I always enjoy the moment when I take a look back at the year and reflect on what we’ve accomplished, the partnerships we’ve built, and the steps we’ve taken to further the revitalization of our Main Street District. In a year of continuing uncertainty in the face of the ongoing pandemic,  downtown Frostburg has once again demonstrated its resilience. In 2021, none of our beloved small businesses were forced to close due to the pandemic, and the City of Frostburg and FrostburgFirst welcomed nine new businesses to the Main Street District, including the second branch of Somerset Trust Company, Tracks & Yaks Rail Bike Tours, DeDi’s Kitchen, Savage Mountain Firearms & Tactical Training, Sandstone Primary Care, Sarah Symons Photography, The Deep End, Gladstone Mercantile, and Muddy Creek Crafts! We also saw a return to our favorite in-person events, including the Frostburg Elks’ annual Derby Day and the recent FSU Children’s Literature Centre Storybook Holiday. FrostburgFirst held its 3rd Annual Pig Out in the Park, Fall Arts Walk and Spring Arts Walk, and launched summer events like Second Saturday and Moonlight Madness. We also held our first “Bite of the Burg” Restaurant Week, and brought back the annual Cocoa Crawl, all while respecting guidelines for masks and social distancing where required.

But while getting back to something like normal has been a tremendous relief, there is so much more being done to continue the recovery and revitalization of downtown Frostburg in the wake of the pandemic. The achievement I am personally most proud of this year is the FrostburgFirst Small Business Recovery Mini-Grant Program. Thanks to grant funding from the Maryland Strong Economic Recovery Initiative, the DHCD Main Street Improvement Program, donations from the community and local businesses like Armstrong Insurance Agency, and FrostburgFirst fundraising, we were able to give out $120,000 in mini-grants to eligible Frostburg small businesses to assist with recovery. This is the first time FrostburgFirst has been able to create and implement a program like this, and it has provided a template to continue aid programs and provide additional resources to small businesses, artists, and entrepreneurs in the future. 

This past year, FrostburgFirst received over $260,000 in grant funds to implement programs like the Small Business Recovery fund. Because we were able to source emergency grant funds for our operations, FrostburgFirst waived all membership dues for the year and took the opportunity to revamp how we connect with the community. 2022 marks the start of our annual Investment campaign. Rather than requiring membership dues, FrostburgFirst now encourages our local small businesses, artists, and community to invest in our program at whatever levels are comfortable. To find out more about how you can invest in our revitalization efforts, please visit our Invest in Downtown Frostburg page, or contact us at info@frostburg.com.

As we enter the new year, I look forward to the projects already underway, including the “Trellis to Remember” and “Gateway Mural” public art projects scheduled to take place in the Spring. Our partnership with the City of Frostburg has made projects like these possible, and we continue to work together on less obvious but equally impactful efforts, including a streamlined application process for Arts & Entertainment District tax incentives. We are always looking for new projects, programs, and input from the community, so I encourage you to reach out in 2022 and give us feedback! 

For a more detailed look back at the year, please click here to review the 2021 Executive Director’s Annual Report.

As always, FrostburgFirst thanks you for your continued support as we focus on our mission of developing and fostering a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable, and resilient designated Frostburg Main Street Community. Happy New Year, and may it be a “cool” one!

— Deirdre Robertson, Executive Director