FAIRBORN — The City of Fairborn is working toward a joint working relationship between city officials, the Downtown Fairborn Betterment Association (DFBA) and the Fairborn Area Chamber of Commerce.
During the June 12 council work session, Fairborn City Manager Rob Anderson told Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick, Deputy Mayor Paul Keller and city council members that collaboration between the city and the two organizations would help establish a cohesive action plan for an effective revitalization of the downtown business district.
Anderson said during the last chamber of commerce board of directors meeting, the board authorized establishing a dialog regarding the integration of the Fairborn Area Chamber of Commerce and the DFBA. He noted that in other communities he worked, the relationship between the city and the chamber was more robust in regards to financial contributions the city made to the chamber. He pointed out that the City of Vandalia contributed between $10,000 and $15,000 to the Vandalia Chamber of Commerce annually.
“I am not suggesting that this is what we do here, but I think we should take a bigger approach by contributing more than just a membership fee,” Anderson said. “We would then be at the table at more of an executive level than just a chamber level.”
Anderson then yielded the floor to Council member Tim Steininger who presented a summary of the joint working relationship concept. Steininger noted that the details and agreement would be worked out by the executive director of the chamber and the president of the DFBA and brokered by the city manager.
“The theme of the joint working relationship is ‘one downtown,’” Steininger said. “This represents a unified concept.”
He explained that under the terms of the proposed agreement, the DFBA would become a voting member of the chamber. The DFBA president would also become a member of the chamber executive committee and board of directors. The DFBA would present quarterly reports to the city council as well.
The executive director of the Fairborn Area Chamber of Commerce would appoint a voting member to the DFBA board of directors. The chamber would host a joint monthly meeting, and the chamber’s website and agenda would include DFBA events. The chamber would also present quarterly reports to the city council.
The City of Fairborn would assume more of a leadership role in this effort and contribute more to the chamber. The city would pay a flat membership rate to the chamber and volunteer to pay chamber memberships for small businesses that fall under a determined, specified size. Working in conjunction with the chamber of commerce and DFBA, the city would create and present a strategic plan, as well as track and report progress of the joint venture.
City council members would become more involved in the joint working relationship. Council would have a voting seat on the chamber executive committee and both the chamber and DFBA board of directors. Council members would also appoint fellow members to specific boards when needed.
Steininger said he passed around the summarized concept to members of the chamber board of directors and executive committee and received a positive response. He said the concept was met with 80 percent approval, and 20 percent of the members stating that they had many questions to ask. Steininger noted that he did not receive any negative responses from members.
“I thought the response was fantastic,” said Steininger. “I got a lot of ‘we are on board — and let’s get started.’”
Steininger emphasized that the concept he presented consisted of just the basics, and that certain details needed to be discussed and finalized.
“This proposed concept isn’t anything close to the final agreement, but it is a good place to start,” Steininger said. “We have everyone willing to continue the conversation, and that is great.”
Anderson also expressed his satisfaction about the many accomplishments that have been made since the planning retreat.
“We had a great retreat. We are at a really good place now, and everyone is headed in a good direction,” Anderson said. “Now is a good time to move on it.”
Many members of council concurred with Anderson and expressed their optimism about the joint working relationship.
“I like this concept and the way this is going,” Keller said.
“This is a great idea, and it will strengthen the city as a whole,” said Council member Marilyn McCauley. “It will certainly strengthen each of the groups by having more structure, more interaction, and continuous communications.”
“This is a positive move forward,” Council member Terry Burkert added. “It is a plus for Fairborn.”
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for the Fairborn Daily Herald.