For a town of only about 10,000 people, Bel Air, Maryland, has a significant economy, growing culture and high level of community organization. The county seat of Hartford County, Bel Air is 20 miles north of Baltimore and 75 miles away from Philadelphia. The town is surrounded by the unincorporated towns of Bel Air North and Bel Air South, whose residents often flock to town of Bel Air for its retail and restaurant-savvy downtown. Community-organized events are weekly occurrences that provide numerous family-friendly activities for its residents.
The Bel Air community sports a favorable economy due to its downtown retail businesses and specialty shops, as well as its company-friendly local legislation. There has been a community movement to make Bel Air a more attractive place for businesses by activating a fast-track business permit program. Being the county seat, one of Bel Air's biggest employers is the city itself, Hartford County, and the State of Maryland. Two other major employers to Bel Air are:
Most of the population in the city of Bel Air is urban. Neighborhoods and districts of Bel Air accommodate more than 4,400 houses, out of which more than 4,200 are occupied. Of the occupied houses, more than 2,700 are owner-occupied, while renters occupy around 1,400 houses.
Downtown Bel Air revolves around the old Court House and Main Street, the city's commercial center. The district is more than 130 years old and features tree-lined sidewalks and a mix of old and new architecture. Downtown's motto is "The Heart of Harford," and it offers places to dine, shop, worship and work.
Center for the Arts: This nonprofit group has been putting on productions and raising money to erect a building in Bel Air devoted to the performing and education of the arts. The organization has put on youth plays and ballet and musical performances in an effort to meet its financial goals toward building the center. The organization now has an office in Tudor Hall, the former home of famous actor Junius Brutus Booth and his sons: famous Shakespearian actor Edwin Junius Booth and President Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth.
Hartford Community College: This institute of higher learning provides affordable, quality higher education that focuses on preparing students for professional life and furthering education. The school had an enrollment of more than 8,000 in 2008, including both full- and part-time students.
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