Swiss Bear, Inc., the Main Street organization for the City of New Bern, announced two wins in Carolina Country’s Finest Awards 2020 contest.

New Bern won the NC-based publication’s categories for Finest Main Street or Downtown and Finest Festival (MumFest).

Swiss Bear Chairman Chris McCutcheon said, “It is such an honor, and it really shows how resilient our town has been through COVID-19. We’ve been successful at thinking outside the box to give every business the chance to thrive. To be chosen out of all the nominees is thrilling, and for four of the ten winners to be Main Street communities just makes it that much sweeter.”

Greater Downtown New Bern has been through numerous highs and lows over the last two years due to Hurricane Florence and the pandemic.

With leadership under Swiss Bear Executive Director Lynne Harakal and the Swiss Bear Board of Directors, downtown resiliency initiatives have included outdoor street dining where restaurants set up tables and chairs in the streets, some with tents and heaters, to attract visitors to dine safely and socially distanced.

This effort has added to the existing charm of our Downtown, and along with the varied mix of retail has helped solidify Downtown New Bern as Carolina Country’s Finest Main Street or Downtown 2020.

Along with outdoor street dining, Swiss Bear has been hands-on with helping businesses throughout New Bern to overcome some of the financial obstacles resulting from the pandemic.

Swiss Bear raised funds and developed a COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Loan Fund that is a 0% interest loan with no payments in the first 12 months and equal principal payments for the next two years. The loan fund still has available funding and small independent businesses within the City limits of New Bern can apply through www.downtownnewbern.com or www.newbernchamber.com.

MumFest was selected as the Finest Festival. The event has been organized by Swiss Bear for 40 years. This year, MumFest was reimagined as MumFeast! with an expansion of outdoor street dining, along with a limited number of artisan and food vendors, safely distanced across Downtown.

MumFeast! was held for five weekends during the month of October instead of over a single weekend to help disperse crowds.

The Downtown New Bern community through the guidance of Swiss Bear and working in partnership with The Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Development Authority and the City of New Bern, has worked to keep downtown New Bern a safe destination during COVID-19.

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