Friday Flash 10/30/2020

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Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Marketing Method Evaluation/End-of-Year Reporting 

By now, partners should have completed and submitted the essential first pieces of reporting – the Budget to Actual Comparison report (download from QuickBooks®) and the single updated pie chart showing actual expenses as a percentage of total marketing budget. Those who have not will be emailed a reminder and a customized worksheet to assist.

Marketing Method Evaluation reporting must be completed by the January 1, 2021 deadline. Regions and CVBs are encouraged to work on reporting and submit early enough in order to have time to edit and update as needed. Organizations are encouraged to review the updated Regulations and Procedures in effect for FY20; there are several changes in reporting requirements.

Visit the Tourism Regions, CVBs and Partners Resources page for updated resources and Marketing Method Evaluation documents including template language that may be customized for each organization. One-on-one assistance is available; please contact Kev Campbell or Barb Sanem.

Thank you to those tourism partners who have begun or who have completed the fiscal year 2020 required reporting (yes, there are some who have submitted all required reporting).


Montana Aware Badge

Montana Aware Toolkit

New Explore Responsibly materials are now available in the Montana Aware toolkit. New, free resources include printable flyers, PSA templates, a sample press release, social media copy and more! You can find the downloadable toolkit and other resources at MARKETMT.COM

Montana Aware is a statewide effort designed to help Montana's tourism partners and local businesses slow the spread of COVID-19 by promoting safety measures for those traveling in the state. 

Below are some examples of what some of our partners have done in their communities. We will continue to highlight the work that our partners are doing to keep Montana residents and visitors safe. 

Gardiner CVB

Social media post with Wave 2 messaging. Gardiner is using creative social media posts with  "BE RESPECTFUL—Respect the guidelines, the land and people." To see more of their efforts, follow them on Facebook here

Southgate Mall Signage

Missoula CVB

The Missoula CVB safety messaging campaign included highly visible signage at the Southgate Mall. Large Tri-panel displays with safety messaging in key areas of the mall that are visible to shoppers.  

Floor Clings

Safety messages on floor sticker clings are encouraging social distancing and mask wearing inside high traffic areas in the mall. The Missoula CVB is hoping to extend the campaign through the holiday shopping season until December 30, 2020.


West Yellowstone CVB

Utility boxes in West Yellowstone are getting a facelift with Montana Aware messaging. West Yellowstone's campaign uses their local messaging of "Be Patient, Be Kind, Be Cool" in conjunction with the Montana Aware campaign.

Recently, Lions Clubs in Hiawatha and Robinson Kansas shared the sentiment of "Be Kind" in their communities. This was after a member had visited West Yellowstone over the summer. Read more from Hiawatha World Online here

WY Utility Box

COVID-19 Relief Funding

Governor Bullock Announces 13,000 Small Businesses Now Supported Through Targeted Relief Programs

Business Stabilization, Adaptation programs award $200 million in small business grants

Nearly 13,000 small Montana businesses in every corner of the state have now received support through Governor Steve Bullock’s Business Stabilization and Business Adaptation grant programs, he announced Thursday. These two targeted relief programs are among more than 30 that were created in response to the pandemic.

You kept me in business,” said Scott Buchholz who owns and operates Buchholz Custom Sawmilling in Dillon, Mont. “The Stabilization Grant filled in all the blanks – I didn’t have to worry about where I’d get the money to repair tools or buy inventory. It gave me a lot of peace of mind, and we are going to make it.”

Buchholz said of the relief program that it’s a good example of government working for Montanans. In fact, out of the 35 states for which complete data is available, Montana ranks 8th when it comes to spending its share of Coronavirus Relief Funds.

Montana has been a leader in quickly and effectively deploying targeted support to the businesses that need it most,” said Governor Steve Bullock. “Businesses in every Montana county and in virtually every industry have accessed grant dollars to help weather the economic impacts created by the pandemic and emerge from it in a position that will allow them to continue serving their communities across the state.” 

