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.

2020 Accredited Certificate_MergeHelena Business Improvement District

Mission Statement

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.

BID Boundaries

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.


Banner Program Overview

The Banner Program is currently under review and is not accepting applications. 

In 2018,  a banner program was created. The program allows for businesses and events to promote their activity from cobra poles located in the district. Funds received from the program cover maintenance of poles and installation. Any funds above that cost are pooled into the HBID Façade Improvement Program.

HBID’s banner program:

  • Identifies the Downtown service area
  • Activates the public space
  • Adds color and vitality to the Downtown streetscapes
  • Publicizes a diverse range of events, activities and attractions that draw people into Downtown Helena

The intent of the banner program is to place banners on available street light poles year round. The poles are available for organizations to promote cultural, entertainment, artistic and sporting events or other special events and area attractions of public interest.

To apply for the banner program, Banner Program Resource Guide

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.

The annual reoccurring cost simply for the maintenance and installation of the banners is more than $5500.


For the summer season, the HBID hangs flower baskets from light poles throughout the HBID district. As many as 250 baskets have been purchased and maintained. In 2019, a new flower basket design and quantity of 125 was implemented. Additionally, the HBID maintains the so-called “bulb outs” along the 300 and 400 blocks of Last Chance Gulch. Annually, we spend over $15,500 on floral supplies, installation, and maintenance.

Holiday Décor

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. We look to enhance our downtown décor annually and work with the City of Helena to make such improvements.

Trash Removal

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. The annual cost for trash is around $10,000 which includes labor and supplies.

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 Grant, Board Member
Term Expires: 10/31/2022

John is serving his first term.

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

I believe it is a civic duty to serve on worthy boards. Originally I applied because of the seat on the Parking Commission.

What do you love most about Downtown Helena?

The small-town atmosphere. It is safe, friendly, and walkable.

What is your affiliation to downtown?

Home is in the Great Northern. Office is by the Courthouse.


Jake Heaton, Board Member
40 West Lawrence Street
Term Expires: 10/31/2023

Jake is serving his first term.

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

I wanted to be on the board because I want to continue to help the businesses and culture of downtown Helena thrive. The downtown area is such a great part of our community that ties so many people together and it’s important that we continue to invest in this part of our community.

What do you love most about Downtown Helena?

I love the diversity of our downtown. There is such a great blend of history, arts, recreation, shopping, and entertainment all within walking distance of each other. I love being able to walk from work to stores, restaurants, or the trail system so easily.

What is your affiliation to downtown?

I work at Allegra Marketing/Print/Mail, an anchor Downtown Helena business that supports so many other Downtown Helena businesses, nonprofits, and organizations.

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, Vice-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.

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, Chair
21 North Last Chance Gulch, Suite 105
Term Expires: Term: 10/31/21

Lee is serving his first term. Lee was elected Chair in February 2019.

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.