For Small Nation, 2021 was a year of growth and new opportunities. We are so thankful to each and every one of you for making this our best year yet.

This past year, Small Nation has been busy living out our mission of investing in places, spaces and dreams for small towns and entrepreneurs. There’s so many thank yous and acknowledgments for everyone who supports our mission. The architects who link up the good ideas, the bankers who provide financing, the contractors who use their talents to build, illuminate and make the properties safe. And most importantly, the tenants and business owners who open up great spaces to shop, eat and experience.

In 2021, Small Nation has made four major building acquisitions – three in Downtown Bellefontaine and one in Uptown Marysville. In March, we bought the Historic Opera Block – over 40,000 square feet of retail and office space featuring ten street-level storefronts. Later, the Marysville Entrepreneurial Center (MEC) building and the former Bellefontaine Elks Lodge were both bought. Lastly, we purchased a row of storefronts on Chillicothe Ave. behind the Canby Building. This building, with so much potential, houses five commercial storefronts and eight upstairs loft apartments.

17 new businesses opened or expanded in Downtown Bellefontaine in 2021. This is headlined by our new state of the art coworking facility BUILD Cowork + Space, along with the anchor restaurant the Flying Pepper Cantina. Undertone Beauty Bar opened in January and grew quickly, leading to its expansion to a new space on West Columbus.

Four building renovations were completed by the Small Nation team this year, starting with the Zell Building on West Columbus with three storefronts and two loft apartments. Businesses new to this building include Hi-Point Nutrition, Choice Properties, and Undertone Beauty Bar. 137-139 West Columbus was finished with BUILD and the Flying Pepper. The building at 125-129 West Columbus was renovated for the expansion of Undertone and includes four new loft apartments upstairs. Renovations for the Historic Opera Block began with a brand new space for the Silver Elephant on Main and the welcoming of Revival Design Studio’s expansion on Court Ave.

Small Nation gave over 50 tours of Downtown Bellefontaine to visitors. Guests include State Treasurer Robert Sprague, Ohio Director of Development Lydia Mihalik, and contingents from over a dozen organizations and communities across the state. Over 500 outside guests have been hosted to come and experience what Downtown Bellefontaine has to offer.

The Small Nation team began to work with other communities throughout Ohio and other states to share best practices, recommendations, and the Bellefontaine story. The Mayors’ Partnership for Progress hosted Founder/CEO Jason Duff for a tour of Chillicothe and presentation to community leaders in the Appalachia region. As Small Nation works with the city of Bryan, Ohio, Duff gave the keynote at the Bryan Area Foundation’s annual members’ meeting. The City of West Des Moines brought Small Nation out to lead a neighborhood workshop as they work to update their Historic West Des Moines master plan. To finish the year, the Small Nation team traveled to Naples, Florida, for the Platform Marketing mastermind conference, an event for real estate agents nationwide.

Altogether, Small Nation has worked to help create over 50 new downtown jobs and over $2.3 million in new private investments in 2021.

As we unwind 2021, we just as much are winding up for 2022 and we have many exciting projects planned for the upcoming year. Bellefontaine’s premier axe-throwing destination, Axe Ventura, will be opening in January. The Vivian Weddings & Events Center is slated to open in the fall in the Elks Lodge. The second location of BUILD Cowork + Space will also be opening later in 2022 in Uptown Marysville.

Thanks again to again to everyone who has helped make this past year possible and helped make Downtown Bellefontaine Ohio’s most loveable downtown.

About Small Nation:
SMALL NATION develops places, spaces and dreams for small towns and small-town entrepreneurs across the country. They create revitalization concepts and plans for towns, create business concepts, brands, and workforce solutions, then market it all in the name of small-town success.

To learn more about Small Nation, visit or follow them on social media at @smallnationstrong.