staycation was mainly staying at home, two-thirds report doing at least one activity, such as day trips to area attractions and going to restaurants.
  • When it comes to a COVID-19 vaccine, 44.1% of American travelers said they would take it, although for the majority, some waiting period is preferred. Those who are currently less ready to travel are more willing to take the vaccine.

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 6, 2020—TAC Meeting
  • October 20, 2020—Region/CVB 1st Quarter Financial Reports Due 
  • January 20, 2021—Region/CVB 2nd Quarter Financial Reports Due 
  • February 8-9, 2021—TAC Meeting 
  • April 20, 2021—Region/CVB 3rd Quarter Financial Reports Due 
  • June 14-15, 2021—TAC Meeting 
  • July 20, 2021—Region/CVB 4th Quarter Financial Reports Due 

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   

Red Ants Pants

MIM Members in the News

Montana Farm, Ranch Town is International Headquarters for Women's Workwear
Whether working on her family's farm as a kid in Connecticut or leading trail crews in the backcountry after college, Sarah Calhoun always struggled to find comfortable work clothes.

The work pants she found were designed for men, not women. So she decided to design her own line of pants. Today, she sells her Red Ants Pants to working women all over the world. She's doing it in the small town of White Sulphur Springs, a farming and ranching community of about 900 people. Her shop is a converted saddle shop on Main Street.

"This is our international headquarters right here," said Calhoun, of the small brick building with the Red Ants Pants sign above it. Underneath the logo it says "workwear for women." Customers who come to the store in White Sulphur Springs can buy clothes off the rack. All other sales are sold directly online, mostly to women who want no-frills work clothes. "These aren't fashion pants," said Calhoun. "These are work pants."

For years, Calhoun said women who did hard, physical work had to wear men's pants. "Women are certainly shaped differently from men," she said. "There's a lot more curves, and squeezing curvy women into square men's pants don't fit." Read more from NBC Montana here

Heritage/Cultural News

Tippet Rise Art Education Tutorials

At Tippet Rise Art Center, nature and art interweave, providing a continuous source of education. They remind us that learning takes place not only within a classroom, whether it be at home or in a school, but outside its walls too.

Tippet Rise is offering online art tutorials on the Tippet Rise YouTube channel. These short videos feature easy, do-it-yourself projects inspired by the landscape, monumental sculptures, and performances in the Olivier Music Barn and outdoors, at the Domo. The first three videos use common household items to make chalk, playdough, and an upcycled bird feeding perch. They invite you and the young people in your lives to join in creating and learning from home.


Along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

Most residents and visitors are familiar with explorers Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark who traversed the country as part of the Corps of Discovery Expedition in the early 1800’s. Today, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and its interactive geotourism website link contemporary, authentic communities and cultures, including tribes whose connections span thousands of years, to historic, vibrant and living landscapes.

While traveling through Montana on the Trail, the experience is greatly enhanced by the amazing possibilities highlighted on the LEWISANDCLARK.TRAVEL website. Everything from enjoying a meal at a local eatery to exploring a historic natural area is available on the website. The website is multi-faceted and while it serves as a tool for planning travels, it is equally a tool for destinations to promote their historic and contemporary role on the Trail.

This week’s highlight from along the Trail is in the northeastern area of the state, not far from where the Missouri River leaves Montana and enters North Dakota. Appropriately named, the MonDak Heritage Center is listed on under Places to Go. The MonDak Heritage Center is Eastern Montana’s premier museum, featuring history and art exhibits in multiple galleries; original J. K. Ralston paintings and artwork; a historical “Main Street” town full of local stories and memories; art classes and youth programming; a gift shop with items from local artists, jewelers, and authors; a research library with access to historical and genealogical resources; and hosts many unique annual events. The center is open year-round and is free to the public although visits must be scheduled in advance.

To learn more about the Trail and for information on places to visit or to nominate local businesses, points of interests and community activities along the Trail, click here

Outdoor Recreation

Custer Gallatin Forest Plan Revision: What's Next—Interested Person Filing Period

After the objection period closes and the legal notice is published of qualified objections, the interested person filing period runs for 10-days from September 18 - September 28.

The regional office and Forest then work together to plan the objection/resolution meetings tentatively scheduled for late Fall/early winter (dates TBA). Decision is anticipated spring 2021. For more information on how to file, click here

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

MissoulaUS Cities with Natural Wonders on Their Doorsteps—The USA is home to some of the most exciting cities in the world, but when the bright lights, bustling crowds and blaring traffic get a bit too much, we long to escape to nature. Missoula is one of 15 American cities where you can enjoy the best of both worlds. These places combine urban excitement and natural landscapes, but if you're planning a trip, make sure to check opening times and additional safety measures if you're crossing state lines. Read more from Love Exploring here


Commerce Department Launches the 2020 Census State Championship

Championship Encourages Counties and Tribes to Compete for the Highest Increase in Self-Response Rates to the 2020 Census
The Montana Department of Commerce on September 15 launched the 2020 Census State Championship to encourage counties and tribes in Montana to compete for the highest increase in self-response rates to the 2020 Census from now until September 30. With only 15 days left in the 2020 Census count, the Commerce Department and the Montana Complete Count Committee are urging every Montana resident to respond to the 2020 Census before the shortened deadline of September 30.

