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New Grant Program Aims to Benefit Residents Using Tourism Dollars

January 6, 2023 – Door County, WI.  Destination Door County (DDC) is excited to announce a brand-new initiative called the Community Investment Fund which will use dollars generated by visitors to help fund local projects that will improve the quality of life for those who live and work in Door County.

Central to the work of DDC, the county’s tourism marketing and management organization, is an effort to ensure that every visitor has an enjoyable experience. While Door County is a naturally welcoming community, DDC’s primary reason for ensuring visitors enjoy their experience in Door County is because it benefits residents. When people visit Door County, they spend money – creating jobs for families, generating incremental tax dollars, providing economic opportunities, and supporting the amenities that enhance the quality of life for everyone.


The Community Investment Fund, created in partnership with the Door County Community Foundation, is a natural evolution of DDC’s work. Using a portion of the room tax dollars paid by overnight visitors, the Community Investment Fund will offer grants to a range of projects that improve the quality of life for those who live and work in Door County.

DDC anticipates committing up to $1 million per year to the Community Investment Fund.

Wisconsin State Statute requires the use of room tax dollars in ways that benefit visitors, so that must be a requirement of any application to the Community Investment Fund. However, to earn a grant from the Community Investment Fund a project must also demonstrate how it will meaningfully improve the quality of life for residents of Door County.

Grant awards will vary greatly, ranging from just a few thousand dollars to potentially into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s anticipated that the average grant award could be around $100,000, but more modest requests are welcomed and encouraged.  Qualified applicants include 501(c)(3) public charities, 501(c)(6) organizations, and local units of government.

The idea for this new grant program resulted from many conversations over the past few years as the concept of increasing the county-wide room tax from 5.5% to 8% went from idea to reality. DDC’s board of directors as well as commissioners from the Door County Tourism Zone discussed ways to help better support local municipalities and other organizations as demands on local tourism infrastructure have intensified due to increased visitation in the popular vacation destination.

“Our board of directors felt the Community Investment Fund was a way the organization could provide enhanced support to this community in a meaningful way that reflects our community shared values,” said DDC’s President/CEO Julie Gilbert. “By establishing this fund, we can make a difference in people’s lives by financially supporting projects that will positively impact our visitors and our residents,” she said.

DDC established a Tourism Investment Grant Task Force in June of 2022 comprised of several community leaders to discuss and work through details and priorities of the program. With help and facilitation by Bret Bicoy from the Door County Community Foundation, the task force established parameters and details of how the Community Investment Fund would work and prioritized the types of projects to be funded.

Specific priorities of the Community Investment Fund include: creative ideas that have a meaningful impact on the people who live and work in Door County; impact that crosses municipal boundaries; encourages collaboration; leverages additional resources; and helps residents experience the positive impact of tourism.

Public information meetings about the Community Investment Fund will be held to share details about the new program. The same information will be presented at each of the following public presentations:

Tuesday January 10, Virtual – 10-11 AM via ZOOM (Use this link)

Wednesday January 11, In-Person – 10-11 AM at the Door County Community Foundation office, 222 N 3rd Ave, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235

Thursday January 12, In-Person – 3-4 PM in the Great Hall at The Donald & Carol Kress Pavilion, 7845 Church St, Egg Harbor, WI 54209

Thursday February 9, In-Person – 10-11 AM at the Door County Community Foundation office, 222 N 3rd Ave, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235

Grant cycles will be quarterly, with applications due at 4 PM on the first Thursday of April, July, October and January. Applicants should typically be notified of a decision about a month after application deadlines.

Given that the Community Investment Fund must comply with complex Wisconsin State Statute rules regarding the use of room tax dollars, applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to the Door County Community Foundation for an informal assessment of their idea prior to the submission of a formal application.  Email or call the Community Foundation at (920) 746-1786 to schedule an appointment.


Community Investment Fund Information Sheet PDF Link

Additional information and application materials are available at

Destination Door County is the official tourism marketing and management organization for Door County whose mission is to inspire travel that drives community enhancement while working to ensure all travelers feel welcome, preserving the county’s way of life and protecting the region’s natural resources.

Media contact: Jon Jarosh, Destination Door County,