PA Department of Community and Economic Development & Keystone Edge Article Highlights Bedford County

Work, Hike, Shop, Eat: Bedford is a small-town success story

Excerpts from article:

Bedford was founded in 1758 as a British defensive outpost in their battle against the French. Over 250 years later, the town’s strategic position remains its greatest asset. Situated in south-central Pennsylvania along the Juniata River and at the nexus of two major highways, the lively town is a place where residents and visitors alike can soak in a mineral spring, sip on a cold-pressed juice, spend the afternoon on a hiking trail, explore the charming downtown, or pursue a job at a thriving local company.

“I think we have a really beautiful blend of locals……we see a lot of tourists coming through on the weekends.” Haley Feaster partner at Next Door, a buzzy cafe and market on East Pitt Street says. “There are days that I don’t know anyone — and in a small town, you know a lot of people.”

Much of that tourism is driven by the area’s natural mineral springs, which have drawn visitors for centuries, including Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr and George Washington. In 1804, a 24-room inn opened, catering to travelers interested in a good soak. That small enterprise has evolved into the massive Omni Bedford Springs Resort

The health of downtown and the recreation opportunities close at hand are among the reasons that REI chose Bedford for its East Coast distribution center (in addition to its logistical advantages.)

The emphasis on outdoor recreation doesn’t stop with REI. Other recent additions to the county include:

  • River Mountain Retreat, a wellness-focused camp that empowers kids to disconnect from technology & also offers luxury glamping and remote work space for adults.
  • Kate’s Real Food.  “We were looking for somewhere less remote, close to major highways, and with a skilled labor force and infrastructure,” says Mark Thaler, Executive Vice President of Operations. “But it also has the mountain town vibe we are used to…..”

Recreation and industry produce jobs, which means more dollars circulating, which results in a fertile landscape for small businesses such as Next Door. With the closest Whole Foods a two-hour drive away, a specialty grocery like Wholesome Living Marketplace is also able to thrive. The store, which opened in 2008, stocks its shelves with organic and sustainably-produced items from small, family-owned companies and local farms.

Stacey Gould, Main Street Manager of Downtown Bedford, Inc., says part of what makes these businesses so successful is the willingness to form partnerships. For instance, Dalesman Distillery & Brewery is slated to open next year. The distillery is renovating an old building downtown and will partner with two other local restaurants — 10/09 Kitchen and Nick’s Sandwich Company – to provide food.

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