Passers by know Belleville, Ontario as a great spot to stop en route between Toronto and Ottawa. The city is in a prime position along the 401 corridor, but it’s so much more than a stop-through town. Delve a little further down highway 62 and you’ll discover Front Street: the core of Downtown Belleville, and home to over 200 members of the BDIA that works to promote this historic area.
1. The annual Empire Rockfest live music event hosted by The Empire Theatre brings over 4,000 people to the downtown core each July. Recent headliners have included well known performers like Hedley, The Trews and Tom Cochrane. Empire Rockfest attendees come from across Ontario to see some of their favourite Canadian bands each summer.
2. In 2014, 14 new businesses opened downtown and seven new businesses have opened in 2015 thus far. The downtown core attracts all types of businesses, from bakeries and coffee shops to home decor and vintage, as well as major banks, real estate and professional services.
3. Downtown Belleville is home to the most amazing restaurants, cafes, art galleries, entertainment venues and boutiques. Where else in town can you grab a gelato or a croissant and take a stroll along the riverside as artists paint the streetscape “En Plein Air?” You can also catch live music several times each week in many of the restaurants in the core, local art on the walls of businesses, and local products on the shelves.
4. In 2014/15 the BDIA received an grant from the Rural Economic Development (RED) funding program that has allowed the organization to do a Business Retention and Expansion Project. This $80,000 grant in partnership with the City of Belleville has allowed the downtown business owners to express their passion for the expansion and direction of the downtown, as well as to voice their suggestions for improvements. This initiative also included business recruitment.
5. The Downtown Belleville BDIA hosts over 16 successful events each year, and that number continues to grow. Have you been to Summerlicious, Savour the Chill, the Downtown Bridal Walk or Explore the Core? These free events are all thanks to the fantastic team dedicated to downtown improvement. This year, the BDIA has spearheaded FREE outdoor movies, which take place the last Thursday night of each month during the summer in Empire Square.
6. Thanks to the City of Belleville, the downtown core offers 1 hour of free parking on Front street and up to 4 hours of FREE parking in the North Riverside Parking lot… all the more reason to spend some time dining, shopping and exploring!
7. The BDIA board is made up of 11 dedicated individuals with backgrounds in business, finance, marketing and more. The board is volunteer based and is made up of current business and/or property owners in the downtown.