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‘Main Street America’

Downtown Bellefonte Inc. receives national accreditation

MICHAEL DAVIS PHOTOGRAPHY/FOR THE EXPRESS Downtown Bellefonte Inc. is widely known for its Bellefonte Under the Lights event, a fundraising event that showcases Bellefonte’s businesses, craft beverage producers and historical and natural assets.

BELLEFONTE — Downtown Bellefonte Inc. has been again been designated as a 2020 Accredited Main Street America program.

Accredited status is Main Street America’s top tier of recognition and signifies a demonstrated commitment to comprehensive commercial district revitalization and proven track record of successfully applying the Main Street approach.

“We are proud to recognize this year’s 860 Nationally Accredited Main Street America programs that have dedicated themselves to strengthening their communities,” said Patrice Frey, President and CEO of the National Main Street Center. “These Accredited Main Street programs have proven to be powerful engines for revitalization by sparking impressive economic returns and preserving the character of their communities. During these challenging times, these Main Street programs will be key to bringing economic vitality back to commercial districts and improving quality of life during the recovery process.”

In 2019 alone, $6.45 billion of public and private reinvestment was generated, 6,466 net new businesses were opened, 32,316 net new were jobs created, and 10,412 buildings were rehabilitated in Main Street America communities.

Downtown Bellefonte Inc.’s performance is evaluated by Pennsylvania Downtown Center, which works in partnership with Main Street America to identify the local programs that meet 10 rigorous performance standards. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, documenting programmatic progress, and actively preserving historic buildings.

“Bellefonte’s downtown business district has seen tremendous growth over the past several years, thanks to efforts by Downtown Bellefonte Inc. as well as other key organizations and individuals within the community,” said Ellen Matis, board president of Downtown Bellefonte Inc. “Now, more than ever, the success of our downtown businesses is key to our downtown’s strategic revitalization efforts.”

The Bellefonte community is home to unique shopping, craft beverage producers, a wide variety of restaurants, and arts and cultural museums and experiences. Each year, more and more businesses choose to open in the downtown — a hub for startups, small businesses, young professionals and seasoned entrepreneurs alike. Special events like Friday in the ‘Fonte, Bellefonte Under the Lights, the Outdoor Adventure Expo — as well as other organizations’ events like Victorian Christmas — draw in residents and visitors annually to experience all that Bellefonte has to offer.

“What really makes our Main Street program unique, I believe, is the extreme pride that our organization’s volunteers have for the Bellefonte community,” Matis said. “In the years that I’ve watched the organization grow, I’ve never seen volunteers waiting for change: They go out and make it happen.”

Volunteer opportunities are available for Bellefonte-area residents to get involved with the organization, and play a vital role in the downtown’s growth.

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