Montana Historic Preservation Grant

Program Overview

The Montana Historic Preservation Grant (MHPG) Program is a state-funded program created in 2019 as a result of Senate Bill 338, Sections 1 through 17. The MHPG Program is designed to support public or private entities with the preservation of historic sites, historical societies, or history museums through grant funding. The MHPG Program provides the opportunity to stimulate economic development, community revitalization, and statewide tourism through increased investment, job creation or retention, business expansion, and local tax base growth. Combined with such return on investment, the MHPG Program supports the preservation of Montana’s historic structures, sites, societies, and museums, contributing to the maintenance and demonstrating the economic impact of historical resources throughout the state. The MHPG Program coordinates with wider historic preservation technical assistance available and utilizes the diversity of funds to address both the financial and preservation gaps of projects. MHPG funds invest in the critical point to help projects move forward, catalyzing local revitalization and economic growth.


The biennial application cycle for the Montana Historic Preservation Grant (MHPG) Program is now open! The deadline to apply is February 28, 2022. To support applicants, Commerce hosted a MHPG Application Workshop. To access the application and recording of the workshop, please select the "Applying for Grants" tab below. 

To submit your application electronically, please go to www.transfer.mt.gov. Once there, you will be asked to log in or create an ePass account if you do not already have one. Once logged in, click on “Send a New File” and pull your application file(s) into the field and click “Continue.” When prompted, click on “State Employee or ePass Montana Customer.” On the “Recipients” page, select the “Find a State Group” tab. In the “Search” box, type “DOC CDD FTS” and hit “Search.” Select the Existing Group found “DOC CDD FTS.” To find the correct state distribution group, please use spaces between DOC and CDD and FTS. This step-by-step guide walks you through this process. If you have difficulties submitting your application electronically, please email DOCCDD@mt.gov or call 406.841.2770 for assistance. 

Eligible Applicants

  • Person
    • Individuals applying through a fiscal agent
    • Individuals applying in coordination with a local government
  • Association
    • For-profit or not for profit organizations and businesses
  • Governing Unit
    • Incorporated city or town
    • County
    • Consolidated government
    • Representative of a governing unit (such as a library or school district)
    • Tribal government

 

Eligible Projects

Eligible applicants can apply to complete projects or activities for the preservation of historic sites, historical societies, or history museums. Preservation activities include:

A. Internal or external “brick-and-mortar” improvements that will address infrastructure, building renovation, maintenance, or building code issues

B. Improvements that will enhance security, climate control, or fire protection; and

C. Projects with a total cost over $50,000 may use up to 10% of grant funding for planning and/or grant administration costs that are directly related to the preservation activities A. and B.

Historic sites will be considered eligible if one of the below criteria is met:

  • Structure or site is listed on National, State, or Local Historic Registry
  • Structure or site contributes to a historic district
  • A structure more than 50 years old and has documented significance to the history of a Montana community or region

 

Eligible Funding and Match Requirement

Eligible applicants may apply for funding up to $500,000 per eligible project. A 20% match of the total project cost is required for applications submitted by governing units (as defined above under Eligible Applicants). A 20% match of the total grant request is required for applications submitted by other entities. 

The amount of eligible funding in each biennial cycle is derived from the tax collections allocated in 15-68-820(3)(b) and (4)(c) and deposited into the Historic Preservation Grant Account and further carried out according to the guidance established in 22-3-1306, MCA. The legislature must approve and award all projects.

MHPG Application

The MHPG Guidelines and Application along with Appendix B - Environmental Review is available below. The deadline to apply is February 28, 2022. 

To support applicants, Commerce hosted a MHPG Application Workshop on January 12, 2022, which is available as a recording below. The workshop provided an overview of the program, timeline, and environmental review process. 

MHPG Guidelines and Application (Word) (PDF)

MHPG Appendix B - Environmental Review (Word) (PDF) **this must be submitted with an application** 

If you have questions about the program or potential projects, please contact the Community Development Division.

 

MHPG Award Process 

Commerce staff has no decision-making authority over any application and only provides advisory recommendations to the legislature. Commerce staff will review applications based on the six (6) statutory review criteria found in 22-3-1306, MCA, and listed below.

