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East End Main Street names advisers to promote economic growth

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- East End Main Street Executive Director Ric Cavender believes the organization's new economic board of advisors will help the agency recruit retail establishments into the district and address vacant properties.

The East End Main Street board of directors unanimously voted to establish the new board of advisors during a meeting on Wednesday.

The economic development board of advisors will operate under the East End Main Street umbrella, Cavender said.

East End business owner Keeley Steele was appointed as president of the advisory board by a unanimous vote. Steele owns Bluegrass Kitchen, Tricky Fish and Frutcake.

Cavender is in the process of submitting an application to the Internal Revenue Service to have the advisory board designated as a non-profit that can charge dues and recruit and promote business in the area, he said.

One difference between the advisory board and East End Main Street is that East End Main Street focuses on revitalization of the district while the advisory board will focus specifically on economic development, Cavender said.

The new advisory board will focus on recruiting businesses to the East End district, while East End Main Street promotes all business in the community, he added.

The advisory board will recruit business owners into a membership program.

The members will pay dues and receive perks such as being able to access an online calendar where they can promote their events and any deals offered, Cavender said.

Steele is eager to get started and plans to start recruiting business owners for the advisory board that will likely be made up of 10 to 12 members, she said.

Both Steele and Cavender hope the organization, which hasn't been officially named so far, will eventually get to a point where it can purchase properties, rehab them and then sell them for a profit.

That profit would then be used for other rehabilitation projects in the East End district, Cavender said.

"We've come a long way in the East End, but we still have vacant property," Steele said.

Steele also wants to ensure that business owners in the district have a venue to raise concerns and offer suggestions about economic development, she said.

"We want to make sure the business owners are represented," Steele said.

Another of Steele's priorities will be recruiting retail establishments to the neighborhood, she said. The East End supports a number of restaurants and nightclubs, but has few retail stores, she said.

Steele hopes to have the advisory board established by next month. The board will then sit down and finalize priorities, she said.

The East End Main Street board also approved Dickinson Gould's nomination as president.

Gould, 35, has been a member of East End Main Street for about three years. He is a Charleston native who graduated from Charleston Catholic High School.

Like Cavender and Steele, Gould said he was excited to see the new economic development advisory board get up and running.

"This will allow us to engage all kinds of businesses in the district," he said. "And that will be where a lot of the energy goes in 2013."

Charleston Councilman Marc Weintraub's was also appointed to serve as vice president of the East End Main Street board. 

Weintraub has worked behind the scenes on numerous projects for East End Main Street and has been very active with the board and in the district.

However, Weintraub has been criticized for missing numerous Charleston Council meetings in the past. However, Cavender does not believe this will be an issue with the East End board.

"Marc's (Weintraub) never really missed many meetings," Cavender said.

However, Weintraub was not present at Wednesday's meeting.

The board members also received an update on the organization's new website, which should be launched in the coming months.

The website, which cost about $7,000, will promote various activities in the East End as well as the open-air market and bazaar.

Vendors will also be able to register for a both at the bazaar on the website once it is activated, Cavender said.  


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