Like in Kevin Costner’s “Field of Dreams,” the local business community is building it, hoping their neighbors will come. So far, so good.
The “it” in this case isn’t a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield. It’s an organically grown business association hoping to speak with one voice in promoting Carrboro’s commerce.
Last month, the curious made their way to the B-Side Lounge at Carr Mill Mall for the first meeting of the Carrboro Business Alliance. The crowd quickly swelled to more than 100.
Trent Williams, greeting people as they arrived, explained what the goal of the group is and what it isn’t.
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“We’re not interested in competing with the Chamber (of Commerce),” he said. “We support them. This is Carrboro’s business people looking for an ongoing platform to support each other in a ‘buy local’ effort.”
This group, he said, is intended to get local businesses to build a Carrboro business network with some old-fashioned goals: getting to know each other and helping each other grow together.
As the group began its work last summer members described projects that an alliance could achieve. “We were saying ‘they will do this and they will do that,” said Clay Schossow, one of the organizers. “We quickly realized that the ‘they’ we were talking about was us.”
At the kickoff, people wrote suggestions on a sticky note they put on the wall.
“A common refrain from the crowd was a desire to host ongoing events/sessions where a local speaker would talk through a topic,” Schossow said. “One example is a lawyer talking about trademark law or a consultant talking about ways to expand the business,”
“Many groups like this come together because they’re against something or they need to solve a problem,” he continued. This group, he said, simply wants to amplify some good things that they think can be even better.
“The barrier to join is just so low,” he said. “It’s free and we’re not asking you to do anything other than sign up at localcarrboro.com, unless you want to lead. The leadership will keep you looped in and you’ll benefit from the group, but you don’t need to get bogged down in the details of the meetings unless you want to!”
The next business event will be oriented around the holiday shopping season.
“The details are still coming together, but the current plan is unite local businesses to promote people shopping in Carrboro for the holiday season,” Schossow said. “We’ll probably tie this in with the Art Walk and encourage businesses to stay open late, put up decorations and promote the night.”