Some people may associate the Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation (SBDDC) with New Bern’s Annual MUMfest and they should because it attracts thousands of residents and visitors to the MUMfest. Personally, I really look forward to this fantastic event every year! But many people truly don’t understand the significant impact this non-profit organization has on the future of the downtown district and waterfront area.
I admit I am one of those who assumed the SBDDC were the folks responsible for planning, organizing, and executing the most profitable annual festival in New Bern, the MUMfest. I didn’t know much more than that regarding the Swiss Bear foundation. That was, until I visited their very informative website and read the history behind the organization and the impact their efforts have had on the revitalization of New Bern’s downtown and waterfront since 1979.
Today, I had the pleasure of meeting the Executive Director, Ms. Susan Moffat-Thomas and her Administrative Assistant, Ms. Danielle Glynn. I walked away from the meeting with Ms. Moffat-Thomas with a renewed sense of hope that New Bern’s downtown future is bright and believe the Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation’s efforts will continue to have an astonishing impact on New Bern’s historic downtown district including infrastructure and redevelopment of the waterfront.
The Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation has won numerous awards to include recognition as an award winning Main Street success story by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This fact alone should tell readers, that this kind of recognition should attract visitors and prospective residents to New Bern, ultimately increasing New Bern’s (public and private) revenue.
They did a fantastic job by comparing photographs from the 1970s thru present time on their website. There’s no question that the Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation has positively impacted New Bern’s downtown economic growth.
Notable projects they’ve completed in partnership with the City are: Urban Renewal Waterfront Development, Central Business District, James Reed Lane, Municipal Service Tax District, Union Point Park, Belk Building Rehabilitation, and Council Bluff Green.
Current projects in progress are: Wayfinding Signage System, Broad Street Improvements, Five Points, F-11 Restoration, and Ship Hauling Machine Restoration.
The SBDDC also created numerous events and promotions over the past 25 years to attract people downtown including the Coastal Christmas Celebration and Flotilla, Antique Shows, Summer Luncheon Series, The Annual Seafood Challenge, Civil War re-enactments, Antique Car Shows, Flag Day Celebrations, NC Wildlife Show, Independence Day Celebrations and Halloween parades. With the exception of MUMFEST, many have been spun off to other groups and nonprofits.
For detailed information about the efforts and progress of the Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation, please visit the Swiss Bear’s Website or contact them at their office at 316 South Front Street, 252-638-5781.