Downtown Bristol Blog
Merry Christmas from Believe in Bristol! Please remember us for your year-end contributions this holiday season! Believe in Bristol is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization composed of dedicated citizens, business owners, government officials and other friends of Bristol who recognize the role a vital downtown plays in preserving and furthering our community’s identity, spirit and economy. As a certified Main Street organization, we work hard to organize broad-based community support and advocacy for our downtown, promote all that our downtown has to offer, preserve and restore the area's classic architectural design, and increase commercial potential through economic restructuring.
Historic Downtown Bristol has more to offer every day – more activities, more shops, more homes, more offices, and more life. But Believe in Bristol needs your support to help us continue our revitalization efforts and make our downtown an even better place to live, work, shop and play! It's thanks to people like you that we have made the great strides that we have in recent years.
As much as has been accomplished through the efforts of Believe in Bristol and our partners, there is still much to do and a huge amount of potential that remains to be tapped! By donating to, volunteering with, and becoming a member of Believe in Bristol, you can be an active part of Bristol's success story.
Follow the link to view our 2015-16 Annual Organizational Report make a donation: Support Believe in Bristol
For more information, contact Believe in Bristol at 276-644-9700 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to hear from you soon!
For the fourth year, Believe in Bristol will continue to build on their downtown entrepreneurial program. Thanks to a grant partnership with the Tennessee Main Street Entrepreneur Grant, the Virginia Community Business Launch Program and Wells Fargo, Believe in Bristol will facilitate the largest grants given to date with the 2017 Entrepreneur Grants Program.
18 total applicants with interesting ideas will be selected for a 9 week CO.STARTERS training class; 9 Tennessee-based new businesses or expansions and 9 Virginia-based new businesses or expansions.
Applicants will be notified by Thursday, January 19th if they are selected to move forward with the interview process. Applicant interviews will be scheduled the week of January 23 – 27, 2017.
The grant money is contingent on all of the below requirements being met:
- Opening or expending a business in the Historic Main Street District of Downtown Bristol VA or TN.
- Participation and attendance in a 9-week training course called CO.STARTERS (materials and classes provided by BIB), class schedule can be found online at BelieveInBristol.org/business.
- Becoming 1 of the top 6 business selected by a panel of judges during the final pitch day event on April, 22, 2017.
- Opening or expanding your existing business by September 30, 2017 as all funds must be disbursed by Dec 15, 2017 or the grant will not be executed.
- This reimbursement grant maybe used for property ownership, leased space, business licenses, professional training, utilities, computer equipment, restaurant equipment, and/or other business supplies. A formal request to Believe in Bristol along with documentation will be required for all reimbursements.
A Shark Tank style pitch event will be held the last day of class. Judges from all walks of local entrepreneurialism will score contestants and the winners will be announced that day.
Applicants may apply online at BelieveInBristol.org/business or in person at the Believe in Bristol office located at 36 Moore Street, Bristol, VA.
Executive Director Christina Blevins will be leaving Believe in Bristol in January after nine years of service to the non-profit Main Street organization. Christina has accepted a position in the Community Development department at the City of Bristol, Tennessee.
“As a tireless and enthusiastic advocate for Historic Downtown Bristol, Christina will be missed,” said Believe in Bristol’s Board President Kathryn Cole. “She has been instrumental to the growth of the organization and has been responsible for so many of its successes. The board and volunteers will miss her and will have big shoes to fill, but we are excited that she has this wonderful opportunity to move into a role so well suited to her background and expertise.”
Over the past fifteen plus years, Historic Downtown Bristol has undergone tremendous growth and revitalization, and Christina Blevins has been a big part of that story. She was appointed Executive Director of Believe in Bristol in 2007, where she has played a critical role as Believe in Bristol facilitated the transformation of Bristol’s downtown commercial district.
As Believe in Bristol’s Executive Director, Blevins oversaw our two nationally accredited Main Street programs (Tennessee and Virginia). She helped to develop Historic Downtown Bristol’s Arts & Entertainment District designation and created strong partnerships with other organizations and with volunteers, increasing special event programming to bring more people downtown to enjoy its restaurants, shops, live music, and atmosphere. The efforts put into the Believe in Bristol website, social media, and e-newsletter continue to be instrumental in bringing more recognition to businesses located downtown. Blevins also pursued several grants, bringing numerous initiatives to Historic Downtown Bristol, including streetscape and façade improvements, entrepreneurial support, business consulting for downtown merchants, and a hotel feasibility study.
During her time at the organization, Believe in Bristol received a Regional Preservation Award from the Heritage Alliance for Organizational Excellence, was recognized by the Tennessee State Governor’s Conference for strong community development, and received several Main Street Milestone Achievement Awards from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Blevins was an invited speaker at the annual Main Street Conference three times, highlighting Bristol on a national stage as an example of a successful, vibrant and continually growing downtown.
“I’m most proud of the partnerships that have formed from Believe in Bristol, all the revitalization efforts our downtown community has made, and how our cities have worked hard to change the face of Bristol,” said Blevins.“I am leaving Believe in Bristol confident that the organization will continue to support our small businesses, our heritage, and the ongoing revitalization efforts that so many have worked towards over the years.”
While working at Believe in Bristol, Blevins has also played an active role in a number of other Bristol organizations, including board seats with the Bristol Train Station, Bristol Chamber of Commerce, Bristol Convention & Visitors Bureau, Celebrate Bristol, and the Rotary Club of Bristol. In 2010, Blevins earned the Bristol Mayor’s Award of Distinction and was listed among the Tri-Cities’ Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40. In 2013, she received the YWCA Tribute to Women Leadership Award in the Business category, and most recently she was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow in Rotary.
Blevins will begin her new role with the City of Bristol, Tennessee, on January 9, 2017. Associate Director Maggie Bishop has been named as interim Executive Director of Believe in Bristol.
Downtown Bristol Events
December 22 | Blackbird Bakery
From East Tennessee, The Diamonds play a diverse mix of music, specializing in jazz standards. The group performs at various venues and events throughout the region, including weddings, parties, and restaurants. They have also volunteered at many nursing homes, assisted living homes, and charitable organizations in the area.
December 23 | Bristol Brewery
Celebrate the holidays with Bristol Brewery! Join us for an evening of great tunes and great brews.
December 31 | Studio Brew
Celebrate New Year's Eve with Studio Brew! Featuring food and beverage pairings and music by The Diamonds and Gerald Sheppard.
December 31 | Bristol Train Station
Get your tickets by visiting www.virginiaground.com or at vgtix.ticketbud.com/virginiaground. 21 & Up Event!
About Virginia Ground
A unique sound from this five member acoustic band with songs ranging from drivin' rock to sultry ballads. More sound from an acoustic six-string, a bull fiddle, and a harmonica than seems legal, forming a style that's just Virginia Ground.
Virginia Ground is an eclectic acoustic band comprised of talents from Glade Spring, Abingdon and Bristol, Virginia. Band members include lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter Jamen Denton and brother Justin Denton on the drums. Vocalists Jon McGlocklin, Ben Smith with harmonica, and Joshua Young playing the double bass round out the energetic show performed by this unique quintet. The band strives to appeal to a wide variety of music lovers. Their musical style encompasses original songs to timeless favorites by renowned artists in blue grass, rock, blues, country and folk ballads. Virginia Ground's music is influenced by the likes of Dylan, The Band, The Grateful Dead, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Old Crow Medicine Show to name a few. Audiences explode with enthusiasm when the band performs songs with Appalachian interests.