Business Improvement District
Established in 1986, the Downtown Helena Business Improvement District is the first and oldest Business Improvement District in the state of Montana.
Who Are We?
The Helena Business Improvement District (HBID) is an organization which represents property owners within Helena’s legally constituted city district. The mission of the HBID 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 HBID creates a vital avenue of support and growth as the catalyst for economic development in the heart of Helena. The role of the HBID is essential for continued success in making Downtown Helena a great place to do business, invest, live, work, and play. Revenues to fund HBID services are derived from a special assessment on the district’s property owners’ tax bill.
In 1986, the city of Helena established Montana’s first Business Improvement District. The BID’s creation— its continuation — operates on a ten-year cycle. Every decade, the HBID must seek a resolution of intention with the City of Helena to create the district. Establishment of the district requires 60% of property owners within the district to approve the tax plan. Therefore, the HBID must petition property owners every ten years to approve or deny an additional assessment that appears on their property tax billing that is directed back to the HBID for improvements within the district.
The HBID 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 Commissioners and serve four-year terms with an option to renew for one additional four-year term. The employees of the HBID include an executive director and staff to support daily operations and execute programs.
The Work of the BID
The HBID has proven itself to be a vital part of the downtown Helena community. On an annual basis, the HBID provides the following streetscape and beautification services to our property owners.
In 2015, the banner program redesigned and implemented new general banners; a winter season banner and a variety of summer season banners. The total cost for this revamp was $22,746.25 which included 256 combined summer and winter banners along with new pole parts. In 2018, the streetscape committee created a banner program which allows for businesses and events to promote their activities — be it to promote cultural, entertainment, artistic, spring events, and/or special events and attractions of public interest. The annual reoccurring cost simply for the maintenance and installation of the banners is more than $3,500.
For the summer season, the HBID hangs flower baskets from light poles throughout the HBID district. In the past, 250 baskets have been purchased and maintained. In 2019, a new flower basket design and quantity will be implemented. Additionally, the HBID maintains the so-called “bulb outs” along the 300 and 400 blocks of Last Chance Gulch. Annually, we spend $6,500 on floral supplies, installation, and maintenance.
The HBID, along with Downtown Helena Inc., organize the annual Parade of Lights festival the day after Thanksgiving. To help celebrate this well-attended event, the HBID works with businesses along the downtown core to decorate Last Chance Gulch and the Pedestrian Mall with ribbons, lights, and bows. Together, there are well over 150 pieces of holiday décor installed. All pieces of holiday décor are supplied and stored by the HBID. Working with Northwestern Energy and our downtown businesses, in 2019, the HBID will implement new lighted snowflakes along selected street poles with power. In 2018, we implemented the first snowflake. Our anticipated expense to improve our holiday decor over the next five years is estimated at $25,000.
One of the HBID’s most practical and useful activities is the collection of trash throughout the downtown. On behalf of our property owners, the HBID maintains, empties, and removes waste from 23 sidewalk trash receptacles located throughout the district. Without the HBID’s trash services, the downtown may well become a litter-covered thoroughfare.
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.
John is serving his first term.
Mark is currently serving his second term.
Rex is serving his second term and was elected board Vice-Chair in February 2019.
Lee is serving his first term. Lee was elected Chair in February 2019.