South Bethlehem offers a little bit of everything. Whether it’s a certain type of food or activity, the city consistently strives to provide a variety of enriching activities and events for the community.
However, behind all the art, activities and local businesses is a strong community of residents who help provide the work and care needed to continuously grow South Bethlehem’s local economy.
For the past four years, Missy Hartney has served as the South Side Main Street Manager for the SouthSide Arts District, and is one of those individuals that has consistently put their all into ensuring every resident finds what they need.
The dedication Hartney puts into South Bethlehem is apparent to anyone who has worked with her, Lisa Jordan, organization committee chair for the SouthSide Arts District and part of Hartney’s advisory council, said.
“She’s a one woman show,” Jordan said. “She has energy and a strong vision.”
Born and raised in Bethlehem, Hartney first began work at The Morning Call after graduating from Temple University. She then went on to work for The Los Angeles Times.
After two years in Los Angeles, she came back to the Lehigh Valley to work as the business and development manager for the Allentown Art Museum. It was during this time the South Side Main Street Manager position became available.
Hartney said accepting the position was a no brainer.
“I was born and raised in Bethlehem, I’ve always had a deep passion for South Bethlehem and it kind of took all of the things that I had in my tool belt and put them into one awesome job,” she said.
From helping local merchants promote their businesses to organizing engaging community events with local vendors and artists, the past four years of her life have been deeply intertwined with the South Side.
When she is not at work, Hartney still keeps the South Bethlehem community in mind and loves attending other community events.
“I love trying to dig into what other communities are doing,” Hartney said. “I always have my thinking cap on to see: ‘What can we do that is like that? Could we execute that on the South Side?’”
Hartney said when she isn’t at work, she is at home spending time with her two children and husband. She enjoys getting together with her extended family, which during the pandemic looks like Zoom calls and game nights.
She likes to keep her children involved in South Bethlehem through community events whenever possible, she said.
Right now, Hartney is planning COVID-19 friendly events for the South Side for this spring and summer.
“As much as I love the snow, I can’t wait for it to melt because we have so many fun things ahead,” Hartney said. “When June, July and August roll around, we’re going to have music on the Greenway for First Fridays and big lawn games. It’s just going to be so great.”
Stacie Brennan, the chair for the South Side Design Committee and another member of Hartney’s advisory council, said Hartney has brought an endless amount of energy and love for South Bethlehem and has become one of the key figures in bringing the community together in the past four years.
“She’s really done a great job of building on the sense of community in the arts district,” Brennan said. “She has brought a zillion and one new ideas, from events to projects on the South Side, to really build that sense of community.”