Mt. Airy’s new business association could reinvigorate First Fridays

The new business association in Mt. Airy could reinvigorate First Fridays. That is one of the goals expressed by the Business Association of Mt. Airy (BAM) at the last of its three informational meetings on Monday.

 The meeting at Earth Bread + Brewery restaurant attracted about 40 local business owners.

 Events such as First Fridays are among the key means the association intends to promote area businesses.  “We would really love to see the street come alive at night” BAM’s Executive Director, Elizabeth Moselle said.

Pamela Reichen of the Quintessence Theater Group at the Sedgwick Theater is hopeful that BAM can do that. “The organization of First Fridays will be instrumental.”

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The purpose of the meetings was to give the local business community an opportunity to hear BAM’s membership features and to also provide feedback to the association, which is an initiative of Mt. Airy USA. Moselle clarified that BAM’s focus is on marketing and education. The association’s primary marketing tool will be its website, which Moselle stated will serve as a “general neighborhood information hub.”  The website is expected to launch within the next two months.  Members will not be invoiced until that time.

Linda Slodki, co-founder of the Mt. Airy Arts Garage enthused, “I think this is wonderful!” and then asked, “Where does art and culture fit in here?” Slodki believes there is a great fit between business and the arts, particularly in regard to First Fridays.  Elizabeth Vander Veer Shaak, owner of Mt. Airy Violins & Bows, concurred and added that she would like arts and culture to receive as large a feature space on the new website as restaurants.  Moselle replied, “We can always do that. This is a work in progress.”

Max Rivers, of Two Rivers Mediation would like to see an opportunity “for business people to have an association where we have some political clout.” He cited working towards bringing back trolley service for First Fridays as an example.  Moselle stated BAM would like to do more business advocacy, however, the association has not worked out where to incorporate that effort in its structure.  “It’s not part of the initial launch, ” Moselle remarked but added that there was “nothing to prevent that from happening” in the association’s future.  It was noted that there will be a members-only discussion forum added to the website where business owners can converse and organize.

David Fellner, owner of the Sedgwick Theatre, expressed concern that events such as the Art Expo will not receive full support from BAM.  Fellner asserted “There’s a real need to make it comfortable for people doing bottom-up efforts to tie into” BAM’s objectives.

The Business Association of Mt. Airy is “an organic effort,” emphasized Anuj Gupta, Executive Director of Mt. Airy USA.  Gupta noted that current plans for the association can and will be modified as membership increases and more input from the community is received.  Hilary Malson, Communications Associate for Mt. Airy USA confirmed that eight business owners have signed on as members prior to Monday’s meeting.

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