Friday Flash 10/2/2020

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Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners


Montana Aware Toolkit

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

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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.

Commerce Department Announces $3 Million Now Available to Support Montana Businesses to Refill Jobs Lost Due to Pandemic Impacts

Montana businesses are now eligible to apply for workforce recovery grant dollars to help companies refill jobs that were lost due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Montana Department of Commerce has launched a temporary Workforce Recovery grant program as part of the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF).

Businesses across the state are managing through a variety of challenges and complications because of the pandemic,” Montana Department of Commerce Director Tara Rice said. “The Department of Commerce’s Workforce Recovery program is meant to assist those businesses that are ready to bring jobs back and to provide a little extra support to allow the business to sustain that rehired worker into the future.”

The Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund Workforce Recovery program will reimburse a business for the wages of full-time, permanent jobs that are created and retained for at least six months, up to a maximum of 25 jobs per business. Businesses apply directly to the program. A reimbursement of up to $7,500 per job is available to businesses in high-poverty counties. The business must match $3,750 per job. A reimbursement of up to $5,000 per job, with a $5,000 match, is available for businesses in all other counties.

The Workforce Recovery program is in direct response to supporting businesses impacted by the economic effects of the pandemic. The ability to create the temporary program has been made possible by a governor’s directive which allows for flexibility in the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund program. Funding for the temporary program comes from reverted BSTF Job Creation awards, it is not a replacement for or pausing of the well-established business development program.

Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds have been committed or December 31, 2020; whichever comes first. Apply at MARKETMT.COM/BSTF/WorkforceRecovery.

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 28 from Destination Analysts

Although COVID-19 concerns are rising, nearly two-thirds of American travelers plan to take a trip this Fall, including some notable interest in workcations and schoolcations.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • After a month-long period of relatively lower levels of anxiety, the number of Americans with high degrees of concerns about contracting the coronavirus rose this week. Similarly, after a stable period in expectations for the virus’ course, the percent of Americans who feel things will get worse in the U.S. in the next month increased.
  • These rising concerns appear to be affecting confidence that travel can be done safely and perceptions of travel. The percent in a “ready to travel” mindset fell to 52.2% after being above 54% for the last month.
  • Nevertheless, three-quarters of American travelers continue to report having at least tentative trip plans—primarily over the next 6 months—as well as exhibit a perception of travel as a means to meet their emotional needs. The percent that agree price cuts and discounts can motivate them to consider a new trip is as high as it has been during the pandemic.
  • Looking at American travelers’ specific expectations for Fall, nearly two-thirds expect to travel this season, and these travelers anticipate taking 1.7 overnight trips on average. The top motivations for these Fall trips are relaxation, spending time with family and escapism, although younger travelers are also likely to be seeking connecting with nature and having new experiences.
  • Nearly 40% of likely Fall travelers say they will visit a small town or rural area on their Fall trips, with beach visitation less likely than in the summer months and urban travel increasing.
  • Interest in workcations among those who can work remotely and schoolcations among parents who travel with children is at similar levels—just under half have a more elevated degree of interest. In total, 52.2% of those interested in schoolcations reported some likelihood to take one this Fall, while 46.0% of those interested in workcations said they were likely to actually take one in these coming months.
  • American travelers’ comfort with enjoying their own communities for leisure activities and having tourists visit their regions are at pandemic period highs.

Read more from the Destination Analysts report here.

Save the Dates...

  • October 5-6, 2020TAC Meetings—Meeting agendas and other information can be found here.   
    • October 5 (10:00a.m.-12:00 p.m.)—TAC Retreat via Conference Call
    • October 5 (2:00-4:00 p.m.)—Research Committee Meeting via Zoom
    • October 6 (8:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.)—TAC Meeting via GoToWebinar
  • October 20, 2020—Region/CVB 1st Quarter Financial Reports Due 
  • November 25, 2020—Tourism Partner Call—This bi-monthly call is dedicated to the six tourism Regions, 18 CVBs and specific industry stakeholders. For assistance or information regarding this call, please contact Kev Campbell or call her at 406.841.2887.
  • January 20, 2021—Region/CVB 2nd Quarter Financial Reports Due 
  • January 1, 2021—Region/CVB Marketing Method Evaluation Reports Due
  • February 8-9, 2021TAC Meeting 
  • April 20, 2021—Region/CVB 3rd Quarter Financial Reports Due 
  • June 14-15, 2021TAC 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   

Montana Film Office

MINT (Montana International Film Festival)

Establishing itself as Montana’s premier international film festival, the Montana International Film Festival, aka MINT, did not let a global pandemic keep it from going dark. Instead, MINT extended its Billings, Montana-based event to four weeks, September 17-October 10, with limited in-person screenings and added an extensive virtual viewing menu. However, for now, screenings in Red Lodge, Montana, will be on hold until 2021. For viewing options an more information visit MINTFILMFESTIVAL.ORG

International Marketing

Go West Summit Virtual Conference

Montana was represented by Kim Birrell at Go West Summit in early September. This event was held virtually and was rescheduled from March, originally to be a face-to-face event held in Portland, Oregon.

This annual international travel trade event connects tour operators and media from more than 25 countries with destinations from 18 western states. Appointments were pre-scheduled and were held over the course of five days to allow buyers and sellers from many time zones to connect. The expanded thirty-minute appointment format allowed for more opportunity to discuss how COVID has affected business across the globe, as well as allowing for more in-depth destination development. Leads are available by contacting Kim at

Outdoor Recreation

Governor Bullock Announces Virtual Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit

Governor Steve Bullock announced last week that registration is open for the 2020 Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit that will bring hundreds of industry leaders, community members and recreation and conservation groups to promote outdoor recreation in Montana.

