News & Updates

Calling all entrepreneurs



By Frank Besse

Do you have a great idea for a new business in Jamestown? A bookstore? A spice emporium? A zip line across the Chadakoin River?

Consider unleashing your idea this fall at the Pearl City Small Business Pitch Fest, a new event from the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation that will feature presentations by local entrepreneurs looking to launch or expand their businesses. The goal is to give these brave souls the opportunity to share their vision with key members of the business community and the general public. This exchange of ideas is a way to foster the relationship-building essential to the success of a business.

This initiative, modeled after successful efforts elsewhere, is part of a new phase in JRC’s promotion of development in Jamestown. Those efforts began in 2008 with partnerships between JRC, the city, and downtown property owners to restore the faded exteriors of numerous downtown buildings and boost the appearance of targeted alleys. To date, 36 façade improvement projects have been completed or are currently underway. In many cases, these improvements have helped turn old buildings from apparent liabilities into real assets – beautiful examples of how to blend artistic expression and commerce.

Once these exterior improvements were underway, efforts began to help fill the interior spaces with new apartments and businesses. The JRC has worked with a variety of downtown property owners and business owners to increase the number of residential units and the number of businesses operating within the urban core. The ten new apartments in the Willow Bay Commerce Center that began filling up earlier this year are a good example of this work, as is the Sprinkle Cone, the new ice cream shop at 207 Pine Street. That business is located in a building whose façade was refurbished three years ago.

Now that activity is on the rise, the JRC is focusing even more of its attention on filling vacant spaces and on empowering the business and community leaders of tomorrow who have ideas and passion that will fill the city new enterprise and activity for years to come. After all, a renaissance isn’t a renaissance if all you have are good looking buildings with darkened windows.

To that end, the Pearl City Small Business Pitch Fest is a way for anyone with an interest in opening, expanding, or supporting small businesses to get together and network with like-minded people. Cities work because proximity enables commerce and the kinds of person-to-person connections needed to get new and complex ventures off the ground.

The Pitch Fest is also a way for the JRC to identify people with promising ideas that might be good fits for downtown retail space, the farmers market, neighborhood commercial areas, or industrial lofts.

The JRC is looking to connect with entrepreneurs, investors, customers, suppliers; in short, anyone who thinks they may have a role in continuing to push the Jamestown economy forward. A date for the first pitch fest has not been set, but will be once the JRC has enough entrepreneurs willing to participate. If you would like to learn more about this event and other JRC initiatives visit this page or contact Frank Besse at 664.2477 or

Renaissance Reflections is a biweekly feature with news from the front lines of Jamestown’s revitalization. This article was originally published in the Post-Journal on August 18th, 2014.

Help expand Potters gALLErY


Potters gALLErY has been bringing color and vibrancy to downtown Jamestown for five years by incorporating art from talented local students into the urban landscape. And for the fifth straight year, the gallery is set to expand — but the JRC needs your assistance.

A crowd funding campaign has been started on Indiegogo to raise $2,100 towards the installation of seven new pieces selected by the arts faculty at Jamestown High School. Contribute to the campaign through the end of August to help make the expansion possible and to take advantage of some cool perks.

Visit the campaign’s page at Indiegogo to learn more about Potters gALLErY, the proposed expansion, and to contribute. Every bit helps!


GROW Jamestown: Follow the Signs

PHOTO_Grow Jamestown Front Garden Program

Small garden signs will be popping up across Jamestown this month. You’ll see them nestled in flower beds and planter boxes from Hotchkiss Street to Hallock Street and from West Virginia Boulevard to West 18th Street.

The signs will be distributed as part of the GROW Jamestown Front Garden Recognition Program, now in its fourth year. Over 60 volunteers will be working with the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation through the end of July to survey every city street and deliver signs to gardens that are colorful, well-tended, and set a high standard for their corner of Jamestown. Continue reading

Complete Streets Presentation Set for Monday


4th Street Jamestown, NY

The City of Jamestown will be hosting a Complete Streets Policy Implementation presentation on Monday July 7th from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM in the Lillian V. Ney Renaissance Center located at 119 West Third Street. Complete Streets are road systems that provide safe, convenient access for all users including, motorists, bicyclists, public transportation operators and users, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. National experts John LaPlante and Kristin Bennett from the National Complete Streets Coalition will lead this presentation and will help determine how the City of Jamestown can better balance transportation projects to ensure streets are safe and inviting for everyone using the right-of-way.

