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New Middletown Business Association to hold first meeting; you can attend

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 2/21/18

An “inaugural meeting” of the new Middletown Business Association will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, March 5, at Alfred’s Victorian restaurant, 38 N. Union St., …

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New Middletown Business Association to hold first meeting; you can attend

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An “inaugural meeting” of the new Middletown Business Association will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, March 5, at Alfred’s Victorian restaurant, 38 N. Union St., Middletown.

The meeting is open to anyone interested in learning more about the association. If you are planning to go, the association requests you RSVP through the association’s Facebook page by noon March 2.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend, regardless of whether you RSVP, said Scott Miller, chairman of the association board of directors.

“We want to start a conversation about what do we want to do, what issues do we want to address. What do we want to do collectively to help impact growth in Middletown over the next couple of years,” said Miller, who represents Harrisburg International Airport on the association as the airport’s deputy director of business development and strategic marketing.

The association has come a long way, but is still in the process of being formed.

After previous Middletown Borough Council leadership abandoned plans for an association that would be part of borough government, new council leadership in 2016 supported creating a new business association that would be a wholly independent nonprofit organization.

Council appointed Miller and four others as the new association’s interim board of directors: Carol Kupp of Kuppy’s Diner, Press & Journal Publisher Joe Sukle, former borough councilor and now planning commission member Scott Sites, and Robin Pellegrini, owner of Alfred’s Victorian.

The legal process of establishing the association as a nonprofit corporation is largely complete, Miller said.

This is the association’s second attempt at an inaugural meeting.

Around Memorial Day 2017, the association did a mass mailing to businesses throughout the 17057 zip code.

The association asked businesses to come up with ideas for a few big tasks that the association could tackle. The plan was for the association to hold its inaugural meeting in late summer, where all these ideas would be fleshed out and reduced to a few solid proposals for action.

But response to the first mailing fell below expectations.

“The last time we did a very scattered approach,” Miller said.

In response, the association revised its strategy to embrace a much more targeted personal approach.

Led by Sites, whom Miller said is well-connected with the Middletown area business community, the association has been networking with business people about the new group on a one to one basis.

“Scott is the driver of this. He is really the core and guts of it,” Miller said of Sites.

Sites did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Press & Journal.

Assisting the association in this effort is a new group known as the Middletown Business Networking Group, Miller said.

The networking group is on Facebook and is an informal group of business people who have been getting together and meeting over lunch in recent months.

Besides Middletown, the group also has members from Hershey, Hummelstown, Palmyra, Harrisburg and elsewhere, said Tammy Shatto-Thomas, a business owner who represents the networking group.

“Jointly working with the MBA just makes sense. We share the same goals,” Shatto-Thomas told the Press & Journal. “We both want to grow membership in our groups which in turn should drive revenue to Middletown businesses and enable more to be done for the community.”

The association hopes that this more direct, face-to-face strategy will yield a small but committed group who can help move the process forward.

“We want to come up with concrete initiatives, one, two, three, whatever,” Miller said. “Start small and define the vision mission, define an issue or two we can be proactive with, and grow from there,” Miller said.

Miller sees himself and the four other board members council appointed in 2016 as temporary “placeholders,” installed to create the association and get it off the ground.

The goal is for the association to have its own membership base, which will appoint a new board of directors that will be considered permanent, Miller said.