Montana Voices: Downtown Missoula Partnership more than you may know

Linda McCarthy

As a new contributor to the Missoula Current, we hope to engage and intrigue readers on things that are happening in downtown Missoula, and I am thankful to Martin Kidston for offering us the opportunity to share and showcase our vibrant city center with you.

My name is Linda McCarthy, and I serve as the Executive Director of the Downtown Missoula Partnership. We are a collaboration of three distinct organizations dedicated to leading and nurturing a vibrant downtown Missoula as a place where people are inspired to live, work, shop, and play.

The Missoula Downtown Association is the organization you are most familiar with because it has been around since 1975. The MDA is a private, membership-based, business organization dedicated to promoting, supporting and enhancing the vitality of Downtown. Its primary mission areas are Advocacy, Marketing & Events, Membership and Master Plan.

The MDA is responsible for management of Caras Park, production of major community and membership events, management of all the street décor (flowers, banners, flags and holiday lights), management of the Downtown Gift Card program, advocacy for Downtown businesses, implementation of the Downtown Master Plan and more.

The MDA has nearly 500 members and is managed by a 24-person Board of Directors, elected by the members. All are welcome to become members of the Missoula Downtown Association.

The Downtown Business Improvement District was created in 2005 and is a special assessment district for downtown property owners within a defined boundary. Its purpose is to promote the health, safety, prosperity, security and general welfare of the downtown community. Its primary mission areas are Clean, Safe and Economic Vitality with focus on common-area maintenance and management.

This organization is responsible for general downtown garbage removal and graffiti removal, as well as snow removal in the alleys and cycle tracks, and offers (for a small fee) snow plowing and hot water power washing for district ratepayers.

The BID also funds the Downtown Ambassadors, the Downtown Clean Team, and the Dedicated Downtown Police Officer, and it serves to attract new development, investment and businesses to the Downtown district. The BID is managed by a 7-person Board of Directors, appointed by the mayor and approved by the city council, and it represents 650 properties and their owners.

The Missoula Downtown Foundation was created in 2010 as a public benefit entity focused on the charitable and educational opportunities to support downtown Missoula and its culture, livability, economy, safety and infrastructure. This 501c3 non-profit organization is focused on the attraction of project funds, grants and individual gifts to help advance the goals of the Downtown Master Plan.

The MDF has played a key role in funding Caras Park improvements, Light Our Bridges, holiday décor upgrades and the new pedestrian-directional signs in downtown Missoula. The MDF is responsible for the Play It Missoula painted pianos, the Friends of Downtown campaign, and the annual Downtown Poker Tournament.

More recently, the Downtown Foundation has raised over $25,000 selling old parking meters and $15,000 from the brand-new 406 State of Montana vehicle license plate. The MDF Board is comprised of 10 elected individuals dedicated to ensuring those beyond business and property owners are vested in the success and the future of downtown Missoula.

Each of these three organizations plays a distinct and vital role to ensuring downtown Missoula is the best it can be for all stakeholders and consumers. Our office is located at 218 East Main Street, and our dedicated staff of eight full-time and six part-time employees are exceptional public servants who care about our downtown community.

You can learn more about us and our work by visiting our website or by visiting Downtown Headquarters. We’re open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. You can also learn more about our organizations and the work we do right here, thanks to Martin Kidston.

Linda McCarthy is the Executive Director of the Downtown Missoula Partnership and has served as the lead staffer for Downtown Missoula since 1999. She holds two degrees from the University of Montana and previously served as a sports information director for Grizzly Athletics. She was named UM’s Montana Alumni of the Year in 2008 and was the recipient of Destination Missoula’s Jay Award for Tourism Person of the Year in 2015. Questions and suggestions can be directed to her at linda@missouladowntown.com.