In just seven years, the Missoula Downtown Foundation has raised and reinvested almost $1 million back into downtown Missoula. That includes $665,000 into Caras Park Improvements, $200,000 into Light Our Bridges, $50,000 into the Wayfinding Pedestrian Directional Signs, and $50,000 into the infrastructure upgrades for the downtown holiday décor. These projects – and others – improve the environment and the quality of life for both residents and visitors and are summarized below:
- Caras Park Improvements – Over $660,000 was raised and re-invested into Caras Park improvements, including a new events ring stage and band-stand, pavilion retractable walls, irrigation and electrical systems, new paint, brick repairs and a bottle-filling station (2011-2013).
- Friends of Downtown Annual Giving Campaign – More than 350 individuals, families and businesses have contributed to this campaign, which has raised $34,000 since 2014.
- Light Our Bridges – The MDF partnered with the Light Our Bridges Committee and fiscally sponsored the campaign to raise and invest $200,000 for lighting the Madison and Van Buren pedestrian bridges in Downtown Missoula (2012-2015).
- Holiday Décor Upgrades – The Foundation partnered with the Missoula Downtown Association to upgrade the infrastructure for 150 decorations hung Downtown during the holidays, which cost $13,000 in 2016. A new wiring system was installed in late 2017, bringing the total project cost to $50,000.
- Sale of Parking Meters – When outdated parking meters were removed in 2015, the Missoula Parking Commission gifted them to the Downtown Foundation for fundraising and art projects. The foundation has generated more than $28,000 for Downtown improvements through meter sales (2016-2017).
- Wayfinding – In 2016, the MDF procured a $50,000 grant and partnered with the MDA and BID to fully fund the fabrication and installation of 35 artistic pedestrian-directional signs in Downtown Missoula as part of the comprehensive Missoula-wide Wayfinding system.
- State of Montana Sponsored License Plate program – Thanks to a grant from Wells Fargo Bank, MDF created the black “406” vehicle license plate to generate revenue in perpetuity for Downtown Missoula. For each plate purchased across the State of Montana, the MDF receives a contribution of $20. Available for purchase in all 56 counties, the “406” plate generated over $64,500 in 2017.
- Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament – This annual event has raised over $22,000 for Downtown improvements since 2014. Novice and experienced poker players enjoy this afternoon soiree in the private “members only” room at the Hell Gate Elks Lodge 363 the first Sunday in March each year. The 2019 tournament will be held on Sunday, March 3.