Easton Mayor Robert C. Willey has cut off town funding for Discover Easton.
The non-profit organization, formerly known as the Easton Business Alliance, provides marketing, promotions and event services for Easton and its businesses and organizations. It has received funding from the town for some years.
Discover Easton also gets funding from member businesses and fundraising activities.
In his Sept. 28 letter to the board of Discover Easton, Willey said the money slated for Discover Easton would instead go to the Easton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC).
The town has split its economic development funding between the two organizations for several years. The money comes from the accommodations tax paid by guests at hotels and similar establishments; that tax revenue is required to be spent on tourism or economic development.
The only explanation the mayor gave in the letter is that the town believes its economic development funding “will be leveraged better” by going entirely through the EEDC.
Willey’s decision comes just three months after the start of the town’s fiscal year 2020-21 budget. The town council unanimously approved the $23.376 million budget, which included $480,750 for economic development, in mid-May.
Discover Easton recently drew some opposition for its proposed pedestrian promenade on Washington Street in front of the county courthouse.
The town council initially approved the street closure, then rescinded approval after opposition. The town later approved the closure of parking spaces along one side of Washington Street to allow for outside dining during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Discover Easton describes itself as “a marketing, promotions and events nonprofit in Easton, Maryland. The mission of EBA is to enhance, preserve and promote the vitality of Easton’s independent merchants which benefit business owners, residents and visitors; and to bring awareness to the Town’s historical roots and lifestyles. EBA is a nonprofit operating under the Mid-Shore Community Foundation. The organizational funding is provided by the Town of Easton; additional funding is provided by membership dues and through fundraising events.”
While Discover Easton has focused on marketing, promotions, and events, the EEDC has worked on business creation and retention.
According to its website, the “Easton Economic Development Corporation was launched in 2013 to drive economic vitality, smart redevelopment, and business creation in the historic Town of Easton, Maryland to foster a healthy quality of life for all generations. The EEDC works toward managing Easton’s continued growth as a diverse and healthy ‘smart town,’ leading innovation where the land and water meet.”
Letter from Mayor Willey