Gov. Reynolds announced a $100M investment to bolster the quality of life and tourism in Iowa’s communities and attract visitors and new residents to the state. The new effort, called Destination Iowa, will provide grants to help communities move forward on transformational, shovel-ready attractions. Cities, counties, nonprofits and other organizations can apply for Destination Iowa grants from four separate funds: Economically Significant Development, Outdoor Recreation, Tourism Attraction, and Creative Placemaking.
“Communities in all corners of the state are creating unique destinations that give visitors a reason to explore and residents a reason to stay,” said Gov. Reynolds. Destination Iowa will help more communities across the state move forward in their efforts to boost tourism and economic growth while enhancing the quality of life for Iowans.”
While Iowa saw a record number of Iowans and out-of-state travelers utilizing outdoor amenities such as state and county parks and recreational bike trails over the last two years, the hospitality industry in the State of Iowa experienced a 46.1% decrease in employment and there was an overall 29% decline in visitor spending as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Destination Iowa will provide new opportunities to create and invest in attractions that will raise Iowa’s profile, welcome out-of-state travelers, and increase visitor spending while accelerating tourism’s recovery. It will also spur local economies and contribute to efforts to recruit new members of Iowa’s workforce.
Iowa has led the way in elevating its already unmatched quality of life through significant state investments in child care, broadband, housing and commercial aviation infrastructure projects, as well as a significant investment in the successful This Is Iowa ad campaign. This investment will build upon that momentum.
“Destination Iowa will inspire the kinds of attractions that Iowans take pride in and that will raise the positive profile of our state well beyond our borders,” Gov. Reynolds said.
Applications will be accepted starting May 9. Funded projects must be completed by June 30, 2026. For more information on Destination Iowa, visit iowaeda.com/destination-iowa/. Funding is being made available through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
Staci Hupp Ballard