The closure of the Sidney Business Association effectively ends a hostile relationship between the organization and the Town of Sidney and opens the door to promotion of local business by none other than the businesses themselves.
Last week, the SBA announced it was shutting down after 13 years of working to promote local business, after its debt load became unmanageable and following the loss of the summer street market — it’s major source of income. A poor relationship grew between the municipality and the SBA as fees the municipality charged for service at the markets grew each year. Yet, the SBA continued to rely upon the market for most of its annual operating budget
This year, Sidney awarded the operation of the market to another group, ending the SBA’s tenure and cutting off a portion of its cash flow. In the end, SBA board members were using their own money to keep the doors open.
As the relationship deteriorated, factions within the business community kept stirring the pot — new organizations grew, proposals came and went and now there’s a new Business improvement Association (BIA) acting for Sidney business only — maintaining an arm’s length from the Town itself.
What local businesses need to be able to do to pursue their own goals is ensure they aren’t beholden to any single thing. A supportive municipality creates an environment, through policy, where a business or promotional organization can succeed and help create a vibrant community. It’s then up to a group like the BIA or chamber of commerce — or even the SBA — to stand on their own and make a case not only for their existence, but for the betterment of the community.
The break between the Town and the SBA may have been a bitter one, yet there’s a chance now to invest in a new path — as long as people in both camps agree that their collective interests outweigh individual priorities.