Lansdale's Economic Development Committee had an interesting discussion last night, Monday July 18, about the borough's Business of the Month award.
Each month since late 2013, members of that committee have chosen a local business to be recognized, and the honoree receives recognition at a borough council meeting, a certificate, and a short video showing photos of who they are and what they do.
EDC member Richard Strahm announced Monday he'll be giving this month's award to Stove and Tap restaurant, which is located at Main and Wood Streets and opened in March.
Have they been in town long enough to win the award? Should others that have been in town longer be considered ahead of newer businesses?
Last year the EDC discussed creating a set of formal criteria for the award, to provide more structure if committee members were unsure of how to proceed.
Those criteria included that they must have been in business for at least two years, in good standing with code and police departments, be owned locally and not a chain, and "play an active role in both the Lansdale business community and the community at large."
Staff also started compiling a list of businesses suggested by other committee members, and by the public, and resisdents can submit their own ideas, or businesses can submit themselves for nomination if they're interested.
Should those criteria be updated or made official? That discussion continued Monday, and looks likely to resume when EDC next meets on August 15.
Strahm said he nominated Stove and Tap because "it really has been transformative to the borough," and shows that a new destination with a quality product can draw traffic to town.
"I don't think there's a better example right now than Stove and Tap, that is making people really sit up and say 'Wow, look at what they did in Lansdale. If only I could be half that successful - let me give Lansdale a try,'" he said.
EDC member Bruce Schwartz said while all of that may be true of Stove and Tap, do others elsewhere in the borough deserve the same recognition?
"If I were a business owner in Lansdale of ten, 15, 20 years' standing, and I had never gotten a second look....Stove and Tap is very visible. I'm kind of a fan of trying to find the less visible," he said.
Ray Liberto, who was chairman of EDC last year when talks started on revising the criteria, said his vision of the award included giving a publicity boost to businesses that might need it, and he had heard certain businesses see dozens of new customers after receiving the award.
"If you pick a steel manufacturer on Cannon Avenue, when it gets in the paper and on our website, and goes out in the Electric Wire, people aren't going to go purchase steel there," he said.
Resident Bill Allen pointed out that several of the positive comments made about Stove and Tap Monday could have also applied to other businesses that have come and gone in recent years.
"Four years ago, we would've nominated Molly Maguire's, and we all know how that went. Tabora was another one. I think we can get too carried away in the excitement, the emotion, of these new things that come into town," Allen said, referring to others that drew crowds initially, then closed once interest tailed off.
But, Strahm replied, should the award represent a moment in time, a long-term contribution, or both?
"If you ask a person on the street who the winner of the May 2014 Business of the Month award is, most people would be hard pressed to come up with the answer," he said.
"We're celebrating people for a slice of time, and it's a shame if something down the road happens to them and they're no longer with us. We certainly don't wish that on anybody, but unfortunately, in the business world, it does happen," Strahm said.
What do you think? Which rules, if any, should be put in place for the Business of the Month award?