Business Improvement District

Who Are We?

Helena created Montana’s first Business Improvement District in 1986 when a group of business and property owners collaborated with the goal of promoting economic growth in downtown Helena. The Helena BID is a 501 (C)(6) created by State Statute through a resolution of the City of Helena. The BID’s most recent creation was approved by the City Commission on the 13th day of January 2020, Resolution No. 20589.

The organization represents property owners within Helena’s legally constituted city district. Revenues to fund the BID programs and services are derived from a special assessment on the district’s property owners’ tax bill. The Helena BID creates a vital avenue of support and growth as a catalyst for economic development in the heart of Helena while sharing a vision and voice for the downtown community.

The goal of the BID is to ensure the long-term preservation and vitality of the city’s economic, cultural, social, human, and natural assets. Through our programs and services, the BID works to keep the downtown a beautiful, vibrant, and safe place to work, shop, invest, explore, dine, and play.

The mission of the BID is to serve as a facilitator, provider and advocate for a planned, creative program that aims for the continual improvement of property values and properties in Downtown Helena. The BID is operated by a volunteer Board of Trustees who are property owners or designated representatives from within the district. The Board of Trustees are approved by the Helena City Commission and serve four-year terms with an option to renew for one additional four-year term. Staff for the BID execute and lead the daily operations.

The Board of Trustees meets monthly on the second Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at our office trailhead; 330 Jackson St. All meetings are open to the public.

BID Boundaries

Programs and Services

 

The following programs are funded by the special assessment collected from property owners within the Business Improvement District.

  • Summer Flowers

The BID purchases, installs, and maintains (which includes watering) 100 flower baskets and 12 flower barrels. The BID sub-contracts with High Country Growers for this service. The flowers are displayed throughout downtown, including the Great Northern Town Center, from June through September on historic lamp posts and cobra lights. In addition to summer flowers, the BID manages 11 flower beds along the 300 and 400 block corridors of Last Chance Gulch.

  • Holiday Lighting

The BID installs the following holiday lighting downtown: 1) lighted garland with bows and wreaths on each historic lamp post along Last Chance Gulch; 2) garland, bows, and wreaths on most cobra light poles on Last Chance Gulch, Neill Ave., 6th Ave., Lawrence St., Broadway, and Park Ave. Additional lighting throughout the Pedestrian Mall includes decorating the trolley, gazebo, and entrance to Performance Square. The BID sub-contracts the work for installing and removal but maintains the decorating from November – January.

  • Streetscape Program

The BID streetscape program hires one maintenance person, seasonally, who is responsible for additional beautification services. Under the Streetscape program is garbage collection. The BID has operated 23 trash receptacles throughout the district. The increased vibrancy of downtown business development and requests from our constituency prompted the trustees to increase the garbage collection footprint from 23 trash receptacles to 25. The BID maintenance staff removed over 3000 44-gallon bags of garbage during FY22. Additionally, the BID invested in upgrading the remaining eight (8) plus two (2) more trash receptacles to the new custom style which were introduced in FY21.

In FY21, the BID contracted for the installation of seven (7) Honey Locust trees along the 300 Block of Last Chance Gulch. This effort was in collaboration with the City of Helena and a Downtown Urban Renewal Grant. The completion of this project is expected for spring 2022.

  • Graffiti Removal Program

The BID graffiti removal program is in its second year of operation. The BID sub-contracts for this service. The Clean Slate Group specializes in reducing and preventing unwanted vandalism all while guaranteeing the integrity of the buildings. In FY22, the sub-contractor removed over 395 tags on private and public property.

  • Downtown Banner Program

The BID purchases, installs, and maintains 145 downtown seasonal banners. There are two banner seasons; summer and winter. The BID sub-contracts the installation of the cobra light banners while the seasonal maintenance person maintains the decorative light poles. In 2018, a banner program was initiated to provide additional marketing for business attraction and event promotion.

Banner Program Resource Guide update April 2020

  • Façade Program

The BID initiated a façade program in 2018 with the help of a Montana Main Street grant. The BID offers a one-to-one match of up to $5000 per applicant. Since 2018, the program has awarded 12 applicants for a total of $44,983.

  • Parklet Program

The BID collaborated with the City of Helena and initiated a parklet program in the spring of 2021. The word “parklet” originated in 2005 to describe the conversion of a parking space into a small public open space. Parklets help to activate streets, create vibrant neighborhoods, and promote economic vitality. The BID has contributed to this program by providing financial assistance for property owners who are seeking construction and city application fee assistance.

