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Enhance Iowa (EI) - Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) Fund

Grants to Iowa Agencies and Nonprofits for Cultural,
Recreational, and Educational Attractions

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA)

Deadline Date:



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Grants to Iowa local government agencies and nonprofit organizations for projects aimed at increasing local tourism and community attraction. Funding is intended to support transformative endeavors providing cultural, educational, entertainment, sports, and recreational attractions to the area. Eligible projects benefit the general public and include construction, renovation, major building repairs, and local trails.

The Enhance Iowa Community Attraction and Tourism Fund provides grants that help communities create transformational projects that enhance the vitality of a region and the state overall.

Eligible CAT projects must be “primarily vertical infrastructure,” which is defined as land acquisition and construction, major renovation and major repair of buildings, all appurtenant structures, utilities, site development, and recreational trails and water trails. Generally, all vertical infrastructure costs of the project are eligible for CAT funding. Eligible expenses could also include fixtures or equipment that are integral to the structure and operation of the building.

The acquisition of real estate is the only pre-award expense that is eligible for CAT funding.

For a list of eligibility criteria for projects, see the FAQs documment:

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 145080

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Historically, CAT awards range between 10-20% of the final negotiated project cost, though recent awards about averaged 14-16% of project costs. The EI Board has a policy of not awarding more than a $1 million to a single project.

Term of Contract:

Projects should be able to finish construction within two years from the award date.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible applicants:

- City or County
- Nonprofit Organizations
- School District as a co-applicant with a City or County

All work already completed on a project is not eligible for CAT funding. This includes design and architectural fees and site preparation expenses. If construction is started during the review process, work done and funds spent are ineligible for funding and must be excluded from the CAT application.

Other ineligible expenses include operational expenses, endowments, marketing and advertising, and fundraising expenses including grant writer fees. Utilities specifically put in place to support the project (i.e. water, sewer, gas, electric, communications) are eligible for funding, but if they also support non-project facilities, only a reasonable percentage of the costs can be allocated to the CAT project.

Not funded:

Routine, recurring maintenance or operational expenses or leasing of a building, appurtenant structure, or utility without a lease-purchase agreement.

Pre-Application Information:

CAT applications are accepted and reviewed quarterly, subject to available funds. Deadlines for application submission are January 15, April 15, July 15, and October 15.

Application forms are available by contacting the EI Program Manager. Applications should be submitted to the Enhance Iowa Program Manager. Applications may not be submitted electronically.

Level of matching funds required:

Applications must document at least sixty-five percent (65%) of the total project cost has been committed to the project (i.e At least 65% of the project funds must be raised.) The EI Board leverages non-state funds as much as possible to invest in projects throughout Iowa. Applicants should not assume a 65% match is adequate. To be competitive in the application process, applicants should strive to have as many matching funds as possible before applying. CAT funding is “last dollar in,” which means the EI Board will not make an award until the funding gap is closed or they are confident the applicant can close the gap within 30-60 days. (For specific requirements regarding matching funds, see the FAQs document in Supporting Documents below.)

Small Population Area Applications: Legislation requires that one-third of each annual CAT allocation be reserved for small population area applications each year. For FY2019, the 1/3 CAT allocation will total $1,666,666, with the awards to small population areas totalling $1,975,362.

While the EI Board must consider geographic diversity when making funding decisions, a community may apply for funds for more than one project. However, a project may not receive more than one award, unless there is a separate or substantial addition or new phase to the project. The subsequent phase must be a separate project, and funds previously committed to the project cannot be counted as match toward the additional phase.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Submit the application to:

Enhance Iowa Program Manager
Iowa Economic Development Authority
200 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50309-1819

Program Contacts:

Alaina Santizo

Maicie Pohlman

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Iowa

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