Simplifying downtown’s business organizations

The Downtown Laramie Business Association could dissolve before January, but that shouldn’t adversely affect downtown events in 2018, DLBA President Rob Harder said.

During a DLBA board meeting Wednesday, Harder said the organization’s officers made a motion to dissolve the DLBA and allow the Laramie Main Street Alliance to absorb the group’s various projects.

“The DLBA is currently the promotion arm of the Laramie Main Street Alliance,” Harder said. “The DLBA has done a lot of great events through the years. But as time has gone on, Main Street has done more and more.”

The DLBA is a membership-driven nonprofit organization focused on using events and promotions to ensure residents and visitors can make the most of their downtown experience, Harder said.

While the move would completely dissolve the association for legal reasons, Harder said it was more like a merger with Main Street than the full removal of an events and promotion organization for downtown Laramie.

“It won’t be totally that the DLBA are no longer involved,” he said. “Most people have a hard time discerning what is Main Street and what is DLBA. This move will simplify a lot of things for a lot of people.”

Dissolving the DLBA will immediately save thousands of dollars by eliminating duplicate marketing costs shared with Main Street, the need for two bookkeepers and providing insurance for DLBA officers — all without affecting DLBA members, he said.

“The great thing is DLBA was membership-driven, but with Main Street, it already covers everything downtown, and all their services are free,” Main Street Board of Directors President and DLBA member Shantel Anderson said. “So, there won’t be a negative impact for our membership.”

The move could streamline marketing and events budgets for downtown businesses and events while providing a larger pool of volunteers for running events, Anderson said.

“Main Street had been contemplating the move before the DLBA came to the table,” she said. “This will put all the promotions under one umbrella. We already have a part-time marketing position (at Main Street), so with the increased budget, that position might become full-time.”

Because DLBA operated in conjunction with Main Street already, she explained money saved by dissolving the organization would benefit Main Street’s efforts.

The move is largely a result of a lack of DLBA member participation, Harder said.

“The idea with this is if we’re all working together there will be more people in the mix to run the events,” he said.

Dissolving the organization is not set in stone, however. Currently, the move is only a motion made by the DLBA officers and would require a two-thirds majority vote to complete, he said. With DLBA meeting attendance at a low, Harder said the organization’s officers would likely need to walk around to each member and request a signature to complete the move before the Dec. 31 target date.

“As far as we’re concerned, anyone that votes no will be appointed immediately as an officer and can pick an event they want to run,” he said. “If we had great attendance (at DLBA meetings), this wouldn’t even be happening.”

Despite the lack of DLBA member participation, Harder said many of the DLBA members were also involved with Main Street’s committees and events, so merging the two groups could boost event and promotion participation by eliminating dual obligations.

“People involved downtown will stay involved,” he said. “Everybody wants the same thing. At this point, this is what we feel is the best option for building a stronger downtown.”

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