On May 10, 2017, retailers and civic leaders gathered to celebrate the success of the Hamilton District Main Street Program in Allentown, Pennsylvania, an effort started more than 10 years ago to revitalize the city’s downtown.
The National Main Street Program is community-driven, comprehensive strategy designed to revitalize downtown and neighborhood business districts. It’s a common-sense approach used to address a variety of issues and problems that challenge traditional business districts. The Hamilton District Main Street Program (HDMSP) is an initiative of the Allentown Chamber of Commerce and is governed by the Hamilton District Main Street Program and its committees.
The Hamilton District Main Street Program is also supported by adjoining neighborhoods and the riverfront area. Described as the commercial and cultural heart of the Lehigh Valley, the district seeks to raise awareness of the changing face of downtown Allentown with its restaurant, retail, business and entertainment activity.
The Main Street Program is volunteer-driven, involvings business and property owners, citizens, public officials and other local economic development officials who have a vested interest in revitalizing the downtown.
One of the newest and most promising initiatives is the Fresh Friday farmers’ market, which provides the residents of Downtown and nearby neighborhoods in Allentown with a source of high quality locally grown or made food, beverages and products. Their goal is to promote sustainable agriculture and provide increased business opportunities for local farms and food businesses in the Lehigh Valley. Fresh, healthy food availability for the area will increase and a space will be provided that fosters a sense of community in the Downtown area.
Founders Steve and Nicole Shelly are well-known in the farming and market scene in the Lehigh Valley. They have been respected farm owners of Godshall Farm in Upper Saucon Township since 2007. They were inspired by the success and growth of other Pennsylvania farmers’ markets–such as the Rittenhouse Square and Headhouse Farmers’ Markets that they participated in.
Now that downtown Allentown is in full revitalization mode, their timing couldn’t be better.