If you’re like me, it’s impossible not to feel some relief that 2020 is in our rearview mirror! And yet, despite all of the unexpected challenges, Frostburg has not only survived but thrived. The pandemic has largely guided activities this year, and yet Frostburg businesses and the community have made every effort to adapt. When the state stay-at-home order was lifted, the summer and fall seasons saw record numbers of visitors taking advantage of outdoor recreation opportunities like the Great Allegheny Passage. Local restaurants offered safe outdoor dining, the annual farmers’ market in the heart of downtown welcomed those wanting to support local farmers, and small, hybrid virtual/in-person outdoor events encouraged locals and visitors to support local businesses in a responsible, socially-distanced way. FrostburgFirst shifted gears to address the unique challenges presented by the pandemic. By adapting public events to a virtual format, organizing monthly online promotions with multiple businesses, and developing a mini-grant program to assist small businesses in making the transition to online sales and marketing, FrostburgFirst encouraged a “support local, safely” mentality. FrostburgFirst applied for and was awarded $18,500 in emergency COVID-19 operational funding for the organization, which allowed us to waive membership fees for the year for existing business members while providing the same services. We were also able to convert $10,500 of our FY20 DHCD Main Street Improvement grant funding to create the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Mini-Grant program, and raised an additional $3500 in donations to supplement the fund. As of December, we successfully disbursed $11,000 in mini-grants in round 1, and are currently awaiting FY21 funding and MD- SERI funding to implement round 2, which we hope to open to applications by the end of January.
But this year has been about so much more than the pandemic. FrostburgFirst is proud of the accomplishments and collaborations we’ve been a part of in 2020. This year, we applied for and were awarded $76,500 in grant funds, including FY20 & FY21), a 200% increase from the previous year. We successfully implemented projects as part of the awarded grant funds, including the Small Business Relief Mini-Grant Program, worked with the Frostburg Knights of Columbus to host the Pop-Up Frostburg project at 13 E. Main with three local vendors rotating through mid-February, hosted virtual and in-person Spring Arts Walk & Fall Arts Walk events, launched Shop Small Season promotions, and collaborated with FSU, City of Frostburg, and artist Jules Muck to install and paint a public art installation in the Parish parking lot.
We also planned and executed an office move to 41 E. Main Street during the pandemic and successfully transitioned to a 501(c)3 tax-exempt status. Most recently FrostburgFirst completed the year-long process of making Frostburg a Keep America Beautiful affiliate, opening us up to new funding, resources, and a nationwide network of support to keep our downtown beautiful and clean.
As we enter 2021, FrostburgFirst is thrilled to celebrate its 20th year as an incorporated organization! Our Main Street Program has seen many changes over the past 20 years, and we look forward to even better things in the future. Stay tuned for promotions and activities to celebrate 20 years of FrostburgFirst – a Maryland Main Street Community, Inc.! The Spring Arts Walk will return on April 24, likely with a hybrid virtual/in-person format. Look for fun promotions on our social media every month featuring local businesses and entrepreneurs – we love highlighting our charming downtown! Make sure to mark your calendars for the 3rd Annual Pig Out in the Park on August 21 – if you or someone you know has BBQ skills, be sure to apply to compete in this year’s competition. The Fall Arts Walk will return in early autumn, and Shop Small Season is always a great way to kick off the holidays in downtown Frostburg. We have several projects underway, and I look forward to sharing our progress with you as the year matures.
So, as we move into the new year, consider how you can get the most out of FrostburgFirst’s services. By becoming a member or joining a committee you have the opportunity to have direct involvement with FrostburgFirst events, provide input on organizational operations, proposed projects, and membership incentives, and increase the visibility of your business or organization in the Frostburg community and throughout the region. Contact the office to find out more!
FrostburgFirst thanks you for your continued support. As always, we focus on our mission of developing and fostering a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable, and resilient designated Frostburg Main Street Community.