Business association changes name

Nick Stroman

Starting next month, businesses in Morton will have a new name to turn to for help in bringing customers to their retail outlets, restaurants and hotels. Yet they’ve been working with the group for several years.

As of March 1, the Morton Business Association will be known as the Morton Tourism Association.

Susan Pyles, director of tourism and president of the tourism association, said the idea for a name change came about after being asked repeatedly what the difference was between the work MBA did and the duties of the Morton Chamber of Commerce.

Pyles said the vision of the MBA for the past three years has been to bring all retailers, hotels, and restaurants in the entire village together to benefit from joint events and advertising.

However, the MBA actually started off as the Downtown Business Association, leading people to think the concentration is only on downtown Morton, so it has added to the confusion.

“The name change gives us a clear definition. We’re also really excited because the recent change of leadership at the chamber has opened up the doors for some great partnerships,” Pyles said.

Pyles said she sees the MTA working side-by-side with the chamber on a number of different projects in town and it has regular meetings with chamber leaders so there is no duplication of efforts.

“If the economic development council wants to take care of something, we won’t. If we are working on something, they will stay away. There is plenty for everyone to do and an awful lot going on all the time, so we’re not stepping on each other’s toes,” Pyles said.

Last summer, Pyles said her group worked on placing flower pots and hanging baskets of flowers on Main, Jefferson, Adams and Washington streets in the downtown area. They also organized a car show in July and August.

During the holidays, Pyles said they coordinated efforts to help make a success out of events such as Holidazzle, breakfast with Santa and the first community tree-lighting ceremony.

For this summer, Pyles said the baskets and flowers will be repeated, but the MTA is also turning its attention to Jackson Street.

“We have permission now to hang banners on Jackson, so we’re working on a newsletter for businesses to buy banners. There are 44 banners for that street, so it’s exciting to be able to promote a lot of business there,” Pyles said.

Pyles added a similar banner project for Main Street was a great success last year, so they will be extending that opportunity to businesses again this spring.

Pyles said there is an opportunity for businesses to partner with the tourism association for co-op advertising and they also want businesses to be better informed about what’s going on throughout Morton at all times.

“It’s a community betterment concentration really. For example, a restaurant needs to know there is going to be a car show going on for the weekend. We are trying to increase the number of people who visit our community and maybe live here,” Pyles said.

Pyles said the MTA realizes these are tough economic times, so they want to give as many breaks as they can to be beneficial to everyone.

Last June, the MTA kicked off the opening of the new community Web site, www.mortonmagnet.com, which continues to grow and be an asset.

“We want to encourage everyone if they have an event, to let us know the details and it will go on the site to promote it for free. Especially for the younger generation, it’s a great communication tool and one they always turn toward to find out what’s happening,” Pyles said.

“The gentleman who put the site together says our stats are growing every month, so we want everyone to jump on board,” Pyles added.

Pyles said the economy’s downturn is not affecting the MTA thus far.

The group’s funding will be generated through local business and individual memberships and sponsorships. Morton tourism grants will be asked for special projects.

The group will be governed by a board of six members who will coordinate the committees for a variety of activities. Village trustee Betsy Yarcho will oversee the group and report to the village board on their accomplishments.

“We’ve always been frugal and we watch what we do because most of the things we put together are through donations or raising funds on our own. A budget is in place for everything we do, but we watch our pennies just like everyone else,” Pyles said.

“We’re still trying to reach our goals though, so there is no intention for us to back off,” Pyles added.