Downtown revitalization in rural communities is often like a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs. It's like taking one step forward and two back. Downtown Helena has had its share of peaks and valleys over the years, despite the valiant efforts of many who live here.

Downtown revitalization in rural communities is often like a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs. It’s like taking one step forward and two back. Downtown Helena has had its share of peaks and valleys over the years, despite the valiant efforts of many who live here.

But, there is good news! Downtown is back on the upswing. We are in the midst of a downtown renewal unlike any we have seen in recent years. The hard work and determination is finally paying off.

There are several factors that account for this renewal. Certainly Main Street Helena and the Helena-West Helena A&P Commission have done wonders to improve the aesthetics of the commercial area. Bump-outs were installed a few years ago to enhance the street-scape along with historic street signs. In addition, Main Street Helena put up new awnings on buildings, repaired windows, and covered up empty storefronts with window treatments highlighting the history of Helena.

Main Street Helena has also worked to improve the safety of downtown, installing several night watcher security lights on Cherry Street, as well as some side streets.

Increased interest in investing downtown has had a tremendous impact. A downtown restaurant that closed earlier this summer is scheduled to reopen in September with new owners, new menu, and new look.

A Las Vegas businessman has purchased several buildings on Cherry Street, including the historic Nicholas Hotel and the J.C. Penney building. These buildings are being cleaned out, cleaned up, and will be renovated for future use. The difference here is that the new owner is actually doing something with the buildings, not just letting them sit and rot.

Local investors continue to expand and enhance their properties. One example is the outdoor space created by Cathy and Rick Campbell on Elm Street that features a mural of Mark Twain and his famous quote about Helena.

It’s risky to single our individuals because this renewal has taken a village, literally. The improvements downtown along with the work being done on the Biscoe corridor will make Helena a more attractive and vibrant community to live in, and to visit.

It’s your community. Come share in the excitement of a revitalized Cherry Street - can’t wait to see what’s next!