We here at the Monona East Side Business Alliance (MESBA) hope you’re having a great summer so far! Our organization normally sees a dip in activity in the summer months but this summer seems to be a bit busier than usual due to some new programs that are being developed. If you’ve taken the member survey, you’ve read some of the details of those programs. Many of you know that MESBA is a not for profit organization that is dedicated to helping propel the Monona East Side community forward. But what exactly does that mean?
As a not for profit (501c6) entity, we operate with two paid staff persons, myself and the extraordinary Amber Wilson, our Membership & Events Coordinator. While our initiatives include hosting numerous events to help businesses connect with each other for relationship building and strengthening to grow businesses, create jobs, improve the quality of life for you, your employees and your community, our scope of work extends far beyond planning events.
We work diligently to promote our area on a tourism scale as well. Bringing visitors into our area brings in room tax revenue for the municipalities, along with all of the typical expenditures of travelers like entertainment, recreation and restaurants and bars. We regularly post member businesses on Travel Wisconsin which sees over 1,000,000 visits each year. If you’re a MESBA member and you see your business listed, it most likely was the work of a MESBA staff person. We also create the Guide to the Monona Area and distribute 15,000 copies each year to promote our members and our community.
Recently, we’ve placed a full page ad in the Thirsty Wisconsin (brewery guide) promoting our community as Home to Beer, Bikes, Boats and Beaches. I designed a custom map of the Monona Lake Loop including our members that serve tourists as points of interest. You can download it here and feel free to use it to promote the area if you have the opportunity.
As a not for profit business collective, our organization is committed to providing opportunities for our members that are priced far below industry standards. For instance, our Business Leads groups operate like a BNI group and are only a fraction of the fee of joining a BNI group. Many of our events are free and provided to members at no charge. We do this because we want you to continue growing your business and reinvesting your dollars into the community. But, as many of you know, our marketing opportunities, like sponsorships, provide an excellent level of marketing at rates far below the industry average.
On August 3, we’re excited to work in a high level fundraiser similar to a golf outing–our first kayak outing! Many chambers do golf outings but not everyone has clubs or the skill needed to participate but anyone can kayak! We hope you’ll join us for this new program. It’s critical for us to have a high level fundraiser so we can also grow, hire a design/marketing position and eventually create a 501c3 foundation. Plus, this outing is far less costly for our members than a golf outing.
Every event MESBA does is designed to provide opportunities for members at low cost as well as for fundraising purposes. We can keep costs low due to the power of our business collective, but, if we do not fund raise, we cannot exist. I feel that we’ve done a great job at diversifying our revenue streams during the past three years of rebuilding the organization into an economic development machine. But there’s always more to be done.
Recruiting new businesses to our area, helping expanding businesses find new locations, continuing to develop new programs and improving existing initiatives are all things we’ll continue to work on consistently.
We applaud you for being community supporters, believing in MESBA’s mission and we hope you’ll continue to support our work as a way to ‘elevate all of our boats!’ For an overview of work in 2016, view the infographic. If you ever want to discuss what MESBA does and the impact we have, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.
-Kristie Schilling, Executive Director