Merchants unite under agency 

Business owners have banded together in an effort to restore the vibrant community of downtown Burlingame.

The City Council is expected to sign a resolution of intent Monday for the proposed creation of a new Downtown Burlingame Business Organization.

If approved, downtown merchants will be charged an annual assessment of between $100 and $650 based on square footage of their ground floors. Those with more space will pay a larger assessment, but businesses with multiple floors will pay a flat fee of $100, Burlingame Economic Development Director Patricia Love said.

The new organization is focused on collaboration between city business owners. The funds raised by the annual assessment will go directly toward business improvement projects, such as shared marketing.

“Things are tough right now. Businesses need to market themselves; we have to join together and leverage our resources for joint promotions,” Love said. “United, we are much stronger than as individuals.”

The goal of the new organization is to provide community members with the opportunity to voice their needs and concerns. The existing all-volunteer Downtown Burlingame Business Association disintegrated in 2005 after it fell short of meeting community needs.

“This is a new group with new intentions,” said Melissa Cutter, a partner in clothing store Les Deux Copines. “Unlike the past organization, our meetings are open and transparent. We want this to be a collaborative effort. Through a collective, we have the chance to make a difference.”

Those involved in creating the new organization are very conscious of the past, Love said, with some even voting against the prior Business Association. The proposed group will have an advisory board composed of nine members who will regulate how money is spent.

They have a very clear budget and have determined a realistic annual assessment based on their goals, Love said. But with the current economic climate, some business owners are concerned about taking on another fee.

“There is lots of reason to question every dollar and where it’s spent, but these will be collaborative projects,” Cutter said. “It is a nominal cost but it will have a huge impact in driving business.”

The organization hopes to return synergy to downtown Burlingame and the way to do that is by determining what is most important to business owners, Cutter said. Through beautification projects, parking improvements and joint advertising, local business owners hope to make downtown Burlingame the destination it once was.

Price of business

On Monday, the Burlingame City Council will consider establishing a new Downtown Burlingame Business Organization to attract customers.

$100-$650 Proposed annual assessment based on square footage of ground-floor businesses
$100 Proposed base flat fee for multi-floor businesses
2005 Year original Downtown Burlingame Business Association ceased to exist

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