“A thriving, diverse business environment and center for the arts” is the vision of the newly-formed Burien Business Association, shares Matthys van Leeuwen, BBA Board Member, Secretary/Treasurer, and owner of Dutch Dog Design.
Led by Robyn Desimone, BBA Executive Director and owner of Iris and Peony, the BBA has brought together some leading business leaders in our city, Danny House of Tin Room and Sausage Man fame, Dean Anderson of Burien Toyota and Chevrolet, Luis Olivera of Tortas Locas, Enzo Morella of Creative Brothers Landscaping, along with others who have come around this vision and belief in the potential of Burien.
The top issue for the local business community is safety.
“Public safety is number one. Too many businesses have been dealing with break-ins and impediments from homeless people roaming our streets. Crime is skyrocketing, and a number of city decisions have made Burien a challenging environment for businesses,” stated van Leeuwen.
“Our goal is to make our city safe again; to create economic growth to support the programs that will better our citizens and our town. The high crime has added to the cost of doing business. Having survived a pandemic, owners now have to survive the rising crime rate and replacement costs of all the vandalism damages,” said Executive Director, Robyn Desimone.
Crime has become a major problem for most business owners. Businesses are responsible for much of the tax revenue to our city, whether as the collector of municipal sales taxes, through property taxes or the B & O tax, which is a significant burden on our local businesses; taxing every business with revenue of $200,000 or more, on the revenue, not on profit. Besides this critical issue, these businesses do not believe they are heard or protected.
The businesses joining the BBA believe they have been ignored by the Burien city government, particularly over the last few years. This is what has moved downtown business leaders to collaborate with other Burien associations (Empresarios Unidos and The Italian Cultural Center, for example). “We will become the voice of the Burien businesses to advocate for the stakeholders that pay the B&O taxes and property taxes,” said Desimone.
The crime issue is so great that the “BBA Safety Committee has interviewed and vetted a private security team to patrol in the evenings between 10 pm – 6 am. This proposed action requires 100 businesses to initiate its rollout. It will create additional support for our currently understaffed Police Department and become a deterrent for the current criminal activities happening every night,” said Desimone.
An additional challenge for the business community has been the poor communication from City Hall. “The BBA will communicate directly with City Council and will advise the businesses of current legislation and decisions that may and will affect their livelihood,” said Desimone. “We will bring awareness to city government decision-makers and lobby for security and other measures that make the environment safer,” added van Leeuwen.
The Gem asked, “When the BBA is successful, what will change in Burien, especially for Burien businesses?” Leeuwen answered, “Burien businesses will have a loyal customer base that will feel safe so they can shop and dine in the downtown core. It will benefit many businesses, not only the ones located in the downtown core but also their suppliers.”
Reiterating a positive desire of the business community to rise above the problems and make this a better city, “Our goal is to make our city safe again; to create economic growth to support the programs that will better our citizens and our town. We intend to create a new standard that will include safety expectations, government communications, and community within the business groups. Together we will create change. Together we will be heard. Together we will help Burien grow into what every business owner hopes and expects in fulfilling the potential of Burien,” said Desimone. “The BBA launched this summer with the belief that Burien is located in the best place in Puget Sound,” agreed van Leeuwen.
For more information and membership in the BBA, please contact:
Robyn Desimone, Executive Director
Burien Business Association
Robyn@burienbusinessassociation.org | 253.856.1935