Brunswick city officials are trying to figure out ways to make it easier for people to start new businesses.
Downtown Development Authority members discussed the issue, among others, at Friday’s regularly scheduled meeting.
City commissioner and DDA board member Julie Martin said some people don’t understand the process or local ordinances before they being the process to open a business. She recommended people go to City Hall to meet with city officials before they start work on a project.
Board member Rita Spalding, who is also a lawyer, suggest the creation of a handbook to help people before they begin work to create a new business.
John Hunter, a city planner, said city officials continue to work to streamline the system.
“We don’t want people to have problems,” he said.
Board members discussed the results of a survey intended to determine ways to improve the annual Christmas parade in Brunswick.
Nearly 60 of those polled said they preferred a nighttime parade. The poll included business owners, attendees and participants in the parade.
When asked what could be done to change or improve a daytime parade to make it better than a nighttime parade, those who responded to the poll were even more adamant. Fewer than eight percent preferred a daytime parade.
Among those who preferred a daytime parade were elderly residents who are uncomfortable driving at night, said Mathew Hill, the authority’s director.
Board members also discussed adding ex-officio members who could participate in downtown development meeting s but wouldn’t have a vote. The intent is to get as much input as possible about issues. Martin said there are property owners “eager to be engaged” in the future of downtown Brunswick.
Hill said he’d like to see people with specific skills such as lawyers, contractors, realtors and bankers participate as a way to create more continuity with other originations.
Hill said he plans to contact people who applied for the recent openings on the downtown development authority to offer them a chance to join the board as non- voting participants, similar to the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce.
Board members discussed the mistaken impression that downtown Brunswick is unsafe after dark and considered a suggestion to publish a printout or map showing where crimes have been committed in the city.
County commissioner Allen Booker, whose district encompasses much of Brunswick, said he believed a crime map to show how safe the downtown district would be “unfair.” He said local realtors could play an important role in reversing the perception that downtown Brunswick is unsafe after dark.
Martin said it is important to find ways to counteract the perception about downtown Brunswick. She pointed out an increasing number of families with children are moving to downtown neighborhoods.
Hill suggested identifying areas that need improved lighting downtown.
Mayor Cornell Harvey asked about the time most of the downtown businesses close. Hill said most close between 5 and 6 p.m. but he believes more will stay open later after the Silver Bluff Brewing Company opens.
Harvey said he’d prefer businesses open and close later. Hill said he plans to start a business association where local merchants can meet to discuss ways to keep the momentum going downtown.
“The merchants need to be more engaged,” Harvey said.