The North Dakota Department of Commerce awarded $400,000 to the Bison World project, the agency announced Tuesday. The grant was part of the 2021 Tourism Planning Grant appropriated by the last legislative session.

The grant is intended to aid tourism developers in planning destination projects to draw visitors from outside North Dakota to the state preferably for an overnight stay.

"It is to continue down the road we are already on," said Connie Ova, CEO of the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., which has been leading project planning.

Bison World is a planned cultural theme park honoring the American bison, the national mammal. If constructed, the park would occupy about 30 acres of land near the intersection of Interstate 94 and U.S. Highway 281. Preliminary cost estimates for the project are about $72.5 million.

In August, the JSDC authorized $600,000 in funding for planning and feasibility studies for the project.

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Ova said the funds received from the Department of Commerce could be used for continuing design and engineering work, the formation of a 501 (c)3 and to "put together a plan and administer it."

The award to Bison World was one of five made by the department totaling $1 million. Other North Dakota tourism projects awarded funding were $250,000 to the Missouri Riverfront Revitalization Plan, $100,000 for the Center for Exploration project in Grand Forks, $100,000 for a strategic plan at the International Peace Gardens and $150,000 to develop a master plan for potential attractions at Medora.