This is the final countdown for the 2020 Census,” said Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, the Chair of the Montana Complete Count Committee. “The counties and tribes that win the 2020 Census State Championship will get not only bragging rights with a trophy to prove it, but will also receive their fair share of federal funding for the next 10 years, accurate representation in the state Legislature, and the knowledge that they contributed to the possibility of Montana regaining a second seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Game on, Montana!

There will be two winners for counties and two winners for tribal nations based on the percentage increase in self-response rates, as well as for the increase in the number of households that respond to the 2020 Census from today until September 30. To enter the championship, Montana residents who have not yet responded to the 2020 Census can do so at MY2020CENSUS.GOV, by calling 1-844-330-2020 or by mailing in the paper form if they received one. Track each community’s progress here. Read the full announcement here


Tourism-Related Business Owners Share Concerns & Workforce Challenges due to COVID-19 Impacts

ITRR has prepared a report based on data gathered from the 4th round of a survey of those in the Montana tourism industry to learn more about what challenges and concerns are being faced.

The state of Montana’s economy is dependent on out-of-state tourist spending. Despite nearly all of second quarter spending having halted due to the pandemic, and both Glacier and Yellowstone National Park visitation being dramatically lower than 2019, July figures indicate that visitation to Yellowstone National Park is actually 2% higher than last year.

It is clear that travel has begun to increase again in some areas of the state during third quarter. The purpose of this report was to analyze and synthesize open ended responses written by tourism-related business owners and managers on a COVID-19 survey as it pertains to Montana, and their business operations, concerns, and challenges. To see the full report, click here

Other News

Fearing Fallout from a Media Interview? 5 DMO Do's and Don'ts

Media interviews reward the prepared. Use these tips to ace your DMO’s next media appearance. With today’s rapid and often volatile news cycle, the risks and anxieties of being misrepresented in the media, despite your best intentions, are real. The good news is, you’re not alone.

Media interview do’s and don’ts for DMOs:

  1. Do write down your talking points
  2. Do stick to the facts
  3. Do stay cool under pressure
  4. Don’t make it about you
  5. Don’t feel obligated to be the industry spokesperson every time

Read more from the DestinationThink! blog here

Funding Resources

Aquatic Invasive Species Grants Available!

The Montana Invasive Species Council is now accepting grant applications to fund aquatic invasive species projects. Up to $50,000 is available per project to Montana communities or local, state, tribal, or other entities within the state and to Montana-based non-governmental entities.
AIS grants are intended to increase local capacity and involvement to address AIS issues.

Projects that address the following AIS management components are eligible and include:

  • Prevention
  • Early detection
  • Education and outreach
  • Research
  • Treatment

Current state-wide priorities that have been identified and vetted with former grantees and stakeholders for the upcoming AIS grant cycle include grants related to:

  • Monitoring / early detection projects to expand local capacity and involvement in multi- AIS taxa early detection efforts.
  • AIS outreach projects that expand AIS awareness at the local level.
  • AIS research projects including eDNA research related to dreissenid mussel early detection addressing eDNA Science Advisory Panel recommendations.

Locally-led proposals that address the state-wide priorities will receive ranking preference, however all eligible grant requests will be evaluated and considered. Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on October 19, 2020. For more information or to apply, click here

2021 Indian Equity Fund Small Business Grant

The Office of Indian Country Economic Development is accepting applications to the fiscal year 2021 Indian Equity Fund (IEF) Small Business Grant program. Applications will be accepted through September 30, 2020. The purpose of this grant is to assist startup or expanding Native American businesses in Montana.

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.

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

Other Dates/Events to Note

Resounding Resolve: Where Music Meets Mission—September 24, 2020

Hosted by the Montana Nonprofit Association and the Red Ants Pants Music Festival, this is a virtual celebration of Montana's spirit, grit, and resolve. It’s for all you big hearts under the big sky. And, it’s FREE FOR ALL.

Check out this foot-stomping lineup of Montana festival favorites!

  • Suzy Bogguss
  • Corb Lund
  • Pam Tillis
  • The Steel Wheels
  • Hayes Carll
  • The Secret Sisters
  • Jeffrey Foucault
  • Lindi Ortega
  • Supaman

Red And Pants Music Festival is bringing the fiddles, Montana Nonprofit Association will bring the can-do attitude, and Montana's Association of Fundraising Professionals will bring a big dose of Montana thank you to the party.

All you have to do is pull up a chair and enjoy the show as Red Ants Pants Fest favorites from around the country come online to give Montana a hug as warm as a July night outside of White Sulphur Springs. Tune in on the Montana Nonprofit Association’s YouTube Channel. For more information, click here

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 13-15, 2020—The 2020 Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit: Building Resiliency for the Future (Virtual)—Hosted by the Montana Office of Outdoor Recreation, Crown of the Continent Geotourism Council, and Montana Trails Coalition, The 2020 Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit will be an enhanced follow-up to inaugural 2018 Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit.

This year's Summit participants will be from Montana, Greater Crown of the Continent Region including Alberta and British Columbia and beyond, ranging from industry, community, and conservation. The summit will offer tools that will help facilitate interaction between attendees and create concrete opportunities to utilize and integrate into future work. Join the conversation to:

  • Promote outdoor recreation opportunities for all
  • Enhance public access to outdoor recreation resources and facilities
  • Support economic vitality of communities and outdoor recreation industry
  • Improve quality of life through outdoor recreation experiences
  • Adapt outdoor recreation for a changing environment
  • Honor outdoor legacy

Expect three days of networking, live panels, podcasts, dynamic guest speakers, webinars, live workshops, film festival and so much more. For more information, 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