HELENA – An intensive two-day workshop focused on empowering communities to revitalize their downtowns and public spaces has attracted a wide selection of participants from over twenty communities across the state.
The training workshop, titled “Cultivating Place in Montana Main Street Communities,” will bring national downtown and placemaking experts to Helena’s Montana Club Monday and Tuesday, May 2 and 3. The Department of Commerce (DOC) extended invitations to member communities of the Montana Main Street Program and then opened the training to all communities as local interest remained high.
“From Sidney to Libby and Glasgow to Hamilton, both small towns and larger cities across Montana have demonstrated an interest in attending the workshop and the ability to harness local assets, plan successful projects, and develop investment,” Director Meg O’Leary of the Department of Commerce said. “We are looking forward to the rich sharing of ideas that will be such an important result of the training.”
The National Main Street Center (NMSC) and Project for Public Spaces (PPS) have jointly launched the new training program to help revitalize towns and communities through “placemaking “— a citizen-led process that helps activate downtowns and community gathering places. Montana was one of five states selected to host the training.
Placemaking provides a powerful set of tools for change communities can apply to the revitalization of downtowns, making immediate and affordable changes to public spaces. Attendees will plan community projects and identify potential funding resources in order to implement successful projects following the training.
The workshop will host eighty participants from twenty-five communities, federal and state agencies, and private organizations. “We received significant interest from Montana communities and essentially doubled the attendance numbers of the other states hosting this training workshop,” Main Street Program Coordinator Tash Wisemiller said.
Generous funding by the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Foundation will cover all expenses of the training, including lodging costs.
The Montana Main Street Program, established in 2005 and currently serving twenty-seven communities across the state, helps communities strengthen and preserve their historic downtown commercial districts by focusing on economic development, urban revitalization, and historic preservation through long-range planning, organization, design, and promotion.