Montana’s outdoor recreation economy employs over 71,000 Montanans each year and delivers $7.1 billion in annual consumer spending. It’s a major economic force for our state, Governor Bullock said. “This summit will provide outdoor and tourism professionals and business owners with the opportunity to engage with industry leaders and renowned adventurers to ensure our recreation industry and economy continues to grow.

Held virtually from October 13-15th, 2020, the summit will be led by the Montana Governor's Office of Outdoor Recreation and co-hosted by Crown of the Continent Geotourism Council and Montana Trails Coalition.

The summit’s panels, workshops, podcasts and keynotes will cover:

  • Outdoor recreation education and stewardship
  • Impacts of recreation on landscape and wildlife
  • Challenges of population fluctuation in gateway and rural communities
  • Recreation use in times of emergency
  • Commercial recreation use now and in the future
  • Community Outdoor Recreation Realization pathway
  • Health and wellbeing of recreation integration
  • How to communicate the needs of outdoor recreation to our elected officials and policy makers.

The summit will include three days of engaging conversation, dynamic guest speakers, and effective work sessions. Attendees will join live each day or catch up with recorded panels, workshops, and podcasts.

The Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit provides a proven opportunity for organizations, businesses, communities, governmental entities, and individuals to learn from each other and work together to promote, improve and support outdoor recreation opportunities and access for Montana’s public and visitors,” said Bob Walker, Chair of the Montana Trails Coalition. The Summit’s energy and diversity serves as a catalyst for Montana’s annual $7.1 billion outdoor recreation fiscal impact.

The summit will conclude October 15th with a virtual film festival. The public is invited to a night of viewing YETI Presents films. For more information or to register for the Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit, click here

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

Ekalaka (Carter County Museum)Montana Learning Center Campers Help Excavate 75-Million-Year-Old Mosasaur—Over the summer, campers from the Montana Learning Center near Helena and the Carter County Museum partnered to excavate a mosasaur found in eastern Montana.

According to Ryan Hannahoe, executive director of the MLC, it was an unforgettable learning experience for the eighth to 12th grade students who participated. The students got to do the same work that professional paleontologists get to do every day.

Campers spent two and a half days at the active dig site near the Pierre Shale Formation in eastern Montana. They were excavating the tail end of a mosasaur, a 75-million-year-old predatory marine reptile of the late Cretaceous period. Mosasaur could average between 30 and 50 feet in length. Read more from the Helena IR here


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REMINDER: Montanans Can Still Respond to the 2020 Census

A U.S. District Court Judge has ordered that the U.S. Census Bureau continue its 2020 operations through October 31. As of today, that order stands despite attempts to appeal the ruling. The state of Montana will continue to support outreach and promotional efforts to make sure Montanans know why it’s so important to respond to the Census.

Today, the deadline is Oct. 31 – but Montanans should not wait to respond, do it right now! As the goal posts have continued to move throughout this process, it’s critical to stay focused on what’s truly important: ensuring Montanans are represented at every level of government, and make sure Montana gets its fair share of federal funding. Make sure your friends, family and neighbors respond today at MY2020CENSUS.GOV or by calling 1.844.330.2020.

Other News

UN World Tourism Organization Rural Development Guide

United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has published a book that may be of interest to you: “UNWTO Recommendations on Tourism and Rural Development – A Guide to Making Tourism an Effective Tool for Rural Development

2020 marks the ‘Year of Tourism and Rural Development’, a theme shared with this year’s World Tourism Day. The sustainability of tourism in rural areas will only be successful if a comprehensive, inclusive planning strategy is adopted and implemented based on a multi-action and multi-stakeholder participatory approach.

The UNWTO Recommendations on Tourism and Rural Development aim to support governments at various levels, as well as the private sector and the international community developing tourism in rural territories in a way that contributes to inclusive, sustainable and resilient development. For more information or to download the book, click here

Funding Resources

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) 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.

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

Other Dates/Events to Note

October 2020 (Multiple Dates)Community Presentations from Voices of Montana Tourism (Virtual)—Updates for Montana Businesses: Jobs, Community, Economy – Tourism is a leading industry for Montana strengthening small businesses and supporting thousands of jobs. While Covid19 has been a great disrupter for the global economy, now is the time to consider how tourism will be part of Montana’s story of recovery.

By understanding the past, we can steer our path to the future. While we’ll adapt to a new world, opportunities will present themselves and we want to be ready for them with the right partners in place.

In other years, Voices of Montana Tourism would host a legislative candidate lunch with a panel of business leaders to provide education on tourism. This year, we have adapted to offer online forums which have been successful in Missoula and Kalispell. There are still five community presentations and you can register for them using the links below. All events are from noon to 1:00 p.m.

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—MEDA Fall Conference "We're in this Together" (Virtual)—The MEDA Fall Conference is designed to bring you maximum information with minimum Zoom fatigue. You may register for all three segments of content and pop in and out as you choose. You will not want to miss the MEDA 2020 Awards, candidate forums, Tell Us Something, legislative strategy time, and the latest on the Montana Next Generation of Community and Economic Development Tools next steps. To register or get more information, 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. Expect three days of networking, live panels, podcasts, dynamic guest speakers, webinars, live workshops, film festival and so much more. For more information or to register, 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