At its infancy, the Bel Air Downtown Task Force was established to oversee development of a Downtown Market Study. This process helped to identify business types and locations that are successful in Bel Air. From 1999 to 2001, under the directions of the Planning Director of the Town of Bel Air, the Task Force evolved into the Bel Air Downtown Revitalization Alliance, shifting its focus to supporting economic development in Downtown Bel Air.
In 2001, with the founding of the Bel Air Downtown Revitalization Alliance 501(c)3 as a Maryland Main Street program, real initiatives were taken and progress was made. The grandfather building of downtown, the Armory, was revitalized as an event center with offices and a garden music venue. This initiative prompted nearby property owners to revamp structures and a surge of revitalized facades followed. As new businesses, retail, services, and offices came back to downtown, so did visitors and employment. As employment returned, so did restaurants, with every restaurant in the district offering luncheon specials and after work incentives. Historic building tax credits and incentives, in addition to the town’s revolving loan fund, were enhanced through Community Development Block Grant and Department of Housing and Community Development and leveraged effectively to ignite the spark of redevelopment.
In 2003, having achieved great early success, the Alliance was renamed once again as the Bel Air Downtown Alliance. The focus of the group is consistent with the four pillar structure of Maryland Main Street programs: Design, Organization, Economic Vitality, and Promotion.
Our Committees At A Glance
The Design Committee improves the Downtown Bel Air image by enhancing its physical appearance – not just the appearance of buildings, but also that of streetlights, window displays, parking areas, signs, sidewalks, promotional materials and all other elements that convey a visual message about downtown and what it has to offer.
The Organization Committee concentrates on building cooperation and participation among groups and individuals with a stake in Downtown Bel Air’s economic viability: bankers, property owners, town and county officials, merchants, professionals, residents, civic groups, historical societies, schools, consumers, real estate agents, local media, etc.
The Promotion Committee contributes to a positive image of Downtown Bel Air by building awareness of its unique characteristics among shoppers, residents, tourists, investors, businesses and others, and encouraging them to take advantage of them through retail promotions, special events and other programs.
The Economic Vitality Committee works to strengthen the economic base of Downtown Bel Air by diversifying it. Activities include helping existing businesses expand, recruiting new businesses to provide a balanced commercial mix, converting unused space into productive property and sharpening the competitiveness of downtown merchants.
The Events Committee works closely with the Alliance staff members to create and maintain strong events to benefit the Bel Air community and raise funds for the Bel Air Downtown Alliance.
A Private – Public Partnership
Under the auspices of Main Street Maryland and the Main Street Program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Alliance has formed a private-public partnership with the Town of Bel Air. They are working together to realize a shared vision of how the town will evolve and benefit through revitalization.
Bel Air Downtown Alliance Staff
Jenny Erhard is the Executive Director for the Bel Air Downtown Alliance. She oversees the day-to-day operations and facilitates the organization’s mission. Jenny is a Bel Air native who graduated from Bel Air High School and then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Eastern University in St. Davids, PA. Jenny was first introduced to the Alliance as the creator of The Belle Aire Market in 2016. She joined the team full time as the Project Coordinator, later accepting the position of Director of Development and through COVID was named Executive Director. She currently lives in Churchville with her husband, son, daughter, two dogs and cat. She also enjoys her antique refinishing business, traveling and spending time with her family and friends.
Marketing and Communications Associate
Emma Knight is the Marketing and Communications Associate for the Bel Air Downtown Alliance. She oversees the marketing and communications materials and assists in promoting the organization. Emma is from Havre de Grace and graduated from The Tome School in North East before earning her bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Penn. She lives in Havre de Grace with her family. Emma enjoys reading, listening to music, playing games with friends, and snuggling with her dog.
Shelby Tittle manages the coordination and implementation of Alliance events, programs, and projects; assists with managing organizational databases for events and projects; researches new ideas to improve Alliance impact; and more. Shelby grew up in Forest Hill and currently lives in Bel Air. After graduating from Bel Air High School, Shelby got an associate’s degree in General Studies and then a bachelor’s in Communication Arts from Salisbury University. Shelby enjoys listening to podcasts, working on projects for her home, thrifting, and attending estate sales on the weekends.