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Alpharetta Business Association Wants to Market Entire City

The group dropped its old name to convince potential members it's about more than just downtown, and will sponsor a Mayor's State of the City Address this month.

The Alpharetta Business Association is looking for more members to continue the work marketing and lobbying for businesses in the city.

The group isn't new–until recently it was known as the Downtown Alpharetta Trade Association (DATA)–but that old name was too limiting.

Board member Brian Patton said the name change allows them to reach out to more businesses.

"We kept on finding that so many people didn't join because they'd be a half block off of downtown," Patton said.

The group never limited itself to downtown, but having that name was a "marketing hurdle that we just couldn't overcome," he said.

If the 40-50 members didn't do something to reach the entire business community in the city, someone else would beat them to it, Patton said. With the change, he figures the ABA will grow to 200 plus members in the next year and a half. Without it, the group would be stuck around 50 members.

The city and the Alpharetta Business Association are breaking new ground, he said. The City Center project is one part of it.

"And we are breaking new ground with a slate of four new council members," Patton said.

He said the city's had a lot of good council members over the years.

"It just seems to be a new energy on the council about getting some things done that we've been encouraging for years," Patton said.

Alpharetta voters' approval of a $29 million bond referendum is an impetus of that energy. Having Donald Mitchell, a former DATA board member and downtown businessman, on City Council shows the group, or at least its ideas, have support in the community.

Patton said the energy can be seen in the $260-270 million worth of development planned over the next two years in Alpharetta, with the City Center and key parts of that.

The ABA is becoming even more proactive. It formed a small committee for business recruitment. They will step in to offer advice without charge when they see a business come to town that is having difficulties with the process of opening a new business.

The group has been sponsoring events as part of its Alpharetta First campaign for years. A held last year next to was the most regular and visible event. Shopping was turned into games in which customers could get information to win prizes or discounts. And a popular that closed a section of Milton Avenue in downtown to adults for local music, food from local restaurants and beer brewed in nearby Atlanta may be held twice this year.

They also hope to bring back the , in which restaurant patrons in downtown could get free limousine rides to and from the to watch the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in concert.

New this year for both the ABA and the city is the Mayor's Breakfast and State of the City Address on the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 21. ABA and the are sponsoring the talk by Mayor David Belle Isle. The mayor was asked to take a view toward the future for the city. Visit the ABA website to make reservations.

"We are just doing 100 tickets to it," Patton said. "We are just about sold out."

The breakfast will be held in tents in the parking lot beside City Hall, the same location where the downtown farmers market is held. If the unseasonably warm weather doesn't continue, don't worry–they'll have heaters inside the tents. (But wear warm socks because that pavement won't be heated.)

Yesper, a social media company, has been hired to promote the Alpharetta Business Association. "Like our Facebook page," Patton asked.

Patton said in the past it was difficult to understand what the incentive was to belong to DATA. But this year with ABA, it's going to be a "no brainer" he said.

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