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 4-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, Swiss Bear 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 and are represented in our project working committees. These committees are made up of Board Members, funding partners, and Greater Downtown business owners, property owners, workers, and residents.

In 1979 Swiss Bear was established to spearhead and coordinate the revitalization of downtown and the redevelopment of its waterfront. Subsequently in 1980, Swiss Bear was selected as one of five North Carolina towns to participate in the pilot Main Street program. Since then the geographic area that Swiss Bear 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 more than 1600 communities and neighborhoods in Main Street. In North Carolina alone there are 80+ Main Street communities. The most successful programs are engage in public/private partnerships between local government and private property and business owners.

Swiss Bear is a 501(c)(3) entity that is led by a Board of Directors composed of volunteers representing specific stakeholders in Greater Downtown. Swiss Bear 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?

Swiss Bear facilitates the 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?

Swiss Bear receives operational funding by managing MumFest, New Bern’s three-day downtown festival which is held annually during the second weekend of October, as well as through sponsorships, grants, donations and investment revenue.

How can I become involved?

Interested stakeholders are welcome to serve on a standing committee. Swiss Bear also organizes short-term working groups to address specific issues. If interested, please contact the Lynne Harakal  at 252-626-6280 or director@swissbear.org.