The Business Stabilization and Adaptability programs have now awarded almost $200 million to 12,944 small Montana businesses. The average grant awarded through the Business Stabilization program is $16,500, the average Adaptability reimbursement is $7,500. These dollars helped support professional service businesses, restaurants, coffee shops, outfitters and guides, sole proprietors, hotels, retail stores, manufacturers and more by providing working capital allowing businesses to buy inventory, cover rent and pay for adaptations needed to promote best public health practices. Read the full press release here

Business Related Coronavirus Relief Grant Programs

The Montana Business Adaptability Grant Program is still accepting applications. The deadline to apply is November 15, 2020. For more information on eligibility requirements or to apply, visit COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV.

Workforce Recovery Program

The Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) Workforce Recovery program is designed to support Montana businesses that had to lay-off employees and/or reduce the hours of the employee to part-time status due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Commerce will reimburse Montana businesses based on the growth of jobs up to pre COVID-19 levels.

The 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.

Please reference the guidelines for further information on the program. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted or December 31, 2020, whichever comes first. For more information or to apply, click here

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 October 26 from Destination Analysts

As we have seen at other points in the pandemic, the current increase in cases has heightened Americans’ concerns for their health and financial safety and adversely impacted feelings about travel—although there are signs that travel sentiment and behavior may not be as significantly impacted as during previous surges. Testing and social distancing look most promising for bringing air travel back faster, while strict masking policies are likeliest to bring resistant shoppers back to retail stores.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • High concerns among American travelers about contracting the coronavirus and its impact on personal finances and the national economy rose this week, as numbers of cases soared across the U.S.
  • As new infection records continued to be set in the U.S., Americans’ strong concerns about virus contraction and the pandemic’s impact on personal finances and the greater economy marched upwards again this week. Pessimism about the virus’ course in the U.S. is firmly back in a heightened period.
  • The increased anxiety about the virus coincides with decreasing excitement levels about taking a getaway in the next month and openness to travel inspiration.
  • Perceptions of travel activities as unsafe and the percent of Americans who agree they have lost their taste for travel for the time being ticked up this week.
  • However, there are signs that travel may not be as significantly impacted as it was in previous surges during the pandemic. 35.1% of American travelers feel they have gained confidence in how to navigate the pandemic in the last three months. Americans are now actually exhibiting less agreement that they will avoid travel until the coronavirus situation is more resolved and their state of mind about travel readiness remained constant from last week.
  • Three-quarters still have trips at least tentatively planned, and the joy travel brings remains ingrained. Nearly 60% of Americans agree that having a vacation scheduled in the next six months would make them feel there is something happy to look forward to.
  • Air travel also looks to continue a measured recovery. Over 35% plan to travel by air in the next 6 months.
  • Examining policies that may bring more Americans back to air travel sooner, comfort with airlines requiring a COVID-19 test prior to boarding increased to 50.7% from 43.2% just two weeks ago. However, social distancing continues to be important to a significant share of Americans when it comes to air travel.
  • Well over 80% of American travelers plan to shop at a retail store at some point in the remainder of the year, although currently, relatively few plan to take a leisure trip specifically to shop for the holidays (6.7%).
  • The health and safety protocols Americans most desire for the in-person retail experience include social distancing guidelines enforced and strict masking requirements, although required masking for patrons and staff is seen as absolutely required by those Americans who still perceive shopping as unsafe.

Read more from the Destination Analysts report here.

Save the Dates...

  • Tourism Partner Call—This bi-monthly call is dedicated to the six tourism Regions, 18 CVBs and specific industry stakeholders. The calls are held on the fourth Wednesday, every other month from 10:00-11:00 a.m. For assistance or information regarding this call, please contact Kev Campbell or call her at 406.841.2887.
    • November 25, 2020
    • January 27, 2021
    • March 24, 2021
    • May 26, 2021
    • July 28, 2021
    • September 22, 2021
    • November 24, 2021
  • 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 

Tourism Grant Program

Applications for Tourism Grants are now Being Accepted! 

The application cycle for Tourism Grants is now open. The 2021 application cycle will accept applications from eligible entities until November 30, 2020.

