Skip to Main Content

Tourism Enhancement Grant

Overview

Tourism is one of the largest industries and most important economic drivers in Tennessee. This grant was developed to help communities improve their tourism assets and increase tourism-related economic impact. These projects are being funded through the Tennessee Rural Economic Opportunity Act of 2016.

At a Glance

  • Up to $75,000 grant with a match requirement (see page 2 of application)
  • Approximately 25-30 grants will be awarded
  • Grantee must be city or county government
  • Only one submission accepted per county
  • Prior Tourism Enhancement grantees (Rounds 1 and/or 2) with completely, officially CLOSED grants will be eligible; Tourism Enhancement grantees with OPEN grant projects are ineligible
  • Project must be completed on city or county owned property or property leased from TVA or the US Army Corps of Engineers that meet the lease requirements described
  • Round 3 Tourism Asset Action Plan awardees will be required to complete TDTD’s Asset Inventory prior to contracting with a consultant (see FAQ tab for details)

Timeline

December 13, 2017 Application Available
January 31, 2018 Applications due at 4 p.m. CST
February – March 2018 Application Review Period
March 2018 Announcements Made

Contract Period

Associated project costs must be incurred and projects completed within contract period after all final approvals.

Grant Review Board Members

  • TN Dept. of Economic and Community Development
  • TN Dept. of Tourist Development
  • TN Dept. of Agriculture
  • TN Dept. of Environment and Conservation
  • TVA and/or the US Army Corps of Engineers (where applicable)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How many grants will be awarded?
A: Approximately 25-30 grants will be awarded. There may be more depending on how many apply for the full amount of funding.

Q: What is the source of the funding?
A: These are state funds.

Q: Will you accept more than one application from a county?
A: No. The community must work together to determine which project would have the most impact and be bested suited for the grant funding. If more than one application is submitted, they will all be returned for the community to select the one to be scored.

Q: May counties who have previously been awarded grants in Rounds 1 and/or 2 apply for Round 3 of the Tourism Enhancement Grant?
A: Grantees from Rounds 1 and/or 2 must have prior Tourism Enhancement Grant contracts completely CLOSED officially to be eligible for Round 3 application.

Q: If a county received a grant in Rounds 1 or 2, could a city within the county apply in this round?
A: Yes, as long as said city does not have an open grant and is the only application within the county for round 3. Only one application per county is allowed each round.

Q: Can you apply for more than one project?
A: Yes. As long as you do not request more than $75,000, you can propose multiple projects in multiple parts of the county. To get the best score, they should be related and “tell a good story.”

Q: Can you give us examples of what you have funded in the past?
A: This is the third round of this grant. A few examples of projects funded in Rounds 1 & 2 include: stage and boat ramp improvements, tourism asset plans, electrical and sound system upgrades for tourism venues, and restroom facilities.

Q: What is the definition of an “Official Tourism Organization”?
A: “Official Tourism Organization” is an organization designated by a county or municipality as the entity that promotes the region as a tourist destination. “Official Destination Marketing Organization” is an organization whose task it is to represent that community to potential travelers and generate economic benefits to that county or region of Tennessee through visitor expenditures. Official Destination Marketing Organizations act as Convention & Visitors Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, and community development-related organizations that are not for profit and considered that county or region’s “Official Tourism Organization.”  Tourism partners that are not considered as an ODMO or OTO can be an attraction, festival, museum, Tennessee Main Street organizations, for example.

Q: Can funds be used to purchase land?
A: No.

Q: This grant is not for construction. What do you consider to be construction?
A: This funding is intended to further develop tourism assets in your community. If you already have a festival and need to make improvements to a stage or build a gazebo, that would be eligible. If you have an historic building that needs repairs or accessibility improvements, that would be eligible. If you need to add bathrooms to a venue so that it could be used more frequently, that would be eligible. Building a new visitor center or a completely new structure would likely not be eligible.

Q: Do ADA requirements apply?
A: That is up to the community to determine for their individual projects. It is a good idea to ensure that all projects are accessible to people with disabilities.

Q: Can we make improvements to a city- or county-owned golf course, ball field or tennis courts?
A: Technically that is eligible, but the applicant is responsible for showing how it would increase tourism revenues in the community, such as hosting tournaments that bring in tourists.

Q: Are lighting and sound equipment eligible?
A: Yes. Again, show how it would increase tourism revenues in your community.

Q: Can we do a plan that only covers part of the county or a specific destination?
A: Yes. You would justify in your application why that destination or location was selected for the plan.

Q: Is a plan required?
A: No. Many communities have good plans or know what their best tourism assets are and what they need.

Q: Can I use a consultant to develop a plan for my community?
A: Yes. Up to $20,000 of grant funding can be used for plan development, as long as the consultant meets the set grant criteria. However, Tourism Asset Action Plan awardees will be required to complete TDTD’s Asset Inventory prior to contracting with a consultant. Completing the inventory will allow awardees to have a better understanding of assets in the area as well as a base inventory for the consultant. This will allow more time to be focused on a strategic plan. This is a new requirement for Round 3 that awardees in Rounds 1 & 2 did not have to complete.

Q: Can we have private sector partners?
A: Absolutely. We encourage and endorse community contribution and communication between all affected interests in these projects.

Q: Can the funds be used in connection with other grants?
A: It depends. Other grants cannot be used as the matching funds, but if the community puts in the required match, then other grants funds can be used to complete a bigger, more impactful project.

Q: Are administration expenses eligible?
A: Yes, up to (5%) five percent may be used for administration fees.

Q: Are engineering expenses and other soft costs an eligible expense?
A: No. This can be a part of the match, but TDTD will not pay for engineering.

Q: Are permits an eligible expense?
A: Yes. If a state or federal permit is required, then the grant funds can pay for it.

Q: Can I mail in my application?
A: No. It must be submitted via email to Tourism.Grant@tn.gov and copy Jennie.Mccabe@tn.gov.

Q: Do I need to number the answers to align with the question numbers?
A: Yes, all answers must be numbered to correspond with the question.

Q: Is an Environmental Review required?
A: No.

Q: Do Davis-Bacon Wage Rates apply?
A: No.

Q: Do Tennessee Prevailing Wage Rates apply?
A: Yes.

Q: Do projects require bidding process?
A: Yes. State and/or local procurement rules must be followed. This will be checked at the monitoring visit.

Tourism Enhancement Grant: Application

Tourism Enhancement Grant: Grantee Report

Tourism Enhancement Grant: Closeout Report