WCDT Secured $500,000 in funding for local Discovery Center project

Sunflower awarded $500,000 from the Community Attraction and Tourism Grant.

On December 2, 2021, the Enhance Iowa Board, based on a recommendation from the Iowa Community and Attraction Committee, formally approved a $500,000 award to the new Sunflower Child Development and Discovery Center. Winneshiek County Development and Tourism Executive Director, Stephanie Fromm, expressed her excitement about the award. “We are so happy with this award. The application required our WCDT team to put in hundreds of hours and our fundraising committee was phenomenal at securing the matching dollars we needed. Our community really stepped up to the plate to donate. We also would not have been awarded this much without the contributions that our largest partners, the City of Decorah, Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors, RJ McElroy Foundation and Winneshiek Medical Center committed to the project specifically for this grant. Also, a huge thank you goes out to the Northeast Iowa RC&D for assisting with the economic development study for the grant application.”

Fromm reported that the project was the only one of the 17 projects awarded funding that the CAT Committee discussed going beyond their usual funding cap of $500,000. Although the CAT Committee ultimately felt that they had to respect their $500,000 self-imposed limit, Fromm noted, “It was great to hear individual Board members express their support for our project and our community.”

WCDT Project Coordinator Lora Friest and Sunflower Project volunteer Merlene Brown attended the meeting in Des Moines with Fromm. Brown noted, “I just want to express gratitude for the award and am excited about the impact this will have on our community. The momentum for this project is incredible!” Friest explained, “We knew that if we could build community support, secure contributions from the city and county, and matching funds from the community, that we had a great shot at this funding, but it is still rewarding to see all our efforts come to fruition. We clapped and celebrated for 5 minutes but now we’re on to the next grant applications. Actually, we are already working on three other state and federal grants for the project to be submitted within the next 6 weeks and our fundraising committee has ramped up their efforts with a $1 million fundraising goal by the end of the year. We all believe in this project so it’s certainly an energy burst to have new partners invest.”

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