Dear Members,

  My thoughts and prayers have been with all of you over the past three months, and even more so the past week. Although we share many of the same challenges, each of us has unique difficulties that we are facing. Patience and understanding of those individual differences seem to be in short supply. I would encourage everyone to have understanding and empathy and not pass judgment on those whose situation is only known to that individual.

  The canceling of Grand Old Day has a significant negative financial impact on many of our businesses, but also on our Association. In the past, Grand Old Day has brought in about $100,000 to the operating budget for the Association. The board made significant cuts in the budget to be able to continue to survive until the membership renewal in January 2021. The most impactful change was not being able to keep our business relationship with Lisa McCann. Many of you got to know Lisa as the face of GABA in day to day operations. She did an outstanding job with our Facebook page and was integral in the planning and execution of events held during her tenure. Lisa still does have a significant presence on the Avenue in her own social media. When you see her, please thank her for her dedication.

  We are in a lease until August 2021. It is a great space above the Grand Ole Creamery. If you know of anyone that is looking for office space, please have them reach out to Gary Huffman at 651-757-7100. It would be very helpful if we could get out of the lease early.

  Grand Old Day would have been this Sunday, June 7th. There has been much discussion about acknowledging the day in some way on social media. Posting about plans for next year, thanking people for the work they put in for this year’s celebration, and asking the community to contribute pictures and memories from previous Grand Old Days were just a few of the many great ideas we had prepared. A week ago, I thought that would be a great idea and very appropriate. After all, it was a faceless virus that forced us to cancel. But a lot has changed in a week. I believe that talking about a celebration on Grand Avenue in the current climate would be insensitive at the least and inflammatory to many. The role of the Grand Avenue Business Association is to promote and market the businesses on and around Grand Avenue. We also want to reduce any negative impressions. Anyone that is on social media knows that the divisiveness has skyrocketed. I do not want to be responsible for subjecting GABA or its members to negativity or be seen as attempting to capitalize on tragic events.

  Cory Sullivan has resigned from the board. In the short amount of time that Cory was Secretary on the GABA board, he contributed a considerable amount. I want to personally thank Cory for his dedication to the success of the businesses on and around Grand Avenue.

  We have a small group of board members and volunteers that are carrying a heavy load. In the last 14 months, while either acting or serving as the President of GABA, I have been dealt an interesting hand. Canceling Grand Old Day and then chairing and pulling it off in 2019, an FBI embezzlement investigation, COVID-19 and canceling Grand Old Day 2020, and finally assisting in boarding up businesses in preparation for riots and looting. This current board is exhausted. We NEED more help. If you are a member, get involved in a committee. If you are not a member and realize the benefit that this Association brings to your business, please join and help. If you are not a member and, for whatever reason, do not care for GABA, that is fine. But I see no reason to spend energy to tear down an organization whose volunteers work so hard to promote YOUR business. Yes, those people exist, and they know who they are. Currently, we have one person that gets any financial compensation, Nelson Fox. And he is working for less money than most people would get out of bed for. He has a deep passion for the businesses and the people that live in this community. Nelson wants to see all of us grow and prosper.

  This is just a partial list of what this organization has accomplished in the last year:

  • June 2019 – Grand Old Day on a minimal budget
  • August 2019 – Paws on Grand – the largest ever
  • December 2019 – Grand Meander
  • November 2019 – February 2020 – hosted multiple meetings to discuss the direction for Grand Old Day and the Association as a whole
  • March 2020 – Supplied resources to businesses relating to COVID-19, PPP, and other programs. Published on our website the status of each of our member businesses.
  • May 2020 – Grand Night In! – Promoted dining at member businesses
  • May 2020 – Community Blood Drive
  • May 2020 – Supplied OSB sheeting to many businesses last week and organized volunteer effort to help install

  This Association provides a much-needed service to businesses. We can all survive without it, but we can all be so much better with it.

Thank you for your membership, support, and kindness.

Bob Lawrence,
Grand Avenue Business Association – President
Bob Lawrence Insurance and Financial Services