More than a year ago, the BDA, the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce and JOCO First sat down to evaluate a potential partnership. The goal was to eliminate a duplication of services and find a way to make taxpayer dollars go further.
But after the BDA’s display at the April 2 Buffalo City Council meeting, it’s apparent partnering with these organizations isn’t a priority to the BDA.
During the meeting, BDA director Jon Cordonier, along with several BDA board members and supporters, lobbied for city 1 percent funds. In doing so, they talked about what sets the BDA apart – not what the organizations could do to work together and save money.
The committee that vets 1 percent applications recommended not funding the BDA this year, though the BDA wasn’t the only organization that the committee recommended not funding. BDA wasn’t specific about their request for $37,500. Where are those dollars going? How will they be used? And the question we have had for two years still remains: Are there plans for partnerships?
Organizations have been told time and time again over the past few years that public funds are limited. If organizations aren’t making every effort to spend those tax dollars wisely, then why should they receive them?
The county already denied the BDA’s request. Time will tell what the city decides, but such a large budget shortfall is going to be an uphill battle.
It’s time for the BDA to rethink its goals and funding streams. If it doesn’t, there likely won’t be a BDA much longer. That’s unfortunate as several of the organization’s projects, like the weekly farmers markets and business trainings, have seen successful and have grown to define downtown Buffalo in the summers.
We’d hate to see those offerings go away. But the truth is that those projects, like most the BDA has created or taken on, could likely be absorbed by other organizations. At the very least, they are projects that could benefit financially from working with other organizations.
Other communities, such as Goshen County and Powell, have merged their chambers and their economic development and downtown associations. They are getting more done for their money because they aren’t duplicating services. When the merger happened in Powell, they saw about a 15 percent savings.
It’s not too late to consider partnerships. To do so, egos have to be set aside and organizations have to come to the table with a willingness to work together, not a competitive mindset.