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 program has been presented during international, national, and state conferences. [1]Beyond the Façade: layering downtown spillover investment was published in the May 2021 issue of the Community Development journal. 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.

2022 Facade Grant Application

  • 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.

  • Business Development

The BID developed a pilot program (FY23) to assist with partner outreach opportunities and allocated funds for such requests.

  • 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.

[1] Gibson, H.; Zurcher, M. & Wisemiller, T. (2021). Beyond the Façade: Layering downtown spillover investment.    Community Development, 52(2), 133-152.

 

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: 10/31/22 - Interim

Seth is serving an interim position. 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.

Sean Morrison, Board Member
111 N Last Chance Gulch, Ste 3B
Term Expires: October 31, 2023 - Interim
Sean is serving an interim position.
Why did you choose to sit on the board in a volunteer capacity?

I moved back to Helena after spending 10 years between Washington, D.C. and Boston, MA, in part because of how vibrant I saw our downtown becoming. I also saw opportunity for Downtown Helena to become even more vibrant, to really become and exceptional place to live, play, and work.

What do you love most about Downtown Helena?

Downtown Helena is unique-it is beautiful, historic, and so close to thousand of acres of public forest. I do not think there is anything like it in the world.

What is your affiliation to downtown?

I am an attorney at Morrison Law Firm, PLLC, which is located in the Arcade Building (111 N. Last Chance Gulch). My father, who I practice with, is a co-owner of the building. We are both big advocates for downtown.

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.

Mark Roylance, Board Member
428 N. Last Chance Gulch
Term Expires: Term: 10/31/2022

Mark is currently serving his second term.

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

I joined the board to help Downtown Helena realize its potential and was fortunate to have started my tenure at the beginning of the Downtown Master Planning process.

What do you love most about Downtown Helena?

I have lived all over the Northwest, but Helena struck me as special the first time I saw it. The mashup of impressive historic architecture and rugged topography gives Helena’s downtown a rich and fascinating character, not to mention unequalled access to a remarkable trail system.

What is your affiliation to Downtown?

I am an architect with Mosaic Architecture and I am passionate about vibrant urban places.

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.

Lee Shubert, Vice-Chair
Term Expires: Term: 10/31/25

Lee is serving his second term. Lee was elected Chair in February 2019 – February 2021. He began serving as Vice-Chair in July of 2021 – Feb. 2022.

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

As a downtown resident I have, and have had, an abiding interest in the success, development, and preservation of Helena’s historic downtown.

What do you love most about Downtown Helena?

The convenience. Living in the Placer Center, my wife and I are able to walk to many of the entertainment venues and restaurants in the area.

What is your affiliation to Downtown?

In addition to my residence, my son-in-law operate The BaseCamp.

Ryan Stavnes, Board Member
Term Expires: Term: 10/31/24

Ryan is serving is second term.

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

 I choose to be on the Business Improvement District board in a volunteer capacity as it’s a great way to lead by example. We have such a great Downtown area, and I love to see the progress made and the steps to make it improve even more. 

What do you love most about Downtown Helena?

 I love the spirit of Downtown Helena, and there’s a great potential for those to live, work and recreate in our micropolitan-style of Downtown.

What is your affiliation to downtown?

I am in the real estate profession, and live and work downtown. It’s so nice having many things within close walking distance, everything from entertainment, food and beverage, the arts, and wonderful residential options too.