The Falcon Area Business Alliance is getting a fresh start. Falcon School District 49 employees and local business owners are re-creating the organization with a new focus.
The organization canceled its meetings and events in June after most of the members chose not to renew their memberships. Now, Falcon School District, as the one remaining member, is amending the bylaws and rebuilding the business group.
FABA was formed in July, 2010, as an umbrella organization to coordinate community-related activities for all business, civic and religious organizations in Falcon. The operating plan described FABA as a “member-centric organization which uses functional groups rather than a board of directors or officer team.”
FABA hosted monthly business networking meetings, socials and a symposium for Falcon civic groups to discuss how the group benefits the community. According to FABA documents from the symposium, the goal was to ensure there was no overlapping of services and to combine resources when possible. The group also sponsored road cleanup days for a portion of Highway 24 in Falcon, and co-sponsored a craft fair and chili cook-off with the Falcon Exchange Club.
A lack of interest and non-renewal of dues prompted the FABA leaders to disband the group. The only remaining paid member was Falcon School District, represented by Kathleen Voss, community outreach specialist. The district had paid dues for the year.
Voss said she realized the school district could then unanimously vote to amend the bylaws and refocus the organization. “My fear was to lose a business alliance group, which would make it so much more difficult to restart one,” she said. “So I chose to refocus the goals and make them more beneficial to businesses and the community.”
Brian Swanson, former chairman for FABA, said Voss is on the right track. “My biggest lesson from my time there was the need for structured direction with an objective purpose. At this point, the new leadership seems to be following that,” he said.
The new FABA is focusing on education for school-age youth and education for entrepreneurs through scholarships, seminars and community-school partnership programs, Swanson said. Youth education programs will extend beyond Falcon to include other Eastern El Paso County school districts, as well as home-schooled families, Voss said.
The organization has formed a committee to brainstorm fundraising opportunities for a scholarship program.
FABA wants to create value before recruiting new members. At an open forum held at High Prairie Library in August, Voss said besides education they will look into subjects that would interest all Falcon area residents. The organization has formed a committee to brainstorm fundraising opportunities for a scholarship program.
The new FABA is also hoping to learn from the experience of the original organization for restricting the group. Leadership will be comprised of a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary – all are in place already, Voss said. The umbrella organization concept is no longer a goal. “We were very deliberate in our action plan to make sure we don't overlap focuses with the chamber, Exchange Club, Lions and the other groups,” Voss said. “Between all these organizations we can have a very strong Falcon business and community because each group's goal is a little bit different.”
LnB Connectors, a business development advisory firm owned by Swanson and Lynda Cink, is volunteering to help grow participation and guide the group in its structural reformation. “We're looking to bring in people who are willing to commit their time for their community, and not just network for their business,” Swanson said. “FABA needs to be a full community organization, not just strictly business for businesses.” LnB Connectors moderated the initial open forum and has worked closely with the new leadership to plan the first seminar, he said. Swanson said neither he nor Cink will be members or officers because they want to maintain their integrity as advisors.
“My measure of success will be people coming to the workshops and finding value in what the organization has to offer,” Voss said. “The biggest outcome I hope for is that people will be encouraged to support their community and buy local from those who support their community.” Swanson agreed. “Increasing community awareness and participation is what I hope to see from it,” he said.
The first educational workshop is scheduled Oct. 4. D 49 is hosting the event at Falcon Middle School. Voss said they aim to host a workshop or seminar every other month and have organizational meetings on the opposite months. Those interested in learning more about the workshop and meeting schedule can email Voss at firstname.lastname@example.org.