The Decatur Business Association was incorporated in 1985 to serve as the nonprofit, membership partner for the Decatur Downtown Development Authority (DDDA). The DBA grew out of the existing Decatur Merchants Association, which had a membership restricted to retailers, restaurants and financial institutions.
The merchants group had a small membership and no active programs. The concept for the DBA grew out of discussions with young business owners and key service industry managers who wanted to be involved in the rebirth of downtown.
Bill Roth, assistant manager for the DeKalb office of Georgia Power headquartered in Decatur, John Adams, resident and local real estate agent, and Mark Dehler, resident and local attorney, were instrumental in getting the new organization off the ground. Unlike the Decatur Merchants Association, the DBA encouraged any Decatur-based business to join, opening up the opportunity to the city’s large service and professional business base of attorneys, accountants, real estate agencies and insurance companies.
In addition, an associate member category was created to allow residents to be a part of rebuilding downtown Decatur.
Stirring up Excitement about Downtown
One of the first orders of business for the DBA was to create a festival or special event to bring young families back to downtown Decatur and develop excitement about downtown’s possibilities. The Beach Party, created for this purpose in 1985, was important for two reasons:
- It provided a fun activity downtown
- It created an outlet for volunteer energy focused on making downtown Decatur a better place to be
Bringing New Business to Decatur
The DDDA and the DBA pulled together to bring Steve Nygren and Mick’s restaurant to downtown Decatur. This was a major step in bringing investment and new development to the downtown Decatur area. Soon the revitalization effort gained momentum, other new businesses came to town, and today this public-private partnership between the DDDA and the DBA continues to play a major role in the successful redevelopment of Decatur’s commercial districts.
Adding Concerts on the Square
As the DBA grew stronger and began to raise revenues through its events, it added the responsibility of the Concerts on the Square committee to its organization. The Concerts on the Square series was started in 1982 by residents Lyn Deardorff, Catherine Carter, and Liz O’Brien to provide free Sunday afternoon entertainment once a month on the square.
The program evolved into a Saturday night series offered in May and September to respond to community interest in fun, family-oriented Saturday evening entertainment. Organizing this regular series became more complicated and required monetary and volunteer support. Under the DBA’s umbrella, the event grew into one of the most important activities on the city’s event calendar.
Other Significant Contributions
The Decatur Business Association also:
- Purchased new street name signs for the downtown district with the city’s logo on top
- Provided $25,000 to help construct the Community Bandstand
- Provided an additional $25,000 to help fund the original MARTA Plaza Redevelopment Master Plan that resulted in the 2006 construction project
Ensuring Our City’s Success
The success of Decatur’s economic revitalization program is largely based upon a strong sense of community and the ability of residents and business owners to play an active role in moving the city forward. The Decatur Business Association will continue to play a major role in redevelopment, working hard to support and maintain the strong sense of community that ensures Decatur’s success into the future.