EDA Funding for DMOs – Action Items Today

By President & CEO John Lambeth

Thanks to the hard work of many in the destination industry, DMO’s will have a new opportunity to secure EDA funding from the $3B American Recovery Plan Act. US Travel and Destinations International successfully advocated for a $750M dedication for destinations that have had job and economic losses in tourism and outdoor recreation.

Congratulations to the Travel & Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB) for making compelling recommendations to Commerce Secretary Raimondo just a few weeks ago. Representing destinations, Brad Dean, President & CEO of Visit Puerto Rico and Vice Chair of the TTAB worked hard to ensure that the recommendations included strategies to help DMOs.

The EDA will be releasing its Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) or multiple NOFOs soon. The NOFO(s) will establish the rules for applying and begin the application process. For DMOs that are considering applying, here are a few near-term action items to consider as the process starts:

  1. DUNS Number/SAM Registration: In order to qualify for an EDA grant, your organization must have a DUNS number and register with the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM). Registration with SAM is not easy and takes time, so it is a good idea to begin this process. To get started, see this SAM Entity Registration Training webinar.
  2. EDR: The EDA is divided into six regions and within each of the regions there are multiple Economic Development Representatives (EDRs) for your state or area. Your EDR is critical to the work on your application.  Many DMOs are contacting their EDR now to let them know of their interest and to discuss preliminary project ideas. There will be little guidance prior to the release of the NOFO, but it is advisable to make contact and begin to build a relationship early.
  3. CEDS: EDA has required that all projects identify and meet requirements contained in an EDA-approved Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) or an equivalent. It is a good idea to find out if your region has a CEDS and, if so, which strategies align with your tourism projects and goals. Hopefully, the EDA will relax the CEDS rules for tourism funding, but understanding your CEDS landscape now will help you in the application process.
  4. Tourism – Related Capital Improvements: Because the EDA is focused on building resiliency in communities, they are favorable to funding capital improvement projects that create jobs and leverage private investment. If you have a tourism-related capital improvement that may be a candidate for EDA funding, now is the time to ensure that all design, entitlement and environmental work is completed as quickly as possible.

If you would like your EDR contact information or more information about applying for an EDA grant, please do not hesitate to reach out to me our team at Civitas and we will be happy to help.

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