Main Street Tourism Outdoor Recreation Grant


The grant period has now ended.  For those that have previously applied, please refer to the link in your email to log in to verify your application.

The Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Main Street Grant is meant to support new or expanding businesses that provide new outdoor recreation opportunities, improved visitor experiences, and with an emphasis on attracting visitors and visitor dollars to North Dakota communities.

Program Objective: The intent is to fund new projects capable of attracting visitors from outside of North Dakota for at least one overnight stay. New recreation opportunities, attractions and improvements funded would give the community and state additional experiences to entertain visitors and attract potential new residents.

Eligible Projects: Grant funds are to be used for building new attractions, expansions offering a new experience and supporting services for visitors. Grant dollars are not to be used for marketing, consulting, or ongoing operating expenses. 

Grant Amount: Requests can be up to $20,000.

Timeframe: Applications are due no later than August 9, 2022. Successful applicants will be notified by August 22, 2022. The grant-eligible portion of the project must be completed by June 16, 2023, with all documentation including receipts for grant eligible expenses, corresponding bank statements and written final project report clearly recapping the project will be due on or before June 23, 2023.


What makes a strong project: All outdoor recreation gaps and tourism infrastructure needs are important, each application will be judged on its own merit. However, stronger projects are ones that address some of the following needs:

  1. Projects that clearly demonstrate they will improve a community’s vibrancy with new experiences that will attract and retain visitors and provide recreation and entertainment options for residents. Demonstrate both local and regional benefits the project will provide through enhancing or expanding the visitor activity, attraction, or amenity.
  2. Projects that will use grant funding to complete a project rather than provide “seed money” to start a project.
  3. Projects that utilize existing outdoor resources, like lakes, grasslands, refuges or parks by adding a service, amenity or equipment rental to make the resource visitor friendly and more accessible.
  4. The demand for the project is clearly demonstrated through research and analysis.
  5. Restoration/repurposing of existing buildings, trails or other infrastructure to enhance or create an attraction or destination to visitors.
  6. Creation of a unique “niche” that can be used as an asset to attract visitors.
  7. Projects that fill “gaps” in visitor amenities and services, such as equipment rental, guide services, food experiences or unique outdoor lodging.
  8. New entertainment venues that attract not only locals but out-of-town visitors and tour groups.
  9. Businesses with the potential to be a catalyst for community vibrancy, attracting visitors and residents year-round and during weekend and evening hours.
  10. Projects will score higher if they retain or attract regional and out-of-state visitors to a community hub, creating an activity-based culture of entertainment, recreation, and personal interaction. 

Matching Funds: The 2022 Outdoor Recreation and Main Street Grant is a 2:1 matching grant program and all grant payments are made on a reimbursement basis. The state will pay two dollars for every dollar spent by the grant recipient. The match must be in “hard” dollars, actual monetary investment. In-kind services or pledges for future donations will not be considered as part of the hard match amount. Matching dollars cannot be from other State of North Dakota grants. Money put toward the awarded project in the current and previous fiscal year may be considered as part of the hard match.

Example: For a project awarded $20,000, the grant recipient would need to submit $30,000 in receipts for qualified project expenses within the scope of the granted project to receive the full awarded amount of twenty thousand dollars. The first $10,000 would be considered the match portion, funded entirely by the grant recipient. Money put toward the project in the current and previous fiscal years can be considered match. The other $20,000 would be grant funded, to be reimbursed by the state. Receipts for the grant portion must be paid within the grant period, August 22, 2022-June 16, 2023.  

When requesting distribution of the grant, the awarded entity must submit project receipts with corresponding bank/credit card statements confirming project expenditures.



Selection Criteria: (A maximum of 300 points to be awarded for the application’s sections I-III)

LATE or INCOMPLETE applications will not be considered. 

A document will need to be included in your application providing all the following:

I. Project Description & Operating Plans (100 total points for this section)
  1. Provide a clear, concise description of your project. Be sure to include project location, facility owner (if different than applicant), what cash matching funds will be used for ($1 hard match for every $2 in grant funds requested/awarded), and how the project complies with the purpose of the grant program, which is to support new or expanding businesses that provide an improved visitor experience. You may include project description documents such as architectural drawings as an addendum to the application. (30 points)
  2. Provide budget and timeline details. (20 points)
    • A development and implementation timeline for your project and the investment of grant funds in it.
    • A development and implementation budget for the entire project, specifically identifying the amount of grant funds to be used for each phase of your project.
    • A budget of all other funds for the entire project, specifically identifying the amounts to be used for each phase of the project.
    • Budget totals.
  3. Sustainability (20 points)
    • Present an estimated operating budget for the facility’s ongoing costs (staffing, maintenance, utilities, supplies, insurance, marketing, etc.) once this project is complete.
    • Explain how these ongoing expenses will be funded.
  4. Marketing Plan (20 points)
    • Outline the marketing strategies for this attraction or facility now and once the project is completed and how the marketing is financed.
    • Provide details of media used, target markets, any marketing partnerships or cooperative efforts involved.
  5. Describe the tourism and/or hospitality experience of those involved in the development and operation of this project. (10 points)
II. Project Compatibility & Appeal (100 total points for this section)
  1. Visitation - Describe how the project will provide broad, long-term appeal that will draw visitors and residents. (50 points.
    • If this is an existing business or attraction, include information about your facility’s annual visitation numbers, percentage of out-of-state and North Dakota visitors, hours of operation including evenings and weekends, and if you expect any changes in these areas once the project is complete. Will the expansion attract new visitors? Will the project entice locals to make more repeated visits?
    • If this is a new project, what are your anticipated visitation numbers? What research have you done to arrive at these numbers? What data are you using to show that there is demand for this product or service?
  2. Uniqueness - Describe what sets this project apart from others in your area or the State of North Dakota. How would this project differentiate you from other communities and neighboring states? Is there a gap in service or offering that this project will fill? (25 points)
  3. Length of Stay - Describe the components of this project which will extend the time that visitors will spend in the area. How will it enhance other existing or planned tourism development and marketing efforts in the community and region? (25 points)
III. Need for Project (100 total points for this section)
  1. Describe how the proposed project will have an economic benefit on the local area, region, and state. For example, anticipated tax base to be created or amount of visitor spending to result from this project? (30 points)
  2. Describe the cultural heritage, traditions, values and other “quality of life” aspects the proposed project will have on the local area, region and state. (20 points)
  3. Describe how the proposed project will attract more visitors and how it will improve the vibrancy of your community which is a fundamental element attracting and retaining workforce. (30 points)
  4. Letters of support from local and regional community, civic, business, and other stakeholders expressing support and commitment for the development of the proposed project. These letters of support must be submitted with your application. (20 points)

Application period has now ended. 

Current applicants should use the URL provided to them in their confirmation email to access their current application.

For more information:

Mike Jensen