Tourism Planning Grant

The Department of Commerce tourism planning grants will support entities developing a major attraction in North Dakota with the goal of diversifying the state’s economy and supporting healthy and vibrant communities. 

North Dakota Department of Commerce has announced that a total of $1 million was awarded to five projects through the 2021 Tourism Planning Grant.

  • The Bison World project, located in Jamestown was awarded $400,000 for a comprehensive plan to support design and planning that will allow for construction to begin.
  • The Bismarck Riverfront Revitalization Plan received $250,000 for a comprehensive plan that will engage local stakeholder groups and focus on improving the waterfront between highway 1804, near Misty Waters, to the confluence of Apple Creek near the University of Mary through a complete review of the Missouri Riverfront.
  • The Center for Exploration project in Grand Forks was awarded $100,000 for a comprehensive plan for the development of a children’s museum which will provide an interactive learning space that focuses on local industry and STEAM activities for all ages.
  • The International Peace Garden was awarded $100,000 for a strategic plan to further define the future development of the garden.
  • The Medora comprehensive plan received $150,000 to develop a master plan for potential attraction expansions. Grant funds will be used to engage a planning consultant to collaborate with stakeholders from more than eight organizations in and around Medora. 

There were eighteen projects that completed the application process for the grant dollars.


The Department of Commerce leads the efforts to attract, retain and expand wealth and improve the quality of life for the people of North Dakota. 


Program Objective

This grant is intended to support tourism developers who have destination project that would have the ability to attract visitors from outside North Dakota and retain them for at least 4-6 hours and preferably an overnight stay in or near the community. 

This grant is not to fund the actual building, infrastructure or expansion of an attraction, it is solely to be used for planning.


Eligible Projects

Implementation of the planning process needs to begin within 60 days of receipt of the funds.  Funds are intended to complete a project plan rather than for the beginning stages.  

  1. Priority one - Comprehensive Plans – intended to fund the completion of a plan, or to update an existing plan that is more than five years old, specific to the development of a major new destination attraction.

  2. Priority two - Feasibility Plans – intended to fund the completion of a feasibility study identifying the potential economic and social impact a major attraction would have on the community and the state.  

Ineligible Projects

Projects that would not qualify include: planning or hosting a new event, maintenance or upgrades to existing facilities OR additions to an existing attraction that would not draw a major new audience. 

Eligible Entities 

Destination Management Organization, Economic Development Corporations, private or non-profit tourism development entities.   

Ineligible Entities

State and Government owned facilities are not eligible.

How much funding is available? 

$1 Million in Grant funds were appropriated to the Office of Management and Budget to provide an incentive to complete major tourism projects under development. Grants will provide a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $500,000 per plan


Matching Requirements 

This grant requires a 10% community match which may include previous work completed on the project scope. Money that has been put toward the project in the current and previous year may be considered as part of the hard match but must include documented verification. Due to the timeframe of this program, pledges will not be considered part of the match.



Grant opens September 13, 2021 and closes September 30, 2021 - 5:00 p.m. CST.

Projects awarded announcement: October 15, 2021.

There is a two-step process for your application:

  • When you first click to apply, you are setting up your contact information and your company information.  You will also enter in the dollar amount for your grant consideration.  Keeping in mind that the minimum is $100,000 and the maximum is $500,000 per plan.
  • Once you submit, you will get a message notifying you that Dept of Commerce will need to verify your contact information.  Once that process is completed, you will receive an email notifying you that you can now log into the portal and complete your application process.

What makes for a strong application?  

  • Projects that clearly demonstrate their role as a tourism and recreation attraction in their community and region, and the benefits the project will provide through the development of the new visitor attraction.  

  • The demand for the tourism-related project is clearly demonstrated through research and analysis.  

  • The project is unique and offers an experience that is relevant to North Dakota’s history, culture or natural resources. 

  • Projects that offer unique or in-demand experiences and could attract and retain out-of-state visitors will score higher.  

For questions on this grant, please contact Tricia Miller, Digital Content Specialist.