As many already know, Bedford Main Street adopted a brand new Board of Directors back in March. The Board now consists of 14 Board members that comprise Centertown business owners, downtown residents, representation from Town Council, retirees with a love for Bedford, a member of the County Economic Development office, and even Ouiser from Little Town Player’s rendition of Steel Magnolias, to name a few. We have quite an eclectic group dedicated to promoting and improving Centertown!
For the last several years, the formal mission of Bedford Main Street, Inc. read that we were “a non-profit organization established to enhance the economic integrity and cultural environment of Centertown Bedford.” When the new Board came to the table, they discovered a need for a mission that was a little more specific and a lot more action-driven. In this vein, they devised that Bedford Main Street’s mission is “to promote and beautify Centertown Bedford by cultivating vibrant economic and cultural activities through community partnerships while preserving its historic character.” Our Board feels that this mission statement better encompasses the purpose of our organization and the resources it has to offer.
The Board has hit the ground running as it strives to fulfill our new mission. One of the first steps Main Street took was to host a property owners meeting back in June. The point of this meeting was to reach out to property owners and let them know that Main Street is here. We wanted and still endeavor to inform downtown building owners of the funding opportunities available to them as they strive to maintain and rehab their properties. We partnered with Virginia Community Capital, the Small Business Development Center, the Bedford Regional Water Authority, and the Bedford Electric Department to answer questions and highlight all that Bedford has to offer to prospective residents and business owners.
Taking it a step further, Bedford Main Street is in the process of creating a no interest microloan program that would be available to any commercial property owner or Centertown business owner. Bedford Main Street recognizes that there are entrepreneurs who want to start new businesses and create more jobs in Bedford as well as merchants looking to expand and grow businesses already located here. We believe these business owners should have access to as much help as we can reasonably provide and that new businesses are essential to a sustainable economy and a vibrant downtown. This summer, Bedford Main Street will be applying for a Downtown Investment Grant In the amount of $25,000 from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). It is our intent to then allocate all $25,000 to a revolving no interest loan pool. This coupled with matching funds consisting of $12,500 from the County EDA and $12,500 from the Town of Bedford , would create a no interest loan pool of $50,000. It is our hope to launch this microloan program this fall!
Bedford Main Street has also begun recognizing property owners who have already taken the steps to improve their buildings. At a first Town Council meeting in July, Bedford Main Street gave a Building Improvement award to property owner Gary Belt, for his work on the buildings that encompass 201 and 203 North Bridge Street as well as 108 North Bridge Street. We also offered a Building Improvement Award to Carl McDilda for the improvements he made to the building housing 208 and 210 West Depot Street.
In an event to promote economic and cultural activities, Bedford Main Street has recently rejoined 2nd Fridays. This monthly event has been occurring for nearly five years and draws a loyal crowd into all the long-time participating businesses. Over the last few months, Bedford has seen a few new businesses open who professed an interest in participating in 2nd Fridays, but were uncertain as to how to do so. In hopes of fulfilling a need, Bedford Main Street launched the Passport to Centertown 2nd Fridays program. This event allows shoppers already out and about in Bedford to purchase a passport from either Rapid Printing or the Main Street tent in the Centertown Plaza. The passport is only $2, but boasts over a dozen coupons and four potential raffle tickets. Each 2nd Friday, July through October, passport holders receive a scavenger hunt clue list. Each clue takes them into every single business represented in the passport and attendees get their passports stamped at each location where they locate a clue. In this manner, it puts potential customers in the doors of every business participating in the passport program. Our hope is that this program will encourage more businesses to participate in 2nd Fridays, because they have guaranteed promotion and are likely to see more people than usual come through their doors on 2nd Fridays.
In addition to the Passport Program, Main Street has partnered with John Graham of Graham Bass Fish Farm to rekindle activities that used to occur at Tasty Tuesdays. We are hosting Tastings Under the Pavilion each 2nd Friday through October, which offers different treats such as fish, BBQ, wine, and kettle corn. Tastings is one of the locations participating in the Passport to Centertown Program, so it is impossible to miss out on all they have to offer.
Bedford Main Street has long recognized that Centertown has limited options for the younger crowd. While we haven’t devised a permanent solution for this, we hope to encourage more young people downtown through our 2nd Friday Cornhole Tournaments. We host the heats each 2nd Friday leading up to October 9th, when the winning teams from each previous month will face off to be named Tournament Champion. The prize for first place is $100! We encourage those who are interested to sign up on our Facebook page.
When it comes to events downtown, Bedford Main Street is best known for hosting Centerfest. For 2015, Centerfest will harken back to its roots and rekindle its role as a family-friendly, community event. We have moved Centerfest from the last weekend in September, back to its original time slot in October. Centerfest will take place over two days: Friday, October 9th and Saturday, October 10th. On the evening of October 9th, we will host a cruise-in, lining the streets of downtown Bedford with classic cars, hot rods, and antique vehicles. Cars can begin lining up around 5:30 PM and the event is free and open to the public. There will also be a Sock Hop held in the middle of the main intersection, where Bridge and Main Street cross. Put on your dancing shoes and rock the night away under the street lights to the sounds of music by DJ Showtime and the Heat of the Night Band featuring Michael Payne. If dancing isn’t your style, come enjoy Pixar’s CARS, provided by Shentel, at the Centertown Pavilion. The movie will begin just after sunset and will be free of charge. All food will be provided by local Bedford restaurants and eateries!
Craft, art, commercial, and display vendors will be available on Saturday, from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. You are guaranteed to find unique, one of a kind items. Don’t go home empty-handed! Food will be provided by local and out-of-state vendors. We will host llamas, pony rides, and bounce houses. Don’t miss the fun! Though we will be hosting live music all day, we will wrap up Saturday night with a concert from 6:30-9:30 PM. The concert will take place in the parking lot behind the Wells Fargo building. The list of bands is forthcoming. Bleacher seats will be provided, but lawn chairs are encouraged!
With all of the changes happening with Bedford Main Street, coupled with the fact that this year marks our 30th anniversary, we felt it was time to rebrand our organization. With the help of Acute Design, we designed a new logo and then offered four different color options for the public to vote on. We received nearly four hundred votes and our winning logo is displayed here. We are very proud that it still encompasses the clock – a symbol that has become synonymous with Bedford. However, we also wanted to include the Peaks and reinforce all that Bedford has to offer. As you look at our new logo and take in all of our new endeavors, we hope that you will support our mission and in such support Bedford as you shop, dine, and tour!