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.

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

For more information or to apply for a grant, visit  visit MARKETMT.COM/TOURISMGRANTS.

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   

MIM Members in the News

Butte Native's Business Wins National Award for Woman-Owned Small Business
Nikki Edmundson sure knows how to make a mark — in business. As owner of Canty Boots in the small town of Harrison, Butte native Edmundson was awarded Woman-owned Small Business of the Year in Montana by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

It’s been really wonderful; it’s been a really fun ride,” said Edmundson. It started 10 years ago when she modified a pair of regular boots that were too uncomfortable. “I cut them and folded them and when I wore them out, I had so many compliments that I came home and told my husband, ‘It’s time to sell them,’” said Edmundson.

The SBA chose her for her success in designing custom-made boots that have received national attention and for operating in a small town. Read more from KBZK here

Heritage/Cultural News

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 LEWISANDCLARK.TRAVEL. 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 isn’t a specific place but rather it’s a way to travel and experience the trail. Sustainable Tourism (Geotourism) is a way for people to explore and experience new environments and cultures that leaves them unspoiled for future generations. Many businesses, lodging establishments, restaurants and outdoor spaces incorporate sustainable tourism into their operations so in turn visitors and patrons may also participate regardless of the season or area by incorporating these elements:

  • Be Prepared, Stay Safe – follow local and state regulations
  • Give Back – make a donation or volunteer for stewardship and community well-being in the area
  • Honor Protected Areas – stay on the trail, ask permission
  • Keep Wildlife Wild – maintain distance, do not feed, secure trash
  • Leave No Trace – visit
  • Mind Your Resources – reduce, reuse, recycle and support those who do
  • Respect Local Cultures – research local customs, social norms, environmental issues, especially in tribal lands
  • Reverse Your Route/Travel Off-Peak- seek unique and lesser known routes and destinations
  • Shop Local – dollars spent locally benefit and help preserve local economy and community

It’s free and easy to nominate businesses, destinations, and points of interest to be featured on the website. To learn how, click here

Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund & Primary Sector Workforce Training Grants

Governor Bullock Announces More than $1 Million in Business Development Funding to Create up to 136 Montana Jobs, Train New Workers

Governor Steve Bullock last week announced $1,050,260 in business development funding through the Montana Department of Commerce to support the creation of up to 136 jobs and train new workers at eight growing businesses in Montana.

It’s a testament to our state’s strong economic climate heading into the COVID-19 pandemic and the grit and resourcefulness of Montanans that some Montana businesses are growing and creating new jobs even in these challenging economic times,”Governor Bullock said. “When Montana businesses grow, our communities and the hardworking Montanans who live and work here have new opportunities to grow as well. These funds will invest in our state’s economy by expanding businesses and creating good-paying jobs to support those businesses.”

Funds will be awarded through two reimbursement programs at the Department of Commerce: The Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) and the Primary Sector Workforce Training Grant (WTG). The two grant programs provide reimbursements to local and county governments and economic development organizations on behalf of businesses for creating good-paying jobs in Montana and training Montanans to fill those jobs.

The following organizations will receive funding for creating jobs and training new workers:

  • Big Sky Economic Development Authority will receive up to $66,600 on behalf of Belle Chemical, LLC in Billings, which estimates it will create 18 jobs. 
  • Big Sky Economic Development Authority will receive up to $49,000 on behalf of Wyo-Ben, Inc. in Billings, which estimates it will create 10 jobs. 
  • City of Bozeman will receive up to $170,000 to assist XY Planning Networking LLC, which estimates it will create 34 jobs. 
  • Fergus County will receive up to $70,500 on behalf of Big Sky Processing, LLC in Lewistown, which estimates it will create 15 jobs. 
  • Lake County will receive up to $150,000 on behalf of Rocky Mountain Twist Corporation in Ronan, which estimates it will create 20 jobs. 
  • Missoula County will receive up to $95,000 on behalf of UNAVCO, Inc. in Missoula, which estimates it will create 19 jobs. 
  • Sanders County will receive up to $88,800 on behalf of Agriculture Resource Management, Inc. dba AquaPrawnics, Inc. in Noxon, which estimates it will create 12 jobs. 
  • Wausau Supply Company will receive up to $46,850 through the Primary Sector Workforce Training Grant Program to train eight new workers. 

