Beacon Community News looks at the achievements of the Avondale Business Association in its first year under new management.
Business associations are designed to make an area more attractive for more customers to buy local. They run promotions and look after their mainstreet. They are usually funded by a special rate on commercial properties in a defined area and they can be quite staid, conservative organisations.
There is a new boss in town and apparently, he did not get the memo. There is fresh energy, excitement, and enthusiasm in Avondale Mainstreet. You cannot see much evidence yet of this, but the Avondale Business Association (ABA) has been working hard to create new momentum. It takes time to turn a big ship around and go in a different direction, but now the basics have been attended to and ABA is picking up speed.
Previously the ABA had faltered under the old guard. It had little impact and was lacking transparency. Resisting change, the whole situation became a farcical circus for a year when the election of Marcus Amosa as the new chair was stonewalled and he was trespassed out of the ABA office. It took the intervention of Auckland Council to sort out the mess.
Finally, at the Association’s AGM in October 2019, a completely new executive was elected with Marcus properly installed as the chair. The executive reflects the diversity that Avondale is famous for. The last twelve months have been a rebuild of the organisation from the ground up, with negligible records and systems to start with. So how has the new team progressed?
At the recent 2020 AGM, there was broad consensus that the ABA is on the right track and there was real appreciation for the work done so far. The meeting ran smoothly and was a marked change from earlier AGMs.
The vision statement is “Avondale Mainstreet is a great place to visit, shop and do business”. A key driver in this is the concept of fusing business with creative arts to enhance the area. This is where a lot of passion and energy is released, building on the talents found in the wider community.
Great achievements are built on good foundations. Auckland Council had frozen Business Improvement District (BID) funding to the ABA while its governance and record keeping were investigated. Unsurprisingly then, good governance was top priority for the incoming exec. This has been achieved with new systems, policies and procedures, and the building of a whole new membership database from scratch.
Amosa says “The tumultuous previous two years highlighted where our time and focus needed to be to get our association back on track. My intent, first and foremost, was to focus on implementing structure from the ground up, whilst also working to regain the trust of our members and stakeholders. I wanted to ensure that the shortcomings of the past were understood and mitigated. I am committed to ensuring we are an association built on good governance and transparency.”
From this base, new branding was launched, communications improved, security issues addressed, and street improvements made.
The business plan has been delivered by focussing on:
Key objectives for the coming year include:
Part of the strength of the association is Amosa with his strategic vision, teamed up with manager Cynthia Crosse’s talent and communications ability. “The hiring of a new manager has been a vital talent acquisition that has brought with it a level of professionalism and energy that has been lacking. The expertise, enthusiasm, and hard work ethic that Cynthia brings to the role is reflected in the amount that has been achieved in one short year.” Amosa commented.
Three big projects have had an enormous amount of planning invested into them before their planned implementation in the coming year. These high cost items - a CCTV system, LED under-veranda street lighting and new signage - are basic items required for a secure, functional town centre.
As the transformation of Avondale gains momentum, important strategic partnerships have been forged with Panuku, AT, Kainga Ora and private developers. There are several multi-million-dollar projects underway or close to starting. A key is the new $21m community facility and library in the centre of mainstreet. Change, and to some extent gentrification, is coming, even though a wide range of accommodation options are being built.
As to the future, Amosa says, “Looking forward, I am excited at the direction and plans for the coming year. As business owners ourselves, we keep our members’ priorities at the forefront of our thinking and have built a strong organisational culture focussed on achieving outcomes. I’m looking forward to seeing our association continue to go from strength to strength in service to our members.”
Amosa also thanks local community stakeholder groups - I Love Avondale, Whau the People, and the Avondale Collaboration. “I believe economic development goes hand in hand with community development”, he says.
This active partnership with the community is an intentional shift that bodes well for the advancement of Avondale.