Tools for FY23 Grantees Eastern Montana Initiative

The Eastern Montana Tourism Initiative Grant Cycle will no longer be available through Destination MT (formerly Brand MT). Please subscribe to the DOC Newsletter to receive updates on all available funding opportunities and check out the Tourism Grant Program for more information.

All previous grantee investments along with resources and tools for current grantees are available below. 




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Destination MT Office of Tourism and the Marketing team continue to work with communities across eastern Montana to collaborate and find ways to diversify their local and regional economies for the future, including raising awareness of eastern Montana as a tourism destination.

Previous EMI Grant Awards

In 2018 and 2019, Eastern Montana communities were awarded total of $673,079 to build or enhance existing tourism infrastructure, raise awareness of eastern Montana as a tourist destination and support sustainable economic development in the communities and nearby areas. Uniquely, many of these grant projects are collaborations that cross county lines, or even span the entire eastern Montana region.

Grant projects include:

  • Apsaalooke Tourism ($25,000)—Crow Nation (Plenty Doors Community Development Corporation)
  • Baha Tata'ga Omaskaska Buffalo Trail Prayer Path ($50,000)—Fort Peck Reservation (The Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes)
  • Bear Paw Battlefield Campaign ($27,000)—Blaine County (Central Montana Tourism Region)
  • Cook Lake Park and West End Trails ($7,000)—Miles City (Miles City Area Economic Development Council, Inc.)
  • Developing Northeast Montana's Recreation Opportunities ($36,000)—Featuring communities of Glasgow and Sidney (Montana Missouri River Tourism Region)
  • Eastern Montana Astrotourism Product Development($75,000)—Project spans the entire Eastern Montana Tourism Partner Initiative area (Montana’s Missouri River Country)
  • Ekalatic Dome: portable planetarium ($38,000)—Ekalaka (Carter Country Geological Society)
  • Event Stage and Digital Screen ($75,000)—Glasgow and surrounding communities (Glasgow Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture)
  • Fergus County Wayfinding System ($35,000)—Lewistown and surrounding recreational trails (Fergus County)
  • “Living the Sloth Life” ($51,000)—Billings (ZooMontana)
  • MonDak Motorcycle Loop ($32,000)—Route extends from Baker to Alzada (Eastern Plains Economic Development Corporation)
  • Portable Events Stage ($22,129)—Glendive and Dawson County (Dawson County Economic Development Council)
  • Portable Performance Stage ($65,000)—Scobey (Daniels County Museum Association)
  • Terry Kiosk ($5,250)—Terry and surrounding communities (Prairie County Economic Development Council)
  • Trail to the Little Bighorn ($45,000)—Little Bighorn Battlefield and surrounding area (Southeast Montana Tourism Region)


Eastern Montana Initiative Zones

Marketing Eastern Montana as a Tourism Destination

Brand MT launched a strategic marketing campaign in the summer of 2019 targeting travelers in neighboring states and Canadian provinces to raise awareness of eastern Montana as a tourism destination. Places targeted included Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The summer campaign focused on family audiences for unique experiences like the Dino Trail, as well as history buffs, for experiences like the Little Bighorn Battlefield and the Lewis and Clark Trail. The campaign delivered 35.8 million impressions from May to July 2019.
 eastern montana hunting

Driving the Eastern Montana Tourism Partner Initiative are factors including a slower recovery in the tourism sector following the pandemic along with declining lodging tax collections in the region, increased competition from neighboring states, and rural communities that have tremendous potential for growth but limited tools to realize that growth.

In 2018, The Office of Tourism and Business Development at the Montana Department of Commerce held 14 listening sessions to strategically engage with tourism and economic development partners in 23 counties across eastern Montana. Information from local policymakers, business owners, entrepreneurs and community members has led to a better understanding of the challenges communities in eastern Montana face, along with the unique opportunities and innovative ideas from local communities to increase visitation and strengthen business growth.

That information was collected by Destination Analysts and used to compile the Eastern Montana Stakeholder Research report, which details the findings from the 14 listening sessions, including the objectives for the Eastern Montana Tourism Partner Initiative. The report, like the initiative itself, is community-driven and is aimed at identifying and realizing long-term growth opportunities for tourism in the region.

To further goals of developing Eastern Montana communities and destinations, enhancing marketing efforts, and strengthening the tourism economy, the Office of Tourism at the Montana Department of Commerce initially invested $1.3 million over two years (2018-2020). Post-pandemic (2021-2022), an additional $2.0 million will be invested in the Eastern Montana initiative, including $1 million in grant funding.