Discover Kalispell Offers New Grant Program

Matching grant funds are now available for visitor amenity projects in Kalispell

By Maggie Dresser
A Discover Kalispell sign as seen off of Highway 2 West on Oct. 23, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Correction: A previous version stated that the mountain climber sculpture hanging from the Rocky Mountain Outfitter’s building was an example of a Discover Kalispell project, but it was not. It also stated that Discover Kalispell is helping fund bike racks, but they are providing in-kind support for the project.

Local businesses, organizations and individuals will be able to apply for more grants with Discover Kalispell, which will now offer $15,000 with a program expansion.

Discover Kalispell, a division of the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce that promotes tourism, has expanded its program to include Visitor Development Grants through a 50/50 match. Projects include Kalispell visitor amenities such as murals, public art and visitor kiosks.

“The Visitor Development Grant is the new portion that gives funding for projects and services to create enhancement for visitors,” Discover Kalispell Director Diane Medler said.

The matching grant is open to any for-profit or nonprofit entity that’s interested in improving Kalispell’s business and tourism districts. Funds are made available through the Kalispell Tourism Business Improvement District.

Discover Kalispell is currently helping Kalispell Art on the Street to provide in-kind support and launch three sculptural bike racks downtown as an example of a development project, although it isn’t a part of the new matching grant program.

Discover Kalispell hosts and provides funding assistance for several events in Montana’s off-season months to draw nonresidents to the valley. Events include an indoor soccer championship and the Montana Spartan Race held in May.

“It’s a great event bringing about 8,000 racers here, and well over 60 percent are from out of state, so that’s a really big impact,” Medler said.

Medler says the offseason events help businesses and hotels keep busy before the steady stream of tourists arrive in the summer months.

Grant applications are evaluated by the Board of Directors who base their criteria on the project plan and viability, budget, alignment with Discover Kalispell, tourism, visitor amenities, timeline and other partnerships.

Medler says Discover Kalispell receives more grants every year, but it hasn’t had to turn anyone down yet for funding.

“Our hope now that we’ve expanded our visitor development is that we get more applications,” Medler said.

Since Discover Kalispell started the grant program in 2016, the organization has provided $35,000 in funding assistance for events and projects.

“We just look forward to supporting the community and develop more assets that are important to visitors but as locals we enjoy them as well,” Medler said.

For more information, visit www.discoverkalispell.com/grants.

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