On Centre: Around Bellefonte | Keystone Development Community coordinator to hold first meeting for business owners

Vana Dainty is ready to start getting the Bellefonte business community to work better together.

The new Keystone Community Development coordinator is holding her first business meeting as part of the Keystone Development Program at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 4 at Cool Beans Coffee and Tea, 141 W. High St. She is encouraging all Bellefonte business owners to attend.

Goals of the initiative include developing strategies about how best to market and promote Bellefonte and to create a merchants and business association.

“The idea is that the program is designed for the central and waterfront business district, so it would be good for them to have a voice in the decisions moving forward,” she wrote in an email.

The program won’t include dues or fees and will just be designed for collaboration and sharing ideas. She said several business owners have shown interest and agreed to attend the meeting, and she hopes to make the meetings a monthly occurrence.

The Keystone Development Program is designed to help promote the area and apply for some state grant funding to improve the borough. Dainty, a former councilwoman who resigned to take the contracted post, is working through grant applications and marketing and promotion activities.

Borough officials are particularly interested about the possibility of getting funding for sprinkler systems to protect some of the town’s older buildings and Victorian sites.

Dainty has said a goal is to fill all the storefronts in both business districts. Forty percent of her position also includes zoning officer duties, because a retirement in that office freed up the funding for her position.

The next immediate goal is to apply for a Keystone Community designation, which would open the borough up for other additional grant funding opportunities.