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. 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 and Five Points. This geographic area is now referred to as greater downtown.

New Bern is one of more than 1600 neighborhoods and communities that are part of Main Street America. In North Carolina alone there are approx. 80 Main Street cities. The most successful programs are organized like Swiss Bear with full-time staff reporting to a Board of Directors and City leadership, and with public/private partnerships being the catalyst for economic vitality.

Swiss Bear is a 501(c)(3) 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?

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?

Swiss Bear receives its operational funding by managing MumFest, MumFeast! and the MumFest Concert, as well as through sponsorships, grants, and donations.

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 director@swissbear.org or events@swissbear.org.