Fifth Avenue business district holds annual meeting, aims to do more with less

The Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District board meets at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Inn on Fifth.

The meeting agenda includes:

■ Presentation of the Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District Annual Report, which will be available for pickup at the meeting

■ 2012 update and progress report on the BID’s marketing and program efforts

■ Presentation of the Paradise Coast Tourism Star Award for Outstanding Tourism Volunteer to the Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District’s marketing committee

— Doing more with less is a challenge, but a surmountable one for downtown Naples, local business leaders say.

The Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District board is scheduled to hold its annual meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Inn on Fifth.

The district is collecting less money this year compared with last year through assessments on businesses in the district, yet it's reaching its goals, said Lou Vlasho, president of the Fifth Avenue South district.

"Our assessments are down a little bit, but not terribly and they'll be flat next year. We've kept our rates the same because we want a proven track record," Vlasho said.

How much less was collected this year compared with last won't be available untilThursday's meeting, he said.

About 200 businesses pay 2 cents for every $1,000 of taxable property to the district, which was established in December 2010.

"We're down from the first year because that year it was collected by an outside, city-run group and everyone paid 100 percent. This year, we went through the county and the county tax collector charged a fee while people took advantage of taxpayer discounts. They paid their tax bills early," he said.

The district's primary goal is to support businesses through initiatives such as street improvements, marketing and events.

"The BID board is proud of what we're doing. The marketing committee will be receiving an award and our website got a major, major overhaul. Launching that will excite the people on the street within the district," Vlasho said.

The revamped website is at www.FifthAvenueSouth.com.

The 2012 Paradise Coast Tourism Star Award for Outstanding Tourism Volunteers is in recognition of the district's new brand, with the slogan "Timeless Charm. Downtown Chic," and a marketing strategy for Fifth Avenue South of a revamped website, logo, Facebook page, events and business directory, and other elements.

The Business Improvement District's 2012 budget was about $254,000 with $96,575 of that directed to marketing, according to earlier estimates by Lisa Sundrla, the district's executive director.

Despite a decline in assessments, Vlasho said the district expects to have sufficient resources to effectively market the area.

"We're still going to be effective. We have other ideas," he said.

More partnerships may be a prime source for additional money and directors hope business owners come to the meeting to listen and share their ideas, he said.

The district did particularly well this winter with events and the marketing of them, Vlasho said.

"We put a significant amount of money into events in-season … We wanted to create the impression that Fifth Avenue is the place to be … We've got a long way to go, but we've done a lot," he said.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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