The end of the Bayers Lake Business Association (BLBA) is unfortunate. It might also be a warning.
Having been involved with both groups, I have always noticed a great deal of similarities between the BLBA and the Greater Burnside Business Association (GBBA). Not only did they share a similar mandate - improving the business environment for park-based companies - but they also often dealt with similar issues, such as crime, security, transit, development and pedestrian access.
The other major thing they had in common was that the organization was carried forward by a small, dedicated group of core volunteers. Other members would come and go, but it was this core that really drove the association.
In the case of the BLBA, it eventually got to a point where those core individuals didn't see the organization moving forward any longer. They fought the good fight, did everything they could think of to make the association effective and attractive to others, but weren't seeing an adequate return on their investment of time and effort.
That can wear on you over time and burnout can become a serious possibility. I'm not saying that burnout was the cause in this particular case, but many of those who regularly sat around the board table had a tough decision to make. They all had their own businesses that, in these leaner economic times, require more attention and to keep dividing their time for an effort that seemed plateaued (or, even worse, stalled) just didn't make sense anymore.
The GBBA also has a dedicated core of volunteers that has kept it up and running as other board members have come and gone. They too have made great efforts to expand the appeal of the organization and keep it moving forward. Could they be heading for the same fate as the BLBA?
It's possible, but hopefully not a certainty. Although there are plenty of similarities between the two groups, there are a couple of important differences that work in the GBBA's favour.
First, there's the sheer size of the pool the association has to draw upon. With its greater number of companies and employees, Burnside is close to three times the size of the Bayers Lake Park. That means there's a lot more potential members to sign up and - even if the GBBA only achieves the same percentage of representation that the BLBA did - a lot more people to call upon to help share the load.
Secondly, the GBBA has been far more successful in creating a secondary mandate. Its well-attended networking events have become a draw unto themselves. That's something the BLBA was never able to do.
The end of the BLBA is a cautionary tale that should be heeded, but it shouldn't be allowed to become an omen of the future.