Statutory Review Criteria:

  1. The degree to which the project supports economic stimulus or economic activity, including job creation and work creation for Montana contractors and service workers;
  2. The degree to which the project activity can demonstrate the purpose and need of the project. This includes whether it provides features that establish or enhance security, climate control, or fire protection for museums or address infrastructure, maintenance, or building code issues for museums, historical societies, or historic sites;
  3. The degree to which timing of the project can be completed without delay, including access to matching funds and approval of permits, if needed;
  4. The degree to which the project activity contributes historic or heritage value related to the State of Montana;
  5. The degree to which the applicant demonstrates a successful track record or experience of the organization directing the project; and,
  6. The degree to which the project’s expected ongoing economic benefit to the state as a result of the project completion.

To prepare the recommendations, Commerce will review all applications in consultation with the Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) before they are submitted to the legislature. Commerce may allow outside technical review of applications by other public or private agencies or professionals when deemed necessary to assure adequate review. Commerce may take additional information into account based upon Commerce’s or other agency’s knowledge about a proposed project or community in the scoring of an application. 

Commerce will prepare its recommendations and present them to the legislature by the 15th day of the regular legislative session. During the legislative session, MHPG applicants will have the opportunity to testify on behalf of their project. Commerce will communicate the date, time, and details of this process with MHPG applicants as soon as practicable. MHPG applicants are encouraged to testify and share an overview of their project, its importance, its impact, and any applicable updates.

 

Environmental Review Process

Environmental Review Flowchart (PDF)

Sample Resolution for Exempt Projects (Word)

Sample Resolution for Environmental Assessment (EA) Projects (Word)

Sample Appendix B-1 for Non-Governmental Applicants (Word)

Sample Advertisement for Non-Governmental Applicants (Word)

MHPG Grant Administration

The Montana Department of Commerce administers the MHPG Program through the Community Development Division. All awarded projects must follow the requirements in the most current version of the MHPG Project Administration Manual, and the additional requirements outlined in the contract with Commerce. The MHPG Project Administration Manual provides detailed guidance on how to administer a project in compliance with program regulations and state law.  Community Development Division staff are available to help grantees navigate the project activities through direct technical assistance.

MHPG Project Administration Manual (PDF)

Chapter 1 - Start-up Requirements and Contracting Forms:

  • Exhibit 1A - Guidance on Match Documentation (Word) (PDF) 
  • Exhibit 1B - Sample Management Plan (Word) (PDF)
  • Exhibit 1C - Sample Grant Assistance Agreement (Word) (PDF)
  • Exhibit 1D - Signatory Certification Form (Word) (PDF)
  • Exhibit 1E - Designation of Depository Form (Word) (PDF)

Chapter 2 - Project Management Forms:

  • Exhibit 2A - Procurement Processes (Word) (PDF)
  • Exhibit 2B - Request for Funds Form (Word) (PDF)
  • Exhibit 2C - Uniform Invoice Tracking Spreadsheet (Excel)
  • Exhibit 2D - Project Completion Report (Word) (PDF)

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Eligibility

No, the MHPG Program does not require funds up front. Project funds are disbursed by submitting a request for funds and applicable invoices to Commerce. Projects may have multiple requests for funds depending on the project size, timeline, and budget. Typically, invoices require payment within 30 days, allowing time for grantees to submit a request for funds from Commerce before the invoice is due. While we do request 7-10 business days to process requests for funds, our team recognizes the need to expedite these as quickly as possible. Our team will be in regular communication with each grantee  throughout the start-up, request for funds, and closeout process.
No, operational expenses are not eligible for funding.
Yes, multiple applications can be submitted by one applicant for different projects, but multiple applicants cannot apply for the same project. For example, a local government might apply for needed improvements to multiple historic buildings but may not apply for multiple grants for a single building. Similarly, a nonprofit and business cannot both submit applications for the same building or historic site.

