Community Building

Kalispell stands on the brink of a new era: one that has the focus and drive by so many community members

By Maggie Doherty

A question that frequently occupies my mind is: what makes a community strong and vibrant? It’s a question I ask myself on many different levels, including personally, civically, and professionally. And it’s the type of question that is asked of me, or, rather, pitched in all sorts of conversations with friends and acquaintances in Kalispell. Many of us feel that our community is great and there is momentum building to make it even more vibrant. One group in particular that I’m part of takes this question seriously, and that is the Kalispell Business Improvement District board of directors (KBID). Composed of property owners or a representative of a property located within the city’s business improvement district, one of the board’s primary tasks is to act on behalf of its community and the entire community that surrounds and interacts with it.

We’re volunteer members, elected by the Kalispell City Council and mayor, and we meet monthly to address, among other items such as beautification projects like flowers and cleaning services for the district, how we can positively impact our community. One way we do this is by offering property owners within the district boundary a façade improvement grant, which is an exciting way to support businesses and properties who are dedicated to operating in our town, and thereby enhancing the economic viability of our community. We talk a lot about how those diverse individuals who interact with downtown Kalispell, from locals to tourists alike, can benefit from a strong and vibrant community. In addition to offering grants to local businesses and properties, we seek to find ways to make Kalispell accessible. Accessible for property owners who want to rent or lease their space, making funds accessible to support art and beautification projects, accessing what downtown currently has to offer with unique signage, and looking to the future on how people can best access what we see is a hidden gem in Montana. We even talk about the physical ways people interact with our town and ways to improve walkability.

Kalispell stands on the brink of a new era: one that has the focus and drive by so many community members who want to support efforts for revitalization like the Kalispell Core and Rail Development. To my colleagues on the KBID, we see these efforts as a way of making a positive impact on our community. And we’re eager to see how all of these different entities are aligning themselves to the grand idea that when we put community first, strength and vibrancy will come to fruition.

To me, I love having this question lofted into the air by my neighbors, patrons at my place of business, and newly met strangers at the library because it signals that for Kalispell the spirit of community is thriving and this question is being addressed by all sorts of different and wonderful people.

Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.

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