In the mid 1970's, to reverse the decline and deterioration of New Bern's downtown, City and County officials and community leaders commissioned development of the 1977 Central Business District Revitalization Plan. In 1979 Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation, a private non-profit, was established to spearhead and coordinate the revitalization of the downtown and the redevelopment of its waterfront, in partnership with local government.
In 1980 New Bern became a member of the NC Department of Commerce Main Street Program that promotes downtown revitalization within the context of historic preservation. Over the past 30 years millions have been invested in public and private rehabilitation and new construction projects. By emphasizing downtown's historic assets and new waterfront development, downtown New Bern has experienced positive economic growth and is recognized as an award-winning Main Street success story.
By actively involving a broad range of interests and perspectives from the public and private sectors in the revitalization process, Swiss Bear's program leverages the community's collective skills and resources to maximum advantage.