After years of seeing the businesses of Felton and Boulder Creek support their communities and one another via collective participation in annual events and mixers, Ben Lomond is getting in on the act.
Since the end of May, Ben Lomond resident Zeda Dowell has visited business owners throughout the community in an effort to revive the long-dormant Ben Lomond Business Association.
According to Dowell, the association would — like those in neighboring communities — seek to increase the visibility of Ben Lomond and its businesses to bolster the local economy through events, awareness campaigns and advocacy on the San Lorenzo Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“The goal is to enhance the quality of life in Ben Lomond,” she said. “I think, together, we can do some really fun events.”
Many of the biggest annual events in Felton and Boulder Creek — including the Felton Remembers Parade and Boulder Creek’s Fourth of July parade — take place because of cohesive efforts by those communities’ businesses, as well as the SLV Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber President Bryan Chambers said his group helps unify different efforts to boost business in the valley.
“One of our objectives is to bring the business associations together to have a bigger voice,” Chambers said. “(The goal is) cohesive unity throughout the valley, and not just town by town.”
According to Dowell, a six-year Ben Lomond resident, the idea to revive the association began when she attended the Felton Remembers Parade and carnival at the end of May and was impressed by the display of community unity at the Felton Business Association’s long-running event.
“It’s charming — the business owners are wonderful,” she said. “I just told (Bryan Chambers): ‘Boy, I wish we had some of these events in Ben Lomond.’”
Soon after, Dowell began using her background as a cultural consultant for international business relations to approach the Ben Lomond businesses about getting the gang together.
“It’s a new beginning,” she said of her in-person visits. “It’s really coming together.”
Dowell said that all businesses were welcome to join, and that first-year membership is free.
“They’re all invited, and they’re all welcome,” she said. “I haven’t had a ‘no’ yet.”
Among the events Dowell envisions for Ben Lomond is a sort of holiday celebration at the recently revamped Ben Lomond Park.
“It has such potential,” she said. “I want to share that with other people.”
According to Chambers, Ben Lomond at one point actually had a business association, but it gradually faded, in part because of a loss of focus and rumors of over-politicization.
“A lot of the associations fall prey to politics,” he said. “That seemed to be a common theme in the past, is that someone got too political.”
Dowell stressed that while negative memories for many community members run deep, the business association she’s founding would be something new.
“You can get caught up in the politics of the past,” she said. “When you do that, you can’t move forward.”
As part of her efforts, Dowell was recently voted in as a board member on the SLV Chamber representing Ben Lomond.
“Zeda’s really stepped up,” Chambers said. “(Ben Lomond) wasn’t really being as well-represented as it could be.”
He added that active and vital business associations help business and community members reach out to one another, as well as neighboring communities.
“We all live in this one valley, and we might as well try and get as many people as possible to enjoy the things we have,” Chambers said. “I think a lot of people who live here don’t always know what’s going on here.”
Dowell said that plans are being developed for a chamber mixer event for Ben Lomond sometime in September.
“It’s not only bringing people in (to local businesses),” she said. “But it’s also thanking the people that frequent those businesses.”
Chambers applauded Dowell’s efforts to support the Ben Lomond community.
“It tends to open people’s eyes a little bit,” Chambers said. “A lot of people just don’t think about it until someone puts it out there in front of them.”