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Sarasota Tuesday, May 19, 2009 11 years ago

Downtown Partnership, merchants to merge

by: Robin Roy City Editor

The Downtown Partnership offered its first public comments today about its coming merger with the Downtown Merchants Association.

Phil Chmieleski, chairman of the Downtown Partnership, told a group at the Partnership’s monthly luncheon that an examination of the combined organization’s budget was a deciding factor in moving forward with a merger.

“A partnership is going to do wonderful things to our cash flow,” he said.

Cash flow had started to become a problem. Last month, the Downtown Partnership’s executive director, Debra Torres, resigned after the group began having trouble paying her salary. But Chmieleski said a merger will solve those problems.

He said both groups are aiming at reforming into a combined organization called the Downtown Association by August 1.

The Downtown Partnership and the Downtown Merchants Association had been a part of the Downtown Association for 25 years, until a coup among board members split the group in 2002.

Many things will remain the same after the merger, the Downtown Partnership will still be in charge of the Downtown Farmers Market, and it will still hold its educational luncheons and breakfasts. And the merchants will still be in charge of downtown event planning.

“I think our coming together can only be a good thing,” said Wendy Getchell, vice president of the Merchants Association.

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