New Dynamism at Georgetown Business Association

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GBA President Sonya Bernhardt with Teresa Nielson of Long & Foster Real Estate, Leslie Maysak of the Citizens Association of Georgetown and Eleni Tousimis, M.D., of Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. Photo by Robert Devaney.

“The Georgetown Business Association evolved over the years from a loose association of businesses in 1976 to a very viable, growing and dynamic organization of entrepreneurs, business owners and Georgetown citizens,” said Jim Wilcox, an advisory neighborhood commissioner and a longtime GBA member. “With the business climate in Georgetown changing so rapidly, it has been a benefit to have the GBA represent especially the interests of business owners who aren’t necessarily landlords.”

Wilcox’s words were reinforced by the setting of his interview with The Georgetowner. It was during a GBA reception on the comfortable outdoor terrace of a grand Georgetown townhouse on 33rd Street, newly listed on the market for close to $4 million by GBA member Long & Foster Real Estate. Dozens of well-dressed men and women greeted one another warmly and chatted amiably about business conditions in Georgetown.

A nonprofit membership organization, GBA is “committed to maintaining and improving the climate for conducting business in Georgetown.”

Members are offered opportunities to connect through events such as monthly networking receptions, a leadership awards luncheon, the annual meeting and holiday party and various outreach initiatives. GBA also advocates on behalf of Georgetown businesses and professionals by monitoring legislation from the District Council and actions by the Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commission and other government agencies and community organizations.

GBA officers and members often speak at hearings and engage officials in other ways to achieve an optimal business climate in Georgetown. Indeed, GBA and its members advocated in the 1990s for the establishment of a Georgetown Business Improvement District.

The gathering last week was ostensibly to celebrate the preliminary approval of GBA’s latest successful initiative: to apply for and be accepted as a Main Street program, part of a nationwide network of business-district revitalization efforts. Georgetown’s will be the 13th Main Street in Washington, D.C., where there are now 16 such programs.

“We’ll be the lucky baker’s dozen,” said GBA President Sonya Bernhardt, owner of Georgetown Media Group, which publishes The Georgetowner. Bernhardt was also one of the principal drivers in developing the Main Street proposal. “Main Street efforts can range from helping businesses get more favorable leases to beautification of the street and other promotions. It will work well with GBA.”

“Membership in the GBA is increasing every year,” Bernhardt said. “I expect it will grow even faster when Main Street is funded and up and running.”

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