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With master plan on track, downtown Missoula set to host statewide conference

Downtown Missoula
Posted at 9:35 AM, Oct 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-11 11:35:31-04

MISSOULA — With the latest rendition of the Downtown Master Plan on track for adoption, the Missoula Downtown Partnership will shift gears this month to host a statewide conference on planning and marketing.

The Missoula City Council is expected to consider the new master plan next week, along with the Missoula Redevelopment Agency. Other organizations have already signed off on the guiding document, which represents nearly a year of work.

“I’m anticipating implementation will begin getting active in January,” said Linda McCarthy, executive director of the Downtown Partnership.

“The master plan has an implementation strategy, so we’ve already kicked off the short-, mid- and long- term goals. We’ll do rundown on the short-term goals to commence with, and pick off the things we think are doable over the next 12 to 18 months.”

In the meantime, downtown Missoula will play host for the first time in nearly a decade to the Montana Downtown and Main Street Conference, slated for late October.

McCarthy said the event will gather roughly 100 registrants from cities and towns across the state for an in-depth conference on downtown planning, historic preservation, tourism and marketing.

“We’ll have the opportunity to showcase all the great things happening in downtown Missoula, including the new Mercantile, the renovated Holiday Inn, the Unseen Missoula guided walking tours, and what our organization has been working on, including the Downtown Master Plan and the Downtown Heritage Interpretive Plan,” she said.

The Missoula Downtown Partnership has emerged as a state leader among organizations of its kind. It spearheaded the 2009 Downtown Master Plan, which has netted roughly $850 million in investment in the downtown district.

But it has also excelled in other categories, from event planning to street beautification. Its board of directors have been key to the organization’s success, McCarthy said.

“We’re definitely in that leadership role as an organization in our state,” she said. “We’re a little more advanced and progressive than the other downtown organizations, in part because we have forward-thinking leadership. Our board looks down the road at how to be successful as opposed to reacting and wishing we’d done something differently.”

McCarthy said interest in this year’s conference is high. She often fields calls from other communities looking to implement the successes seen in downtown Missoula, be it redevelopment, programming or public art.

This month’s conference will help other communities explore those topics.

“We haven’t hosted it in almost 8 to 10 years,” she said. “There’s been a lot of change that’s happened in our downtown over that time. It’s an exciting opportunity to tell our story a little bit, but it also helps inform others who have some of the same challenges and successes that we do.”

The event is scheduled for Oct. 23-25. You can find out more by following this link.