Come together

Published 12:28 am Friday, November 18, 2011

In a series of interviews with 13 downtown-Washington merchants last week, the Daily News learned that a number of shopkeepers think the City of Washington could do more to address their concerns about the local retail climate.

Some of the merchants pointed to what they see as high charges for privilege licenses, which amount to the city’s permission to do business within its limits, and to big bills from the city-owned-and-operated Washington Electric Utilities.

The merchants saw these and other mandated expenses as punitive to their trade.

We share and understand the merchants’ concerns, but we also see an opportunity for these proprietors to inspire action.

The merchants should re-form the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association, which went dormant a couple of years ago.

In fact, it might be useful to the city’s entire business community to open the association up to managers, proprietors and entrepreneurs from one end of the municipality to the other.

The newly revived association could have among its ranks at least one of the following: a Washington councilman, a city employee with knowledge of downtown and business issues or a council appointee who could report the merchants’ ideas to that public body.

Additionally, perhaps, the council could preside over occasional “listening sessions” to gauge the opinions of business owners in all corners of the city’s jurisdiction. Ideally, these public-input meetings would broaden lines of communication between the city, its retailers and restaurateurs.

Bottom line, all parties with a stake in the city’s success should sit down and figure out how to boost commerce in Washington.

Now, let’s get to work.