BIDA/Chamber, come together

The island’s two long-time business advocacy organizations, which often overlapped their efforts in the Winslow core, have decided to combine their efforts to help businesses during a difficult time.

Bainbridge Island’s Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Association (BIDA) announced their formal affiliation this week in a move that occurred, in part, because of the faltering economy and their own financial struggles.

The primary goal, according to Chamber officials, is to help the Winslow business district remain economically vital during the upcoming street reconstruction project and to preserve the downtown retail core.

As a side effect of the ongoing merger, BIDA will no longer be able to fulfill the $40,000 contract for the Winslow Way reconstruction communication plan.

Andrea Mackin, the former BIDA executive director who is now director of operations and marketing at the Chamber of Commerce, said it’s still undecided who will take over the communication plan with just weeks before construction starts.

The city will be issuing a request for proposal (RFP) on Friday to fulfill the role of communications, business support, events and what Chris Wierzbicki, deputy city engineer, called “construction concierge.”

The goal, Wierzbicki said, is to find either a group or agency that can create a website, signs, logos, direct communication with the business community.

The city is hoping to add another $50,000 to that communication budget through a U.S. Department of Rural Development Association grant that focused on job retention.

The city also has an additional $12,000 to use to create signs and physical materials to communicate parking and other details.

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