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Business Improvement District

Who Are We?

Helena Business Improvement District makes downtown Helena more vibrant and prosperous for property owners, businesses, and the greater Helena community.

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 in 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.

  • Flower Baskets and Barrels

The BID buys, installs, and maintains 125 flower baskets and 20 flower barrels. We buy the flowers from High Country Growers. BID Maintenance Ambassadors get up early to water the flowers seven days a week in the summer.  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 blocks of Last Chance Gulch.  This year, the City of Helena contributed $8000 to offset some of our flower watering and garbage collection labor.

  • Holiday Lighting

The BID buys and installs the the holiday decorations downtown.  This year, we will also have a Holiday Decor Library!  Downtown businesses can borrow lights from the BID to decorate their businesses.

  • Garbage Maintenance

The BID bought the 25 downtown garbage cans and collects the garbage.  The BID maintenance staff empties and cleans 25 garbage cans downtown.  This year, the City of Helena provided $8000 to assist with our garbage and flower maintenance.

In FY21, the BID contracted for the installation of seven 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.

  • Graffiti Removal Program

The BID contracts with a graffiti removal service to remove graffiti every summer.  The Clean Slate Group specializes in reducing and preventing unwanted vandalism all while guaranteeing the integrity of the buildings. In FY23, we removed more than 140 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.

  • 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 14 applicants for a total of more than $52,000.  Apply here: Facade Grants

  • 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

BID Board members must own or represent property in the BID and must live in the city limits.  You apply with the City of Helena. First appointments are for three years and  subsequent appointment are for four years.

City Boards and Committees

 

Seth Brandenberger, Chair
Term Expires: 1st

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.

Onawa Linden, Vice-Chair
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.

Ryan Stavnes, Treasurer
Term Expires: 2nd

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.

Rex Seeley, Board Member
708 N Last Chance Gulch
Term Expires: 2nd

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.

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.

 

Alice Santos, Board Member
Term Expires: 1st

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

I have always been committed to downtown Helena and have enjoyed working and running businesses downtown for most of my professional career. I accepted the invitation to be a part of the Business Improvement District board in part, because of my ownership of various buildings and businesses in downtown Helena, but also with the hope that my skills and expertise as a commercial real estate broker could help in the strategic mission and direction of the organization.

What do you love most about Downtown Helena?

I love the downtown retail businesses. I’ve always loved supporting local businesses and love to see a thriving downtown area where people want to be.

What is your affiliation to downtown?

I own multiple businesses and buildings/condos in the downtown area