The next application deadline for the Big Sky Trust Fund Grant Programs is December 16, 2020. In addition, Montana businesses are now eligible to apply directly 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 deadline to apply to this temporary program is December 31, 2020. Learn more at BSTF.MT.GOV. To read the full press release, click here

Outdoor Recreation

Tester Sponsors Legislation Designating 17 Wild and Scenic Rivers in Montana

The number of miles of wild and scenic rivers in Montana would jump by nearly 87% under legislation to be introduced by Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester.

Tester was joined in Gallatin Gateway Tuesday by representatives of Montanans for Healthy Rivers. The group secured the senator’s sponsorship of the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act, which if passed, would list 336 miles of rivers and creeks in the Custer-Gallatin and Helena-Lewis and Clark national forests under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Read more from the Helena Independent Record here

Flathead National Forest Seeks Input on Winter Recreation & Guiding

The Flathead National Forest is accepting public comment on winter 2020/21 recreation events and temporary outfitting and guiding activities across the forest. The activities would take place between December 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021.

The events and activities include things like a cross-country ski event, avalanche training, snowmobile and snow bike tours, and guided skiing, among others. The Forest Service authorizes these types of activities to expand recreation access to the public and provide tourism jobs for the local economy. Click here for the full press release. 

Additional information and maps for all the projects can be found on the Flathead National Forest website. The Forest will update the website with additional information about the status of each permit as it is reviewed by specialists and any permits are issued. The public should submit comments by November 6, 2020 to  

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

Big Sky, Belgrade, Bozeman, West Yellowstone and Whitefish—Montana is vying for top honors in several skiing categories in USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards. You can vote daily thorough Monday, November 9, 2020 at Noon ET. To make it super easy, the categories and Montana nominees follow. Click the link for each nominee to vote for them directly.

BozemanCity of Bozeman Proposes Program to Fund Public Art—Bozeman city commissioners will review a proposal that would dedicate funding from some future city building projects to public art during their meeting Tuesday.

The proposed ordinance, called a municipal percent for art program, would set aside 1% of construction costs from some future city capital projects to be used for public art installations. The program would apply to projects at new or remodeled city-owned property with construction costs over $500,000, according to the draft ordinance, and would exclude certain projects like street construction or wastewater facilities.

The money would largely be used for public art installations on the project site, with some to be set aside for ongoing maintenance. According to the proposal, the city is hoping the program will create a city-owned collection of public art that will “improve the quality of life in the area, be accessible to all individuals, and be a source of pride to residents." Read more from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle here

MontanaKate Bosworth Reveals one of her Favorite Places in the World—When the pandemic struck, Kate Bosworth continued to find ways to stay busy. She launched KIND.EST, a lifestyle website that aims to be “the place where it’s cool to be kind.” There, Bosworth shares personal tales, beauty advice, recipes and more.

When asked what some of her favorite travel destinations are, she replied "I’m currently in Montana — we live here part of the year — and it's one of my favorite places on earth." Read more from Forbes here


ITRR Report: The Montana Expression 2020: Residents' Attitudes Towards Tourism

The report is a summary of Montana residents’ attitudes toward tourism during the summer of the 2020 pandemic. Data were collected during 3rd quarter (July through September) 2020. The pandemic has dramatically changed travel and tourism patterns in an unprecedented fashion.

Anecdotal evidence suggested that visitors to the state were different this year, and residents appeared fairly unhappy about them being in Montana. This study was conducted to determine if residents’ attitudes toward visitors and the travel industry have indeed changed.To see the full report, click here

Other News

Remote Workers Stay Longer, Spark Tourism Recovery for Some Destinations

The trend toward longer near-in stays and flexible travel time could bring new visitors to your destination. Remote work is on the rise. Twitter, Shopify and Square are just a few of the many global companies shifting to a remote workforce indefinitely. This year in the United States, remote workers account for more than two-thirds of economic activity. This change is flowing into travel behaviors, with Airbnb noting that the volume of American reviewers mentioning remote work has tripled from the same period in 2019.

