Missouri River Country Receives Regional Assistance Program Grant

Missouri River Country Tourism Corp. has been able to accomplish amazing things with very little money. Their task of promoting tourism in northeastern Montana was made a bit easier with the announcement on June 24 of a Regional Assistance Program Grant for up to $334,282 from the Montana Department of Commerce. According to the announcement, the grant is ‘to help regional non-profit tourism corporations and convention and visitors’ bureaus build additional capacity, coordinate with the Montana Department of Commerce Destination Montana Division on tourism strategies, develop and enhance rural and under visited tourism opportunities, increase visitor commerce and generate community revenue for the benefit of local economies.’

Missouri River Country Chairman Ray Trumpower said the group has lots of ideas on how to best use the money but three projects have priority at this time.

Talking Trail, which provides a narrated trip through 41 sites throughout northeastern Montana plus the Fairview Bridge, Fort Union and Fort Buford in North Dakota, has been a success. However, it can be bigger and better, partly with a brochure to help people understand the concept and how best to utilize it.

Beyond the 49th Parallel is an international partnership between Missouri River Country and Canada South Saskatchewan Ready, which encourages curious travelers to explore the two captivating countries. The website is now up and running and states the collaboration provides inspiration, itineraries, and international planning support to help travelers seize the chance to experience both of these awe-inspiring places in a single trip. A portion of the grant money will go towards enhancing the web site.

Trumpower said that executive director Carla Hunsley has worked tirelessly for Missouri River Country for 20 years, doing full time work on a part time salary. Grant money will be spent on hiring an assistant for her with the goal of that person eventually taking over the director position when Hunsley wishes to retire.

Other projects will be taken on as dollars allow but Trumpower explained that the group can’t take on more projects than the limited staff and volunteer board can handle.

The grant dollars basically came from the bed tax which has been redistributed several times since its inception about 30 years ago. The big tourism areas of Glacier and Yellowstone Parks want to curtail visitor number at this point while other regions such as Missouri River Country struggle to get enough money to promote their regions. This grant cycle is the latest attempt to get dollars to areas that need it.


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