Commerce Connection

montana department of commerce
Downtown Red Lodge

Downtown Red Lodge received a Tourism Grant last year for its wayfinding project.

Tourism Grant Program Now Open 

Montana Commerce Department Director Tara Rice today announced the Department will begin accepting applications for the Tourism Grant Program from Thursday, October 15 through November 30 for the 2021 grant cycle.

The Tourism Grant Program funds projects that strengthen Montana’s economy through the development and enhancement of Montana’s tourism and recreation industry. A total of $750,000 is available for projects that develop and enhance tourism and recreation products that have the potential to increase non-resident visitation.

“Montanans in the tourism and recreation industries are finding innovative ways to adapt to the ever-changing realities of the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Commerce Director Tara Rice. “The Department of Commerce looks forward to supporting tourism and recreation projects as we recognize that while so many aspects of our daily lives have changed, one thing remains truer than ever: Montana is the best place to live, work and play.”

Projects funded in the 2021 cycle must be completed by June of 2022. Entities in Montana that are eligible to apply for a Tourism Grant include registered non-profit 501(c) organizations and city, tribal or county governments. 

Funds will be awarded to tourism and recreation projects that fall within the categories of:

  • Arts/Culture /Heritage Preservation: projects that preserve, protect, or restore Montana’s arts, culture, and/or heritage treasures
  • Visitor Facility Upgrades/Construction: projects that will enhance the non-resident visitor experience and increase expenditures
  • Niche Product Development: projects of interest to non-resident visitors as identified in Montana Destination Brand Research Study

The Tourism Grant Program is funded by the Lodging Facility Use Tax. Learn more and apply for a Tourism Grant at MARKETMT.COM/TOURISMGRANTS.


$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).

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.

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

Apply Here

Circle Finance

Coronavirus Relief Programs Still Available 

Montanans in every corner of the state have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As Montana works to recover from the unprecedented economic situation caused by this novel Coronavirus, the state is making emergency financial relief available from the federal government to those who have been hardest-hit by impacts of COVID-19

The following relief programs are taking applications: 

  • Business Adaptability: Businesses and nonprofits eligible for reimbursement for personal protective equipment, business adaptations needed in response to the pandemic. Apply at COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV. Application deadline, Nov. 15, 2020.
  • Emergency Housing Assistance: Monthly rent, deposit and mortgage payment assistance is available for those who have lost income due to the pandemic. Apply at COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV. Deadline to apply is Nov. 10, 2020.
  • Live Entertainment: 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. Apply at COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV.
  • Supporting Montana’s Families School-aged Child Care Grant: Grants are available to organizations who are providing out of school time programs. Eligible programs are for-profit business, non-profit organizations, school/school districts, community organizations, summer camps, and licensed childcare programs that serve children aged 5 to 18. Apply at COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV.
  • Working Capital Program: Businesses are eligible for grant funds to support working capital loans from eligible lenders. Apply with a participating lender. Application deadline, Oct. 23, 2020.

Transparency Dashboard Updated Weekly

More than 14,000 Montana businesses and nonprofits have now received relief funding through more than two dozen programs created by Governor Bullock's Coronavirus Relief Fund. 

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. 

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State Receives Trade Expansion Grant to Help Montana Businesses Gain Exposure to International Markets

The Montana Department of Commerce announced Thursday it has been awarded a federal grant of more than $525,000 to help Montana-made businesses export and promote products to international markets.

Granted by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant will be used to sponsor Montana businesses at international tradeshows to help develop partnerships between Montana businesses and international buyers, leading to business growth. The grant will also support training and technical assistance including foreign language translation and international product certification for small business exporters.

During the last fiscal year, nearly 400 Montana businesses were supported through grants, training and consultation made possible by this funding. Those business in turn generated more than $25 million in sales from market development activities. Read more here.

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Deadline Approaching to Apply for Rent, Mortgage Assistance

Montanans who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for rent and mortgage payment assistance, but time is running out to apply for the monthly assistance. The Montana Department of Commerce announced Wednesday all applications must be received by Tuesday, Nov. 10.

Since the program’s May inception, Montana Housing, with assistance from NeighborWorks Montana, has approved more than 1,100 applications and awarded more than $4.2 million in rental and mortgage assistance to Montana families and individuals statewide.

