May 30, 2017
Find your way to Frostburg, Maryland
After receiving 14,000 nominations for towns to put in the spotlight during season two of “Small Business Revolution,” we hit the road to visit eight inspiring towns that made our short list of potential finalists. Throughout summer, we’re looking back and sharing the stories of what made each town special – including guest posts from local leaders and some profiles of businesses in these communities. This is the first post in our weeklong focus on Frostburg, Maryland.
Approaching Frostburg, Maryland, from the north, you descend into downtown via the scenic, lamp-lined Main Street, where the community’s charm and its welcoming spirit are almost palpable. It’s no wonder why the town was once called Mount Pleasant, until officially adopting the Frostburg moniker in 1820.
Frostburg, a former coal-mining town, is like so many other small towns across America, in that it has recently found itself at a crossroads – needing to evolve and find its new identity, but in a way that leverages its rich history and its existing assets.
One of those key assets is Frostburg State University, whose beautiful campus is nestled right in heart of downtown. Consider this: Frostburg has about 9,000 residents total, and the university serves north of 5,000 students each year. In other words, the school is in many ways the lifeblood of the community, but that huge reliance on a single employer and its cyclical flow of students comes with its own set of challenges.
Luckily, Frostburg is chock full of passionate and savvy small business owners and town leaders, who are actively seeking ways to work together with the university for the town’s greater good. They also recognize that Frostburg’s future will hinge on bridging gaps between multiple generations, while building the types of businesses that will not only help attract students, but will also help the town retain them as long-term residents, post-graduation.
To that end, there is an amazing, youthful energy in Frostburg, with a younger generation of entrepreneurs starting up a diverse array of businesses. There’s a nationally renowned, independent music label, which also operates a record store that sells rare vinyl. There’s a hip coffee shop that was just getting off the ground when we visited Frostburg, with plans for live music.
Meanwhile, Frostburg has many longstanding businesses that are also critical to creating the town’s unique character, including a mouthwatering Italian bakery led by a passionate husband-wife duo, and a famous candy shop that uses huge plastic molds to produce gigantic chocolate delicacies. All of these businesses are working in concert to move Frostburg into the future, and the town is also looking into innovative ways to lure visitors from the nearby Allegheny Bike Trail and Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.
We encourage you to make your own trip to Frostburg, Maryland, kick up your feet at the historic Gunter Hotel (and maybe grab a cold one across the street at Dante’s), to see firsthand what makes this community so special.