What Does Swiss Bear Do?

Swiss Bear, Inc. is the Main Street organization for the City of New Bern and is responsible for leading the economic development of greater downtown New Bern. The Main Street approach is a common-sense, strategy driven framework that guides community based revitalization efforts. Building off three-decades of success, this model harnesses the social, economic, physical, and cultural assets that set a place apart, and ultimately leads to tangible outcomes that benefit the entire community.

As New Bern’s Main Street organization, SBI has four standing committees that plan and develop the programs and initiatives as set forth in its annual work plan. The committees include Economic Vitality, Organization, Promotion, and Design. These committees are made up of Board Members, funding partners, and greater downtown business owners, property owners, workers, and residents.

In 1979 SBI was established to spearhead and coordinate the revitalization of downtown and the redevelopment of its waterfront. Subsequently in 1980, SBI was selected as one of five North Carolina towns to participate in the pilot Main Street program. Since then the geographic area that SBI serves has been expanded beyond the borders of downtown to include the Broad and Pollock Street corridors to First Street. This geographic area is now referred to as greater downtown.

New Bern is one of thousands of towns and cities with a downtown development program. In North Carolina alone there are sixty Main Street cities. The most successful programs are organized like SBI’s with partnerships between business leaders and local government officials, and with full-time staff that reports to a Board of Directors.

SBI is a 501 (c) 3 entity that is led by a Board of Directors composed of volunteers representing specific stakeholders in greater downtown. SBI also has representation on the Municipal Service District (MSD) steering committee for downtown, and the New Bern Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

What is Swiss Bear’s Mission?

SBI facilitates development of the greater downtown area through leadership and planning that empowers community stakeholders to promote and enhance New Bern’s unique cultural and natural resources.

How is Swiss Bear funded?

SBI receives its operational funding by managing MumFest, New Bern’s three-day downtown festival which is held annually on the second weekend of October. MumFest is a partnership between SBI and the City of New Bern, and is attended by more than 100,000 visitors each year.

How can I become involved?

Interested stakeholders are welcome to serve on a standing committee. SBI also organizes short-term working groups to address specific issues. If interested, please contact the SBI office at 252-638-5782 or info@swissbear.org.