Philip Dawson

by Philip Dawson, Executive Director, Chestnut Hill Business District

One of the many positive changes in the newly redesigned Chestnut Hill Local is the more prominent focus it gives the business community on a regular basis. As Executive Director of the Chestnut Hill Business District, I am especially excited by the prospect of cultivating a closer relationship between our readers and our distinctive downtown in the coming months. In my first column, I’d like to begin by giving our community a better understanding of the three organizations that comprise our Business District, beginning with the Chestnut Hill Business Association (CHBA).

Founded in 1956, the CHBA is among the oldest neighborhood business organizations in the Philadelphia region, and is certainly among the most active and successful. Its more than 200 members include retailers, restaurateurs, dentists and doctors, Fortune 500 companies with locations in Chestnut Hill, small companies from the surrounding area who do business in town, and the membership here continued to grow in recent years. So why have so many diverse businesses decided to become affiliated with this neighborhood business association? More than anything else, it’s about exposure and the power of unity.

Whether it’s the 20,000 business directories distributed each year, our robust calendar of popular festivals or District advertising campaigns that reach every corner of the region, the CHBA pools members’ resources to plan and achieve much more than any individual store could on its own. While the public is no stranger to our events, the CHBA is proud to sustain independent businesses in quieter ways, such as offering its members access to affordable group rates on health insurance in an age of skyrocketing costs. A suite of discounted services and free professional learning opportunities round out the member benefits that help our businesses to flourish and grow every day.

Next, the Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District (BID), funded by assessments on income-producing properties near the commercial corridor, provides critical services which keep Chestnut Hill a step above the competition. The award-winning plantings maintained by the Garden District Fund, the shimmering lights in the trees, fall leaf blowing, and daily trash cleanup all depend in part or in full on funding provided by the BID.

The BID’s investments have also netted Chestnut Hill over 30 new businesses through the Retail Recruitment Program, a top destination marketing program, and a vision for comprehensive streetscape improvements that is about to begin implementation. “Clean and safe” is known to be the mantra of BIDs nationwide, but in Chestnut Hill, it has proven to be only the beginning of what we are achieving.

The Chestnut Hill Parking Foundation (CHPF) is the third component of our District, an asset that was wisely created in the 1950s to provide more than 250 convenient and affordable parking spaces for local businesses. And the money you put into the kiosks stays right here in Chestnut Hill, with 100 percent of parking proceeds being reinvested in the business district and used for the improvement of the lots. In fact, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission named the CHPF a Best Practice in urban parking management in 2018 as a successful model of locally-controlled parking lots operated on a not-for-profit basis.

I look forward in the coming weeks to sharing more developments from each of our organizations, from events and business openings to capital projects which enhance the commercial corridor. In the meantime, come by soon to explore the District and stop in to meet our staff in the Chestnut Hill Welcome Center at 8514 Germantown Ave.