The Johnstown Business & Professional Association has dissolved, after none of its members were willing to take over the group’s leadership.
When the group disbanded the JBPA had about 29 members, a treasurer, Francis Caraco, and secretary, Joan Sayer, but no president or vice president. The group’s last president was Aimee Ricciardi who’s term ended in 2009.
Caraco, who operates a financial services company on Market Street, said it was hard to find enough business leaders to fill out the leadership offices of the JBPA. He said he thought he was better suited to the role of treasurer than group president.
“If I were the president, who would have been the vice president? If I’m not the treasurer, who would have been the treasurer? You only had Joan and I,” he said.
Sayer, who operates a business called the Allaire Wellness Group, said the JBPA has contributed to many downtown events and activities over the years, including bike and car shows, Fall Festival, Spring Fling, flowers hung from lampposts and the Colonial Stroll.
“We were the parent organization for a lot of things,” she said. “Things are tougher than they used to be. I think one of the things we had going against us was the fact that we met at 9 a.m. in the morning, which is a time that might infringe on business owners opening. Until we disbanded that’s the time that we met.”
Caraco said it may have been possible in the past for business leaders to take more time off to operate an organization like the JBPA.
“There used to be business owners who could get away for an hour and leave their business to employees or managers who they could trust. You’ve got people running businesses now that are running on a shoestring, and the owners are working virtually all the hours and they may have one full-time employee, if that,” he said.
The JBPA was funded through $100 annual dues from its downtown business members and $75 annual dues from member businesses not located downtown.
Caraco said he’d like to see Johnstown form a Business Improvement District, like Gloversville has done. He said the organization should also have a permanent Common Council liaison member. Caraco was a candidate for councilman-at-large in the November elections but was defeated.
“We need to decide what we want our downtown to look like,” Caraco said.
Mayor Sarah Slingerland said the JBPA will be missed but she believes most of the activities it helped organize will continue on without it. She said she would support a reorganization of the group rather than creation of a BID.
“A Business Improvement District would add additional taxes to the business owners, so I’m not certain that’s the way to go. I don’t think we have a need for that yet, or I haven’t heard the cry for it,” Slingerland said.
Sayer said she once served as the president of the Johnstown Chamber of Commerce, before it merged with the other chambers to form the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce in 1989. She said without the JBPA, Johnstown no longer has an organized business community.