Building community among main street business owners

Few elements define the character of a neighborhood better than the main street downtown. The architecture; percentage of independents vs chains; entertainment; emphasis on culture and art say a lot about the what the neighborhood and people are about. For one, it’s a reason why they’ve moved there, or haven’t moved away from.

One major ingredient for a successful downtown, especially a lasting one with a strong sense of community, is not surprisingly, a strong sense of community among the business owners. Establishing that, however, is the tricky part. The folks at the newly formed MidCity Business Association in Washington DC, one of the largest neighborhood commercial districts in the country, are off to a good start by hosting monthly mixers where the business owners get to meet one another among food, drink and entertainment.

I was at one of those mixers tonight, and it was a lot of fun talking to business owners about how they plan to redesign their restaurant decor and menu, as well as sobering while listening to stories like how their property taxes had jumped from, say, $9000/year to $39,000/year in one year. More on that in the next article.