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Swing and Miss…

By Sally Miskavige, Grand Forks Children’s Museum Board Member

What’s the old adage…you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Well, sometimes you take the shot, and you miss anyway, even though it was ‘on target’.

That happened this week to the Grand Forks Children’s Museum. Our esteemed grant writers submitted a grant request to the State of North Dakota for a Tourism Grant to support the building of the Grand Forks Children’s Museum. Sadly, we were informed that we were not awarded any of the $25 million in grant money to support tourism in North Dakota.

The majority of the $25 million of the awarded grant money went to fund outdoor recreation. Further insight from the state:

“…the reviewers made the strategic decision to support projects that enhance winter sports across the state and attractions that would enhance tribal tourism.”

“A dedicated tourism business developer position was created to focus on attracting

new tourism businesses and offerings to the state by addressing identified gaps. Areas of focus include outdoor recreation, value-added recreation, agritourism, arts, culture and heritage of North Dakota, venues, unique accommodations, culinary experiences, themed education and entertainment attractions, and other legacy projects.”

Congratulations to the projects that were supported by the state’s Development Fund, we supported these funds during the legislative session and were hoping for the requested $50 million total expenditure – hopefully they will continue to invest in value of life projects in North Dakota as they are so important.

Among the recipients/projects were:

· Indian Hills for a multi-room lodge- $200k

· Minot downtown redevelopment for a turf activity lawn- $1 million

· Bison themed amusement park in Jamestown- $3 million

· Frost Fire Park ski resort to add lodging and entertainment- $1.75million

· Riverfront festival grounds in Bismark- $4million

· Scott Moser Hunting and Fishing for lodge construction- $500k

· Recreational trails and pavilion Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library- $4million

· Turtle Mountain projects including a Powwow arbor- $1.5million

· Western Heritage rodeo grounds at Medora- $4million

· Event space at Devils Lake- $1.75million

· Bottineau Winter Park replacement snowmaking system- $1.45million

· Huff Hills snowmaking system- $650k

· Thrill Hills chalet- $200k

We hoped to receive funding under the ‘arts and culture’ categories. Further, we believe that a children’s museum will further enhance the tourism attraction to those visiting our region.

Our grant writers did an excellent job and we thank them for the countless hours they worked on this grant! Hopefully we can use that material in future grants. Tourism is a significant factor in our plans to build the Grand Forks Children’s Museum. Our research shows that this museum will result in economic growth and diversification in the northeastern region of North Dakota. Further, it will increase unique experiences for workforce recruitment and retention and enhance the residents’ quality of life as well as the experience other residents of North Dakota, Canada, and Minnesota have, when visiting our great community.

The Grand Forks Children’s Museum will be a high-demand tourist destination in the northern Red River Valley that will attract visitors of all ages to explore, play, wonder, and learn. Cultural, historical, and geographical relevant visitor experiences will invite visitors to get to know our region, placing Grand Forks on the map for a distinctive experience that will create lasting memories for families.

A 2020 Grand Forks Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) (including Grand Forks and Polk County regions) Retail and Attractions Economic Analysis demonstrated a need for a museum in the Grand Forks area that is not currently being met. While there was a $5.2 million regional demand for museums, historical sites, and similar institutions, 89% of that demand ($4.6 million annually) was being met outside of the metro. The board of directors believe the successful completion of the building of the Grand Forks Children's Museum could reduce that gap significantly and keep many of these tourism dollars in the region, as well as attract tourism from surrounding states and Canada.

By no means, do we want this message to be viewed as a ‘sour grapes’ message. We believe and trust our state legislator’s ability to envision a stronger North Dakota. We were simply hopeful for a different decision. We are grateful for the funding that we have received from the state, including $5 million from the Department of Public Instruction 23 session and as well with $200,000 in planning grants. We will continue to submit valid grants to the state to obtain funding for the building of the Grand Forks Children’s Museum…for the Grand Forks community, the surrounding areas and as an attraction for out of state tourism.

Keeping North Dakota strong, for all its residents, with an eye towards developing an infrastructure for the future…that should be a goal for all of us proud North Dakotans.


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