Many travelers are looking for a new kind of trip: one that pairs their remote work lifestyle with a longer stay far from urban centers. Often these are domestic trips, and it’s easy to see why. Without a vaccine for COVID-19, international travel proves difficult. Flights are limited and expensive. Some destinations require a two-week quarantine upon arrival and regular coronavirus tests. Read more from the Destination Think! blog here

Funding Resources

FWP Recreation Grant Program Application Period Opens November 2!

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will begin accepting grant applications for four recreation grant programs on Monday, November 2, at 12:00 p.m. via the online system at

Applications for the following grant programs are due by Monday, February 1, 2021:

  • New! Montana Trail Stewardship Grant Program
  • New! Summer Motorized Trail Pass Grant Program
  • Recreational Trails Program
  • Off-Highway Vehicle Grant Program

In total, these four grant programs provide over $3 million for recreation projects across Montana.

FWP is offering virtual training sessions for prospective applicants from October through January. These sessions are free and highly recommended for new and returning applicants to any of the four grant programs. During the training, FWP staff will provide tips on writing a competitive application, using the grant management software to submit an application, and understanding differences and similarities between programs. Online trainings via Zoom will be held on the following dates:

  • Thursday, November 5, 2020: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 8, 2020: 12:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 7, 2021: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

For more information on attending a grant application training session or applying to one of these opportunities, visit STATEPARKS.MT.GOV/RECREATION.  For full press release, click here

Other Dates/Events to Note

Social Media Marketing: From Beginner to Selling Online Series from SBDC

  • November 5, 2020 (2:00-3:00 p.m.)Social Media for Business 101So you’ve got a Facebook page for your business. Maybe you’ve even “boosted” your posts a time or two. But how do you know if you efforts are really helping you meet your marketing goals? This workshop will discuss some key components incorporating social media into your business marketing plan. To register for this workshop, click here
  • November 12, 2020 (3:00-4:00 p.m.)Get Your Local Business on Google Search and MapsShowing up when customers are searching online is more important than ever. Ensure customers can find accurate, updated information about your local business on Google Search and Google Maps, no matter which device they use. In this workshop, you will learn how to create and manage a Google business profile from start to finish. To register for this workshop, click here
  • November 19, 2020 (2:00-3:00 p.m.)Sell Online with E-Commerce ToolsMore shoppers are headed online than ever before! In this workshop, we will discuss a variety of ways you can sell your product online and how to choose the right software and platform for your business. To register for this workshop, click here

November 10, 2020 (11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.)—Rise and Restore Small Business Virtual Summit—In response to COVID-19, Headwaters RC&D has partnered with Great Northern Development Corporation, America's Small Business Development Center of Montana and Montana Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program to present the Rise & Restore Small Business Virtual Summit. Join this free event via Zoom for a timely talk and sneak previews of speakers, topics and the Minnow Tank competition being presented at our live conference the the spring of 2021. To learn more or register, click here

January 11-February 28, 2021—Cultural Heritage Tourism Certificate Program (Online)—The Professional Certificate Program in Cultural Heritage Tourism, produced by AIANTA (American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association) in partnership with the George Washington University, is designed to provide tourism entrepreneurs and community leaders with tools to identify assets and develop tourism programs that preserve cultural identity and authenticity.

The online program brings together industry experts who help students explore the importance of including authentic Native American cultural experiences in their tourism planning.

Courses include narrated presentations, live webinars, online discussions and practical tools and resources participants can apply in their day-to-day experiences planning tourism programs. for more information, click here

Canceled!—Northwest USA Spotlight—This event that was scheduled to be held in Helena in September 2021 has been cancelled. This difficult decision  was unfortunately necessitated by the changing situation with COVID-19. If you have any questions, please contact Andrea Opitz or Erinn Donnell at Visit Helena.