DBA hoping to reinvent

Published 9:35 pm Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Downtown Business Association is hoping to reinvent itself.

Andy Damiani, president of the association, said he wants to restructure the organization so that it can offer members more benefits.

“We’re looking at things we can do to benefit more of the membership,” Damiani said. “We need to be a 501c3 organization so we can receive other funds other than dues. We need to be incorporated. There are a lot of advantages.”

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Members of the group discussed the makeover at the meeting Wednesday. Damiani said he will likely have a more definite plan and ideas at the next meeting.

Damiani hopes to model the association after the Main Street Program’s approach, which has been successful at reviving downtowns across America. Suffolk, Damiani said, used to have a Main Street program, which uses the four-point approach of organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring to revitalize downtowns. The National Trust for Historic Preservation administers the program.

“You can’t just be a Main Street program, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t model after some of the things the Main Street program was doing,” Damiani said. “We need to be more formal.”

Damiani is hoping for an association that can provide more benefits to its members, such as small business insurance and other perks.

The Downtown Business Association, with Damiani at its helm, has been a champion for downtown Suffolk for several years. Damiani hopes to see a downtown that is compact, walkable, promoted and with plenty of businesses.

“When you bring people downtown, you’ve got to have something to offer them,” Damiani said. “It’s not an easy job, but … it’s our livelihood. We need to work together to benefit and reap the rewards.”

Damiani said he is hoping to present a slate of ideas at the next meeting, June 24 at 3 p.m. in the Bank of America board room on West Washington Street.

“We want to become more formal and get some fresh ideas,” Damiani said.