Yes, MHPG grantees that were awarded funds during a previous application cycle may apply during the current application cycle. For example, a local government could apply for another historic building in their community, or a history museum could apply for another project after completing their first. However, if a MHPG grantee applies for another project on the same historic site, historical society, or history museum and their current project has not reached substantial completion, they may rank lower on some the statutory review criteria. For example, they may rank lower on (b), (c), and (e). 

Potentially. All applicants must demonstrate that the project has historic significance locally, regionally, or to the history of Montana. If a structure or site is listed on local, state, or national register of historic places it is eligible. A building that is more than 50 years old may be eligible if its historic significance can be clearly demonstrated and documented.
Potentially. Eligible applicants are both public and private entities. However, MHPG funding is available to complete preservation activities only for historic sites, historical societies, and history museums. Non-history museums, such as an art museum, are not eligible. However, a non-history museum that is housed within a historic site which meets the eligibility criteria may apply for projects directly related to the preservation of the structure. For example, lighting or displays for an Art Museum would be ineligible, but the museum could apply for funds to address historic building needs such as roof repairs, accessibility improvements, or to address building code issues.  

Environmental

Yes, under MEPA requirements all projects must hold a public meeting to discuss the project and its expected environmental determination level, and to respond to public comments. The environmental discussion can be included on the agenda of an existing meeting such as a City Council meeting, or a board meeting for a nonprofit. It is important to take meeting minutes (recording public comments and attendance) and respond to all public comments.

It is unlikely that an MHPG project would necessitate an EIS. An EIS is needed only when the proposed project would have significant adverse effects on the environment that cannot be fully mitigated. Most MHPG projects are either "Exempt" or require an "Environmental Assessment."

 

Application Requirements

No, neither are a requirement for a MHPG application. However, an applicant should include any preliminary project planning that is in-line with the scope of work to support the project's feasibility and estimated costs. This may include a Preliminary Architectural Report (PAR) or quotes from contractors. More involved projects, such as a complete building renovation, would benefit from a PAR, but more limited projects, such as a roof replacement, may not need a PAR. Projects with a total cost over $50,000 may also use up to 10% of their grant request towards planning, such as a PAR.

No, applicants are not required to conduct strategic plans, operating plans, or fully audited financials to be eligible or competitive for MHPG funding. As part of the application process, providing such materials when available helps to set the context of the institution and the project. Applicants should feel comfortable submitting any plans created, whether that is succinct board-created annual strategy or a full-scale strategic plan. If a plan is not available, then an organization can articulate its goals in response to the application questions. 

Yes, supplemental materials - such as photos, letters of support, and National Register of Historic Places nominations - can be included with a MHPG application, but they are not required. These supplemental materials are helpful because they provide the review team with a sense of the project and its community support, and they substantiate the narrative in the MHPG application. When considering supplemental materials, please be considerate of the time and attention that the review team puts into each application. For example, applicants are encouraged to submit a couple of key letters of support - such as one from the local government, one from the chamber of commerce, and one from the business community - rather than an exhaustive list. 

Award Process

Awards will be made during the 2023 legislative session. Once the legislature passes a bill appropriating MHPG funds, it is then submitted to the Governor for signature to become effective. The date that the bill becomes effective will be the official award date. After this date grantees may incur reimbursable project costs. Costs before this date cannot be reimbursed with MHPG funds. Funds will be available to MHPG grantees once they meet start-up conditions and execute a contract with Commerce. 
Commerce has no decision-making authority over any application and only provides advisory recommendations to the legislature. During the legislative session, the legislature will review Commerce's advisory recommendations and consider each application. During this process, MHPG applicants will have the opportunity to testify on behalf of their project. MHPG applicants are encouraged to testify and share an overview of their project, its importance, its impact, and any applicable updates. Commerce will communicate the date, time, and details of this process with MHPG applicants as soon as practicable.
The biennium is named by the last year of the biennium (for example the 2025 biennium begins July 1, 2023 and ends June 30, 2025). As established in SB 338, Commerce is required to receive MHPG applications no later than March 1st of every even numbered year. Commerce will submit recommendations for review by the legislature with funding available for the following biennium after the legislative session.