The Elizabeth City Downtown Business and Professional Association is making a comeback.
The revamped group, whose membership includes downtown merchants and professionals, will hold its first meeting on Tuesday at 8 a.m. at the office of Elizabeth City Downtown, Inc.
The DBPA was a fixture in the city for almost three decades before going all but inactive almost two years ago.
At the time, just Susan Hinkle of Page by Page bookstore and Cindy Williams of MMT Printers were keeping the organization afloat.
“We were the president, vice-president and treasurer,” Hinkle joked last week. “It has been inactive for a little over a year and a half but it has been around for around 30 years. We went through a period of time where we didn’t have very many members attending, so we decided to take a break for a while.”
Hinkle and Williams decided to see if they could get the organization back up and running. Hinkle said the response to bringing the DBPA back has been “overwhelming.”
“There are so many new businesses that have opened that we thought now is the time,” Hinkle said. “I sent it (email) out yesterday (Wednesday) and I have had tons of responses already, which is great. My email has been blowing up.”
Hinkle credited the response to the DBPA’s reputation as a “hard-working group that promotes downtown” and to Debbie Malenfant, executive director of Elizabeth City Downtown, Inc., who emailed news of the DBPA’s reorganization to her contacts in the business community.
The DBPA is open to any downtown merchant, restaurant, professional business, property owner or resident. Annual dues are $75 and Hinkle said the DBPA’s “money focus” will be advertising downtown businesses that are members of the group.
“We did do advertisements in The Daily Advance, the Virginia-Pilot and we did a lot (of publicity) online,” Hinkle said. “We want to let people know what they can get here instead of having to go somewhere else. You have to promote it to get new people to come in and shop.”
ECDI is a non-membership based downtown revitalization program that manages the Main Street program. Its goals are beautification and revitalization of downtown Elizabeth City as well as maintaining its historical integrity. Malenfant said the two groups — ECDI and the DBPA — will work in partnership together.
“Our goal is the revitalization of downtown as a whole,” Malenfant said. “We work on promotion, in general, and economic development.”