ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (July 29, 2020) – The City of St. Joseph, in concert with The Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber and St. Joseph Today, recently announced the launch of a site that allows visitors to virtually stroll through downtown St. Joseph, facilitate shopping and check out what’s new along the bluff. features a 360-degree walkthrough of the downtown district, video highlights of the downtown and the businesses and catalogs any COVID-specific information that visitors might find useful.

The site, which will initially support the local economy during the pandemic, will continue to serve as a “gateway” piece for years to come, according to St. Joseph Community Development Director Kristen Gundersen.

“We’ve been listening to downtown owners and the challenges they’re facing, and we wanted to create something that gave visitors never-before-seen access to their businesses,” said Gundersen. “St. Joseph – unlike many other summer destinations around the midwest – is very fortunate in that we’re a fantastic place to get away with the kids, shop and stay while still being careful. We’re a short car trip away from Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit. We have wonderful outdoor experiences and we don’t have the congestion that other cities see.”

Virtual reality company CrazeVR of St. Joseph created the 360-degree tour that not only gives users the ability to casually stroll along downtown, but also gives visitors specific information about businesses and even landmarks along the bluff. Downtown merchants will also have an opportunity to enhance their individual presence within the platform by opting to do a virtual tour of their business in the coming weeks.

Arthur Havlicek, President of the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber, encouraged business owners to do just that, saying: "The virtual tour of downtown is designed to keep folks dreaming, yearning, and planning visit our area, but that's just the start. Individual tours will allow consumers to actually explore inside shops, look at products, and even purchase items - all without ever leaving the site."

"This pandemic has underscored the need for businesses to have a strong online presence," Havlicek added. "We've taken that a step further and leveraged technology to bring the beauty of an entire downtown right to the safety of someone's own living room."

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