Over $620K in UMGC grants awarded

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The Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation (UMGC) held its 2023 grant awards reception at the Casino Queen Marquette on Oct. 24, announcing the distribution of 35 grants totaling $623,383 to non-profit organizations serving Clayton County.


Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to the enrichment of Clayton County through the dispersion of funds acquired from an admission tax paid by the Casino Queen Marquette equal to 3.25 percent of the casino’s adjusted gross revenue. It is the group’s mission to award these funds to qualifying tax exempt organizations or those working in cooperation with local governments within Clayton County who cultivate projects that meet established criteria. These projects should encourage economic development, community betterment, improved cultural and recreational activity facilities, programs or activities that foster enhanced educational experiences for youth or improve the overall quality of life for residents of Clayton County.


Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation (formerly known as Marquette Gaming Corporation) was originally formed in 1993 to meet the Iowa law requirement that riverboat casino licenses must be held by a qualified sponsoring organization. UMGC is the non-profit license holder for the riverboat casino, the Casino Queen, located in Marquette.


The affairs of UMGC are overseen by a board of directors and managed by the executive director. The number of directors shall be no fewer than seven and no greater than nine. Directors need not be residents of Clayton County, but must have a vested interest in Clayton County by virtue of their residence, or the ownership of real estate or a business in Clayton County. Directors are volunteers. The executive director is the only paid employee of the corporation. 


Current board members are Liz Breitbach, North Buena Vista - president; Jane Christiansen, Edgewood - vice president; Jennifer Cowsert, Elkader - treasurer; Tim Schlein, Monona; Nick Fettkether, Volga; Robyn Denning, McGregor; Dave Kahrs, St. Olaf; Dean Courtnage, Strawberry Point; Ellen Johnson, Guttenberg; Ray Peterson, Elkader - representing the Clayton County Board of Supervisors; Liz Gilman, Marquette - representing the city of Marquette; and Dan Kuempel, executive director.


Each year, grant applications are accepted by UMGC from non-profit organizations, government entities and educational facilities. Requests may be for projects or programs in Clayton County or may be from outside the county if they can demonstrate a direct benefit to the residents of Clayton County.  


Pre-applications for the 2024 grant cycle will be available Jan. 1, at the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation website:


Grant recipients this year included:

Postville Community School District - Dollars for Scholars, $750

Starmont Community School District - Dollars for Scholars, $3,500

Clayton Ridge Community School District - Dollars for Scholars, $3,500

Central Community Scholarship Foundation - Dollars for Scholars, $6,500

MFL MarMac Community School District - Dollars for Scholars, $4,750

Holy Cross/North Buena Vista Fire Department - Automated External Defibrillator, $1,750

Starmont Community School District - Automated External Defibrillator Elementary Building, $1,600

Backbone Lake Promotion Association - Strawberry Jam/Songwriters Workshop, $5,000

Garnavillo Fire Department - Turn Out Gear, $23,992

Clayton County Development Group - Visit Clayton County Tourism, $25,000

Clayton County Food Shelf - Emergency Food/Non-Food Supply, $10,000

American Legion Post 388 St. Olaf - Flagpole Replacement, $4,794

Clayton County Womenade - Hardship Assistance, $6,800

City of McGregor - Turner Park Restroom/Concession Stand, $80,000

MarMac Rescue Squad - CPR Mannequins, $2,296

Guttenberg Heritage Museum - Handicap Entrance, $5,700

Clayton County Ag Society - Fair Bleachers, $21,400

Berry Tender Childcare - Revitalize Berry Tender, $55,000

Meals on Wheels Postville - Meals on Wheels Postville, $3,625

Clayton County Conservation - Motor Mill Phase 2, $30,000

MercyOne Elkader Ambulance - Ambulance Cot Replacement, $15,000

St. Olaf Fire Department - Bunker Gear Replacement, $23,721

McGregor Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1 - Equip New Fire Truck, $20,000

Postville Pool Park & Rec - Swimming Pool Heater, $10,000

The Point Vision - Pickleball Project, $50,000

Point Women’s Club - Winter Apparel, $1,000

Friends of the Marquette Driftless Area - Geology Wing and Upgrades, $15,000

Clayton County Conservation - Safety and Stewardship Upgrade, $5,000

City of Volga - Walking Trail Improvements, $75,000

Guttenberg Chamber of Commerce - Dog Park, $12,305

Rejuvenating Buena Vista Park - Rejuvenating Buena Vista Park, $75,000

Seva Health Center - Peace for Your Mind, $5,000

Elkader Depot - Elkader Depot, $10,000

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