What is the BBRP?
The Borough Business Revitalization Program (BBRP) mobilizes volunteers and municipalities, assisting them in strengthening their local economies and community structure. Each borough’s physical, economic, cultural, and historical assets are promoted - both affecting and affected by the downtown business district.
The BBRP serves to educate and train volunteers in the State-approved urban revitalization areas of design, organization, economic restructuring, and promotion. This four point approach guides participating communities in their efforts to provide economically healthy, vibrant, pedestrian-friendly, and aesthetically-pleasing downtowns for their residents through promotion and by providing specialized assistance and access to resources on a regional level.
The BBRP is a regional Main Street program - est. in 2005 - that represents a partnership between the greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber Foundation, the Dept. of Community and Economic Development, Lehigh and Northampton Counties, and the participating communities.
Photo: The Bangor Heritage Mural was dedicated on September 22. The Mural will be the focal point for the Bangor Historic District and is the first in a planned series of Heritage Murals in partnership with Totts Gap Arts Institute. *Photo courtesy of Blue Valley Times.
Who is currently participating in the BBRP?
Alburtis, Bangor, Bath, Catasauqua, Coopersburg, Hellertown, & Pen Argyl
Photo: The beautiful “Welcome To Catasauqua” mural stands at the center of improvements installed at the Pine Street bridge entrance to Catasauqua. The project also includes solar pedestrian lighting and a community events sign.
How does the program work?
The BBRP was established as a bottom-up program whereby volunteers, elected officials, & business/property owners work together to outline the goals of their program and enact projects that fit the need of that participating community. The coordinator provides technical support, access to resources, and helps to coordinate the volunteer efforts and assist municipal staff/Council as relevant issues arise.
The BBRP was established in 2005 as one of the first regional models approved as a Pennsylvania-designated Main Street program; however, it still operates under the guided principles of the nationally-accepted (State-approved) Main Street revitalization model for singular borough/city Main Street programs:
• Design: Getting downtown into top physical shape and capitalizing on its best assets
• Economic Restructuring: Helping to maintain existing business & jobs and seeking new enterprises
• Promotion: Selling the image and promise of Main Street and community “sense of place”
• Organization: Ensuring that all concerned stakeholders are working towards the same goals
Photo: The Pen Argyl Wisdom Walk is a series of inspirational quotes winding throughout the business district and nearby neighborhoods. The Wisdom Walk will offer walkers an experience that is “healthy for the body & mind.” Pen Argyl BBRP Committee Chair Lisa Fedon painted a quote on a sidewalk along with other members of the Pen Argyl community. *Photo courtesy of Blue Valley Times.
What services are provided?
The Chamber-employed coordinator typically spends one day a week and most often, one evening (monthly committee meeting) a month in the Borough. As a State-trained revitalization expert, the BBRP Coordinator is able to assist the Borough with its community revitalization needs including (but not limited to) grant research, program execution, project research/precedent, business assistance connections, insight into Statewide resources/contacts, etc.
Program-wide Accomplishments (all BBRP boroughs)
• 2011 & 2010 Certification: the BBRP was designated as an accredited National Main St. Program for meeting the revitalization standards set by the National Trust Main St. Center
• 2010 Awards: Top performing regional Main Street Program in Pennsylvania & National Accreditation from the National Trust Main Street Center
• 2009 Awards: Main Street Manager of the Year & Honorable Mention for our Façade Program
• Helped secure over $898,000 in grant funding that leveraged over $2,409,000 in other funding (largely from Lehigh & Northampton Counties, elected representatives, & the Chamber Foundation’s MSLV Initiative Program)
• Coordination of over 8,000 volunteer hours – time that’s valued in Pennsylvania at $156,880
• BBRP boroughs have gained nearly 50 net new businesses and 200 net new jobs during the program’s duration
Photo: The Hellertown BBRP hosted the borough’s first “Cash Mob” on Black Friday. A dozen people met at a lot and drove to their surprise destination: Lost River Caverns Shop. The mob announcement requested that $10 be spent by each attendee at a surprise, local business - but with Christmas right around the corner the shoppers went well over that minimum. Shortly after exploring, the register was ringing!
Our Façade Program is one of our most popular programs. It is a state-funded program that provides a 1-to-1 match, up to $5,000, for exterior improvements to the Facades of properties within the targeted downtown. The third funding cycle is currently underway, and when completed over 100 properties in the BBRP communities will have received a combined $316,701 of state funding, leveraging an estimated $558,806 in private investment.
To request more information on the BBRP:
Email Sharon Davis for Bangor, Bath, Catasauqua and Pen Argyl.
Email Mary Himmelberger for Alburtis, Coopersburg and Hellertown.
You can also reach Sharon at (610) 973-4404 and Mary at (610) 739-1520.
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