Emergency Housing Assistance applicants who need assistance with the application can contact NeighborWorks Montana at or by calling 406.604.4500.

Apply here


Governor Bullock Directs $200M in Coronavirus Relief Funds to Boost UI Trust Fund, Lower Fees for Montana Businesses

Governor Steve Bullock has announced he is directing $200 million in state Coronavirus Relief Funds to effectively double the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and prevent the thousands of Montana businesses who pay into unemployment insurance from experiencing an 85 percent spike in their tax rate.

“Montana businesses have already been hit hard once due to COVID-19 and its economic impacts. The last thing we want is to see them hit hard twice by significantly increasing unemployment insurance rates,” Governor Bullock said. “Boosting the trust fund will have a real impact on the ground for tens of thousands of Montana businesses next year and for years to come and will play a key role in the state’s economic recovery.”

“Business owners in Montana are doing all they can to navigate the economic challenges presented by COVID-19,” Todd O’Hair, president and CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce, said. “Every bit of assistance helps, and this smart use of Coronavirus Relief Funds will bring some needed predictability to unemployment insurance rates as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Read more here.


  • Montana COVID-19 Hotline: 1-888-333-0461 or 
  • Montana Coronavirus task force: COVID19@MT.GOV
  • If you are a business owner and have questions related to the the phased approach to reopening and how the plan applies to you directly, please call 1-800-755-6672.

  • If your question relates to unemployment insurance/benefits, please contact the Department of Labor and Industry at 406-444-2545. If you think you are eligible for unemployment benefits accessible to workers laid off due to COVID-19, you can apply for benefits online at: or contact the Unemployment Insurance Division over the phone at 406-444-2545.

  • CDC:
  • Visit Montana: VISITMT.COM or 1-800-847-4868


Upcoming Application Deadlines  

Governor Bullock Announces $32.4 Million to Develop Affordable Homes in 5 Montana Communities

Governor Steve Bullock today announced more than $32.4 million in federal housing tax credits will be allocated to developments in five communities in Montana to preserve or build more than 160 new affordable homes.

"Access to affordable homes are vital for our communities to grow and prosper. These homes will provide a safe place to live and needed stability for many Montanans in communities across the state,” Governor Bullock said.“Working alongside our statewide housing partners, we will continue to support the development and preservation of safe and affordable homes for Montana families and individuals.”

On Monday, the Montana Board of Housing approved tax credits for six affordable developments. Federal housing tax credits allow developers to borrow less money for construction and pass those savings along to families and individuals through lower rent. This year, developers submitted housing tax credit applications for six distinct projects requesting more than $34.6 million to build or rehabilitate homes.

The Board has allocated the competitive federal housing tax credits to the following communities:

  • Billings – Jackson Court will receive $6,435,000 to build 38 homes for families and individuals. Jackson Court’s total project cost is $8,794,015 and will create an estimated 118 Montana jobs earning $5.3 million in wages. Developer: GL Development.
  • Billings – MRM Unified Campus will receive $6,435,000 to rehabilitate and preserve 29 existing homes for families and individuals. MRM Unified Campus total project cost is $11,925,149 and will create an estimated 155 Montana jobs earning $7 million in wages. Developer: MRM/CR Builders LLC.
  • Crow Agency – ANHA LIHTC 1 will receive $6,435,000 to acquire and rehabilitate 43 homes for families and individuals. ANHA LIHTC 1’s total project cost is $7,767,696 and will create an estimated 101 Montana jobs earning $4.5 million in wages. Developer: Apsaalooke Nation Housing Authority.
  • Kalispell – Creekside Commons will receive $6,435,000 to build 36 homes for seniors. Creekside Commons total project cost is $7,392628 and will create an estimated 99 Montana jobs earning $4.4 million in wages. Developer: Housing Solutions.
  • Laurel – Laurel Depot will receive $3,530,760 for a new development contingent upon submitting a revised application. Developer: GL Development.
  • Lewistown – Crowley Flats will receive $3,100,000 to build 16 homes for families and individuals. Crowley Flat’s total project cost is $3,479,877 and will create an estimated 47 Montana jobs earning $2.1 million in wages. Developer: Homeword Inc.

The Montana Board of Housing is part of the Montana Department of Commerce. Federal housing tax credits flow through the state agency and fund the construction or rehabilitation of about 220 homes each year.