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Destination Development Program

What is Destination Development?

Destination development is the intentional process of making investments in community infrastructure in order to improve a destination's ability to attract visitors and enhance their experience while visiting the destination.  Destination development initiatives can widely vary in scope and focus, but they often focus on principles of placemaking which leverage unique characteristics of a community building upon its assets and creating unique experiences that benefit both the visitor and the community.  

Why Invest in Destination Development?

The Keweenaw's rich history, natural environment and local communities make it a special place for visitors and residents.  By investing in destination development, Visit Keweenaw encourages local projects that enhance the visitor experience and encourages them to return in the future. 

We also know that the best places to live are often great communities to visit. A new trailhead, sharing local history, or signage that helps people find a nearby waterfall benefits both the visitor and local residents. These investments help connect the visitor economy with local community development generating positive benefits across the Keweenaw.

Two female artists sit atop a mural painted in Houghton
The City of Houghton partnered with The Vault Hotel and Visit Keweenaw's Destination Development Program to fund a vibrant mural painted by two regional artists.

Destination Development Awards

How to Apply

Visit Keweenaw annually solicits applications from community organizations to support destination development initiatives. To apply for project funding, please complete an application using the link below. While not required, projects are encouraged to be completed by September 30th of the year funds are awarded.  

Program Applicationhttps://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HG25P83

Eligibility: Local units of government and nonprofit organizations operating in Houghton & Keweenaw Counties are eligible to apply.  While businesses are ineligible applicants, they can be part of an applicant team contributing ideas, expertise and additional resources to the effort.

Cost Share: In order to maximize the program's impact, all projects are required to include at minimum 50% cost-share in the form of cash or in-kind match from sources other than the Keweenaw Destination Development Program. For example, if the projects requires $10,000 to complete, only $5,000 can come from the Keweenaw Destination Development Program. The remaining $5,000 can come from the applicant, project partners or in the form of donated in-kind services.

Cost Reimbursement: The award comes in the form of cost reimbursement. Once the project is complete and project costs documented, the applicant is reimbursed up to the total award amount.  

Deadline to Apply: The application deadline for consideration is April 1, 2024.

How Are Projects Selected?

Applications are reviewed by the Visit Keweenaw staff and a subcommittee of Visit Keweenaw's board of directors. Applicants are reviewed based on the following criteria:

  • Visitor Experience: The extent to which the project will positively enhance visitors' experiences while in the Keweenaw
  • Demonstrated Need: The extent to which the project fulfills a need currently not already being met in the area
  • Community: The extent to which the project offers benefits to the broader community
  • Sustainability: The extent to which the project supports a sustainable tourism industry
  • Cost Share Ratio: The proportion of cost share contributed by the applicant in relation to the award amount requested
  • Capacity for Completion: The likelihood of the applicant's capacity to successfully complete the project by September 30th, 2024
  • Longevity: The applicant's capacity to maintain the project after the destination development award has been expended (e.g. project upkeep/maintenance)

Previous Awards

2023 Project Awards

  • Keweenaw Snowmobile Club - $20,000 - Snowmobile Groomer Barn Construction
  • Ahmeek Village - $15,000 - Gabriel Chopp Park Renovation
  • Carnegie Museum of Houghton - $8,450 - Houghton Geo Walk & Bike Tour
  • Copper Harbor Trails Club - $5,000 - Orchard Trail Bike Trail and Skills Area
  • City of Houghton - $4,000 - Downtown Houghton Mural Project
  • Houghton County Historical Society - $3,500 - Outdoor Interpretive Signs at Houghton County Historical Museum
  • Keweenaw Search & Rescue - $5,200 - Rescue Vehicle GPS Units
  • Painesdale Mine & Shaft - $3,600 - Historical Interpretive Signage
  • Copper Harbor Trails Club - $2,500 Copper Shores Community Foundation Giving Tuesday Club Sponsorship
  • Keweenaw Land Trust - $2,500 Copper Shores Community Foundation Giving Tuesday Club Sponsorship
  • Swedetown Trails Club - $2,500 Copper Shores Community Foundation Giving Tuesday Club Sponsorship
  • Hancock Trails Club - $2,500 Copper Shores Community Foundation Giving Tuesday Club Sponsorship
  • Keweenaw Snowmobile Club - $2,500 Copper Shores Community Foundation Giving Tuesday Club Sponsorship
  • Keweenaw ATV Club - $2,500 Copper Shores Community Foundation Giving Tuesday Club Sponsorship
  • Main Street Calumet - $600 - Welcome to Historic Calumet Trestle Sign

‚Äč2022 Project Awards

  • Keweenaw Snowmobile Club - $10,000 – Snowmobile Groomer Barn Construction and Energy Efficiency Upgrades
  • Copper Harbor Trails Club - $5,000 - PHF Giving Tuesday - Club Sponsorship
  • Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw - $3,800 – Virtual Historic Downtown Houghton Walking Tour Signage
  • Chassell Township - $2,800 – Wayfinding and Historic Interpretive Signage for Chassell Kayak Launch 
  • Keweenaw Nordic Ski Club - $2,500 - PHF Giving Tuesday - Club Sponsorship
  • Swedetown Recreation Area - $2,500 - PHF Giving Tuesday - Club Sponsorship
  • Calumet Township - $2,300 – Fat-Tire Bike Grooming Equipment
A sign explaining the history of the area's mining
In 2023, a new interpretive sign was installed at the Painesdale Mine & Shaft to explain the site's historical legacy.

Visit Keweenaw promotes Michigan’s Houghton and Keweenaw as a destination for tourism. Tourism, and the broader visitor economy, generates social, cultural…