While towns across the state are struggling to fill their downtown business fronts in the midst of a fallen economy, there are innovative things happening in one little Midcoast town.

Hope remains a rural town, but the recent U.S. Census figures show that within Knox County there has been a population shift from the larger communities to more rural ones, with Hope’s shift among the most significant, seeing an increase of more than 300 people in the last 10 years. People are finding and settling in this little gem of a town.

During that time, Hope Corner has become a little downtown in itself with unique businesses, some already up and running, others in the works.

Brothers Ben and Joshua Leavitt create beautiful items in their metal and woodworking shops; Amy Wilton captures the community with her photography; and Chris and Lindsay Pinchbeck have plans for a bagpipe-making workshop and a children’s art center. There also is the popular Hope General Store and Hope Orchards, which sees visitors from all around during the fall harvest.

Not too far from the corner, Andy Swift works to restore antique fire trucks and Bill Huntington and Kari Luehman spin raw wool into colorful yarns at the Hope Spinnery. Bill O’Neil serves up hungry visitors at the Hatchet Mountain Publick House. Veterinarian Jim Laurita has plans to build a physical therapy facility to work with retired circus elephants at his Hatchet Mountain Road property. The Hope Jazz Festival also draws a crowd to True Park in July. The list of artistic talent in the town goes on and on.

Hope residents banded together in 2008 and approved the construction of a new fire station. The dedicated men and women at the fire department undertook a fundraising campaign to raise more than $100,000 to help offset the cost of the structure. The Hope Historical Society also maintains a museum, housing hundreds of town photographs.

A few years ago, a group of residents began a community group, Hope is Hip, to discuss the town’s future and its business community. The group itself has since dissipated, but its intention and motto has clearly continued.

Hope is not only hip, it’s happening.