Interest wanes for Downtown Johnstown Business Association

JOHNSTOWN — Formed during the summer, it has been slow going for the volunteer Downtown Johnstown Business Association, which wants to become more active in the new year.

“We’re trying to recruit people into it,” chief group organizer and downtown florist James Dempsey said Thursday. “This has been downright hard.”

He said the group may eventually change its name to the Downtown Johnstown Business & Professional Association.

The Downtown Johnstown Business Association was formed with about a dozen businesses represented in June, but now has fewer than 10, he said.

He said the group has a Facebook page, and is working with a “small number” of downtown entities such as the Community Health Center and Mysteries on Main Street.

“There is some participation,” Dempsey said.

But Dempsey said it is hard to get downtown businesses together to work on issues of common interest because owners are so busy with their personal commercial activities on a daily basis.

“It’s tough to add to a company’s plate,” he said.

Dempsey, who runs Studio Herbage at 13 W. Main St., formed the DJBA this summer with an eye toward communication. He issued a news release in June stating that the Downtown Johnstown Business Association would hopefully be an “advocating body.” The hope was the group would “adequately represent their collective interests when confronted with issues related to increasing business patronage, interacting with local government and coordinating community events.”

The DJBA defined the city’s “downtown corridor” as along Main Street, from Jansen Avenue to Cayadutta Street, and north and south for two blocks, although that can change.

Dempsey said Thursday that he reached out to officials in Ballston Spa, which has been “very successful” with its downtown business organization. He said Ballston Spa officials visited Johnstown in August. He said the DJBA was told the Ballston Spa success may be due to proximity to Saratoga Springs.

Dempsey said it continues to be “challenging” to gain participation in his group, which has no membership fees. He said a meeting scheduled for Wednesday night was canceled for lack of participation. He said it was the group’s first meeting this year that was canceled.

Meanwhile, Dempsey said the DJBA continues to communicate with city government’s  Tourism & Special Events Committee. That group is involved in many activities, such as tonight’s parade and Colonial Stroll.

“We can work together,” Dempsey said.

Looking ahead to 2017, he said he would like to see his group become a “liaison” to city government, perhaps attending Common Council meetings.

Ultimately, Dempsey said the goal is to have his association consist of at least 50 percent business, followed by other percentages of non-profit and citizen members.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected].

By Patricia Older

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