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Salida Business Alliance Future Uncertain

The future of the Salida Business Alliance (SBA) may likely be decided during their 8:30 a.m. meeting on Thursday, Aug. 4 at the Salida Community Center, 305 F Street. The current Board of Directors, consisting of longtime leaders Donna Cole, Nicole Balun, Allie Stevens, Vickie Sue Vigil and Angel Rowell, has announced plans to retire on Dec. 31, 2022.

They are currently looking for a new board to take over, but a call a month ago for next-generation leadership has produced no tangible results. If interest is not shown on Aug. 4, the SBA states that it will take the next steps to disband as a whole. The SBA was founded in 1979 and its roots go back generations further.

In a recent conversation with Treasurer Nicole Balun, AVV learned that the issue is not financial – the SBA has managed its finances well for many years and has significant cash assets. Its work has long been valued by groups such as the Salida Community Center, The Mountain Mail, Ark Valley Voice, the City of Salida and the Salida Chamber of Commerce, to name just a few.

And it’s not a casualty of internet-based, virtual commerce. The sense is that newly arrived, local businesses don’t seem to perceive the benefit of having a face-to-face network of retail and service colleagues who might help everyone be stronger.

Membership has dwindled from a high of some 100 dues-paying members to a current level of around 45.  Further, the number of volunteers willing to serve on the board or help at events dropped off sharply as the COVID-19 pandemic has now become an endemic. “Frankly…it’s the lack of human resources that are holding us back”, Balun said.

Logo courtesy Salida Business Alliance

“We understand that a dwindling workforce has made it harder on all of our members everyday”, she added. Any business owner will tell you it’s tough enough to keep the doors open and then find time to participate in the bigger picture of the local economy and the vibrancy and social fabric of the community. Yet these are key values; they’re what makes Salida a special place to live and work.

The Next Chapter?

Nonprofits often go through cycles and even those that adapt to a changing mission statement struggle. One option might be to fold the SBA into the Salida Chamber somehow. This could be a good conversation starter at the Thursday meeting and perhaps inspire even better ideas.

Salida was fortunate that the whole business community rallied and helped each other so effectively during the height of COVID. Now, however, is the time for businesses, residents, the City and other stakeholders to make their voices known and act if they value local small business.

All SBA meetings are open to the public and last just one hour. Active participation is welcome as the SBA seeks solutions.

Featured image: F Street, along with First and G Streets are a major part of the historic downtown Salida business district. Photo by Brooke Gilmore.