Two Erie business organizations will merge in hopes to better serve the business community, boost economic vitality and promote downtown Erie.
At the Erie Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, the Downtown Erie Business Association and Erie Economic Development Council announced they will be joining forces and work as one organization. Downtown Erie Business Association President Karen Hofmeister said while DEBA will joining EEDC, it will be representing downtown Erie on the EEDC board. Hofmeister said DEBA is run by volunteers, and joining forces with EEDC will help with administration and marketing.
Erie Economic Development Council Chair Barry Luginbill said the merger of DEBA and EEDC means the organization can serve as a conduit between the businesses and the town.
“The EEDC can have areas of focus and representation in specific areas,” Luginbill said.
Hofmeister said the goal of the two groups merging is to have representation from major commercial areas in town, like downtown, Four Corners, 9 Mile and the Town Center.
Luginbill said in 2022, the EEDC improved business engagement, and this year the EEDC is looking to continue supporting local businesses to grow the town’s economic vitality. Luginbill said the EEDC plans to attract developers and employers to invest in Erie. Businesses would be interested in speaking with trustees and building a better connection with the town, he added.
Hofmeister said DEBA’s mission is to make downtown Erie a desirable attraction with economic vitality, while still maintaining the town’s community and historical neighborhood charm.
Hofmeister said some planned projects for the downtown area are concerts, Thursday night car shows, Christmas events, Shop Small Saturday events and a marketing budget to promote downtown events and businesses.
Some of the Christmas events include holiday light displays, carriage rides and Santa visits. She also said concerts are a great way to promote downtown, and it has been proven downtown businesses report significantly higher sales on the nights of concerts.
Hofmeister also said DEBA will be looking into wayfinding systems to bring more foot traffic to downtown Erie.
“We need a way for people to find us, because that is a big issue right now,” Hofmeister said.
Mayor Justin Brooks said with recent population growth, some residents do not know where downtown Erie is, and providing signage to move people into the area is beneficial. He also said wayfinding signage could also help downtown businesses that may not have the budget to complete marketing for themselves.