New group hopes to hype Falmouth businesses

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FALMOUTH — A new organization is being planned to represent the interests of town businesses.

The Falmouth Business Association has been in the works for over a year, according to one of its founders, Barbra Esposito. She said it’s aimed at getting more people to support businesses in town.

“We’re looking at what can we do for businesses, to help businesses and to help local events,” Esposito said. “Just really pulling the community together to see if it warrants this.”

Esposito, who is branch manager for Bath Savings Institution, said there there will be a “fact-finding conversation” Sept. 30 at Foreside Tavern on U.S. Route 1 to see if businesses want the FBA to happen.

“I’ve gotten more interest than I thought I would, so that’s very exciting for us,” Esposito said. “Whether it will go anywhere, I’m not sure if it will. I hope it does, but if it doesn’t then we’ll look for something else that we can do.”

She said a major goal of the association would be promotion to make Falmouth a more visible destination. She said a part of that is going to each business and listening to their needs to help benefit the community.

“We want exciting and fun things to do,” Esposito said. “We want people to just stop by.”

Esposito said the association is modeled after other merchant associations and shop- and buy-local campaigns, but it will also include bigger stores and retailers.

“We want to include everybody that wants to be part of it,” Esposito said. 

Theo Holtwijk, director of long-range planning for the town, said this is a private-sector initiative, not sponsored or managed by the town.

“It’s really not our job,” Holtwijk said. “If it’s a ‘Falmouth Business Association,’ it clearly needs to be run by the businesses.”

He said that since the town government is a neutral party, it could be helpful going forward if the businesses seek cooperation. 

“Do we think it could be potentially helpful to the Falmouth business community and to Falmouth overall?” Holtwijk asked. “We think yes. Anytime businesses organize themselves to speak with one voice is helpful for entities such as town government because it gives you a group of people to talk with and to get feedback from.”

He said one thing the association could be helpful for would be organizing the Shop Falmouth event. He said in the past it has been a collaborative effort between the town government and businesses, but a formal association might be the “perfect vehicle” for organizing the event.

“The town took on a lot,” Holtwijk said. “And the town felt that if there had been an association it might have been maybe a little easier to organize an event like that.”

He said that the town would always be helpful and supportive of such an event, but “we don’t think we need to be the lead in organizing an event that is intended for the business community.”

Esposito said she is grateful for the support the town government and the Falmouth/Cumberland Community Chamber of Commerce have provided. 

“It’s been amazing,” Esposito said. “It makes it a lot easier to start something and have the full support of the town and chamber.”

“We’re supportive, I’ll be there because I have a role in the program, not as someone who has a particular stake in it, but who wants to be helpful in asking the question,” Holtwijk said. 

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.