This presentation sponsored by the New York State Department of Transportation and Jamestown Renaissance Corporation is the first in New York State and will be open to the public. The City of Jamestown encourages your attendance in identifying how to more effectively complete the streets in Jamestown.

Appetite Grows for Food Downtown

Farmers Market 1


One of the hallmarks of successful downtowns is that they are destinations for great food and have lots of fun places to eat. Think of any downtown that you enjoy visiting and there’s a good chance that a restaurant, public market, or street-side food vendor plays a prominent role in making it a favorite place.

Several projects in downtown Jamestown, including events, business expansions, and recent openings all signal that downtown Jamestown is moving up in the ranks as a regional food destination. Continue reading

Great Streets: A Wish List for Jamestown

Brick street1

Great streets feel good.

Walk or drive down the stretch of Third Street between Hallock and Hall in Jamestown now that the oak trees are in full leaf and try not to be inspired. It’s hard. The soaring trees, the interesting buildings, and the view of downtown on the other side of the bridge all combine to make a trip along Third a real treat.

That beautiful street is also a safer place this summer after a 2013 repaving project that included striping to clearly mark travel lanes and parking lanes. What had been an ambiguous and awkward street for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians is now more calm and comfortable. Continue reading

Seven Groups Chosen as 2014′s Neighborhood Renaissance Blocks

RBC Map_2014 Update


Landscaping, porch repairs, painting, sidewalk replacement and many other projects will soon be underway in Jamestown’s neighborhoods as part of the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation’s fourth annual Renaissance Block Challenge.

Seven clusters of neighbors are participating in the program this year, with properties located on Dearborn St., Durant Ave., Ellis Ave., Lakeview Ave., Newton Ave., W. 18th St., and in the Forest Heights neighborhood. The seven groups, which include 97 property owners and a mixture of owner-occupants and landlords, applied to the program earlier this year and were selected from among 12 competing groups. Continue reading

‘Third Thursday’ Concerts Resume at Winter Garden Plaza


The “Third Thursday” summer concert series will continue for a third straight year at Winter Garden Plaza in downtown Jamestown, starting this week.

The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation and the Active Artists Alliance have announced that the popular series will resume on May 15 with free performances by local bands Smackdab and Little Sea Bird. Concerts will continue on the third Thursday of each month through September. Music begins at 7 pm at the plaza, located on North Main Street between Third and Fourth Streets.

“The community has supported this event, rain or shine, from the beginning, and the JRC is proud to support the event for another year” says Gregory Lindquist, Executive Director of the JRC. “Having activity in downtown Jamestown’s public spaces is an important part of our mission to cultivate a vibrant and active downtown.”

Just over five years ago, the JRC oversaw the demolition of the long-vacant Winter Garden Theater and the installation of the small urban park that has become a gathering space for a variety of community events including the Great Jamestown Chalk Walk and the Great Jamestown Sauce Off.

“It’s great to be able to host free events for the community at Winter Garden Plaza,” says Active Artists Alliance President and event organizer Bill Thomas. “So many different people come down to our events here. We have teenagers and retirees along with families who bring their young kids to enjoy the nice summer weather and see great music from Jamestown and the region.” The audience is as eclectic as the music that entertains them each month with bands playing funk, jazz, reggae, rock, and bluegrass.

Funding for the Third Thursday concert series is coming this year from a newly launched JRC program, the Downtown and Riverfront Event Competition. The program accepts event proposals on a rolling basis “that draw visitors and local residents to enjoy community assets, patronize local businesses, and add vitality to public spaces” according to the program’s guidelines. More information about the program and how to apply can be found here on our Web site.

Get Hands-on with Citywide Spruce-up


Hands On1

Click here to register for Hands-On Jamestown

It’s a vicious cycle that begins small. Litter begets litter. Then graffiti appears. And before long, apathy and despair are knocking at the door.

But the reverse cycle also starts out small. A sidewalk is swept. A flower is planted. And pretty soon, a sense of pride and community takes root.

The renaissance underway in many parts of Jamestown today is spurred, more than anything else, by this second cycle. Simple acts of improvement, with broad community participation, are changing mindsets and making waves. Continue reading