  • Marketing

The BID promotes general marketing in downtown Helena. This marketing may include radio ads, billboards, wayfinding, direct mail, social media, website maintenance, and publications. Photo above can be found at the Helena Regional Airport Terminal.

 

Downtown Helena, Inc. Board of Trustees

To become a BID Board member you apply with the City of Helena. Trustees serve terms of four (4) years and may serve two (2) consecutive terms.

https://www.helenamt.gov/commission/boards-and-committees.html

 

Seth Brandenberger, Board Member
Term Expires: 10/31/25

Seth is serving his first term. Seth was elected Vice-Chair in February 2022.

Why Did you choose to sit on the board in a volunteer capacity?

Downtown Helena is a historically unique and special place.  I want to see it continue to grow and attract more vibrant business. I hope to build on the accomplishments of the BID for an even better downtown.

What do you love most about Downtown Helena?

The fact that I can walk to shops, food, drinks and events.  It seems like there is always something going on in downtown Helena.

What is your affiliation to downtown?

I have been an owner of the Union Market Building since 2006 and the Pita Pit since 2019.

Alicia Pichette, Board Member
Term Expires: October 31, 2023 - Interim

Alicia is serving an interim appointment.

Why did you choose to sit on the HBID board in a volunteer capacity?

Downtown has been a vibrant city center, and I believe the HBID can help return that vitality by working to support the businesses currently in the downtown and to attract new businesses. I hope to be helpful in that work.

What do you love most about downtown Helena?

As Montana’s capital city, Helena is history.  I enjoy the downtown for that history and for the commitment this community makes to support and encourage art and artists, while honoring our historic treasure.

What is your affiliation to downtown?

Four years ago, I moved into downtown to take advantage of all the downtown has to offer. I am a downtown residential property owner.

Rex Seeley, Chair
708 N Last Chance Gulch
Term Expires: Term: 10/31/24

Rex is serving his second term and was elected board Vice-Chair in February 2019. He was elected Chair in February 2021. Board was re-elected Chair in February 2022.

Why did you choose to sit on the board in a volunteer capacity?

I joined to ensure the assessment was being spent wisely and used to promote downtown properties. I believe I strong downtown leads to a strong city.

What do you love most about Downtown Helena?

Growing up and currently, my family would shop downtown because of the variety and being able to interact with the business owners. Downtown is a fun place full of activity.

What is your affiliation to Downtown?

I have businesses and properties downtown.

Onawa Linden, Board Member
Term Expires: 1st

Why did you choose to sit on the board in a volunteer capacity?

I would love to join fellow volunteers to help plan the direction and promotion of downtown events, planning, marketing, and growth, with the focus of supporting our members. I think I have the expertise and history that would benefit the businesses, community, and tourists that we’d be supporting.

 What do you love most about Downtown Helena?

Being raised in Helena, downtown was a big part of my youth. From working at On Broadway, The Windbag and even volunteering at the Holter, to supporting downtown businesses and attending downtown events and years of hanging with friends at the library green space, downtown Helena was part of what shaped my youth. My heart is here and a part of my present, my future, and the present and future of my children. We love our community.

 What is your affiliation to downtown?

I own Proof Marketing and the building, 330 N Last Chance Gulch. I also co-own The Virago Collaborative. I also work closely with Mickey and Mike, DHI and BID, and support the growth of many downtown businesses through bold marketing.

Randy Burrington, Board Member
Term Expires: 1st Term

Why did you choose to sit on the board in a volunteer capacity?

A strong, vibrant downtown is vital to the entire Helena community. There have been amazing strides in the evolution of downtown and I hope to continue those advancements.  I am also hoping to bring greater visibly to the BID assessments to drive engagement/involvement : amounts – how calculated and how spent.

What do you love most about Downtown Helena?

Our family has been actively involved in downtown Helena for almost 5 decades and I have always loved the incredible variety that it offers.

What is your affiliation to downtown?

Managing member of family owned Helena MT Associates of 301 South Park Avenue.

 

Ryan Stavnes, Treasurer

Why Did you choose to sit on the board in a volunteer capacity?

I’ve chosen to be part of the Business Improvement District board to promote, grow, and expand our beautiful and unique downtown area, for our businesses, visitors, and local neighbors. There is so much untapped potential to make our business district neighborhood even more beautiful place to work, live, and vibrant.

What do you love most about Downtown Helena? 

I love our historic feel of Downtown Helena, as well as the unique nature of having the rare Walking Mall. I love that we have so many great offerings for entertainment, numerous wonderful restaurants, and close distance to all of Helena amenities.

What is your affiliation to downtown?

I love living in Downtown Helena, and that everything is so close, walking distance and driving distance too.