Hartford Chamber, BID Board agree to events partnership
BID wants to refocus on downtown development

By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News

August 22, 2017

The Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce and the city’s Downtown Business Improvement District have announced changes in how future downtown events will be organized and promoted.

As of Aug. 15, the two groups will partner in planning and implementing the events that previously were organized solely by the BID. Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce members were made aware of the agreement in an announcement sent to them late last week by Chamber officials. BID Board President Gerry Schnorenberg said the downtown BID recently re-evaluated its purpose as a taxing entity and decided to refocus its efforts on initiatives that are in line with the organization’s original purpose, which include infrastructure, economic development and beautification of downtown Hartford.

“It was an opportunity for the two organizations to work together. We share a lot of common goals,” Schnorenberg said. “We’ve got a couple of projects we’re going to be introducing that will enhance the downtown. We can share resources. We’re just trying to be more efficient in promoting Hartford and trying to expand some of the things we do.”

Schnorenberg said a BID board member and a BID committee member will sit on every downtown event committee, and two BID board members will sit on the Chamber board. The BID also is providing financial support to the Chamber for the next three years to execute and promote the events.

“Since the Chamber is tasked with supporting and nurturing business growth in the Hartford area, including promoting tourism, serving as an engine for economic development and providing networking and connection opportunities for residents and businesses alike, it made sense to bring these events under the Chamber umbrella,” Chamber Executive Director Scott Henke said in the announcement to Chamber members.

Henke said BID Executive Director Great Swigert left her position with the BID in July. After that is when the two organizations began discussions on the cooperation agreement. Swigert’s left to become patient coordinator at Grand Avenue Dental Care.

The downtown events are so intertwined with how we promote the city and its businesses, that this change consolidates the groups’ efforts and makes them more impactful. Henke said the Chamber is committed to developing a strong and vibrant community, and we are excited to promote downtown Hartford to its fullest potential.

Chamber Board member and BID Board member and Treasurer, Jason Wix, said the agreement is a great opportunity because the BID will still be financially supporting the Chamber for these events and the bid wants to get back to what its original purpose was — working on improving the infrastructure of the downtown area and the BID.

“By having the Chamber do this full-time it allows the BID to focus back on its original purpose,” Wix said. “That includes keeping the downtown looking good whether it be replacing urns for the plants and flowers, way finding, any of those improvements.

“One of the major projects we want to do is replace all of the lights on buildings in the downtown that border the roof lines. That is one of the first projects we want to complete. From there, there is all kinds of other things we want to do to better the downtown,” Wix said. Both groups said the agreement represents better alignment for both the BID and the Chamber and the missions of the respective organizations. The 12 events and the months they typically are held include:

Iced on Main (February)

Home Improvement Show (March)

Classic Car Show & Block Party (May-November)

Farmer’s Market (May-October)

Maxwell Street Day (July)

Autumn Fest (October)

Downtown Trick or Treat (October)

Christmas Parade (November) — This year’s theme is “Christmas Heros”

Merchants Holiday Open House (November)

Indoor Farmer’s Market (November)

Small Business Saturday (November)

Midnight Madness (December)